Closer Power Rankings (April 7, 2014): Ranking All 30 Closers In MLB

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The closers role is extremely erratic (a rather big understatement).  Knowing how closers are faring and who could be on the hot seat is important, so let’s check in with our first closer power rankings of the season:

Tier 1 – The Elite
1) Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
2) Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers

Thoughts: A healthy Aroldis Chapman would also find his way into this tier, but outside of that it’s going to take a strong start for anyone else to touch these guys.


Tier 2 – Not elite yet, but they could be…
3) Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals
4) Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
5) Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers
6) Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
7) Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins

Thoughts: While a few of these pitchers have had some poor outings early on, is there any chance that they are going to lose their jobs?  They all should have long leashes and if anyone is going to join the elite grouping it’s them (with Rosenthal currently as the most likely).


Tier 3 – Solid.  Sure there are questions, but they shouldn’t be going anywhere
8) Sergio Romo – San Francisco Giants
9) Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins
10) David Robertson – New York Yankees
11) Addison Reed – Arizona Diamondbacks

Thoughts: Romo would’ve been in Tier 2 in the preseason, but his spring struggles did open some eyes.  Still, he’s answered the bell once the season started and could easily rise up with a few more strong outings…  Addison Reed struggles in non-save situations and shows susceptible to a blowup, I feel like we’ve heard this story before.  That said, there’s no questioning is upside…


Tier 4 – The seat is getting warmer
12) Huston Street – San Diego Padres
13) Ernesto Frieri – Los Angeles Angels
14) Fernando Rodney – Seattle Mariners
15) Rafael Soriano – Washington Nationals
16) Grant Balfour – Tampa Bay Rays
17) Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
18) Jason Grilli – Pittsburgh Pirates
19) Joakim Soria – Texas Rangers
20) Jim Johnson – Oakland A’s
21) Tommy Hunter – Baltimore Orioles

Thoughts: Has any closer gotten off to a worse start than Johnson?  He’s gotten a vote of confidence from his manager, but how many poor outings are they really willing to stomach…  We had concerns about Papelbon entering the season, and he helped to fan the fire with his first outing…  When it comes to Street, the biggest question is always his health and the potential for a trade as opposed to his ability…  With Mark Melancon in place, could Grilli quickly be sent into a setup role?  Blowing an early save opportunity doesn’t help, though he earned his first save of the season yesterday…


Tier 5 – A change could come at any time…
22) John Axford – Cleveland Indians
23) Jose Valverde – New York Mets
24) Francisco Rodriguez – Milwaukee Brewers
25) Matt Lindstrom – Chicago White Sox
26) Sergio Santos – Toronto Blue Jays (Casey Janssen on DL)
27) LaTroy Hawkins – Colorado Rockies
28) Jose Veras – Chicago Cubs
29) Cincinnati Reds Committee (Jonathan Broxton on DL)
30) Josh Fields/Houston Astros Committee

Thoughts: Sure, John Axford has looked good in the early going but does anyone really trust him?  Cody Allen could easily jump in and take the role…  It’s almost humorous that LaTroy Hawkins was even given the job over Rex Brothers, so how long can he really hold him off?… Yes, Jose Valverde’s job is 100% safe, for now, as the Mets bullpen in general looks like a complete disaster.  How long will that be able to last, though?  He feels like a disaster waiting to happen…  There are just too many potential options to trust Fields for the moment.  If he’s officially named closer, though?  He’ll quickly rise up the rankings…  Francisco Rodriguez getting save chances over Jim Henderson?  Really?  However Henderson has done himself no favors and Rodriguez’ hold on the job appears to be strengthening for now.

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  1. Blair says:

    Not that it matters, but Koji should be ABOVE kimbrel and jansen, not in the tier below.

    More strikeouts than kimbrel last year, and better ratios than both.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Last year he was better, but his downside is greater than the other two in my opinion. In general the other two do have higher strikeout upside and Uehara’s age does work against him slightly.

      I could see the argument for including him in the same tier, though.

  2. David says:

    I currently own Jose Veras, should I drop him for Strop right now in order to be sure to get Strop before the other managers in my league do? I feel like it’s only a matter of time….

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It could be, but I wouldn’t call it a certainty. That’s why owning both, if possible, to handcuff yourself is a much better philosophy.

  3. Old Guy says:

    Greg Holland was better than all of them last year and almost perfect after April 15th. Jansen has never had an elite year.

  4. Mike says:

    Nathan should even be questionable for tier three, let alone tier 2… he’s a disaster in the waiting with all the luck metrics going his way last season… He’s a big time regression candidate and i’d be glad to have him faltering on other teams than mine.

    Holland Rosenthal and Uehara should all be very close to tier 1 with Rosenthal just slightly behind the other 2 without closing experience.

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