2013 Rankings: An Extremely Early Look: Top 15 Closers

I am going to start with some extremely early 2013 positional rankings, just so we can all get an idea of where people currently sit.  Keep in mind these rankings are preliminary and before I have done any of my projections.  That means that there is going to be a lot of room for fluctuation between now and draft day.

  1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
  2. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals
  6. J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks
  7. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
  8. Joel Hanrahan – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers
  10. Drew Storen – Washington Nationals
  11. Tom Wilhelmsen – Seattle Mariners
  12. Addison Reed – Chicago White Sox
  13. Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles
  14. Ernesto Frieri – Los Angeles Angels
  15. Chris Perez – Cleveland Indians


  • It was a historic season for Craig Kimbrel, posting a 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 116 K over 62.2 IP.  Is he going to be quite that good again in ’13?  It’s hard to imagine, but it also has become obvious that he is in a class by himself.  With a 1.46 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 283 K over his first 160.1 innings, there’s little reason to think that he isn’t going to thrive again.
  • Will the Reds mess with the idea of Aroldis Chapman starting once again?  Who knows, but for now we have to think that Chapman is going to be among the elite relievers in 2013.
  • We all know that relief pitchers can be an erratic group.  Just because you thrive one year does not necessarily mean that you are going to again the following year.  Tom Wilhelmsen owners need to be cautious, despite his 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 87 K and 29 saves (in 34 chances) over 79.1 innings.  That said, he showed solid control (3.29 BB/9), generated groundballs (48.3%) and didn’t benefit from extreme luck (.266 BABIP, 79.5% strand rate).  In other words, there is every reason to think that he is going to excel once again.
  • There are a lot of potential closers coming back from injury this season.  While Mariano Rivera is going to return to closing duties, can we say for sure that Joakim Soria or Brian Wilson will?  That’s the reason that they are not included in these rankings.
  • Can Ernesto Frieri possibly repeat his success with the Angels (2.32 ERA, 0.96 WHIP based on a .188 BABIP and 89.0% strand rate)?  He should be good, but he’s not likely going to be an elite option.
  • Jim Johnson had a fantastic season, but he’s not going to save 51 games again and he doesn’t bring the strikeout upside of other options.  Keep that in mind before pushing him too far up the rankings.

Make sure to check out the rest of our extremely early 2013 rankings:


  1. tony says:

    I am in a continuous leauge that was re voted for another 5 years. Have Rodney as one of my closers do you think he will be back? Adison Reed, Rivera, Axford, Gregg Holland available do I go young with Reed or stick with Rodney?

  2. Bill says:


    What are your thoughts on Casey Jannsen?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    tony – I am not a believer in Rodney at all. I will draw the comparison to someone like Jose Valverde, who had a big year then collapsed (can also point to Brad Lidge). If we are looking at 5 years, I’d definitely prefer Reed.

    Bill – Janssen definitely looked good and has the potential to continue to excel in the role, if he holds the job. That’s going to be the big question and a storyline to watch as the offseason progresses.

  4. Ryan C says:

    I get that you don’t believe in Rodney but you have no problem with a guy like Jansen who has a bad ticker? Or Chris Perez? I get that Rodney can’t be expected to deliver those ratios again – but that’s a good team that will deliver the save opps – to not have him in the Top 15 or 10 kind of makes your list suspect. Things can change – but for now he has to be on there IMO.

  5. carlito says:

    what are ur thoughts on holland??

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      A lot has changed since I originally published this list. I do believe Holland is going to thrive in 2013, especially on a team that should be much improved. We will discuss him in great detail, but he is a top 15 option for me.

  6. Josh Ponkauskas says:

    Why isn’t John Axford on here? He had a little drop off in the beginning of the season but got hot at the end. Also two years ago he was a huge reason that the Brewers made it to the postseason.

  7. Quinton says:

    Watch out for Tom wilhelmsen! He is a huge sleeper who has the talent to be a top 5 closer. He finished the season with 29 saves out of 32 chances on a bad mariners team and he also was not even their closer until Brandon league was traded at the deadline. Just imagine what he could do in a full season. P.s he also has maybe the best curve ball in baseball as a Closer!!

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