Fantasy Preview – Relievers


Today is the last of my fantasy positional rankings today with the reliever rankings.

A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

My top 15 Relievers for 2010

1. Jonathan Broxton – LAD
W ERA SV K WHIP
7 2.61 36 114 0.961
Broxton is probably the most dominant strikeout reliever in the Majors right now. He’s going to get a lot of save chances, and has about as strong of a lock on the position as is possible. The win total seems unlikely to be repeated, but he’s going to give you a lot of saves and a very good ERA and WHIP as well.
2. Mariano Rivera – NYY
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 1.76 44 72 0.905
Rivera is as stable as it comes. He’s going to get you a sub-2 ERA, 40+ saves, and a WHIP right around 1. There’s not a whole lot to be said about him other than he’s also extremely safe as well.
3. Jonathan Papelbon – BOS
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 1.85 38 76 1.147
Papelbon is another closer who’s going to get a lot of save opportunities and strikes out more than batter per inning as well. I can see him getting over 40 saves this season as well
4. Joakim Soria – KC
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 2.21 30 69 1.132
Soria has  posted a few really good seasons in a row, and is also locked in as the closer for the Royals. He struck out more than 11 per 9 innings last year, and will post solid ratios as well.
5. Heath Bell – SD
W ERA SV K WHIP
6 2.71 42 79 1.12
The only real concern I have about Bell is whether or not he gets moved by the Padres. But it seems likely to me that if he does get moved, he’s probably going to be closing for whomever he goes to, since he’s still under team control for another 2 seasons. High strikeouts, low ratios, and a lock on the job as long as he’s in San Diego.
6. Andrew Bailey – OAK
W ERA SV K WHIP
6 1.84 26 91 0.876
Bailey was an epiphany last season, taking the closing job in early May and never looking back. He should post a high strikeout rate and low ratios, although the ERA is unlikely to remain as low as it was last season.
7. Brian Wilson – SF
W ERA SV K WHIP
5 2.74 38 83 1.203
I’ve never been a huge fan of Wilson, but I think that has more to do with him being on the Giants than anything. But he’s got a lock on the Giants’ closer job, and is going to provide strikeouts and good ratios as well.
8. Huston Street – COL
W ERA SV K WHIP
4 3.06 35 70 0.908
Street came into the 2009 season having been traded to the Rockies, and without a guaranteed closing job. But he quickly took over the job, and returned to the form that had won him the Rookie of the Year award. I have to imagine that unless he struggles pretty mightily, he will remain the closer and I wouldn’t be concerned about the fact that he’s in Colorado.
9. Francisco Rodriguez – NYM
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 3.71 35 73 1.309
The walks are a real concern. But this is a trend that has been going on for the last 3 seasons, and a lowered strikeout rate as well. The Mets are committed to him for another 2 seasons at another $25 M total, so I think he’s going to have to struggle pretty badly for him to lose his job. But the Mets seem unlikely to get a massive amount of save opportunities, and all in all makes Rodriguez a bad value to me.
10. Rafael Soriano – TAM
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 2.97 27 102 1.057
The concern here is health. He pitched excellently last season, and provides an extremely high strikeout rate. I think he’s going to see a slight increase in his ratios due to pitching in the AL East now, but he still seems likely to post a sub 1.2 WHIP and sub 3 ERA.
11. Billy Wagner – ATL
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 1.72 0 26 1.021
Wagner did very well this offseason, and all signs point to him having an excellent season. The health is still some concern, but as long as he stays healthy he should be a lock as the closer for the Braves. He posted an excellent strikeout rate, and could conceivably provide top-5 closer value if he is healthy all year long.
12. Brian Fuentes – LAA
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 3.93 48 46 1.40
Fuentes and his lower strikeout rate concern me, as does the walk rate. He did lead the league in saves, but for when you will have to take him, I’ll pass. The fact that there’s a closer in waiting in that bullpen does not persuade me otherwise.
13. Francisco Cordero – CIN
W ERA SV K WHIP
2 2.16 39 58 1.32
Cordero, quietly, continues to post solid, if not amazing seasons in Cincinnati. His walk rate remains a concern, which has elevated his WHIP. 2009 saw a drop in his strikeout rate, but it is still a respectable 7.83. A good second tier closer.
14. Trevor Hoffman – MIL
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 1.83 37 48 0.907
Hoffman remains a good source of saves. He’s not going to strikeout a lot of batters at this point, but the only way I can see him losing his job as the closer is to injure himself.
15. Ryan Franklin – STL
W ERA SV K WHIP
4 1.92 38 44 1.197
Franklin had what was easily his best season last year, posting career bests in ERA and WHIP along with the 38 saves. He’s going into this season with the closer job sewn up, but I think that he’s going to see some regression. The hard part with Franklin is that he’s not going to provide a lot of strikeouts for the innings he pitches, but the saves are still worth something. Just don’t go looking for this season to go as well as last did.

After my top 15, there’s a lot of closers still available. I generally tend to be of the mindset that saves come into the league, so I think it’s important that if you’re going to look for saves to keep an eye on strikeout rates. There’s a lot of unsettled jobs as of these rankings (WAS, PIT, FLA, MIN) as well to watch during Spring Training.

There are a lot of relievers that can provide some value in deeper leagues, even if they are not providing saves.

Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the National League East this week, starting with the Atlanta Braves.

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