Top 15 Fantasy Closers for 2010: An Early Look

All fantasy owners know that closer is one of the most unpredictable positions to draft.  Just look at this season, where David Aardsma and Ryan Franklin (just to give two examples) emerged from relative obscurity to help buoy fantasy bullpens.  With that said, let’s take a look at an early shot at ranking the Top 15 fantasy closers, though a lot of things will cause this list to change, potentially drastically:

Tier 1:
1. Jonathan Broxton – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
3. Joe Nathan – Minnesota Twins
4. Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox

Tier 2:
5. Joakim Soria – Kansas City Royals
6. Heath Bell – San Diego Padres
7. Francisco Rodriguez – New York Mets

Tier 3:
8. Brian Fuentes – Los Angeles Angels
9. Brian Wilson – San Francisco Giants
10. Francisco Cordero – Cincinnati Reds

Tier 4:
11. Jose Valverde – Houston Astros
12. Ryan Franklin – St. Louis Cardinals
13. Huston Street – Colorado Rockies
14. Trevor Hoffman – Milwaukee Brewers
15. Frank Francisco – Texas Rangers

Thoughts:

  • Is anyone claiming that Mariano Rivera is just too old to still get the job done? Even at 38-years old, he simply continues to produce like one of the elite closers in the game. A 1.76 ERA? A 0.90 WHIP? Until he physically does not produce, he needs to be one of the first closers off the board.
  • For as good as Papelbon was, it’s just not enough to overcome the other three who are ranked above him. Still, would you be disappointed to get “stuck” with him? He posted his worst WHIP as a closer in 2009, a 1.15. I know, he’s terrible, right?
  • The number five spot is a tough call, but very few can top a healthy Soria. Put him on a good team and everyone would be marveling at his abilities. He’s got a career 2.09 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over 189.1 innings. Seriously, how much more do you want from a closer?
  • Rodriguez falls out of the Top 5 thanks to a disastrous second half. He blew four saves, en route to posting a 6.75 ERA over 25.1 innings. You can blame it on how bad the Mets were if you want, but he really just was not any good. He’s the one who yielded the walk-off grand slam to Justin Maxwell, no one else. Still, I’d expect a significant turn around in 2010.
  • If you like Fuentes or not, it is obvious that the Angels simply provide their closer’s with ample save opportunities and nothing is going to change that.
  • Bell managed to save 42 games for the Padres. Can you imagine what he could do on a winning team?
  • For now, Valverde is on the list. He is a free agent, however, so where he signs will certainly determine his potential value.
  • I know, Frank Francisco’s ranking may be a bit high, but I still believe in his abilities if he can stay healthy for an entire season. I know the presence of C.J. Wilson makes his hold on the job tenuous, but I’d still take my chances with him as my second closer.
  • Carlos Marmol was left off the list due to his control problems.  If he was to get those under control, he easily could emerge as a number one closer.
What are your thoughts on the early rankings?  Who is too high?  Who is too low?  Who was omitted that shouldn’t have been?

Previous Early Rankings:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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5 comments

  1. turk99 says:

    Curious what your thinking is on Cordero? Is he third tier b/c of the Reds?

  2. spdy13 says:

    Where’s Aardsma? He’s just as good as any of those tier 3 guys and certainly tops many of the tier 4s.

  3. fiji.siv says:

    Wow Lidge out of the top 15!?! Not that I disagree but I suspect everybody had him in the top 3 heading into 2009.

    Interesting that LAA’s closer led MLB in saves two years in a row, with two different closers.

    I’m not sold on Aardsma. Yes he had a great year but this year’s numbers are worlds different than anything he has shown in his career.

    Bailey sure looked good too but an 83IP career is probably not enough to make a good argument. :-)

  4. Andrew says:

    So the #4 RP this year, Andrew Bailey, doesn’t make the cut? He’s at least top ten.

    Also, Franklin was smoke and mirrors this year, and Street has a truly elite skill set.

  5. Rotoprofessor says:

    fiji, I had Lidge at #5 heading into the season :-p

    As for Aardsma, like fiji mentioned, his statistics this past season do not come close to resembling his entire career. This is the same pitcher who posted a 5.55 ERA for the Red Sox in 2008 and a 6.40 ERA for the White Sox in 2007. It’s hard to imagine him continuing with the numbers he posted last season, though stranger things have happened. Still, based on his track record, I wouldn’t consider him a Top 15 closer.

    Bailey is a different story and I went back-and-forth on including him. I ultimately slotted him at #16, but he certainly is someone who has the potential to rise up the rankings as I do a bit more research on him. He was extremely impressive, but he was not even close to as impressive during his minor league career. Maybe he is a pitcher who just didn’t translate to the starting rotation, but I would want to see more from him before I put him in the top tier of closers. We’ve all seen people make a big splash in year one only to regress tremendously in year two. Closer is a volatile position, so like fiji said, 83 innings may just not be enough to convince people.

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