Closer Power Rankings (April 28, 2014): Ranking All 30 Closers In MLB

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The closers role is extremely erratic (though that may be the biggest 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 (all stats are through Saturday):


Tier 1 – The Elite
1) Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves (1)
2) Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers (3)
3) Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox (2)
4) Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals (4)

Thoughts: After a little bit of a rough patch early on, Jansen has clearly found his groove and re-entrenched himself among the elite closers in the game.  In fact, the strikeout machine has actually been plagued by poor luck (.467 BABIP) and only figures to get better…  How can Holland not be included with the best of the best at this point?  His strikeout rate is just as good as anyone’s and, with the Royals offense struggling, there should be ample opportunities for saves…


Tier 2 – Not elite yet, but they could be…
5) Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins (8)
6) Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals (5)
7) Sergio Romo – San Francisco Giants (6)
8) Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers (7)

Thoughts:  Rosenthal certainly has the upside, thanks to his strikeout ability, but he needs to start finding the strike zone regularly.  It should correct itself (walks in four of his first nine appearances), but it’s something to monitor…  Romo has been extremely good, overall, but he’s given up a few home runs in the early going.  It’s not a concern, yet, but it is something that needs to be monitored given his lower strikeout rate compared to other closers…


Tier 3 – Solid option.  Sure there are questions, but they shouldn’t be going anywhere
9) Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins (9)
10) Francisco Rodriguez – Milwaukee Brewers (20)
11) Huston Street – San Diego Padres (10)
12) Rafael Soriano – Washington Nationals (11)
13) David Robertson – New York Yankees (NR)
14) Addison Reed – Arizona Diamondbacks (15)

Thoughts: The bottom could quickly drop out for Rodriguez, but at this point there’s no question that the job is his.  The real question is, where did this come from?!?…  Robertson has the upside of one of the elite closers in the game.  Now that he’s off the DL, he should quickly rise up the rankings and could reach Tier 2 by next week…


Tier 4 – The seat is getting warmer
15) Joakim Soria – Texas Rangers (22)
16) Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies (14)
17) Fernando Rodney – Seattle Mariners (12)
18) Mark Melancon – Pittsburgh Pirates (Jason Grilli on DL) (NR)
19) Grant Balfour – Tampa Bay Rays (19)
20) Tommy Hunter – Baltimore Orioles (13)
21) John Axford – Cleveland Indians (18)
22) LaTroy Hawkins – Colorado Rockies (21)

Thoughts: Generally a pitcher like Melancon, who is just an injury fill-in, would be started off in Tier 5.  However he thrived in the closers role last season and could conceivably take the job and run with it.  He’s not your typical injury replacement…  Soria’s numbers are a bit deceiving, as the ERA looks inflated but it was due to one poor outing in a non-save situation.  As it is, his 3.60 ERA has him on the verge of being a stable option at this point…  Sure Axford has gotten the job done, but he’s also issued a significant number of walks.  It could just be a matter of time before he implodes…


Tier 5 – A change could come at any time…
23) Jonathan Broxton – Cincinnati Reds (Aroldis Chapman on DL) (23)
24) Sergio Santos – Toronto Blue Jays (Casey Janssen on DL) (25)
25) Matt Lindstrom – Chicago White Sox (28)
26) Joe Smith – Los Angeles Angels (NR)
27) Oakland A’s Committee (26)
28) Kyle Farnsworth – New York Mets (27)
29) Chicago Cubs Committee (29)
30) Houston Astros Committee (30)

Thoughts: While Kyle Farnsworth is currently working as the closer for the Mets, all signs appear to point to Daisuke Matsuzaka ultimately getting an opportunity…   If Oakland wanted to they could select a closer and match him thrive, but they appear intent on maintaining a committee for now.  That said, it’s only a matter of time before Jim Johnson likely returns to the role…  Joe Smith is currently working as the Angels’ closer, but we all know that’s not going to last very long…


Removed from list:

  • Ernesto Frieri – Los Angeles Angels (16)
  • Jason Grilli – Pittsburgh Pirates (17) – Injured
  • Shawn Kelley – New York Yankees (24)

Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports


  1. costaricanchata says:

    are these rankings based on performance or expectations ?
    clearly , street has out-performed cishek , thus far.
    this past week , street has picked up 3 saves , while posting
    an e.r.a of zero and a whip of 0.67 . (3 k ‘s) .
    no reason that he should be dropping on this list other than personal bias .

  2. bigwang says:

    a thing to note about rosenthal: instead of not finding the zone regularly, he is probably finding the zone a little too regularly (55% zone percentage easily a career high). it may not be his control that’s the problem, but his command.

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