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.
- Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
- Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
- Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
- Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals
- J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
- Joel Hanrahan – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers
- Drew Storen – Washington Nationals
- Tom Wilhelmsen – Seattle Mariners
- Addison Reed – Chicago White Sox
- Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles
- Ernesto Frieri – Los Angeles Angels
- 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: