Braves rookie Kimbrel replaces Cain on NL All-Star roster

Craig Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel has came a long way since his days at Wallace State Community College.

The Atlanta Braves rookie phenom Craig Kimbrel finally got the call Sunday night that he was headed to Arizona for the 2011 All-Star game. It was anticipated throughout the weekend that he would be joining baseball’s best, but the announcement couldn’t be made until the Giants game was played and Matt Cain started pitching. There was a chance the game could have been rained out or something crazy could have happened preventing Cain from pitching, which would have had him flying to Phoenix instead of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel got the nod over fellow (disgruntled) teammate Tommy Hanson. A little more on Hanson later.

Last week, Kimbrel (28 saves) passed Jonathan Papelbon‘s rookie record of 26 saves before the All-Star break. Kimbrel leads the majors in saves, with the rest of the NL All-Star closers each at 26 saves. He also leads all major league relievers with 70 strikeouts. While Kimbrel hasn’t allowed a run in his past 14 appearances, before that time, it was widely debated who should close, Venters or Kimbrel?

Since then, Venters has been a tad shaky, and manager Fredi Gonzalez acknowledged a little overload in Venters’ work, giving him a little more rest between games. Gonzalez’s decision to keep Kimbrel in the closer’s role has paid off.

NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy more than likely picked Kimbrel over Hanson (Cain was a manager’s pick, so the manager gets to pick another player to replace him) because Kimbrel is use to coming out of the pen and could warm up faster. Since Hanson wouldn’t start the game, it would take him longer, and he wouldn’t be used to coming out of the pen as Kimbrel is. I agree with the assessment; it gives them a better chance to win, but Hanson should be an All-Star.

When Cole Hamels couldn’t participate, as well (pitched on Sunday), it was believed that Hanson would get the nod. But, since Hamels was a player vote, the next spot would go to the player who was next in votes received. Kevin Correia of the Pirates shocked the Braves and took the honor.

Hanson is 10-4 and fourth in ERA at 2.52, but ranks first in opponents batting average at .192.

He should have been an All-Star.

Hanson, after his start against the Phillies on Saturday, said this about the All-Star game:

“I feel like I’m kind of in a groove right now. I feel like I’m throwing the ball really well, and I’m locating my pitches and helping my team out. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make the All-Star team. I obviously do, but I don’t have any control over it. I have control over what I do on the mound every fifth day. And I went out there and did my job. I guess we’ll see what happens. I haven’t heard anything. If I made it, I’ll go, if I don’t, I won’t.”

If you followed him at all the past week, you could tell he was upset. Earlier, he dodged questions about it or said “I don’t care.” He responded with two steller starts after learning that he wasn’t going to be an All-Star. He’s pissed and should be.

I like a pissed off Tommy Hanson, he just keeps getting better.

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