Great closers only come around so often. The closer position is still relatively new enough that many of the greatest have pitched in the last 10-20 years. Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Dennis Eckersley are probably the top three in the conversation for "Greatest Closer of All-time" but if one more name deserves recognition in that category, it might just be Billy Wagner.
Wagner retired last year after 1 season with the Braves. Despite his age (38) and health issues, Wagner posted a 1.43 ERA, 104 K's, 22 bb's in 69.1 innings. That is absolutely incredible, and the perfect way to cap off a remarkable career.
The pitcher who has officially taken over as the closer for Atlanta, has drawn comparisons to Wagner himself (an opposite-handed version of course) and Craig Kimbrel may deserve every last bit of that compliment.
Kimbrel leads major league relievers in WAR, and whether you are a fan of that stat or not, consider that his 2.0 WAR is significantly ahead of a 3-way tie for 2nd place at 1.4. He has been that much better than the competition and also leads the league in saves (28) despite teammate Johnny Venters being a part of that 3-way tie for 2nd place. (Yeah, I know, unbelievable. If Kimbrel wasn't in Atlanta, Venters might be the winner of Fantasy All-Star closer.
It's also worth noting that Kimbrel's numbers are this good despite the fact that he is a closer and not a specialist reliever. Closers don't get to face same-handed hitters in the way that a LOOGY would, a fact that can boost a LOOGY or a ROOGY's numbers. Instead, Kimbrel is more devastating against lefties than he is righties (.415 OPS against compared to .603 OPS against from righties!) and he's far and away been the best relief pitcher in any role this season.
Kimbrel features a mid-to-high-90s fastball that is superb, and a slider that could one day rival Rivera's cutter. The real test will be how his career goes from here, whether he can stay healthy and effective, but this is about a good of a start as anyone could hope for.
The full FakeTeams Fantasy All-Star roster after the jump...
Catcher - Brian McCann
First Base - Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base - Robinson Cano
Shortstop - Jose Reyes
Third Base - Jose Bautista
Outfield - Matt Kemp
Outfield - Curtis Granderson
Outfield - Ryan Braun
Designated Hitter - David Ortiz
Left-handed starter - Cole Hamels
Right-handed starter - Justin Verlander
Closer - Craig Kimbrel