The following are some of Craig Kimbrel's final stats for his record-breaking 2012 season. All comparisons are since 1901, with a 40 IP minimum unless otherwise stated.
- 116 strikeouts in 231 batters faced, good for a 50.2% K rate, by far the best rate ever--the previous record was 44.7% by Gagne in 2003. Kimbrel's 16.66 K/9 is also the best ever, topping Kenley Jansen's 16.10 from last year.
- 8 games in which he struck out every batter he faced (min. 3 batters), tied for the most all-time with John Rocker in 1999. Also: 16 games in which every out was a strikeout (min. 1 IP), which is two more than the previous record, set by Carlos Marmol in 2010.
- 27 hits allowed, which is good for a 3.88 H/9 (best ever, beating Gagne's 4.04) and a 11.7% hit rate, 5th-best ever.
- 63 games, 0 with multiple hits allowed. His streak of less than 2 hits allowed is now at 65 games, 2nd-most all-time behind Randy Choate's whopping 97-game streak that lasted from 2010 until this past June. But Choate is a LOOGY, as is nearly everyone else in the top 20 list for this streak, so Kimbrel's feat is really much more impressive. Among right-handed pitchers, Kimbrel's 65-gamer is by far the longest; Rafael Soriano is 2nd-best with a 44-gamer from '07 to '09, also with the Braves.
- 7 runs allowed, which is the fewest ever for a pitcher with 21+ saves, or 16+ saves in a non-strike year (Goose Gossage allowed 6 runs with 20 saves in 1981; Rod Beck also allowed 7 runs, with 20 saves, in 2003). Kimbrel, of course, had 42 saves; the next-fewest runs allowed for a 40+ save pitcher is actually Fernando Rodney this year, with 9 runs & 47 saves (though the Rays have 1 game left).
- 1.01 ERA, which is the 5th-best ever for a 20+ save pitcher, behind Rodney, Dennis Eckersley in 1990, Gossage in 1981, and Jonathan Papelbon in 2006. It's also the 8th-best ERA for anyone with 60+ IP, behind Rodney, Eck, Papelbon, two deadball-era pitchers (Ferdie Schupp in 1916 and Dutch Leonard in 1914), and two recent Braves: Chris Hammond in 2002 and Eric O'Flaherty last year.
- 1.01 RA; if you use RA instead of ERA, Kimbrel looks even better, since he didn't allow any unearned runs. His 1.01 RA is the lowest ever, min. 60 IP, and the 3rd-lowest ever, min. 40 IP. Only Rob Murphy in 1986 (0.72 RA in 50.1 IP) and George McQuillan in 1907 (0.66 RA in 41 IP) are better.
- 0.78 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which is the best all-time, beating Gagne's 0.85 FIP in 2003. According to FIP, Kimbrel's 1.01 ERA was actually a bit higher than you'd expect from his peripherals. Kimbrel's FIP is about half of Aroldis Chapman's 1.55, the 2nd-best mark of 2012.
- 92.8% runner strand rate, which is the best in baseball this year.
- 0.654 WHIP; I don't like WHIP because it excludes some types of baserunners (notably, hit batsmen). I prefer BRIP (BaseRunners per Inning Pitched, including HBP and reaches on error). Overall, Kimbrel allowed 45 men to reach base in 62.2 IP. That's less than 0.72 runners per inning, which is 4th-best all-time behind two Eckersley years ('89 and '90) and Joaquin Benoit, of all people, in 2010.
- 14 walks, good for a 6.1% BB rate and a 2.0 BB/9. There's nothing historic about these rates, but they are still excellent, and a huge improvement over Kimbrel's 2011 rates of 10.5% and 3.7 BB/9.
- 8.28 K/BB ratio, 2nd-best in 2012 behind the Red Sox' Junichi Tazawa, who has a 9.00 K/BB with one game to go. Kimbrel's K/BB ranks 21st all time among relievers. I prefer to use the difference between K% and BB% instead of K/BB; subtracting Kimbrel's 6.1% BB rate from his 50.2% K rate results in a a (K-BB)% of 44.1%, which is easily the best all-time. Only a few pitchers have even had a K% higher than Kimbrel's (K-BB)%.
Congratulations to Craig for a fantastic season. I don't think he should be mentioned as a serious Cy Young candidate, simply because he pitched fewer than 63 innings. On a rate basis, however, he was clearly the best pitcher in baseball this year, and one of the best ever. That is certainly something to brag about.
Now, onward to the postseason, where hopefully Kimbrel can set a few more records.