Any lingering hope of Freeman winning the NL MVP Award or Kimbrel being named the NL Cy Young Award winner evaporated when the finalists for each of this year's BBWAA awards were announced on Tuesday night.
Despite being burdened by multiple key injuries and the struggles endured by his club's two highest-paid players -- B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla -- Gonzalez guided the Braves to a 96-win season and their first division title since 2005. Atlanta sat at the top of the NL East standings for all but one day during the season.
Gonzalez's steady demeanor helped the Braves remain focused and display resiliency. The relief corps set a franchise record with a 2.46 bullpen ERA despite going through most of the season without top setup men Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters, who both underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in the middle of May.
Two days after losing veteran starter Tim Hudson to a season-ending ankle injury July 24, the Braves began a 14-game winning streak that essentially ended killed any suspense surrounding the NL East race.
Gonzalez has finished among the top five in NL Manager of the Year voting at the end of three of the past five seasons. The Braves have more wins (279) than any other NL club since Gonzalez assumed the unenviable role as Bobby Cox's successor before the 2011 season.
Freeman displayed his tremendous potential and proved to be Atlanta's most consistent contributor. But his production was not enough to be among the finalists for the NL MVP Award. The finalists are Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and St. Louis' Yadier Molina.
Freeman batted .319 with 23 home runs and a .897 OPS. On the way to driving in a career-best 109 runs, the 24-year-old first baseman ranked second in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position (.443). His .411 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring ranked fourth in the Senior Circuit.
McCutchen led all NL players with a 8.2 WAR. Goldschmidt ranked fourth (6.4) and Molina sixth (5.6). Freeman's team-high 4.8 WAR stood as the NL's 11th best mark.
Kimbrel has spent the past couple of years creating reason to wonder if he will become the first closer to win a Cy Young Award since Eric Gagne with the Dodgers in 2003. But Kimbrel's bid will have to wait at least one more year. The finalists for the NL Cy Young are Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw, Miami's Jose Fernandez and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright.
While Kimbrel might not have been as utterly dominant as he was when he struck out more than half the batters he faced in 2012, he spent this season establishing himself as one of the game's most feared closers.
Kimbrel compiled a 1.21 ERA and struck out 38 percent (111 of 292) of the batters he faced in his 68 appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander converted 50 of 54 save opportunities, including 40 of his last 41. His career-best 50 saves matched Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the most in the Majors.
While Julio Teheran and possibly Evan Gattis will receive votes in the balloting for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, neither was named a finalist. The finalists were Fernandez, St. Louis' Shelby Miller and Los Angeles' Yasiel Puig.