While there is still volatility in all of the rankings, I think the closer rankings are the ones with the most potential to change. Where does Billy Wagner fit in now that he’s going to be a closer? Should Carlos Marmol, Bobby Jenks or Trevor Hoffman be considered a top option? Where do we value 2009 breakouts David Aardsma and Ryan Franklin?
These are all questions that we’ll try to answer as we take a look at how my rankings currently stand (remember, I’m still fine tuning my projections so keep in mind that these are fluid):
- Jonathan Broxton – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
- Joe Nathan – Minnesota Twins
- Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox
- Joakim Soria – Kansas City Royals
- Francisco Rodriguez – New York Mets
- Heath Bell – San Diego Padres
- Brian Wilson – San Francisco Giants
- Huston Street – Colorado Rockies
- Andrew Bailey – Oakland Athletics
- Brian Fuentes – Los Angeles Angels
- Francisco Cordero – Cincinnati Reds
- Frank Francisco – Texas Rangers
- Trevor Hoffman – Milwaukee Brewers
- Mike Gonzalez – Baltimore Orioles/Rafael Soriano – Tampa Bay Rays
- Broxton’s strikeout potential gives him a big edge over the rest of the field. He’s had over 95 strikeouts in three of the last four seasons and has a career K/9 of 11.91. You add that with the saves, ERA and a career WHIP of 1.16 and there is nothing not to like.
- Will Mariano Rivera ever stop getting the job done? He seems like he could be successful for another 10 years, doesn’t he?
- Wilson entered 2009 as a questionable option, considering a 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 2008. He put it all together, however, while the Giants showed that they are committed to him as their closer. That confidence, to go along with increased strikeouts and getting his control in order, makes him an awfully attractive option.
- I may be one of the few, but I love Frank Francisco for the upcoming season. The Rangers proved they were committed to him in 2009 and, when healthy, he showed that he could be a dominant backend pitcher. Look for him to continue to thrive.
- Both David Aardsma and Ryan Franklin fell short of this list. Does anyone truly believe that they can repeat their 2009 success? Mediocre middle relievers turned stud closers just don’t hold too much weight with me at this point. Neither will likely have a very long leash, so if they revert back to their old ways in April or May, they will be replaced.
- OK, so the number 15 spot is a bit of a copout, but I think both deserve to be recognized on this list. They shared the job in Atlanta for much of the season, which hurt both of their values but allowed both to prove they were capable of excelling in the role. Now, they’ve both moved on and should be in line to close games with their new clubs. That makes them both intriguing options for the upcoming season.
- Carlos Marmol has a great chance of being a Top 15 option, if he can get his control in order. A 7.91 BB/9, however, makes it impossible to put him there preseason. He’s a great sleeper once the top names come off the board.
- I like the promise of Billy Wagner in Atlanta, thanks to the strikeout potential, but he is a big injury concern. I probably won’t get him in any draft, because the cost is going to be higher than I’m going to pay. Currently he’s the thirteenth closer off the board with an ADP of 143.75. Taking a closer at the part of the draft, I’d rather more of a sure thing. That said, I do think he could be a Top 15 closer, given his impressive return last season. He easily could find himself on these rankings next time around. (He easily could replace Trevor Hoffman, who is another player I likely won’t have on any team in 2010.)
Previous Early Rankings:
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