Fantasy Baseball: The 33-Member 'Fantasy All-Star Team' for 2012

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 5, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: The 33-Member 'Fantasy All-Star Team' for 2012

0 of 33

    The following countdown touts The Fantasy Blog's 33-member "Fantasy All-Star Team" for 2012.

    For hitters, I made a conscious effort to reward those who posted superb marks in at least four categories. But there was one notable exception to that rule.

    For starting pitchers, I opted for the best combination of elite stats with wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP—with opponents' batting average as an informal tiebreaker.

    And for relief pitchers, well, four closers simply stood high above the rest.

    In case you're wondering, the biggest countdown snubs include Adam Jones, Joe Mauer, Ian Desmond, Yadier Molina, Billy Butler, Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Jose Reyes, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan ZimmermanChris Davis, Austin JacksonAlex Gordon, Josh ReddickKyle Lohse, Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.

    There's also James Shields, Matt KempCC Sabathia, Madison BumgarnerStarlin CastroMat Latos, Jason Motte, Rafael Soriano, Mark Trumbo, Joey Votto, Carlos Beltran, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Yoenis CespedesJosh Willingham, Miguel Montero, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Adam Dunn, Michael Bourn and David Wright.

    On a personal note, it broke my heart to proceed without Carlos Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton. But hey, you can only squeeze 70-plus players into 33 slots so many ways.

    Enjoy the show!

Special Mention: Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves

1 of 33

    2012 Stats: 10-1, 1.57 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 120/23 K/BB


    Forget about Kris Medlen's Aroldis Chapman-esque numbers from a topsy-turvy season that included 12 starts, 38 relief appearances and a curiously mediocre stint in the minors (0-2, 4.72 ERA).

    Or that he's been a productive force in Atlanta's run to Wild Card glory. And if he pitches well in the playoffs, Medlen would be a top-25 starting pitcher in next spring's roto drafts.

    For the time being, just focus on these comforting thoughts:

    1. Of Medlen's last 23 mound appearances, the Braves are 21-2 in that span.

    2. Of his last 12 starts, Medlen allowed a grand total of nine earned runs.

Special Mention: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

2 of 33

    2012 Stats: 15-6, 3.16 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 197/48 K/BB


    Everyone knows that Stephen Strasburg's season ended abruptly on Sept. 7 despite being healthy and just three strikeouts from the hallowed 200-K mark.

    But the Nationals (with a little help from agent Scott Boras) made the conscious decision of shutting Strasburg down in September, regardless of Washington's impending postseason run.

    In his 28 starts, Strasburg surrendered two runs or less 19 times. In that span, he also yielded three or fewer walks 24 times.

    Verdict: In a regular season of 35 starts (2013 and beyond), Strasburg will be a strong candidate for 21 wins and 240 strikeouts.

Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

3 of 33

    2012 Stats: 24 HR, 103 RBI, 78 runs, one steal, .336 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Buster Posey had his fingerprints on just about every relevant offensive category . Among catchers, he posted top-four numbers in runs, hits (178), doubles (39), homers, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage (.408), slugging (.549) and OPS (.957).

    2. Posey was the only catcher-eligible asset to crack triple digits in RBI (103).

    3. Splits-wise, Posey had four months of a .353 or higher batting average. And for July, August and September, he had three consecutive periods of 21 RBI and an OPS above 1.000.

    4. Posey is a viable candidate for National League MVP.

First Base: Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

4 of 33

    2012 Stats: 30 HR, 108 RBI, 83 runs, one steal, .313 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Despite a change of address over the winter (Milwaukee to Detroit), Prince Fielder still notched the sixth consecutive 30-homer campaign of his eight-year career. He also broke the 100-RBI mark for the fifth time.

    2. Fielder matched or eclipsed Albert Pujols' totals in hits (182), homers, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS (.940).

    3. From a walks-to-strikeout standpoint, Fielder had a Joey Votto-esque ratio of 85-to-84.

    4. Fielder earned this honor on his own merit, of course. But he's also fortunate that Miguel Cabrera moved to third base in the springtime.

Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

5 of 33

    2012 Stats: 33 HR, 94 RBI, 105 runs, three steals, .313 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Robinson Cano was the only second baseman to register 30 homers and 90 RBI this season. Think about that for a moment.

    2. Among his positional brethren, Cano scored outright victories in hits (196), doubles (48), homers, RBI, batting average, OBP (.379), slugging (.550) and OPS (.929).

    3. How's this for a mild upset: Cano tied a healthy Ian Kinsler (121 runs last year) in runs this year.

    4. Heading into next year's roto drafts, Cano is the class of his a country mile.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

6 of 33

    2012 Stats: 15 HR, 58 RBI, 99 runs, nine steals, .316 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Both Ian Desmond and Jimmy Rollins offered compelling reasons for this slot. But in the end, it was hard to deny Derek Jeter's superb season of 99 runs, 216 hits and a .316 batting average.

    2. Career numbers aren't a huge factor for this countdown, but it's worth noting that Jeter has eclipsed the 200-hit mark eight times in 18 MLB seasons.

    3. Splits-wise, Jeter had a .346 or higher batting average for April, July and August.

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

7 of 33

    2012 Stats: 44 HR, 139 RBI, 109 runs, four steals, .330 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Miguel Cabrera successfully warded off the late challenges of Mike Trout, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton and Joe Mauer to claim the American League Triple Crown. It had been 45 years since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished this feat for the 1967 Red Sox.

    2. Among his positional brethren at third base, Cabrera also took honors in runs, homers, batting average, on-base percentage (.393), slugging (.606) and OPS (.999).

    3. Cabrera was also the only third base-eligible asset to tally 200 hits.

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

8 of 33

    2012 Stats: 41 HR, 112 RBI, 108 runs, 30 steals, .319 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Batting average aside, Ryan Braun essentially replicated his numbers from 2011 (an MVP season). In fact, this year might have been better...thanks to a career-best 41 homers.

    2. Despite 35 more strikeouts this season, Braun (.391 OBP) almost duplicated last year's stellar OBP of .397.

    3. It's been said many times on The Fantasy Blog: From a five-category perspective, Braun is quite possibly the National League's most bankable asset.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

9 of 33

    2012 Stats: 43 HR, 128 RBI, 103 runs, seven steals, .285 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Josh Hamilton was only one of three outfielders (Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson) to tally 40 homers and reach triple digits with runs and RBI.

    2. Despite three months of a .245 or lower batting average (June, July, September), Hamilton still finished with a .285 average and .930 OPS.

    3. For April and May, Hamilton combined for 21 homers and 57 RBI. He also enjoyed back-to-back periods of a .400-plus OBP and 1.000-plus OPS.

    4. Hamilton's odyssey of nine homers and 18 RBI (May 7-13) stands as the season's greatest offensive a seven-day window.

Outfield: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

10 of 33

    2012 Stats: 27 HR, 102 RBI, 95 runs, four steals, .295 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Matt Holliday's five-year numbers hold up remarkably well, so much that he should remain a prime fantasy asset for the next three seasons.

    2. Among his positional brethren, Holliday boasts top-20 numbers in runs, hits, doubles, homers and RBI.

    3. Heading into his age-33 campaign, Holliday should be a healthy lock for 25 homers, 100 RBI, 90-plus runs and a .290 batting average.

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

11 of 33

    2012 Stats: 31 HR, 96 RBI, 107 runs, 20 steals, .327 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Andrew McCutchen took a giant leap forward in his fourth MLB season, morphing from perennial All-Star to likely seven-year superstar.

    2. Among the outfielders, McCutchen was the only player to collect 30 homers, 90 RBI, 100 runs, 20 steals and a .320 batting average. (Nit-picky alert: Braun finished with a .319 batting average.)

    3. Check out McCutchen's absurd splits for the season:

    **Three months of 19 or more runs
    **Three months of an OPS above 1.000...and six months of an OBP above .347
    **Four months of seven-plus homers
    **Four months of .300-plus hitting, with three stanzas of .360 or above

Outfield: Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox

12 of 33

    2012 Stats: 25 HR, 91 RBI, 93 Runs, 23 Steals, .304 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Alex Rios established or tied career highs in triples, homers, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage.

    2. Splits-wise, Rios had two months of an OPS above .900, three months of five-plus homers, four months of 16-plus RBI/.300 batting average and five months of 15-plus runs.

    3. Among his positional brethren, only three outfielders (Rios, Braun, McCutchen) finished with 25 homers, 90 RBI, 90 runs, 20 steals and a .300 batting average.

Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

13 of 33

    2012 Stats: 30 HR, 83 RBI, 129 runs, 49 steals, .326 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Mike Trout's supporting numbers (.399 OBP, .564 slugging, .963 OPS) barely reveal the full story of his late April to September dominance.

