ATLANTA -- Braves closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman have been recognized as finalists for the National League's Outstanding Rookie category for this year's Players Choice Awards.
The Players Choice Awards are determined via ballots cast by Major League players in September. Winners will be announced exclusively on MLB Network, Thursday, Nov. 3, from 8-9 p.m. ET during the broadcast of The 2011 Players Choice Awards Presented by 2K Sports.
Kimbrel enjoyed one of the finest seasons for a rookie closer until he stumbled down the stretch. Still, the 23-year-old right-handed reliever set a Major League rookie record with 46 saves and recorded 127 strikeouts in just 77 innings.
Before blowing three of his final six save opportunities, Kimbrel was essentially automatic during a stretch of 37 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings that spanned from June 12 to Sept. 9. He limited opponents to a .178 batting average this season and recorded 14.84 strikeouts per nine innings.
Freeman might have been the most consistent performer in the Braves' lineup this year. The 22-year-old first baseman batted .282 with 21 homers and a .795 OPS. He batted .295 with 18 homers in his final 128 games of the season.
Freeman led NL rookies in batting average, hits (161), doubles (32), homers, RBIs, on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.448).
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.