2011 Draft Closer Debate: Mariano Rivera Vs. Andrew Bailey

Todd Farino@truegurufarinoCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 6-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Mariano Rivera vs. Andrew Bailey 2011 Fantasy Draft Debate

Here is the first in a series of 2011 draft debate articles I will write in the offseason.  The goal of these articles is to debate two closers and which would be the better pick based on draft value and projected stats.  I open the first debate with the best closer in MLB Mariano Rivera vs. the third year closer Andrew Bailey.

Mariano Rivera

Team: New York Yankees

Age: 41

Rivera is the best in the game.  Last season, he showed incredible decline as he suffered through two injuries late in the season and posted a 4.76 ERA as he struggled through September.  Rivera is great because of his amazing flawless mechanics, which allow his cutter to be so effective. 

However, age and injury could impact his flawless delivery.   He blew more saves last season than the previous two years before.  While it was only five saves, he only saved 33 games for the Yankees, his second lowest total since 2002.  Rivera also pitches for the New York Yankees, who have a powerful offense and don’t provide as many saves chances as the average team.  In 2010, the Yankees were ranked 18th amongst team saves. 

His ADP is currently placing Rivera as the first overall closer drafted in the early sixth round (No. 61 overall).  That is a high price to pay for a closer who is likely to barely break 30 saves.  The Yankees did sign Rafeal Soriano to back up Rivera and give the aging closer some needed rest thourghout the season.

Andrew Bailey

Team: Oakland A’s

Age: 27

The former rookie of the year closer came off an injury laden season in 2010 and ended up putting up very good numbers.  Andrew Bailey spent nearly 50 days on the disabled list and was shut down as of September 18th.  The young closer still finished with 25/28 saves and posted a 1.47 ERA.  While his K/9 rate was much lower in 2010 (7.71) as opposed to his 2009 K/9 rate of 9.87, fantasy owners can chalk that decline to injury. 

Bailey also pitches for the Oakland A’s, who play small ball and keep games very close.  In 2010, the A’s had arguably one of their worst seasons in a long time and still ranked 20th in saves, one save behind the Yankees.  The Oakland A’s have improved the offense, starting pitching, and bullpen.  Bringing in Brain Fuentes will certainly keep the pressure on Andrew Bailey to perform, but I have no doubt he will be the closer throughout the season.

According to ADP, Bailey is going in the 12th round around pick 144.

Closer Report 2011 Projections (from The Closer Report 2011 Draft Kit

Mariano Rivera: Ranked No. 18 – Projections: 30 Saves-Two Wins-2.45 ERA-1.14 WHIP-45 Ks
New York Yankees team SAVE PROJECTIONS: 41

Andrew Bailey: Ranked No. 8 – Projections:  38 Saves-Three Wins-1.85 ERA -1.02 WHIPE -82 Ks
Oakland A’s team SAVE PROJECTIONS: 49

Clearly, the better draft value in the 2001 fantasy baseball drafts would be Andrew Bailey.  Not only can you draft him up to six rounds later than Rivera, but he is more stable with the team he pitches for and health wise. 

At 27, Bailey is not a injury-prone closer and will prove his health in 2011.  In 2009, he was over used, pitching 83 innings.  The A’s will take care of the closer, and he is a candidate for 40+ saves.  Rivera is not. 

If you decide to skip on Mariano Rivera after the sixth round, look for Bailey in the 11th or 12th round, and you will get a fantasy and statistically better closer for a much cheaper fantasy price.

By Todd Farino, The Closer Report