    2. Trout's 10.7 WAR value (Wins Above Replacement) was on par with Ted Williams in his heyday...and a full 2.5 points higher than Robinson Cano for 2012.

    3. On a per-game basis, Trout averaged 1.31 hits, 0.93 runs and 0.35 steals. From a power standpoint, he belted one homer for every 18.6 at-bats.

    4. Of the top 20 steals leaders, Trout and Ryan Braun were the only speed demons with slugging rates above .500.

    5. For the month-long window of June 8 to July 7, Trout ranked first in runs (31), second in hits (40), 17th in homers (six) and first in steals (17). For good measure, he batted .360 in that time frame.

    6. Trout needed only 139 games to rank first in runs, hits, triples, steals, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS among Angels batters—along with third in homers and fourth in RBI.

Utility Spot: Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees

14 of 33

    2012 Stats: 43 HR, 106 RBI, 102 runs, 10 steals, .232 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. It's easy to look past Curtis Granderson's middling marks in batting average (.232) and OBP (.319). These are the perks of finishing with 40 homers, double-digit steals and 100-plus RBI and runs.

    2. Granderson notched five-plus homers in every month. He also scored 16 or more runs five times.

Utility Spot: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies

15 of 33

    2012 Stats: 23 HR, 68 RBI, 102 runs, 30 steals, .250 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    Jimmy Rollins was only one of three MLB players to amass 20 homers, 30 steals and 100 runs this season.

    From a five-category standpoint, especially with middle infielders...what else do you need in roto leagues?

Utility Spot: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres

16 of 33

    2012 Stats: 31 HR, 115 RBI, 95 runs, 17 steals, .286 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Of the five main categories, Chase Headley topped the Mets' David Wright in four areas, losing only in batting average.

    2. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 19, the 28-year-old Headley racked up 16 homers, 52 RBI, 33 runs and a .320 batting average—elite-level numbers accrued while playing his home games at cavernous Petco Park.

    3. The list of players with 30 homers, 110-plus RBI, 95 runs and 15-plus steals is very short. For one season at least, Headley stands as a true fantasy star.

Utility Spot: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

17 of 33

    2012 Stats: 42 HR, 110 RBI, 93 runs, 13 steals, .280 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Edwin Encarnacion's five-category numbers had few peers, lending credence to his career resurgence in his late 20s.

    2. Encarnacion may have produced the most remarkably balanced splits of 2012. Throwing out June's acceptable numbers (five homers/13 RBI), E-5 collected at least six homers and 17 RBI in the other five months.

    3. He also had three months of a .308 or higher batting average (April, June, July).

    4. Encarnacion was the undisputed anchor for the Blue Jays, a club that was ravaged by pitching and hitting injuries throughout the season.

Utility Spot: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

18 of 33

    2012 Stats: 36 HR, 102 RBI, 95 runs, one steal, .321 BA

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Splits-wise, Adrian Beltre had few rivals: three months of six-plus homers, four months of 15-plus runs, four months of 18-plus RBI and five months of a .317 or higher batting average.

    2. From Aug. 1 to Oct. 3, Beltre notched an incredible 18 homers, 38 runs and 41 RBI.

    3. If it wasn't for Miggy Cabrera, Beltre would have gotten a ton of fantasy publicity the final two months.

    Bottom line: Heading into his age-34 campaign, Beltre shall remain a healthy lock for 30 homers, 100 RBI, 90 runs and a .310 batting average.

    In other words, you'd be crazy to let him slide past Round 3 in 12-team leagues.

Starting Pitcher: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

19 of 33

    2012 Stats: 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 193/51 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Matt Cain eclipsed previous career bests in wins (14), ERA (2.88), WHIP (1.08) and strikeouts (186).

    2. In his last 10 starts, Cain posted the following marks: 6-0, 2.28 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 51 strikeouts.

    3. Of his 32 seasonal starts, Cain yielded just two or less earned runs 21 times. With walks, he was a superb 29-of-32 in allowing three or fewer free passes.

    4. For the season, the Giants wunderkind registered six-plus strikeouts 18 times, including 14 on June 13 against the Astros—otherwise known as Cain's perfect game.

Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

20 of 33

    2012 Stats: 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 170/49 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Johnny Cueto posted elite-level numbers in wins, ERA and WHIP over the last two seasons. In effect, he's just scratching the surface of his immense potential.

    2. Cueto was only one of six MLB pitchers to register 16 wins, a sub-3.00 ERA and WHIP of 1.17 or below.

    3. Of his 33 starts, the Reds ace surrendered two earned runs or less 22 times. In that span, he allowed three or fewer walks 29 times.

    4. Cueto, who turns 27 in February, is a solid bet for 20 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA next season.

Starting Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets

21 of 33

    2012 Stats: 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 230/54 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. From May 22 to June 18 (spanning 48.2 innings), R.A. Dickey had a 6-0 mark, 0.18 ERA, 0.53 WHIP and otherworldly ratio with walks and strikeouts (63/5). It stands as the best six-start run of any pitcher this year.

    2. In that span, Dickey also cruised through five straight starts without surrendering one earned run.

    3. The 37-year-old Dickey crushed previous career highs in victories, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, complete games and K-BB ratio.

    4. Dickey may be the odds-on favorite to capture the National League Cy Young.

Starting Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals

22 of 33

    2012 Stats: 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 207/76 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. For a second consecutive season, Gio Gonzalez matched or eclipsed the previous year's output in wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP—an impressive feat considering his 2010 marks with Oakland (15-9, 3.23 ERA, 171 strikeouts).

    2. Of his 32 starts this season, Gonzalez yielded just two or less runs 20 times. In that span, he was also 26-of-32 in allowing three walks or fewer.

    3. From April 12 to June 21—spanning 13 starts and 81 innings—the Nationals southpaw went 9-3 with a 2.22 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 95-31 K-BB ratio.

    4. Gonzalez had 10 outings of eight-plus strikeouts. Of equal importance, he shaved 43 points off his ERA from July 19 to Sept. 27.

Starting Pitcher: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

23 of 33

    2012 Stats: 17-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 216/52 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. At age 28, Cole Hamels has become a lock for 16 wins, 3.10 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 210 strikeouts, with limited variations from year to year.

    2. Hamels may also be the clear ace of Philly's dynamic rotation (featuring Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Cloyd).

    3. Of his 31 seasonal starts, Hamels yielded just two or less runs 16 times. In that span, he was a sparkling 30-of-31 in allowing three or fewer walks.

    4. Hamels notched six-plus strikeouts in 26 starts, sharing honors among National League pitchers with Clayton Kershaw.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

24 of 33

    2012 Stats: 13-9, 3.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 223/56 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Felix Hernandez recorded at least 217 strikeouts for a fourth consecutive season, and he just missed out on his third sub-3.00 ERA campaign in that span.

    2. From June 17 to Aug. 27, spanning 109 innings, King Felix had the following numbers: 9-0, 1.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 100/17 K-BB ratio. It was unequivocally the most dominant 14-start stretch of any pitcher this season.

    3. The 2013 Mariners should be markedly improved, meaning that Fernandez wouldn't have to be near-perfect every month for another shot at 19 wins (his 2009 tally).

    4. The Seattle ace posted 10 outings of eight-plus strikeouts. He was also on the short list of MLB pitchers with double-digit strikeouts in consecutive starts.

    5. For the season, Hernandez surrendered two or less runs in 21 starts.

Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

25 of 33

    2012 Stats: 14-9, 2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 229/63 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Of his 33 starts, Clayton Kershaw surrendered just two or less earned runs 24 times—the highest total of any pitcher in this countdown.

    2. How's this for incredible? In Kershaw's final 12 starts, he allowed two or less runs 11 times. In that span, he had a 7-3 record, 1.55 ERA and 93 strikeouts.

    3. For my money, Kershaw is the most comfortable lock for 20 wins, a 2.50 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 220 strikeouts in 2013. Quite simply, he's one of fantasy's most bankable assets.

    4. Kershaw will soon be owed another 20-victory campaign from the fantasy gods—thanks to a bevy of hard-luck outings this season.

Starting Pitcher: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

26 of 33

    2012 Stats: 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 205/59 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. David Price matched or eclipsed career highs in wins (19), ERA (2.72), WHIP (1.11) and K/9 ratio (8.7) this season. Of equal importance, he broke the 200-strikeout mark in back-to-back years.

    2. From June 19 to Aug. 21, Price was an immaculate 12-of-12 in allowing three earned runs or less, including four scoreless gems. He was unblemished in giving up three walks or fewer as well.

    3. In that time span, Price also had an 8-0 record and notched seven or more strikeouts nine times.

    4. For the season, Price recorded 11 outings of eight-plus strikeouts. He was also on the short list of MLB pitchers to log double-digit strikeouts in consecutive starts.

