Tag Archives: Mariano Rivera

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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Team Preview – New York Yankees


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Jorge Posada SP 1 C.C. Sabathia
1B Mark Teixeira SP 2 A.J. Burnett
2B Robinson Cano SP 3 Andy Pettitte
3B Alex Rodriguez SP 4 Javier Vazquez
SS Derek Jeter SP 5 Chad Gaudin
LF Brett Gardner Bullpen
CF Curtis Granderson CL Mariano Rivera
RF Nick Swisher RP Phil Hughes
DH Nick Johnson RP Joba Chamberlain
Bench RP Alfredo Aceves
OF Randy Winn RP Damaso Marte
C Fernando Cervelli RP Boone Logan

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Javy Vasquez Trade (ATL) SP Chien-Ming Wang Non-Tender
CF Curtis Granderson Trade (DET) OF Melky Cabrera Trade (ATL)
1B Nick Johnson Free Agency DH Hideki Matsui Free Agency
RP Boone Logan Trade (ATL) LF Johnny Damon Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jesus Montero (C/DH), Austin Romine (C), Manny Banuelos (P), Slade Heathcott (OF)

2009 Review

The Yankees came into the season not knowing exactly how their year would go. Alex Rodriguez would miss the first month of the season recuperating from an injury, and it was unclear how new Yankees Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett would perform. The Yankees had outspent the entire rest of the league in the offseason, and expectations were that they would win a World Series. After a semi-slow start (12-10 in April), the Yankees went completely nuts and never really looked back. They finished the season with a 103-59 record, winning the AL East by 8 games.

The Yankees were lead by the Captain, SS Derek Jeter, who had one of the best seasons of his career (.334, 18 HR, 30 SB), and 1B Mark Teixeira (.292, 39 HR, 122 RBI). Sabathia (19-8, 3.37 ERA) led the rotation which saw a lot of movement during the season behind Burnett and Pettitte.

The Yankees performed well in the postseason, sweeping the Twins before defeating the Angels 4-2 in the ALCS. While the World Series against the Phillies took 6 games to win, the Yankees did win it pretty handily, with Cliff Lee winning the only two games for the Phillies.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Yankees may have actually improved themselves this offseason, which considering that they won the World Series, is saying something. They’ve brought more stability to their rotation, adding Javy Vasquez, and replaced the production of LF Johnny Damon by acquiring CF Curtis Granderson. Whether or not Nick Johnson will provide what Hideki Matsui did remains to be seen, but he shouldn’t be a particularly big dropoff if he doesn’t. I think that their only real glaring problem could be at the very back end of the starting rotation. I slotted Chad Gaudin in there right now, although it will most likely be Joba Chamberlain. The Joba rules will probably be adjusted again this season, and allow him to get closer to 200 IP, if not going past it entirely. However, the inconsistency of that spot in the rotation could be of some concern. The good news for the Yankees is that they have lots of people that they can draw from to help fill that slot (Gaudin, Hughes, Aceves).

Brian Cashman has really done well again this offseason to help address some of the major problems that appeared with the major league team. The Yankees are constantly known for spending unbelievable amounts of money, but recently they have done well in how they have spent that money. They don’t rely too heavily on their farm system, which means that the players that they do develop (Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson) can be moved to help get other pieces that they will need along the way. As long as the ownership continues to allow him to do his job, and trust that he and his staff know what they are doing, the Yankees will always be competitive for not only the AL East, but the American League as a whole, and the World Series as well.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Lots of fantasy goodness here, with 3B Alex Rodriguez and 1B Mark Teixeira headlining this group. Nearly every position will provide solid fantasy value, with 2B Robinson Cano, C Jorge Posada, SS Derek Jeter, CF Curtis Granderson, SP C.C. Sabathia, SP A.J. Burnett, SP Javier Vasquez, and RP Mariano Rivera all expected to be drafted in most leagues. Even players like RF Nick Swisher and 1B/DH Nick Johnson will provide value in most leagues. There’s always a lot to like for fantasy with Yankee players.

Prediction for 2010

The Yankees have to be the prohibitive favorite to repeat as World Series champs in my opinion, but I will leave my predictions for how the playoffs will work out for another day. At this point, let me just say that I think they will be right in the thick of it again this season.

97-65, 1st in the AL East

AL Rookie of the Year Review


Andrew Bailey was announced as the winner of the American League Rookie of the Year for 2009 yesterday.

