2012 Fantasy Baseball NL-Only Closer Rankings

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IMarch 25, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves closes the game against the New York Mets at Turner Field on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Mets beat the Braves 7-5.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

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.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 01:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants poses during spring training photo day on March 1, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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 

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Huston Street #16 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait during a photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

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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