If you had to rank all 30 closers in Major League Baseball, who would you rank No. 1? Mariano? Cordero? K-Rod? How about the worst: Kevin Gregg or Lindstrom? Here is my rankings of all 30 closers in MLB.
Some you might agree with: some you might not, as this is all my opinion, not based on mainly on stats, but experiences, age, and release points.
ERA- Earned Run Average (for each nine innings or one average game)
This guy has only been a reliever for the Rockies, but will close for a while until Street makes a recovery. He had an acceptable ERA of 4.50 last year, but that isn't enough to be an average closer. With no experience what so ever as a closer, and limited big league experience, this lands him No. 30 on my list.
Octavio Dotel was once a dominating closer, as he had recorded 36 saves in 2004. But other than that year, he has not that much dominated as a closer. Dotel will get that chance to close again with Pittsburgh instead of being a set-up guy with the White Sox.
He has also not faced NL teams since 2004 and briefly in 2007, so it will be interesting to see how he performs. Dotel is also way past his prime: he won't be that effective like he used to.
At 30 years old, Matt Lindstrom is an unproven closer. He posted an ERA 5.89 last year with the Florida Marlins: not impressive for a guy that wants to still stay in the big leagues.
Lindstrom is not the guy general managers will want to go after, but he will get a chance with Houston, as there might be time left to prove himself that he can close out games. But time is going out quick, as this year will be his make it or break it year for him.
Ah yes. Kevin Gregg. He was the dominating closer for Florida in 2007 and 2008. Then he leaves there for Chicago, where he posts an ERA of 4.72, which was one of the worst for closers last season.
Now, he is with the Toronto Blue Jays—an American League team. With harder offensive teams to face in the AL and specifically in the AL East, he will mightily struggle this season.
Can the O's give him chances for saves? But that's not the only question Jim Johnson should have in his mind: will I be able to close out games? He has been a go to guy for the Orioles in the bullpen, but will that success carry over to being a closer? Probably not.
Johnson has that potential, but he has not shown that yet as a closer. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. There are too many questions about him, which lands him at No. 26 on this list.
Chris Perez has been an effective arm in the Cardinals' pen. He was projected to be the Cardinals' closer in the beginning of the 2009 season. That went to Ryan Franklin though, as Perez was once again a nothing special reliever last year. He will finally get his chance this year with the rebuilding Indians.
He does have that potential to be a dominating closer with his stuff he has on his arm but he did not prove it yet. Indians fans, you might have to pray that he will have an average season this year, as this is his first full year as a closer.
For Capps, it will be a fresh new start for him in a new city, as he had his first down year in the big leagues. His down year with Pittsburgh included a 5.80 ERA, with 8 losses. In 2007 and 2008, he has had ERAs of 2.28 and 3.02, recording 38 saves in those two years.
The saves total might not impress fans, but he played for Pittsburgh, where they do not play very good baseball lately. The ERAs show he can dominate in the closer role, and has the potential to become a an above average closer or even more, as he is still only 26 years old.
Ryan Madson might be a go to guy as a set-up guy, but definitely not as a closer. He has been struggling to be at least a dependable closer after they stopped giving Brad Lidge chances. Madson lacks experience, and that seems to be his problem. Maybe as a full time closer after one year, THEN he will be an average closer.
Leo Nunez caught the attention of the young Florida Marlins when he was with the Kansas City Royals. The Marlins asked this kid to close out games and that's exactly what he did. Another year of experience added to him will even make him a more effective pitcher, but he still posted an acceptable 4.06 ERA with the Marlins last year.
Rafael Soriano was acquired by the Rays in a trade with the Braves to get clear some salary (for Atlanta). Soriano was dominant last season, posting an ERA of 2.97 and 27 saves, but needed some help from Mike Gonzalez. He has always been an above average reliever too, but there is one thing that might hold this pitcher back: injuries. Also, keep and eye on him as he will be in the tough AL East.
An ERA of 3.63 and 24 saves: certainly acceptable stats. He remains with Arizona this year once again. People might think he will have a better year with weaker NL West teams and an improved D-Backs offense, but he has not year proven to be a consistent hurler as a closer. That was only one year. so it will be interesting to see hoe Qualls does in his second full season.
Billy Wagner might not have the same delivery after Tommy John surgery, but it certainly is similar. After being traded to the Red Sox last year, he pitched well briefly for them. The Braves thought he could regain his form, as they signed him to a one-year deal.
Wagner knows the game, and knows how to pitch. There should be no problems with his slightly altered version of his windup, but he is aging: something to keep in your mind.
Trevor Hoffman is the All-Time Saves leader. But his retirement bell might be ringing soon. He has been struggling this year. It's not because he has been doing some weird motion in the delivery: it's his velocity, especially on his fastball.
His fastball has been an average 2-3 MPH slower this year, which allows hitters to really hit the bell well, giving them more time to see the actual pitch. If this is his last year: it was a HOF run.
Brian Fuentes might be overrated. He lead the league in saves with 48 last year, but he had an ERA of 3.93, which isn't impressive for a guy like Fuentes. He has also been battling injuries lately, which has been affecting his performance on the mound.
There have been rumors that he will be replaced with Fernando Rodney, so there is a heads up there. That will wake him up, and he will be able to still close out games.
Who wants to see 100 MPH fastballs in the ninth inning down by runs? No one? Oh, okay, too bad guys, Feliz is coming in the ninth.
