Where you play daily fantasy sports or season-long fantasy baseball, you need to have a strategy. A good start is by having a list of the top players for each position. Here is a list of the top ten closers in MLB.
1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel finished ninth in Cy Young voting in 2011 in his first year as closer. In 2012, he finished fifth, with a 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 116 K in 62 2/3 IP and 42 saves. He is the top daily fantasy sports closer pick.
2. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Papelbon has seven straight seasons of at least 30 saves. In his first year in Philly, he had a 2.44 ERA, 1.057 WHIP and 11.8 K/9, numbers consistent with his career marks of 2.34 ERA, 1.023 WHIP and 10.8 K/9.
3. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
As of mid-March, the Reds had not decided whether Chapman would continue as Reds closer or move into the rotation. Here’s what he did in his first year closing: 38 saves, 1.51 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 122 K in 71 2/3 IP.
4. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
After taking over as closer late in 2011 and picking up five postseason saves, Motte took over the job in 2012, tying Kimbrel for the NL lead with 42 saves, along with a 2.75 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 10.8 K/9.
5. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Before his injury-shortened 2012, Rivera had four straight seasons with a sub-2 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP and an average of 40 saves per season. Sure, he’s 43, but the usual rules don’t seem to apply to Rivera.
6. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
Soriano did not get his first save until May 10, but finished with 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA after Rivera got hurt and David Robertson struggled as Yankee closer. Soriano put up even better numbers as the Braves closer in 2010 and also closed successfully for the Rays in 2009.
7. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers
After missing 2010 due to Tommy John surgery and struggling in his return in 2011, Nathan made the All-Star team as he returned to form with 37 saves, 2.80 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 10.9 K/9. He had a 0.98 road ERA but 4.17 with 7 HR in 36 2/3 IP in Texas. Nathan turned 38 after the season.
8. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
Rodney had 48 saves with an 0.60 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. His K/9 was 9.2. But in Rodney’s previous four seasons, his lowest ERA was 4.24 and his lowest WHIP was 1.47. Rodney, now 36, has only one other season with at least 15 saves.
9. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants
Romo had some great numbers in his first shot at closing: 1.79 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 10.2 K/9. But he only had 14 saves, since the Giants use more than one closer. The Giants relied on Romo in the postseason, though, and he got three saves in their World Series victory.
10. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
Johnson had a 2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and an unbelievable 51 saves. Just as unbelievable – he did it with a 5.4 K/9 (Craig Kimbrel, by contrast, had a 16.7 K/9). But Johnson had similar numbers as a successful setup man in 2011 and doesn’t seem to have any real competition on the Orioles staff.
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