Here’s the 2012 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for NL-Only Leagues.
1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Recorded 46 saves last year with a 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and an absurd 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. With a top-notch pitching staff, he should see plenty of save opportunities once again.
2. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew will miss Prince Fielder, but they still have a rock-solid rotation. Axford picked up 46 saves with a 1.95 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 86 Ks in 73.2 innings. He more than proved that 2010 wasn’t a fluke.
3. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Talk about having a good starting rotation to pitch behind. Papelbon saved 31 games last year with a 2.94 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 87 Ks in 64.1 innings. His only issue is that his starters often finish their games.
4. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
Wilson’s health had a lot to with his struggles last year. Still he managed 36 saves with a 3.11 ERA, a 1.47 WHIP and 54 Ks in 55 innings. I expect much more this year.
5. Heath Bell, Miami Marlins
I don’t love the fact that he is no longer in PETCO, but Bell is still a top-tier closer. He had 43 saves last year with a 2.44 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 51 Ks in 62.2 innings.
6. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals
Certainly met his lofty expectations with 43 saves, a 2.75 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 74 Ks in 75.1 innings.
7. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks
Putz has a solid pitching staff to finish up for. Plus he had 45 saves, a 2.17 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and 61 Ks in 58.0 innings.
8. Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Speaking of oft-injured, Street also fits that bill. Escaping from Colorado to San Diego is about as dramatic an improvements as you can make. Plus, he stays within the division.
9. Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates
Collected 40 saves last year to go along with a 1.83 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 61 Ks in 68.2 IP.
10. Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
Picked up 34 saves and racked up 99 Ks in 74.0 IP, but his ERA was at 4.01 and his WHIP at 1.38.
11. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
Finally solidified the Cardinals’ ninth-inning duties with nine saves, a 2.25 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and 63 Ks in 68 innings.
12. Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies
He was a tale of two seasons. Before the All-Star break he posted a 4.84 ERA in 35.1 innings. After the break he gave up just one earned run (0.33 ERA) in 27.0 innings. He’s somewhere in between.
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