Is there any position that is more unpredictable than a team’s closer is? No one would have expected Jonathan Broxton to lose his job in 2010, but that is exactly what happened. You really just never know, so ranking them is extremely difficult.
With that said, let’s take a look at how I currently rank the Top 15 Closers for 2011:
- Heath Bell – San Diego Padres
- Brian Wilson – San Francisco Giants
- Joakim Soria – Kansas City Royals
- Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
- Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
- Andrew Bailey – Oakland Athletics
- Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox
- Jonathan Broxton – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Francisco Rodriguez – New York Mets
- Carlos Marmol – Chicago Cubs
- Joe Nathan – Minnesota Twins
- Huston Street – Colorado Rockies
- Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers
- J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chris Perez – Cleveland Indians
- There is nothing concrete on who will close in Minnesota, but it is hard to imagine Nathan not getting the job. Having missed the entire 2010 season it is easy to forget just how dominant of a force he was. Upon arriving in Minnesota he instantly became their closer for six seasons. His worst ERA was 2.70, the only time he was above 2.10. His worst WHIP was 1.02, the only time he was above 0.98. He never posted a K/9 below 9.67. With players coming back from Tommy John surgery better than ever, there is no reason to shy away from him. He could be the steal of the draft.
- Will Neftali Feliz move to the rotation? The rumors are that the Rangers will give him an opportunity to win a spot in Spring Training, but it is hard to believe, especially now that Frank Francisco is in Toronto. I know they lost out on Cliff Lee, but why give up an advantage? With Feliz in the ninth, it is an eight inning game.
- Broxton struggled in 2010, but he did still average 95.3 mph on his fastball. He also had a significant amount of poor luck, with a BABIP of .369. Can we really expect that to continue? Don’t overlook how dominant he was in 2009 (2.61 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 13.50 K/9). He should be fine in 2011.
- Francisco Rodriguez is a huge wild card, but there is little question that he will open the year as the Mets closer. If he makes it to the end with the job, however, is an entirely different question. If the Mets are in contention (I know how crazy that sounds), they are going to stick with him. If they fall out of it, would it be a surprise to see them try out an alternate, considering his vesting option is based on the number of games finished? You may want to take advantage of him early but move him mid-year depending on the situation.
- I know everyone loves Carlos Marmol due to the strikeout rate, but I would tread carefully. His pathetic control almost makes him feel like a ticking time bomb. You can walk over six batters per nine innings for only so long before it catches up to you. We will discuss him in much more detail in the near future.
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Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings: