Unlike many positions, the National League appears loaded with trustworthy closers (more so than the American League). How do they rank? Let’s take a look:
- Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
- Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
- John Axford – Milwaukee Brewers
- Brian Wilson – San Francisco Giants
- Drew Storen – Washington Nationals
- Heath Bell – Miami Marlins
- Ryan Madson – Cincinnati Reds
- J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Huston Street – San Diego Padres
- Rafael Betancourt – Colorado Rockies
- Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals
- Joel Hanrahan – Pittsburgh Pirates
- We all know that Brian Wilson is a major risk at this point, coming of not only an injury plagued 2011 campaign, but a poor one. In 55.0 innings he posted a 1.47 WHIP as his control regressed significantly (5.07 BB/9) and his strikeout rate fell (8.84 K/9). A lot of the issues could be tied to the injuries, at least we have to hope. He is still well worth the risk, though we will take a closer look at him in the coming days.
- The NL is home to some of the top young closers in the league, most notably Craig Kimbrel and Drew Storen (while John Axford is new to the job, he is already 29-years old). These two have the potential to sit atop these rankings for a long time.
- When the Rockies shipped Huston Street to San Diego, they opened up the job for Rafael Betancourt. It makes sense, as Betancourt has shown an elite strikeout rate (12.85 & 10.54 K/9) and an elite walk rate (1.16 BB/9 each year) for the past two seasons. With that type of control he is going to be a stellar WHIP option, regardless. Yes, he is a fly ball pitcher in Coors Field, but he has proven that he can excel there. He’s well worth drafting once the top names are off the board. To see my projection for him, click here.
- I know Joel Hanrahan excelled in 2011 (1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 40 saves), but he has a history of control issues, saw a fall in his strikeout rate (8.00 K/9) and managed to allow just 1 HR. It may have been a change in his approach (52.4% groundball rate, 2.10 BB/9), but I need to see more from him before I fully buy in. Given his history, there is way too much risk that he completely regresses.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: