2011 Fantasy Ranks: RP
Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.
By: Braden Gall | 1/19/11, 12:56 PM EST
Wilson closed the door on a 2010 World Championship.
While we still have over a month until voluntary report dates (Feb. 14th can’t get here quickly enough), it is never too early for fantasy owners to start digesting mock drafts, big boards and keeper options.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports has perused the World Wide Web for the latest and greatest positional rankings and brought them together for a one-stop shop. Big media names like ESPN, CBS, Athlon Sports and Yahoo! were incorporated as well as a variety of smaller, yet no less insightful, sites like FantasyPhenoms.com, DeepLeagues.com, RotoChamp.com, HardballTimes.com and RotoProfessor.com.
Each site’s rankings — including Athlon’s own rankings, which will be released early in February — were compiled and averaged into one “consensus” ranking. (Age on Opening Day 2011)
1. Joakim Soria, KC (26)
“The Mexicutioner” not only has the best nickname in the game but he’s the best fantasy closer in the world. (But if there is a REAL baseball game that needs the final three outs recorded, you should probably still call Mo Rivera.) Over four seasons, Soria carries a 2.01 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .197 BAA, with 132 saves and 281 K in 255.0 IP. Soria has laser-like control (4/1 K/BB ratio), doesn’t blow saves (13 career) and doesn’t give up home runs (17 career). And don’t buy the old “he closes for a bad team” wives’ tale; the “Mexicutioner” is the best bet in fantasy.
2010 stats: 65.2 IP, 1-2, 43 SV, 71 K, 1.78/1.05
2. Heath Bell, SD (33)
Since arriving in San Diego, Bell has been one of the most valuable relievers around — first, as a holds-heavy setup man (34 HLD in 2007, 23 in ’08) and now as a solid closer. Bell has averaged 85 K over those four seasons and has found a way to vulture six wins apiece in each of those years. Playing for a small ball club in the pitchers’ park that is Petco makes Bell one of the few stress free closers in the game.
2010 stats: 70.0 IP, 6-1, 47 SV, 86 K, 1.93/1.20
3. Brian Wilson, SF (29)
From forgotten Beach Boy namesake to “Fear the Beard” nationwide phenomena, Wilson came a long way during the Giants’ World Series run of 2010. But he’s been closing for three seasons. Along with steady ERA/WHIP improvement (dropping from 4.62/1.44 in 2008 to 2.74/1.20 in ’09 to 1.81/1.18 last year) Wilson has also upped his Ks (rising from 67 to 83 to 93 last year). Plus, Wilson is the unquestioned closer on a pitchers’ team that thrives on close games.
2010 stats: 74.2 IP, 3-3, 48 SV, 93 K, 1.81/1.18
4. Neftali Feliz, TEX (22)
The reigning AL Rookie of the Year brings ace stuff to the closer role. That is both the good news and the bad news. If you draft Feliz as your key saves man and the young righty steps into the rotation, you’re out of luck. But odds are, the Rangers will keep the 22-year-old slamming doors at the end of games for at least another season. Regardless, Feliz is an arm worth investing in. Last season, the young gun posted a 1.42 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and .148 BAA with a 3-1 record, 17 saves and 29 K in 31.2 IP after the All-Star break.
2010 stats: 69.1 IP, 4-3, 40 SV, 3 HLD, 71 K, 2.73/0.88
5. Mariano Rivera, NYY (41)
The G.O.A.T. has had a sub-2.00 ERA in 10 of his 14 years as the Yanks’ full-time closer (including seven of the last eight), a sub-1.10 WHIP in 11-of-14 and at least 30 saves in 13-of-14 (including 39 or more eight times). If Mo were 31 years old instead of 41, he would have to have started pitching in pinstripes as a ‘tween — and he’d be considered the clear-cut top fantasy closer around. As it is, the only thing forcing Rivera down the list is paranoia over his age. But remember, the sky was falling after Mo’s “bad” 2007 season (3.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 30 saves).
2010 stats: 60.0 IP, 3-3, 33 SV, 45 K, 1.80/0.83
6. Carlos Marmol, CHC (28)
Marmol has absolute nasty stuff. Although last year was his first as a full-time closer, Marmol has been a full-time relief pitcher since 2007. During that stretch the Dominican dart-thrower has averaged 110 K in 77 IP. Control can be an issue; but a WHIP that moved from 1.46 in 2009 to just 1.18 last season is encouraging. Marmol is not the safest pick but he has a higher ceiling than anyone other than Soria or Feliz and could develop into one of the top two or three closers in fantasy.
2010 stats: 77.2 IP, 2-3, 38 SV, 138 K, 2.55/1.18
7. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS (30)
There was a time when Papelbon’s fist-pumping mad man routine was beloved in Beantown. That was before the once-clutch closer’s September meltdown (10.61 ERA, 2.14 WHIP with 16 H, 11 ER in 9.1 IP) contributed to a scary second-half statline (4.35 ERA, 1.45 WHIP in 31.0 IP). If Papelbon doesn’t return to his old form immediately, young Daniel Bard (1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 saves, 76 K in 74.2 IP) or former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks (173 saves in six seasons) will be getting the ball in the ninth. Don’t avoid Papelbon, but make sure Bard or Jenks (or both) are also on your team as insurance.