In my predictions, I thought Bailey would win the award, but it was a lot closer than I thought it would be. The voting (first place in parentheses):

Bailey – 88 votes (13)
Elvis Andrus – 65 (8)
Rick Porcello – 64 (7)
Jeff Niemann – 21
Gordon Beckham – 10
Brett Anderson – 4

Andrew Bailey
Andrew spent the majority of the 2009 season as the closer for the A’s, and was 26-for-30 in save opportunities this year. But his dominance is better illustrated in his other stats: 1.84 ERA, 91 strikeouts, a .167 opponents batting average, and a 0.88 WHIP.  His numbers were extremely comparable to the elite players at his position:

Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 91 K, .167 Opp BA, 0.88 WHIP, 26 saves
Mariano Rivera: 1.76 ERA, 72 K, .197 Opp BA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 saves
Joe Nathan: 2.10 ERA, 89 K, .171 Opp BA, 0.93 WHIP, 47 saves

Bear in mind, that Bailey did not take over the closer role until early May, and could potentially have had a lot more saves on a more competitive team. Digging in a little deeper, there are a couple of concerns I have for the next season.

Bailey’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was a very low .234. Those same comps had .252 (Nathan), and .263 (Rivera), so I would be inclined to believe that some form of correction to the mean may occur next season. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) number was 2.56, almost a full run higher than his actual era. Again, not a huge problem necessarily for a reliever, but something to keep an eye on.

So, how did his competitors fare last season?

Elvis Andrus

Andrus was named the starting shortstop for the Rangers prior to the season. The Rangers thought so highly of him that they asked All-Star SS Michael Young to switch to 3B. Andrus definitely did not disappoint. He hit to the tune of .267/.329/.373 with 72 runs, 6 hr, and 33 sb. Andrus was also no slouch with the glove, as he compiled a 10.7 UZR rating at SS. A very good rookie season.

Rick Porcello
Porcello joined the Tigers out of spring training, and made the rotation. This was a huge surprise, considering that he had only pitched one year in the minors, and it was in A-ball at that. However, he made a very strong impact, compiling a 14-9 record with a 3.96 era, 89 strikeouts, and a 1.34 whip. They believed in him so heavily, in fact, that he was the choice to start the play-in game against the Twins on 10/6. Porcello should be a very good major league pitcher for years to come.

Jeff Niemann
Niemann made the Rays rotation out of spring training, after having a couple of starts in 2008. With a 13-6 record, Niemann was one of the few pitchers that the Rays could rely on throughout the season. He gave the Rays 180 innings, while compiling a 3.94 era, 1.35 whip, and 125 strikeouts. I frankly thought that Niemann would finish ahead of Porcello, but that could be partially due to Porcello pitching meaningful games in October. Niemann will be a solid #2-3 anchor for the Rays rotation in a system that is full of top-level pitching.

Gordon Beckham
Beckham was called up in May, and was the first player from the 2008 draft to have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He posted a very solid .270/.360/.477 line, with 14 homers, 58 rbi, and 7 steals. All while learning a new position in the major leagues. While he had some of the better stats of the season, I felt that he should be discounted slightly due to not being up for the whole season. Not really his fault, but that’s how it goes. Beckham will have another transition to make next season, as the White Sox announced that he would be moving to 2B to accommodate newly acquired Mark Teahen.

Brett Anderson
Anderson spent the whole season in the A’s rotation, and posted a respectable 11-10 record on a bad team. He really came on in the second half, going 6-4 with a 3.48 era, 86 strikeouts, and a 1.19 whip. If he puts together a full season like his second half, he’s going to be a very, very good pitcher for a long time.

Overall, this year’s AL rookie class was one of the strongest. Especially when you consider that the two top rookies in the AL at the beginning of the season aren’t here either. (Matt Wieters, David Price). This whole group should be interesting to watch for years to come.

Game 2 Thoughts


Yankees evened the series up at 1 each last night, behind some excellent pitching.

– Burnett pitched a great game. He looked really sharp, and the Phillies didn’t have a good real answer for it.
– Pedro Martinez is one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen. Even with diminished velocity, he baffled the Yankee hitters for the better part of 6 innings, only a few minor mistakes. Otherwise a very well pitched game, but just not quite enough offensive support to help him.
– Mariano Rivera remains one of the best late inning relievers of all time. His team needed 2 innings from him, and he delivered yet again. So money.

Saturday’s matchup is somewhat of a let down in comparison to the previous 2 pitching matchups. Pettitte has been one of the best postseason pitchers in the past, and his matchup against Cole Hamels could potentially be really good, or potentially be a slugfest.