Yes, he is highly praised by the Rangers, as they turned C.J. Wilson into a starter, so they needed someone to close. They turned to the fireballer Neftali Feliz, who throws gas.
Even though he is inexperienced, his 100 MPH fastball in his first year will not allow opponents to figure out his weaknesses and release point, which will result in a successful first full year, and a shot at the Rookie of the Year honors.
Bobby Jenks was once in the top five closer rankings. Not anymore: his saves recorded amount has been dropping, which is from 40 to 30 to 29. If you have also noticed, he has been gaining some more weight. You can't have your closer just doing nothing until he gets his call and not work out. Still, he has his pitches and controls, which lands him No. 15 on this list.
Joe Nathan will miss the season. So what? It doesn't seem like much as Jon Rauch took over, and filled the bug shoes left behind by Nathan. Rauch had been on a hot streak after being acquired by the Twins last season, going 5-1 with an ERA of 1.72.
Impressive enough? Yes, as Gardenhire is pretty satisfied about the performance. Being a veteran reliever plus some closing experience and a hot streak lands this guy at No. 14.
Carlos Marmol will never be in my top 10 closers list until he proves to be consistent. Baseball fans would say to me, "Oh yeah? Well he is already consistent." In my book, he never will be unless he gets his release point almost at the same point.
If you look closely, his release points will be all over the place, resulting in control issues. He will have those days where he is locked in and will dominate, but until he can get that release point right, he stays at No. 13.
Franklin took away the closing role from Chris Perez at the beginning of last year, which turned out pretty effective. Perez had a great year as a reliever, and Franklin posted a 1.92 ERA and 38 saves. Franklin was one of the two surprises in the closer role last season. Maybe the strong offense and veteran knowledge helped him in his first full year as a closer.
Aardsma's breakout year made him one of the above average closers for this year. The Mariners don't have to worry about that position anymore. He steps right in and posts a 2.52 ERA and 38 saves. Who can do that? The guy that can be found first in the Baseball Encyclopedia. He is still young, and has shown he can be one of the dominating ones in Major League Baseball.
Bell made his first All-Star team at any level in 2009: MLB, AAA, AA, A, or the Rookie League, and not even when he wasn't a professional baseball player! HE certainly deserved it, as he finished the year with an ERA of 2.71 with 42 saves for the San Diego Padres. Well, that's one position the Padres don't have to worry about next to 1st base.
Brian Wilson had an acceptable performance in 2008, where he had an ERA of 4.62 and 41 saves. He matched those save total with 38, but the ERA went south: to 2.74. At 28, he seems to have found what to do at the big league level. If he continues these performances, he will soon be in the elite category of closers. Watch him carefully in 2010.
Valverde has made the switch to an American League team: to the Tigers. Even though he had not matched the saves total with 25 last year with the amount in 2007 and 2008 (where he had 47 and 44 saves), his ERA was the 2nd lowest in his career, with an ERA of 2.33. The only question for this right-handed pitcher is if he can make the transition to the AL.
He once had 49 saves in one year with the Rangers. Now he is the Reds' elite closer. Cordero had one of his better years in 2009, where he posted an ERA 2.16. That's one of the lowest in MLB, so thats says something about him.
It's a mystery why he had not been chased by many different teams (maybe there is a fact that the Reds don't want to give him up). He has been inconsistent, going from 3.00 ERA to 2.00 ERA, so it's going to be curious to how he does as a 34 year old.
He is the Single Season record holder for most saves in a season with 62. Then he signs to a big contract with the Mets, but has a down year with them, posting a 3.71 ERA. Francisco Rodriguez (also known as K-Rod) had his lesson learned last year, and looks to prove himself with that thought in mind along with a better offense with Jason Bay.
But there is one question: does the higher ERA in the NL mean that he will struggle once again in the league? We'll find out at the end of the season.
Andrew Bailey will follow his Rookie of the Year campaign with a strong one. He is still very young, and managed to do what the A's asked him to: close out games. With an improved and more experienced offense, he will get those opportunities for those saves. Bailey himself has gained experience, which makes him more dangerous this year.
Joakim Soria. Joakim who? That's right, as he is one of the most dominating closers in all of Major League Baseball. Pitching for the Royals: that's tough to get wins or saves. In 2008, he had an ERA of 1.60, but only managed to get 42 saves out of that. He should have at least gotten 50 saves for that performance.
Last year in 2009, he had an ERA just north of 2.00, and managed to save exactly 30 games. This year, with some additions to make this ballclub better, Soria should get more opportunities for saves.
Papelbon has had an ERA under 3.00 the last four years. He has a long stride in his delivery which helps with the velocity on his fastball. He is still 29 years old. Very impressive, which lands him No. 3 on this list. Needless to say more?
No one knows how he does it: to come out and record 6 outs for a save, and still save 36 games with and ERA under 3.00 at such a young age of 25. Jonathon Broxton has been THE closer the past year, as he pitched 76 innings, striking out 114 batters.
Impressive enough? Yes. He has that great fastball too along with his control of it. we might be looking at the next Trevor Hoffman or Mariano Rivera. Heck, we might be looking at one right now.
The great Mariano. He was at age 39 in 2009, but had a season like a 25-year-old who had his breakout year. It seems like that every single year though. With an ERA under 2.00 the last two years, it seems like he has found the Fountain of Youth somewhere.
With this nasty cutter which no one has seems to completely figured out over he past 10 years, he still dominates, and will continue.