Closers are perhaps the bane of fantasy baseball. While they can help in a few categories they really are only useful in one, and that’s Saves. The almighty Save, one stat of 10 or more, but we enter every draft knowing three things about closers;
1) there are only 30 of them to be had
2) most of them will be replaced at some point during the season due to trade, injury or poor performance
3) every season new closers will emerge out of nowhere and it’s a guessing game to pick who they might be.
So that begs the question, where should one draft a Closer, or what strategy should you use in doing so? The simple answer is, there is no simple answer. There are too many variables for drafting this position. But here are a few thoughts:
1) Never draft a relief pitcher earlier than the 6th round, not even the elite ones, because even the best closer in the game can’t impact your score as much as a solid offensive producer or quality starting pitcher.
2) If you grab an elite closer, wait and grab a middle or later round closer, then take a flyer on a 3rd late, even if it’s just a prospect chomping at the bit. Don’t waste an early pick grabbing a second elite closer. It’s a sure fire way to kill your team.
3) Let someone else pay a premium for the elite game stoppers and grab two middle-round solid closers, then pick up a high upside guy late.
4) Always remember, closers are the most coveted position, and most overvalued. Don’t over pay or over play.
5) Follow the flow of the draft and adjust your closer plan as it unfolds. An elite closer run could happen early, or one could slip to you late. Be prepared to adapt your game plan to the flow of the draft and you’ll be better prepared to make the right call.
In the end, follow your gut. Do what feels right to you. Advice is simply one person’s opinion, hopefully based on solid experience, but it’s never more important than your own.
The following rankings may change dramatically as spring training unfolds, as they seem to every season, and we will endeavor to update them frequently. Just know that things can change in the time it takes me to finish this article.
JS = Job Security – Good, Fair, Poor
In Bold = Guys I’m high on in 2010
|Tier 1||Team||JS||Successor in Waiting||One Liners|
|1||Joe Broxton||LAD||G||George Sherrill||Safe a bet as it gets|
|2||Mariano Rivera||NYY||G||Phil Hughes||Getting older, but the saves are always there|
|3||Joe Nathan||MIN||G||Matt Guerrier||How will the new park effect him?|
|4||Jonathan Papelbon||BOS||G||Daniel Bard||Flyballs and walk stats rising|
|5||Joakim Soria||KCC||G||Kyle Farnsworth||Similar line to Papelbon at a better price|
|6||Francisco Rodriguez||NYM||G||Kelvim Escobar||3.71 ERA in ‘09. Ouch|
|7||Billy Wagner||ATL||F||Takashi Saito||My leap of faith in his ability and recovery|
|8||Heath Bell||SD||F||Edward Mujica||Likely to be traded by all-star break|
|9||Andrew Bailey||OAK||F||Brad Zeigler||Can he avoid a sophomore slump?|
|10||Francisco Cordero||CIN||G||Nick Massett||Not flashy, but safe|
|11||Huston Street||COL||P||Franklin Morales||Let someone else assume the risk|
|12||Brian Fuentes||ANA||F||Fernando Rodney||Lots of saves, but he’ll give you a stroke|
|13||Brian Wilson||SF||F||Jeremy Affeldt||Somehow gets it done|
|14||Jose Valverde||DET||P||Joel Zumaya||Could be a nice surprise comeback|
|15||Trevor Hoffman||MIL||G||LaTroy Hawkins||Old reliable, emphasis on old|
|16||Chad Qualls||ARI||F||Juan Gutierrez||Should be ready by opening day|
|17||Rafael Soriano||TB||F||JP Howell||Injury concern, but great stuff|
|18||Brad Lidge||PHI||P||Ryan Madson||Plays better in even years, risk/reward|
|19||Bobby Jenks||CHW||F||Matt Thornton||He’s not getting much love this season|
|20||Ryan Franklin||STL||F||Kyle McClellan||Solid and safe pick, LaRussa likes his vets|
|21||Carlos Marmol||CHC||F||Angel Guzman||Cardiac kid can throw the heat|
|22||Frank Francisco||TEX||P||C.J. Wilson||He still has the job…somehow|
|23||Octavio Dotel||PIT||F||Joel Hanrahan||Could be a steal this season|
|24||Kerry Wood||CLE||F||Chris Perry||Perry will take over sometime this season|
|25||Jason Frasor||TOR||P||Kevin Gregg||If Frasor can keep Gregg at bay…|
|26||David Aardsma||SEA||F||Mark Lowe||I just don’t like this guy, but a save’s a save|
|27||Matt Lidstrom||HOU||P||Brandon Lyon||Handcuff these two|
|28||Mike Gonzalez||BAL||P||Jim Johnson||Desperation saves|
|29||Leo Nunez||FLA||P||Dan Meyer||Desperation saves|
|30||Matt Capps||WAS||P||Brian Bruney||Desperation saves|
Take a look at even more 2010 fantasy rankings and articles…