People that play fantasy baseball with me probably know my stance on RP. For those of you who don’t let me tell you what my view is on them. “I think they are a complete crapshoot, and I really don’t like having to draft them.” I’m doing this ranking post more out of obligation that standard leagues record saves, than I truly enjoy trying to predict which closer is going to do what. Because closers are like the weather in the plains region of the US, one day it is sunny and beautiful, the next it is cold and winds blowing from the north at 50 mph, the next it is 105 degrees with a hot dry wind, then the next day there is a chance of snow (I’m sure those reading that are from the plains are nodding fervently at this). So as you can see I don’t like closers because the position seems to be so random, one season a guy can’t be hit and has like 45 saves, and the next season everything he throws gets crushed and he can’t seem to throw strikes. Closers are the one thing that change the most in fantasy baseball. I bet if you looked at a list of the top 10 1B from 5 years ago. You would see some similar names on the list, or top 10 3B, but you look at the top 10 closers and there are at least 4 names different every year. With all that said RP can be very beneficial to your fantasy team. They can do more than just save games, so look for the guys who have good k/9 and k/bb rates, they will be the guys who will help turn the tide in K’s and Whip throughout the season. Now here are my top 20 RP for the season.
1. Craig Kimbrel (Atl-RP) Dude can flat out pitch struck out 127 batters in just 77 innings. That alone is worth drafting.
2012 projection: 5 W, 48 sv, 115 K, 1.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
2. Jonathan Papelbon (Phi-RP) Pap seemed to be losing some of his mojo in the Boston area, but still has elite stuff…I feel like that happened with another closer and it seemed to work out pretty good for the Phillies (here’s looking at you Brad Lidge!)
2012 projection: 4 W, 43 sv, 88 K, 2.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
3. Drew Storen (Was-RP) Another young hurler who could potentially be atop of the list for a couple of years! Can walk hitters at times, but posts a decent K rate (8.84 per 9) to make up for it.
2012 projection: 5 W, 44 sv, 82 K, 2.86 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
4. Mariano Rivera (NYY-RP) He is getting old (that is the understatement of the year) but he still gets people out with his cutter. He won’t get as many opportunities because the Yanks will want a strong Mo for a postseason run, but he still puts up great numbers in a “smaller” role.
2012 projection: 2 W, 39 sv, 62 K, 1.99 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
5. Ryan Madson (Cin-RP) Madson’s only problem is that he can give up some hits from time to time, but with a strong lineup and a great strikeout rate (9.2 per 9) he should produce a great season.
2012 projection: 5 W, 40 sv, 69 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
6. John Axford (Mil-RP) Axford has been great for the Brewers since taking over full time as their closer. He is a high strikeout guy, but also can give too many free passes. Still a top flight closer in the league.
2012 projection: 4 W, 41 sv, 78 K, 2.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
7. Rafael Betancourt (Col-RP) Betancourt has top 10 stuff for sure, and he finished the season strong last year at the closer spot. If he can continue what he started last Aug (sub .3 WHIP) then he will easily be a top 3 RP at season’s end.
2012 projection: 3 W, 37 sv, 79 K, 2.67 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
8. Joel Hanrahan (Pit-RP) Hanrahan was a solid closer last season for the Pirates, and I don’t see that changing that much. He will put up decent K numbers, but probably won’t dominate like some of the other guy’s on this list.
2012 projection: 2 W, 41 sv, 83 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
9. Brian Wilson (SF-RP) Wilson has been a top flight closer for his short career, until last year when he had some elbow issues. Even though there was no ligament tears, that doesn’t mean that the elbow won’t give him problems this year. A pitcher is only as good as his shoulder and elbow. So I would say tread lightly when getting Wilson.
2012 projection: 4 W, 36 sv, 63 K, 3.11 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
10. Jason Motte (StL-RP) Motte will be in his first full season as “the guy” in St. Louis. He was nearly perfect from September through October only blowing 1 save. He has a dynamic fastball, and has started to harness a secondary pitch. Expect a fairly up and down season from Motte since he is still learning how to be a pitcher.
