ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel was named Major League Baseball's Delivery Man of the Year on Thursday afternoon. Kimbrel is the first member of the Braves' organization to win this honor, which has been given annually to the game's top closer since 2005.
Further establishing his dominance in this role, Kimbrel converted 50 of 54 save opportunities and posted a 1.21 ERA in 68 appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander's 50 saves matched Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the most in the Majors and made him the youngest closer to record this total.
Kimbrel began this past season in impressive fashion, converting nine of the 10 save opportunities he garnered in April. He proved human when he allowed a ninth-inning home run against David Wright on May 3 and back-to-back two-out home runs in a loss to the Reds four days later.
But after blowing a ninth-inning lead in both of those games, Kimbrel set a Braves franchise record by converting each of his next 37 save opportunities. In fact, he converted 40 of his final 41 opportunities on the way to becoming just the 11th pitcher to record a 50-save season.
During his final 54 appearances, Kimbrel posted a 0.54 ERA and limited opponents to a .151 batting average. Three of the four runs he surrendered in the 53 2/3 innings completed during this span were scored by the Nationals during the ninth inning of a Sept. 17 game in Washington.
Kimbrel stands as the only pitcher in Major League history to record 40 saves in each of his first three full seasons. Kimbrel leads the Majors with 138 saves during this span. Johnson ranks second with 110.
Kansas City's Greg Holland and Texas' Joe Nathan were the only other closers to receive votes for this year's award.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.