Closer Rankings: They are all stars, but are they All-Stars?

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

As the All-Star Game nears, people are starting to wonder what closers might make the rosters. But maybe we want to start keeping that talk in check.

We're less than a month from the All-Star Game. Every week, when I do these closer columns, I run Google News searches for each guy. That's in part in case I missed something, and in part in case there was some feature on someone I can use in the chart.

Well, it started this week. Various closers are getting "Should CLOSER X be an All-Star?" columns. And for good reason, as there are a bunch of guys having good-to-great years. Scroll through my rankings below, and something like the top 14 or 15 guys could all legitimately be All-Stars.

Glen Perkins? Sure, his ERA is a kinda-high-for-a-closer 2.76, but he has 17 saves, a WHIP below 1.00, 39 strikeouts in less than 30 innings, and the game's in his home park, both team-wise and birthplace-wise.

Jonathan Papelbon? If nothing else, he might have to be the Philadelphia representative, but he's also working on a 1.37 ERA and 15 saves in 16 opportunities.

Francisco Rodriguez had that insanely hot stretch to start the season. Steve Cishek has been good. Aroldis Chapman hasn't pitched much, but has been incredibly good since his return. Huston Street, Koji Uehara, Greg Holland, Rafael Soriano, Joakim Soria. Heck, new closers like Sean Doolittle, Zach Britton, and Chad Qualls all have reasonable arguments for a spot. And that's way before we start considering middle relievers.

Here's the problem, though: If all these guys should be All-Stars, should any of them really be All-Stars?

Think about it. A guy hits 35 homers in 1999, we don't really care. Everyone's doing it. A guy hits 35 homers in 2014, he might not be the league's best power hitter, but he's worth talking about. In a similar vein, a reliever strikes out more than a batter per inning, converts 80 percent of his save chances, and has a WHIP under 1.00? Twenty years ago, we'd be in awe. Even two out of three would be considered star-worthy. Today?

Closers with at least two of three (9+ K/9, 80% Save Rate, WHIP <1.00)
9+ K/9 80%+ Save Rate <1.00 WHIP
Cody Allen Y Y
Zach Britton Y Y
Aroldis Chapman Y Y Y
Steve Cishek Y Y
Sean Doolittle Y Y Y
Ernesto Frieri Y Y
Greg Holland Y Y Y
Kenley Jansen Y Y
Casey Janssen Y Y
Craig Kimbrel Y Y Y
Jonathan Papelbon Y Y
Glen Perkins Y Y Y
Addison Reed Y Y
David Robertson Y Y
Fernando Rodney Y Y
Francisco Rodriguez Y Y Y
Sergio Romo Y Y
Trevor Rosenthal Y Y
Joakim Soria Y Y Y
Rafael Soriano Y Y
Huston Street Y Y Y
Koji Uehara Y Y Y

That's 22 guys. Now, of course, guys like Ernesto Frieri and Addison Reed aren't All-Star candidates. I get that. But the point is, we have to recalibrate what we think of as an "All-Star" closer, unless we want to start expanding the rosters even further and putting 10 closers on each squad.

The same applies to fantasy. When I'm trolling through waiver wires looking for save opportunities or low-WHIP middle relievers, the numbers we'd look for five years ago don't actually help. David Robertson has 16.28 K/9. Huston Street hasn't blown a save or lost a game yet. Rafael Soriano has a WHIP of 0.96. None of the three is in my top five closers; Robertson is barely even in my top 10, and Soriano barely makes the top 15. It's just a new world of reliever quality, and fantasy owners - and All-Star Game prognosticators - have to adjust.

Now, on to this week's rankings. Remember, two lists: The rankings for right now, and the rankings for the rest of the season. Read on, and manage expectations:

Right-Now Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Aroldis Chapman CIN 1 He's been incredible, and doing it with more sliders than normal. Correlation? Causation?
2 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2 Scoreless outing Sunday brought his ERA back under 2.00.
3 Greg Holland KCR 3 Last run allowed was May 5.
4 Glen Perkins MIN 4 His June ERA is 1.80. His June RA/9 is 9.00. God bless unearned runs.
5 Koji Uehara BOS 5 Frankly, I might be too low. He's been incredible.
6 Huston Street SDP 7 The "will he be traded?" talk has already started up.
7 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 10 Notched his 300th career save. He's been right decent.
8 Joakim Soria TEX 9 He's been easily the best part of an unsteady Texas bullpen.
9 Kenley Jansen LAD 6 Had to start dropping Jansen. He's given up runs in back-to-back saves.
10 David Robertson NYY 13 He's striking people out at a rate Mariano Rivera only dreamed of (relax, I'm not making any greater claim).
11 Sergio Romo SFG 8 Has a 5.08 ERA, but a WHIP of 0.95. Must be the LOB% of 62.5.
12 Steve Cishek MIA 12 The trade wonderings have started on him as well.
13 Casey Janssen TOR 11 Gave up his first earned runs of the season, but still sports a 1.29 ERA.
14 Sean Doolittle OAK 20 Still just one walk. Still incredible.
15 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 17 Now he's discussing the possibility of a theoretical return to the Mets someday, which seems like a bad omen, if nothing else.
16 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 16 Six straight scoreless outings; eight strikeouts, seven baserunners in that time.
17 Rafael Soriano WAS 15 Runs allowed in consecutive outings June 7-10, but his ERA still sits at 1.38.
18 Zach Britton BAL 19 Tommy Hunter returned from the DL, but Britton is holding the gig.
19 Jason Grilli PIT 14 All he has on Mark Melancon is save opportunities. Not ability.
20 Chad Qualls HOU 18 Blew his first save as closer, but still doing great overall.
21 Cody Allen CLE 23 I'm done wondering; I'm assuming he's the closer and John Axford is a middle reliever until I have reason not to.
22 LaTroy Hawkins COL 25 Three strikeouts in his last four innings; it's a hot streak.
23 Fernando Rodney SEA 21 His stats are overall passable, but he simply doesn't inspire confidence.
24 Addison Reed ARI 24 Hasn't had consecutive scoreless outings since May 31-June 1.
25 Jake McGee TAM NR He's at least the temporary closer while Grant Balfour is awful; we'll see how long it lasts.
26 Ronald Belisario CWS 29 Hasn't blown a save this month. Maybe he'll hold the job for longer than I thought.
27 Ernesto Frieri LAA 22 He got the "vote of confidence," but lord does he not have mine.
28 Neil Ramirez CHC NR I don't know who the Cubs' closer is going to be, but Ramirez has been good, while ...
29 Pedro Strop CHC 26 ... Strop has the history of being decent. I trust them both to be decent, but couldn't tell you who'll get saves.
30 Joba Chamberlain DET 30 Still can't trust Joe Nathan long-term; Joba failed in his first chance, but maybe he'll get another.

Rest-Of-Season Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Aroldis Chapman CIN 2
2 Craig Kimbrel ATL 1 This demotion is not anti-Kimbrel, it's "Holy crap, Chapman's been good."
3 Greg Holland KCR 3
4 Glen Perkins MIN 4
5 Koji Uehara BOS 6
6 Huston Street SDP 7
7 Kenley Jansen LAD 5
8 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 9
9 Joakim Soria TEX 10
10 David Robertson NYY 11
11 Sergio Romo SFG 8 His struggles are baffling, but I have faith he'll be fine.
12 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 14
13 Steve Cishek MIA 13
14 Casey Janssen TOR 12
15 Rafael Soriano WAS 15
16 Jason Grilli PIT 17
17 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 16
18 Sean Doolittle OAK 19
19 Zach Britton BAL 18
20 Cody Allen CLE 27
21 LaTroy Hawkins COL 24
22 Fernando Rodney SEA 20
23 Addison Reed ARI 22
24 Chad Qualls HOU 23
25 Ronald Belisario CWS 30
26 Ernesto Frieri LAA 21 Joe Smith wasn't the answer in Los Angeles, but I don't really think Frieri is, either.
27 Joe Nathan DET 25 Tigers fans are now even wondering about Phil Coke. Sad times.
28 Jeurys Familia NYM NR Look, I don't know about the Mets. Someone's gotta get saves.
29 Pedro Strop CHC 28
30 Jake McGee TAM NR He's good, but I think Balfour gets another shot before all is said and done.

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