2012 projection: 3 W, 38 SV, 65 K, 2.46 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
11. Joakim Soria (KC-RP) Soria used to be the guy who was always a top 5 closer, but then his numbers were a little low last year and he seems to be forgotten. He is still young (age 27), has great control (17 bb in 60 innings, and still can strike people out. He is the guy who you could get cheap that might easily be a top 5 at season’s end.
2012 projection: 3 W, 39 SV, 67 K, 2.44 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
12. JJ Putz (Ari-RP) Putz had a great season as the full time closer for the D-backs. He has always posted good K numbers. If he stays healthy and doesn’t have to long of a rough patch during the season. He should have another solid season.
2012 projection: 2 W, 44 sv, 61 K, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
13. Heath Bell (Mia-RP) Bell has had 4 straight 40 save seasons, and is expected to be the 9th inning guy for the Marlins. I have a good feeling about the Marlins this year, so I expect Bell to have another really good season.
2012 projection: 3 W, 41 sv, 67 K, 2.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
14 Jose Valverde (Det-RP) Valverde is one of those guys you hate a little bit if you are facing him, but if you aren’t you love his energy. I think he can be a little out of control at times, and that can be dangerous for closers. I expect a slight down year from Valverde this year.
2012 projection: 3 W, 35 sv, 64 K, 3.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
15. Jordan Walden (LAA-RP) Walden performed great in his first full season. Has a tendancy to walk to many hitters, so if he can get that under control he will finish much higher than 15 at the end of the season.
2012 projection: 4 W, 38 sv, 71 K, 2.89 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
16. Carlos Marmol (ChC-RP) Marmol hasn’t quite been what every one hoped him to be. He still has amazing stuff, but he hasn’t always been able to harness all of that potential. If he can finally put it together in the 9th he is a great guy to grab. Oh yea he also borders around 100 k’s a season.
2012 projection: 3 W, 36 sv, 104 K, 3.37 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
17. Andrew Bailey (Bos-RP) Bailey is only 28 so the last two seasons of injuries will hopefully be behind him. If he can be the guy he was in 2009. He will put up great numbers, but for some reason I think he might struggle with all the pressure that comes from a big market.
2012 projection: 3 W, 30 sv, 67 K, 2.88 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
18. Joe Nathan (Tex-RP) I’ve always like Nathan, and he is just a few years removed from being a top 5 closer. I think he will do well in Tex, but he is still a closer, so who really knows!
2012 projection: 3 W, 35 sv, 61 K, 2.85 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
19. Huston Street (SD-RP) Last year I made a bold prediction that Street would have a huge season and needless to say he let me down. I guess I can only blame myself for trying to predict closers 😉
2012 projection: 3 W, 33 sv, 59 K, 2.95 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
20. Kyle Fransworth (TB-RP) Fransworth is that sneaky closer who isn’t sexy, or new, but he did a great job closing out games for the Rays. I don’t expect greatness from him, but probably exactly what he did last year.
2012 projection: 4 W, 31 sv, 62 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Sleeper: Sergio Santos (Tor-RP) Santos will finally get the shot to be the full time guy, and since he has great stuff and a good strikeout rate. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish in the top 15 by the end of the year.
2012 projection: 5 W, 33 sv, 81 K, 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Bust: ALL Closers! No not really some will do well, but I think Jose Valverde could tank this year. The guy just tends to walk to many batters and puts himself in a lot of bad situations, and having Miggy at 3B in close games isn’t going to help the defense…just saying.
2012 projection: See above line
|Sleeper: Sergio Santos||28||18||17|
If you have any opinions on which RP will be a stud or a bust this year, let me know in the comments. Sorry for the delay on the position rankings some miscommunication and a busy schedule from my new author has delayed the 3B and OF ranks. If you liked what you saw, follow the blog, or “like” H2H Hombre on facebook. The more views I get the better chance I have at making money for writing about sports, and I think we can all agree that that would be pretty awesome. Have a wonderful day everyone and good luck to you fantasy drafters!