Before forging ahead with closer updates for the 2013 season let’s put the relief pitching position into perspective. Â A large certain of saves earned in any given year will be by players not drafted in mixed leagues. Â Conversely, if a closer loses his job he becomes a wasted draft pick. Â Out of the top 40 relief pitchers drafted last year almost as many busted as held their value (ADP courtesy of FantasyGameday.net).
Craig Kimbrel (Preseason #1), Jon Papelbon (2), Jose Valverde (7), J.J. Putz (8), Joel Hanrahan (10), Carlos Marmol (14), Joe Nathan (17), Chris Perez (18), Jason Motte (19), Huston Street (20), Rafael Betancourt (22), Kenley Jansen (24), Frank Francisco (27), Jonny Venters (30), Jim Johnson (32), Aroldis Chapman (33), Mike Adams (35), Matt Thornton (37), Addison Reed (38), Grant Balfour (40), Tyler Clippard (41), Sean Marshall (42)
Mariano Rivera (3), Drew Storen (4), Brian Wilson (6), Ryan Madson (11), Joakim Soria (12), Sergio Santos (15), Andrew Bailey (16), Kyle Farnsworth (23)
Ineffective / Replaced
John Axford (5), Heath Bell (9), Jordan Walden (13), Brandon League (21), Matt Capps (25), Francisco Rodriguez (28), Francisco Cordero (29), Javy Guerra (31), Mark Melancon (36), Fernando Salas (39)
Chris Sale (26) and Daniel Bard (34) are excluded as they were groomed as starters
Twenty-two solid picks agains eighteen disappointments underscores the perils of spending high draft picks on relievers. Â The unscientific categories are even generous to Jose Valverde and Frank Francisco, two pitchers who managed to collect over twenty saves apiece but posted harmful ratios. Â Venters, Thornton, and Marshall did not collect many saves but their draft position did not dictate that they needed to. Â Salas finished with decent numbers, but was relegated to mop up duty for most of the year and only earned seven holds.
There was really no benefit to spending a high pick on a closer. Â There were as many washouts in the top ten as there were from positions eleven through twenty. Â The back end closers offered particularly poor returns. Â Many were drafted because of their role rather than their skill level. Â The takeaway for those looking to acquire saves cheaply is to choose your targets carefully.
Closer is the most volatile position in both real and fantasy baseball. Â There is no comparison in the turnover rate between RP, and say, shortstop. Â When faced with a decision between two players, always favor the hitter. Â Throughout Spring Training we will show you which closers to target and which to avoid.