MLB Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Top 20 Closer Rankings

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IMarch 14, 2011

Andrew Bailey's elbow is a major concern.
Andrew Bailey's elbow is a major concern.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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Here’s an updated and expanded look at the 2011 closer rankings.

1.  Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants:  Wilson led the Majors in saves (48) last year while posting a 1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 93 Ks.

2.  Heath Bell, San Diego Padres:  His stats read almost identical to Wilson’s. It’s really a preference thing here. I like Wilson because his starting pitching staff is better. Plus, without Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres could struggle to give him leads.

3.  Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals: In the last three years Soria has 115 saves, a 1.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He also has 210 Ks in 186 innings.

4.  Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs: With 38 saves, a ridiculous 138 Ks, a 2.55 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a microscopic .147 BAA, Marmol is a very valuable closer.

5.  Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers: Broxton slipped big time last year picking up only 22 saves with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and a .270 BAA. His lone bright spot was the 73 Ks in 62-2/3 innings. He was electric in 2009 with 36 saves, a 2.61 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, a .165 BAA and 114 Ks in 76 innings, which leads me to believe he can be a top five closer again.

6.  Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers: It’s not that I think he’s any less filthy, but it’s looking like he may give starting a go. He’s still valuable, but you would obviously lose the main category you draft a closer for.

7.  Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox: Papelbon wasn’t nearly as nasty last year posting a 3.90 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a .226 BAA. He still managed 37 saves last year. He’s averaged 37.6 saves over the past five years with 77.6 Ks, a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP.

8.  Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: It’s not that I think Mo is slipping, but the addition of Rafael Soriano suggests that he will have a lighter load this year. Let’s face it, the Yankees season doesn’t start until the playoffs begin.

9.  Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets: I’m more worried about him mentally than physically. Despite his bizarre season he had 25 saves with a 2.20 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, a .213 BAA and 67 Ks in 57-1/3 innings.

10. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins:  We know what he was before Tommy John surgery, but how will he respond at 36? Considering how dominant he was, I’d still rank him top ten.

11.  Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati Reds: He’ll give you a bunch of saves (39 & 40 in the past two years), but don’t expect a high strikeout total or low WHIP.

12.  Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers: His save total (26) wasn’t great and his ERA (3.00) wasn’t spectacular, but he had a solid 1.16 WHIP and an excellent .184 BAA. He also had 63 Ks in 63 innings.

13.  Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics: Bailey is going to see Dr. James Andrews, which is usually not a good sign. He’s too big of a risk to be a #1 fantasy closer.

14.  Huston Street, Colorado Rockies: He can deliver when he’s healthy. He has 55 saves in the past two years for Colorado with a 3.30 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 115 Ks in 109 innings.

15.  John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers: I originally had David Aardsma in this spot, but his hip injury is a little worrisome. Axford shared closer duties with Trevor Hoffman last year and still managed 24 saves, a 2.48 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and 76 Ks in 58 innings. As the Rotoprofessor points out, he does have control issues, but there is enough upside to justify a top 15 ranking.

16.  Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians: Perez posted a 1.71 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 61 strikeout in 63 innings last year. Even if he regresses, he should be one of the top strikeout closers.

17.  J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks: Drafting Putz will take a little leap of faith considering he has been on three teams and compiled just 20 saves over the past three seasons, though he totaled 76 saves in 2006 & 2007 for the Mariners. You can count on a bunch of strikeouts and a potentially low WHIP.

18.  Kevin Gregg, Baltimore Orioles: Mike Gonzalez is there if Gregg messes up, but he should be a good source for saves and strikeouts. He nailed down 37 saves last year for the Blue Jays.

19.  Frank Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays: There are so many question marks on the remaining closers. However, Francisco picks up a ton of strikeouts and has shown he can post a low WHIP. He’s never topped 25 saves, but that could change this year.

20.  Drew Storen, Washington Nationals: Storen was groomed for this role and now it’s his time to deliver. He struggled after June, but has enough upside to gamble on later in the draft.

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