Fantasy Rankings in Review – Relief Pitchers

Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. The last position up for review is the relief pitchers, and you can find my preseason rankings here. Note that I have removed any starting pitchers who appeared in these rankings due to previous season qualifications.

Yahoo’s Top 15 Relief Pitchers

1. Billy Wagner
2. Rafael Soriano
3. Heath Bell
4. Brian Wilson
5. Neftali Feliz
6. Carlos Marmol
7. Joakim Soria
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Hong-Chih Kuo
10. Matt Capps
11. John Axford
12. Chris Perez
13. Joaquin Benoit
14. Francisco Rodriguez
15. Andrew Bailey

Of my top 15 preseason ranks, Jonathan Broxton (1), Huston Street (8), Brian Fuentes (12), Francisco Cordero (13), Trevor Hoffman (14), and Ryan Franklin (15) all finished out of the top 15.

What We Saw

I don’t think anyone was expecting that Jonathan Broxton would struggle, let alone not be the closer for the Dodgers at the end of the season. I really wonder what happens with him during the offseason, as the Dodgers have seen that Hong-Chih Kuo can close without a problem if need be.

It seems like every season there are a few relievers who come out of nowhere to make an impact for fantasy teams, and the one that seems to be the biggest this season was John Axford in Milwaukee. Nobody expected Trevor Hoffman to end up losing the closer job, especially with him rapidly approaching 600 career saves, but Axford was called on after some early season struggles by Hoffman, and never really gave the job back.

Carlos Marmol was nothing short of ridiculous for fantasy owners. He finished in the top 30 for strikeouts among all pitchers, and managed to hold the closing job all season long as well.

I think we all agreed that there was a lot of upside to both Billy Wagner and Rafael Soriano, but I don’t know if I expected them to finish the season as the top 2 relievers overall. Wagner is headed toward retirement, but Soriano seems likely to get another closing job somewhere next season, and his value could really plummet if he ends up as a setup reliever again.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)

  1. Heath Bell
  2. Brian Wilson
  3. Neftali Feliz
  4. Rafael Soriano
  5. Carlos Marmol
  6. Joakim Soria
  7. Mariano Rivera
  8. John Axford
  9. Hong-Chih Kuo
  10. Chris Perez

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