by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know how frustrating it can be to try investing in closers, as there seems to be more and more turmoil at the spot from year to year. That’s not to say that there isn’t an elite class, but that group seems to be shrinking… Or does it? There are some intriguing young options on the rise, who have the potential to entrench themselves for the long haul. Who are they? Where do they fall on the rankings? Let’s take a look:
1. Aroldis Chapman – New York Yankees
2. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles
4. Edwin Diaz – Seattle Mariners
5. Seung Hwan Oh – St. Louis Cardinals
6. Mark Melancon – San Francisco Giants
7. Craig Kimbrel – Boston Red Sox
8. Roberto Osuna – Toronto Blue Jays
9. Kelvin Herrera – Kansas City Royals
10. Ken Giles – Houston Astros
Just Missed – David Robertson, Wade Davis, Alex Colome
- It may surprise many to find Diaz this highly ranked, but what he did last season after transitioning to the bullpen was elite. He has a completely dominant pitch, generating a 34.83% Whiff% on his slider, and when paired with a fastball that averaged over 97 mph it’s easy to imagine him emerging as one of the truly elite closers in the game. For more on Diaz, check out our profile by clicking here.
- Ken Giles was supposed to be an elite closer in ’16, but he failed to win the job from the outset. Ultimately he flashed the strikeouts (12.98 K/9) and control (3.43 BB/9) of an elite closer, and if he wins the job he should thrive. That’s a big if so consider his spot on these rankings one of the most unstable, but the upside is there.
- When you see Kelvin Herrera rank in the Top 10, despite not much of a history in the role, you can understand why the Royals were so willing to ship Wade Davis out in the offseason. Herrera’s big development last season was his control (1.50 BB/9), keeping opponents honest by using his slider more (15.9%) was likely the reason for his success. At this point there’s little reason to think anything is going to change.
- Is Craig Kimbrel no longer one of the truly elite closers? While injury played a part in his poor 2016, he also struggled with his control (5.09 BB/9). Having maintained his velocity there’s still hope that he “gets back there”, but even as is he should be one of the better options in the league.
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: