Written By Todd Farino, http://www.fantasybaseballsearch.com
Player: Billy Wagner
Team: Atlanta Braves
FBS Sleeper Rank: No. 2/30
I've never had a sleeper list headlined by two closers, but 2010 is a special year. Last April Billy Wagner was on the shelf for most of the season. Tommy John surgery was the cause and most players would have sat out the whole year, but Wagner was determined to get back and get back he did.
After being traded to the Red Sox in late August, Billy Wagner proved he could still pitch. In 17 appearances, Wagner racked up 26 strikeouts and a surprising 1.78 ERA. Although his control wasn't perfect, Wagner showed no ill effect from the surgery. Better yet, he didn't lose his fierce, competitive demeanor on the mound and that is part of his effectiveness. Unfortunately, it was MIA the last few months he pitched with the Mets.
In 2010 Wagner will be the closer for the Atlanta Braves and they make an excellent fit. The Braves have a solid pitching staff of Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, and Tim Hudson. With an inconsistent offense, the Braves will be involved in plenty of close games and that means lots of work for Wagner. My projections at The Closer Report gave the Braves 51 saves, so Wagner projects to rack up at least 40 saves himself.
The negatives on Wagner aren't much, but you have to worry about his health and the impact of surgery. Pitchers normally come back stronger after Tommy John surgery because of the rehab involved. They tend to lose strength by the second season after the surgery, so it will be interesting to see how Wagner's arm holds up. Health has always been a concern for Wagner, but after nearly a year of rest he is poised for a long, healthy year.
Currently, Wagner's ADP is round 14. He is much more valuable than that and managers need to understand his value as a lefty and his K/9 rate. If he is there in round 12, don't hesitate to draft him.
The True Guru Projections: 40 saves, four wins, 80 Ks, 2.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
I feel this player will achieve my projections through our formula based on 11 herbs and spices (it's locked at Fort Knox). Of course we are assuming he stays relatively healthy for the entire season.
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