2010 stats: 67.0 IP, 5-7, 37 SV, 76 K, 3.90/1.27
8. Andrew Bailey, OAK (26)
In two seasons as the A’s closer, young Bailey has been lights out — with a 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 51 saves and 133 K over 132.1 innings. Bailey was shut down for the final two weeks of last season due to right elbow issues but the 26-year-old was throwing long toss in the first week of January and is currently on schedule to be ready for the start of spring training. Bailey falls into a risk-reward group that also includes the likes of K-Rod, Nathan and Broxton, just to name a few.
2010 stats: 49.0 IP, 1-3, 25 SV, 42 K, 1.47/0.96
9. Francisco Rodriguez, NYM (29)
Unless you’re K-Rod’s baby’s granddaddy, the fired-up fireman should be on your short list of elite closers. Since transitioning from dominant setup man (1.82 ERA, 12 saves, 27 HLD, 123 K in 84.0 IP in 2004) K-Rod has become a first-rate closer. That said, Franky has not been the same since going coast-to-coast from the Los Angeles California of Anaheim club to Queens New York. K-Rod averaged 48.5 saves with the Angels from 2005-08 and just 30 in two years with the Mets.
2010 stats: 57.1 IP, 4-2, 25 SV, 67 K, 2.20/1.15
10. Jonathan Broxton, LAD (26)
The 300-pounder was a heavyweight champ on the mound in 2009 — posting an intimidating 2.61 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .165 BAA, 7-2 record, 36 saves and 114 K in 76.0 IP. Broxton was equally untouchable before the break last year, with a 2.11 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 19 saves and 55 K in 38.1 IP. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall; and Broxton fell off the fantasy map like a ton of bricks — going all 7.13 ERA, 2.13 WHIP, three saves and 18 K in 24.0 IP after being an All-Star.
2010 stats: 62.1 IP, 5-6, 22 SV, 3 HLD, 73 K, 4.04/1.48
Can K-ROD bounce back.
11. Huston Street, COL (27)
The consistently inconsistent 2005 AL Rookie of the Year has had two seasons with 30 or more saves (37 in ’06, 35 in ’09), two with at least 20 (23 in ’05, 20 in ’10) and two in the high-teens (18 in ’08, 16 in ’07).
2010 stats: 47.1 IP, 4-4, 20 SV, 45 K, 3.61/1.06
12. Jose Valverde, DET (32)
After posting back-to-back 40-plus save seasons in 2007 (47) and ’08 (44), has closed the door 25 and 26 times the past two years while maintaining a steadily strong ERA, WHIP and K/9 ratio.
2010 stats: 63.0 IP, 2-4, 26 SV, 63 K, 3.00/1.16
13. Joe Nathan, MIN (36)
During his dominant six-year run from 2004-09, Nathan was a four-time All-Star who averaged 41 saves and 86 Ks over 69.2 innings — with an ERA that “fluctuated” from 1.33 (2008) to 2.70 (’05). But after missing the 2010 season and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Nathan is no longer Mo Rivera statistical lock he once was.
2009 stats: 68.2 IP, 2-2, 47 SV, 89 K, 2.10/0.93
14. Chris Perez, CLE (25)
The control issues Perez experienced with the Cardinals (1.35 WHIP over 65.1 IP) have all but vanished since the flame-thrower (171 K in 161.2 IP) was traded to the Indians (1.08 WHIP over 96.1 IP).
2010 stats: 63.0 IP, 2-2, 23 SV, 9 HLD, 61 K, 1.71/1.08
15. J.J. Putz, ARI (34)
The veteran reliever has a solid track record (3.19 ERA, 421 K in 406.1 IP) but just two seasons as a full-time closer (40 saves in ’07, 36 in ’06).
2010 stats: 54.0 IP, 7-5, 3 SV, 14 HLD, 65 K, 2.83/1.04
16. John Axford, MIL (28)
The Canadian import had a rookie season that was equal parts dominant (1.97 ERA, 14 saves, 44 K in 32 IP after the All-Star break) and consistent.
2010 stats: 58.0 IP, 8-2, 24 SV, 3 HLD, 76 K, 2.48/1.19
17. Francisco Cordero, CIN (35)
The fact that Cordero has recorded at least 34 saves in six of the last seven seasons proves he can handle the ninth inning. The question is whether or not Aroldis Chapman will “Neftali Feliz” his way into the Reds’ closer role.
2010 stats: 72.2 IP, 6-5, 40 SV, 1 HLD, 59 K, 3.84/1.43
18. Brad Lidge, PHI (34)
Has melted down in two of the last five seasons — with a 7.21 ERA and 1.81 WHIP (but 31 saves) with the Phillies in 2009 and a 5.28 ERA and 1.40 WHIP (but 32 saves) with the Astros in ’06. But Lidge does have 221 saves (32 per year) over the last seven seasons.
2010 stats: 45.2 IP, 1-1, 27 SV, 52 K, 2.96/1.23
19. Ryan Franklin, STL (37)
Standing on his last leg with the Cardinals, Franklin could see his job shared with (or stolen by) “closer of the future” candidates Jason Motte or Mitchell Boggs.
2010 stats: 65.0 IP, 6-2, 27 SV, 42 K, 3.46/1.03
20. Craig Kimbrel, ATL (22)
The rookie fireballer is the most likely candidate to take over for retiring lefty legend Billy Wagner. Judging by last year’s production, Kimbrel could be untouchable until further notice.
2010 stats: 20.2 IP, 4-0, 1 SV, 2 HLD, 40 K, 0.44/1.21
** Rookies to watch: Aroldis Chapman, CIN; Chris Sale, CHW
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