Unlike other positions, the American League appears to be lacking in trustworthy closer depth compared to the National League. In fact, once you get past Mariano Rivera would it surprise you if every other closer on this list is replaced either due to injury or inability? That definitely makes drafting difficult, but let’s take a look at how things currently look:
- Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
- Joakim Soria – Kansas City Royals
- Andrew Bailey – Boston Red Sox
- Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers
- Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers
- Sergio Santos – Toronto Blue Jays
- Jordan Walden – Los Angeles Angels
- Matt Thornton – Chicago White Sox
- Brandon League – Seattle Mariners
- Kyle Farnsworth – Tampa Bay Rays
- Matt Capps – Minnesota Twins
- Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles
- The American League closers are not a pretty group, especially once you reach #6 or 7 on this list. I would say Walden is the last reasonably safe option, though as I said, few of the options should actually be considered safe. Starting with Matt Thornton, things are exceptionally scary. Drafting players like Addison Reed, Vinnie Pestano or Glen Perkins would definitely be in owners’ best interest.
- Joakim Soria had a down 2011 season (4.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP), but can we really just ignore the previous 3+ seasons? Yes, there was a drop in strikeouts (8.95 K/9), but also some poor luck (.312 BABIP). I wouldn’t hesitate to grab him as my closer, especially when the rest of your league undervalues him.
- Will Mariano Rivera ever stop getting the job done? Let everyone else call him old and downgrade him. He’s as safe as they come, something that you can’t say about any other closer in the AL.
- Andrew Bailey’s biggest concern is health, and maybe the fact that the Red Sox have the potential to blow opponents out early and often (thus limiting his save opportunities). Are either of those a reason to avoid him, however? I wouldn’t think so.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: