The 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitchers is far-and-away the most difficult set of rankings to assemble. In large part, it is the most fluid position in baseball and can even vary depending upon the manager the player pitches for. Will he be allowed to close-out back-to-back games, will he be thrown into a "closer by committee" situation?
That is why I recommend keeping an eye on how strong of a hold that player has in his given role.
Looking at last season, you had players like Jordan Walden, Heath Bell, Jose Valverde, Sergio Santos, Brian Wilson, and Javy Guerra, all ranking well within the top 20 of this category. Whether it be to injury or poor performance (most of these guys are headcases), half of these names cannot even be found within the top 100 this time around.
The waiver wire is a tool, use it. Every year, in nearly every week of the regular season, relievers emerge in new roles. There are always a group (between 5-10) of pitchers that become hot pickups within the first couple of weeks of the season, that not only help in the short term, but play a role in determining who wins the saves category. Think Sergio Romo, Kenley Jansen, Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney last season.
Keep in mind, these power rankings are not based on a closer’s legacy, name, or team. The ranking is based upon a formula that considers the pitchers current stats, reliability, and more importantly what the closer is projected to do next season.
There are a few changes you will want to keep your eye on: [custom_list type="dot"]
- Kris Medlen, Wade Davis, Hisashi Iwakuma, Alexi Ogando, and Aroldis Chapman are among the group of pitchers that have the added benefit of being labeled both a SP and RP. Some are former starters moving to the bullpen, while others are making the transition from the pen to the rotation. Regardless, this provides added value in all fantasy leagues and allows for additional flexibility within your lineup.
- Rafael Soriano, fresh off a 42 save season in the Bronx, has recently inked a deal to shut the door for the Washington Nationals. This situation is not cut and dry. General Manager Mike Rizzo mentioned that Drew Storen could still close out some games under Davey Johnson's 'A' and 'B' bullpen system, which keeps his top relievers fresh and will require some shuffling of closers. What does this all add up to? Maybe 35-40 saves for Soriano and seven or eight for Storen, with a handful to Tyler Clippard, is our best guess for now. Soriano is still a solid option come draft day, while Storen's value takes a huge hit.
- Joel Hanrahan is shipping up to Boston, queue it, has 76 saves over the past two seasons, with a 2.24 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a strikeout per inning. Solid option. Andrew Bailey will slide over and become the setup man, but can step in and close games if called upon or if Hanrahan slips.
- Ryan Madson, prior to his surgery, had been an effective closer for the Phillies, and there is a good chance that he could recapture that effectiveness this season. The potential for 30+ saves with a solid ERA and WHIP make him worthy of later round investment. Monitor this closely as well as the possible emergence of Ernesto Frieri.
- Kyuji Fujikawa will start the season off as the setup man for Cubs closer Carlos Marmol; however, Marmol might be the more likely player to get traded than between the two. That would open the door for Fujikawa to close, just as he had in Japan.
- Brian Wilson is a risk coming off Tommy John surgery; however, like Joe Nathan, he could rejoin the ranks of the top closers in Fantasy once he is fully recovered. He remains low on the list at the moment, but if he is entrusted to pitch the ninth inning by whichever team signs him, he will be worth a middle-to-late round pick in mixed league drafts.
- An additional website which provides solid up-to-date information. As stated earlier, this is a position you definitely have to stay on top of on nearly a day-to-day.
Here are the Top 100 relief pitchers:
Please see the original Fantasy Baseball article which helps explain the rankings system.