Fantasy Rankings 2012: Closers
Everyone has their own strategy when it comes to closers. It is the most volatile position in fantasy baseball. Some like to draft the elite closers early to ensure dominance. I will say that in a head to head league, that might not be a bad idea since they account for 1/10th of the weekly score. Some people like to wait until late and snag what’s left. Some even punt the saves category all together to load up in other areas. I will say that I believe it is never a good idea to punt a category in rotisserie scoring leagues. If you punt just one category, you need to win two others just to make up for that one. Head to head scoring, I think it is a viable strategy as long as you don’t waste your picks.
All of that being said, here are the relief pitcher rankings this season. Age was taken into account, as well as quality of the team they play for. I pretty much ignore ballpark factors since they only pitch one inning. Enjoy, and as always feel free to comment.
1) Craig Kimbrel – Clearly the best relief pitcher this year. His K-rate might drop a bit, but he will still be a dominant closer for years to come.
2) Mariano Rivera – Another year, another dominating performance. It doesn’t get any better than Mo. The only reason he isn’t number one is because of his retirement talks and his age.
3) John Axford – The Brewers found themselves a good closer.
4) Jonathan Papelbon - In 2011, he got his walk rate fixed from where it had been the previous 2 years. If he maintains that improvement, his numbers last year proved him to be a dominant closer. A switch to the NL from the AL East will also be welcomed by Papelbon i am sure
5) Drew Storen – His control concerns me, but he held on to the job last year down the stretch. There are other good options behind him in the Nats pen, so he needs to improve that control.
6) Joel Hanrahan – He had an outstanding year last year, but he plays for the Pirates.
7) Kenley Jansen – He will be the Dodger’s closer this year. I bet he is by the All-Star break. His K’s alone make him worth the roster spot.
8) Ryan Madson – He will be playing for a good team that will give him enough opportunities to rack up 35+ saves.
9) Jason Motte – He was flat out amazing last year, and he will come later in drafts because of the lack of name recognition. A sub-1.00 WHIP is sexy if it comes with 35 saves.
10) Brian Wilson – Health concerns knock him down a bit this year, but when healthy he has great stuff and plenty of opportunities
11 ) J.J. Putz – He was an under the radar pick last year. This year, he wont come quite as cheap. Last year wasn’t a fluke, you just have to wonder about his health.
12) Joakim Soria – A couple of disappointing years have knocked his stock down a bit. He still has the talent and is playing for an improving Royals team.
13) Brandon League – Nobody noticed his sub-3.00 ERA last year because he plays in Seattle, but he was outstanding. The Mariners wont be blowing out teams this year, so he should rack up 30+ saves.
14) Jose Valverde – Solid and reliable. He will have plenty of opportunities and his ERA/WHIP will be average. He K’s one an inning, so that makes him completely average all the way around.
15) Heath Bell – We will get to see how he performs away from the friendly confines of Petco Park. I don’t expect a huge drop-off, but you always worry when Padres pitchers go elsewhere.
16) Sergio Santos – Toronto will be a good fit for him. Expect much of what he did last year.
17) Andrew Bailey – Injury risk, not to mention there are closing options ready to go behind him in Melancon, Bard, and Jenks. If healthy, he is the best man for the job and will have tons of save opportunities.
18) Jordan Walden – When he learns how to stay in the strike zone consistently with his fastball, he could become a dominant closer. As is, he is good, young and will bring more than 1 K per IP.
19) Rafael Betancourt – He showed at the end of the year that he was more than capable of handling the closer’s role. A lack of viable options behind him help his job security.
20) Joe Nathan – I see him as being this year’s JJ Putz. He was a dominant closing force in year’s past that’s going to be relatively healthy this year. He’s the man in Texas, and will have plenty of save opportunities.
Honorable Mentions: Huston Street, Kyle Farnsworth, Jim Johnson, Chris Perez