Top 15 Closers For 2011


Some people prefer to wait until late in their draft to acquire their fantasy closers, figuring that you can take some risks while also finding saves on the waiver wire throughout the season.  Others like to use early-to-mid round picks in order to get an elite closer or two, hopefully stabilizing their standing in saves.  Which strategy is right is a debate for another day, but let’s look at how I currently rank the Top 15 closers heading into 2011:

  1. Heath Bell – San Diego Padres
  2. Brian Wilson – San Francisco Giants
  3. Joakim Soria – Kansas City Royals
  4. Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
  5. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
  6. Rafael Soriano – Free Agent
  7. Jonathan Broxton – Los Angeles Dodgers
  8. Andrew Bailey – Oakland Athletics
  9. Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox
  10. Francisco Rodriguez – New York Mets
  11. Carlos Marmol – Chicago Cubs
  12. Joe Nathan – Minnesota Twins
  13. Huston Street – Colorado Rockies
  14. Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers
  15. J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks


  • Joe Nathan is a real wild card, but we all know what he is capable of doing. If he proves that he is healthy in Spring Training, he could easily perform as a Top 10, and maybe even a Top 5 option. Since 2004 he has had one season with an ERA above 2.10 and one season with a WHIP above 0.98. To say that he has the potential to be one of the elite and a steal on draft day is an understatement.
  • Will the Rangers move Feliz to the rotation? I can’t see it after his success, but time will tell at this point.
  • J.J. Putz will get an opportunity to rediscover his glory as a closer in Arizona. As long as he keeps his control in under (as he did in 2010), he should be a solid option as a second closer for fantasy owners.
  • Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever to play the game, we all know that. At this point, is anyone really waiting for him to finally regress due to his age? He’s one of the elite and he should be considered as such until he finally decides to hang up his spikes.
  • If you draft Jonathan Papelbon, you may want to grab Daniel Bard for your bench, just in case. I know Bobby Jenks was brought in, but Bard is still the likely replacement should something happen.
  • If it wasn’t for his strikeout potential, I wouldn’t go near Carlos Marmol. However, he could easily lead all relief pitchers in strikeouts, which certainly helps to offset any potential problems his walk rate brings with him.

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Whose too high?  Whose too low?
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  1. On the question of Feliz and the rotation, my brother asked John Daniels (Rangers GM) a few weeks ago at a meet and greet and Daniels hinted that the Rangers have plans to put Feliz into rotation for Spring Training. Doesn’t mean he won’t be back in the closer’s job, but I can definitely see a scenario where Feliz spends a good part of this year in Triple A developing secondary pitches. Seems counter-intuitive, but Texas org feels Feliz can potentially be a top of rotation guy for years and may well be willing to give the experiment some time…

  2. Nice info pull there Chuck. For the Rangers sake, I hope they keep Feliz as a closer. He’s much more valuable there than a once every 5 days starter.

    As for the rest of the list, I think Huston Street’s days as a closer may come to an end this year. He’s just too prone to giving up the big bomb. After his arm surgery in Oakland he’s really never consistently been able to hit 95-96 on his fastball so he isn’t able to setup the slider as effectively as before.

    I’ll agree that Marmol is a wild card of sorts but if he ever gets the walks down, he could be as good as they get. The strikeout numbers and hits per inning are pretty phenomenal.

  3. Thanks for the info Chuck! Given his success, I agree that it would be hard to believe the Rangers would tinker with him, but who knows. We all saw the Yankees and the debacle they created with Joba Chamberlain, so nothing would surprise me anymore.

    • If he had good control, he would be a lock to be in the Top 5. Right now, he feels like a disaster waiting to happen every time he takes the mound. If he could post even a 4.0 BB/9, his ranking would change dramatically.

    • Ha, Carlito I’m right with you. Marmol’s 6.03 BB/9 will never be the same without Santo freaking out. Although his all time record for relievers of 16 K/9 last year more than makes up for it.

  4. Marmol top 5 or 6 no doubt. Dominant.

    What’s with the Broxton prediction? He lost his job last August after he lost his fastball. Velocity down, uncertain job status to me does not equal top 15 talent (let alone top 7). I’d rather have Kuo, Lyon, or Kimbrel in my RP slot.


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