Top 10 Closers At The Halfway Mark
Well, here at the halfway mark, debate is brewing about the best statistical players at each position.
Most of the larger debates focus on hitters and starting pitching, but I want to take a look at one of the most important guys on the roster: the closer.
These ninth inning wonders are the guys that are the final piece in most victories during the season, and some of them have punched their ticket to St. Louis.
This list is made up of young guys and future Hall of Famers alike, playing some of the best baseball we have seen this season.
I'm mostly factoring in saves, ERA, blown saves, strikeouts, walks, and batting average against.
Feel free to give your opinion in the comments section or write your own list.
10. Brian Fuentes
Fuentes leads the MLB with 24 saves.
Other than that stat—and his walks total—nothing is too impressive.
He has 32 strikeouts and only nine walks.
Like K-Rod, Fuentes has blown three games this season, and despite a great start, has hit a few rough patches.
Opposing batters are hitting .224 against him and his ERA has ballooned to 3.38.
I also question Fuentes' admission into the All-Star game.
9. Francisco Rodriguez
It is true that K-Rod is one of the best closers in the major leagues today, but his numbers this season have been shaky.
I question his admission into the All-Star game due to his three blown saves and 22 walks.
Rodriguez has been able to collect 21 saves this season.
K-Rod has been throwing too many pitches in his innings of work, but has managed to put up stats that get him to number nine on this list.
His ERA of 1.59 is still one of the best in the league, and his 40 strikeouts, thus far, has placed him in the middle of the strikeout race.
His best argument for a ticket to St. Louis is his opponent's batting average, which is only .188.
8. Huston Street
Street's statistics make a pretty decent argument to earn him a trip to St. Louis.
Although not included in this year's All-Star game, Street has had a great season thus far, collecting 20 saves and only blowing one.
Street's ERA is currently 2.62, and batters are only hitting .214 against him.
Street's strikeout to walk ratio is solid, currently at 41-to-10.
Should he be in the All-Star game over K-Rod ?
I think so.
Would he be in there if he played in the AL?
7. Jonathan Broxton
Broxton is in the middle of the best year of his career.
Not only is he closing for the best team in the big leagues, but he is a member of this year's All-Star team, and rightfully so.
While opponents are batting a mere .209 against him, Broxton's standout statistic is his strikeout total of 65, which tops this list.
Broxton has racked up 20 saves this season and has only blown two.
He has a current ERA of 2.27, but with the way he is pitching, he could get below two as the season progresses.
The high ERA is due to a game on July 5, where Broxton allowed his first base runner and earned runs since June 21.
6. Jonathan Papelbon
Papelbon is having another All-Star year.
Over in Boston, Papelbon is establishing himself as one of the best closers in Red Sox history, and his numbers this season are on par with his previous years.
Papelbon's ERA is top-five,currently sitting at 1.75, and batters are hitting just .198 against him.
Papelbon has blown two saves this season, making him quite reliable in late game situations.
Papelbon's 17 walks are a bit high this season, but his 35 K's place him somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Currently tied for seventh, Papelbon has collected 20 saves this season.
5. Mariano Rivera
In the season of his 500th save, Mariano Rivera is once again putting up stellar numbers.
In his first half of another All-Star season, hitters are currently posting a batting average of .213 against Rivera.
Rivera has consistently been one of the most reliable closers in the game, and has kept it up this season with only one blown save.
Rivera, with 21 saves, has posted an ERA of 2.60, and has struck out 42 batters.
Rivera has shown ridiculous control this year, as he has only walked three batters this season—giving him the least out of anyone on this list.
4. Francisco Cordero
Francisco Cordero has a very solid ERA (1.80) and opponents are only batting .238 against him.
Cordero has been reliable out of the bullpen this season and has only blown one save.
He's struck out 30 batters, but has walked 15—a number that has room for improvement.
Cordero also has 20 saves, currently tied for seventh.
3. Heath Bell
Heath Bell is one of the most dominant closers in the game right now.
As of now, batters are hitting just .238 against him.
He has the third best ERA on this list, currently at 1.49.
Bell is second in the MLB in saves, with 23, and has only blown one opportunity.
Bell has walked 15 batters in 36.1 innings pitched, which is a bit high, but is in the middle of the pack for this list.
2. Ryan Franklin
Ryan Franklin sports the best ERA out of anyone on the list, currently at 0.84
Batters are hitting .264 against him; not the best on the list, but not too shabby.
He is also doing well in the walk category, with only seven walks.
The only place he is really lacking is in strikeouts, with just 24.
Franklin has collected 20 saves this season and has only blown one.
1. Joe Nathan
Joe Nathan is currently tied with Brian Wilson of the Giants for third in total saves, with 22.
Other than that stat, Nathan is head and shoulders above Wilson.
Nathan has blown two saves this year, which is the only part of his stats which could be better, considering most of the guys at the top of this list have only blown one.
Nathan's ERA is currently at 1.35, the second best in the majors.
Nathan leads Franklin in every other stat, which matters in making this list.
Opponents are hitting just .202 against him, showing his dominance in closing games.
Compared to his seven walks, which is tied with Franklin, Nathan has almost double the strikeouts with 43.
Nathan is the best closer in the majors and has earned his ticket to St. Louis, without much argument.