FanPost

Avoid the Plague of Closers

Having an elite closer or two on your roster from week to week is sexy. Knowing you have the SV category locked up before you even begin your matchup is a relief... PUN INTENDED. Craig Kimbrel having more strikeouts than Barry Zito while pitching 1/3 of the innings is pretty cool and pretty WHAT? and pretty pathetic all at the same time. Fernando Rodney having an ERA similar to Dwight Howard's FG% is in the same vein.

But being forced to submit a sixth round pick to get the likes of Aroldis Chapman is not fun. Not when there are players like Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Yovani Gallardo and Freddie Freeman going in the same pick range. Now, the value of those players is different for any manager to evaluate, but the value of a RP is pretty much known.

Only four RP since 2005 have notched at least 25 saves in a season in which he also pitched more than 80 innings. Alfredo Aceves in 2012 (84 IP/25 SV/75 K), Andrew Bailey in 2009 (81.1 IP/26 SV/91 K), Salomon Torres in 2008 (80 IP/28 SV/51 K), Kevin Gregg in 2007 (84 IP/32 SV/87 K).

Closers and most RP are inning specific specialists nowadays. It is very rare for any RP to contribute enough innings during a season to make as much of an impact in stat categories other than SV. In fact, Scott Proctor, who had 102.1 IP in 2006, was the last RP to accumulate more than 94 IP in a season.

This means that RP don't pitch enough innings to make a big difference in stats like ERA and WHIP. In other words, don't get duped into drafting Jonathan Papelbon because of his 2.44 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over Jordan Zimmermann with a 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Over the course of a season, Zimmermann's stats over 195.2 IP will hold more weight than Papelbon's over 70 IP. Not to mention Zimmermann notched 61 K and 7 W more than Papelbon last season.

In a standard H2H league, where the pitching stats are W, SV, K, ERA and WHIP, a RP simply doesn't have as much value as a SP. When the goal of a H2H league is to win more categories than your opponent, it's not a bad idea to put your pride aside and sacrifice one (SV) for the betterment of others (W and K). During your draft, try to consider SP who are RP eligible when possible, such as Lance Lynn and Andrew Cashner as a sleeper option.

Be sure to stay composed and not reach for a closer at any point in the draft, because RP are just not worth the early pick. But don't get me wrong, if Kimbrel and Chapman fall into the double digit rounds, good value can surely come from those picks. However, those two beasts should be the only two premier closers on your entire draft board. Beginning with Papelbon and Jason Motte and ending with Joel Hanrahan and Tom Wilhelmsen, that is a group of RP whose value could jump anywhere from a top five to a top 15 closer as the season plays out.

If you are in the late rounds and still need to pick up RP eligible players, look for high K/9 rate guys such as Kenley Jansen, Ernesto Frieri and David Robertson. Because it's nice to still get K benefits from RP when they aren't in the position to close games on a regular basis.

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