    5. Speaking of short lists...Price is among the few elite candidates for Cy Young honors in the American League.

Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

27 of 33

    2012 Stats: 17-8, 3.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 192/51 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. From May 17 to June 9 (covering five starts and 36.2 innings), Chris Sale had a 5-0 mark, 0.98 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 43-7 K-BB ratio.

    2. In that span, he also ranked second in wins, third in ERA, fourth in K/BB ratio, second in opponents' batting average (.150) and second in WHIP among starting pitchers.

    3. Of his 30 starts, Sale allowed just two or less runs 18 times.

    4. Sale had four games of double-digit strikeouts, including an absurd 15 against the Rays on May 28.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

28 of 33

    2012 Stats: 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 239/60 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Of his 33 starts, Justin Verlander yielded two or less runs 22 times, or 66 percent of his appearances. Of the other 11 outings, the Tigers ace allowed three runs four times.

    2. From Aug. 6 to Sept. 8, spanning eight starts, Verlander notched double-digit strikeouts three times.

    3. Despite three clunker outings this year, Verlander's ERA never went higher than 2.91. In fact, he shaved 27 points off the final tally in a 15-day flurry to close the season (Sept. 14-29).

    4. If anyone has a chance to beat David Price or Jered Weaver for AL Cy's Verlander.

    5. For the next few years, Verlander is a healthy lock for 18 wins,  a 2.67 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 230 strikeouts.

Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

29 of 33

    2012 Stats: 20-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 142/45 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In a season stalled by annoying injuries, Jered Weaver still racked up a career-best 20 wins, and his ERA of 2.81 was easily the second-best mark of his stellar seven-year career.

    2. For the year, Weaver posted eight full outings of zero runs allowed and five others with just one run surrendered.

    3. The Angels ace won nine straight appearances from June 20 to Aug. 6, yielding three runs or less eight times.

    4. Splits-wise, Weaver had an unblemished record for three months. His numbers in July: 6-0, 2.23 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 26-9 K-BB ratio.

    5. Weaver is a prime candidate to win the AL Cy Young.

Closer: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

30 of 33

    2012 Stats: 1.51 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 38-of-43 save opps, 122/23 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    While it's true that Aroldis Chapman cooled off during September—a time when his Reds were cruising in the National League Central standings—here's a more revealing snapshot of his  2012 production.

    For July...

    1. Over 14.1 innings, only eight opposing hitters reached base on Chapman (two by walk), and the cumulative batting average was .122.

    2. Chapman allowed zero runs and posted a microscopic WHIP of 0.56 for the month.

    3. He was a perfect 13-of-13 in save opportunities.

    4. Chapman's K/9 ratio for July was 19.5, easily his best effort of the season. (Point of reference: A low K/9 for Chapman would represent something in the 15s.)

    5. His K/BB rate of 15.5 was three times the amount of his splits for April, May and June. In fact, if you added up the first three months, it would barely surpass that of July.

    Verdict: From my seat in the dugout, it would not be a misstep to invest a Round 2 or 3 pick on Chapman next March (health permitting). He brings No. 2-starter production to an elite closer slot.

Closer: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

31 of 33

    2012 Stats: 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 42-of-45 save opps, 116/14 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Aroldis Chapman may have been unstoppable for sustained periods of 2012, but Craig Kimbrel was still the season's best fantasy closer. In fact, Kimbel's 2012 numbers exceeded that of a phenomenal rookie campaign (2011).

    2. Check this out: From May 8 to Oct. 3, Kimbrel didn't allow a walk in back-to-back games. During that span, he gave up a base hit in consecutive outings only three times.

    3. Among the closers, Kimbrel and Chapman are in a class of their own, especially with strikeouts.

Closer: Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles

32 of 33

    2012 Stats: 2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 51-of-54 save opps, 41/15 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. From 2006 to 2011, Jim Johnson only had 21 MLB saves to his credit. For this season alone, he easily doubled that figure.

    2. From Aug. 5 to Oct. 3, Johnson had two separate streaks of recording one save in nine straight games.

Closer: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays

33 of 33

    2012 Stats: 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 48-of-50 save opps, 76/15 K/BB

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Fernando Rodney was tantalizingly close to having a perfect season. His ERA and WHIP totals were off the charts, and his opponents' batting average (.167) fit comfortably between the OBAs for Kimbrel and Chapman.

    2. Splits-wise, Rodney tallied five months of a sub-1.00 ERA, six months of a sub-1.00 WHIP and six months of six or more saves.