Tagged: Aroldis Chapman

Very early 2015 Closer rankings

Teams are dancing the Depth Chart Shuffle, but the closer landscape has remained relatively steadfast. Per MLB.com, 27 of 30 teams have denoted who will be their respective 9th-inning man on their depth charts (labeled “(CL)”, for reference). For reasons largely pertaining to simplicity, I have completed a preliminary round of projections for closers and have provided it for your viewing pleasure. Keep in mind that things will (likely) change as the offseason progresses into the preseason progresses into the real, authentic season.

The rankings are catered to classic 5-by-5 rotisserie leagues with $260 budgets. Bonus feature: You can manually input a budget amount as well as an expected share of total spending on closers. For example, the teams in my league historically spend about 10 percent of the aggregate wealth on closers. If your league values closers more highly, you can accordingly adjust for such.

The players on teams that have not solidified their closer situations are marked with asterisks. Note that the very elite Dellin Betances is one of these players. This will inevitably be sorted out by March.

Some reflections:

Craig Kimbrel will likely fall short of 49 saves — although, if the Braves can compete in the few games they are expected to win, he may have a lot of small-margin-of-victory save chances coming his way. Tough call, but there’s legitimate arguments to be made about him being maybe only a top-3 RP — which is really nothing about which to write home.

The aforementioned Betances is projected for the second-best ERA, second-most strikeouts and third-best WHIP among all closers. Betances threw a ton of innings last year, so it suffices to say I’m eager to see how his usage shakes out. Given how the Yankees have historically used closers, however, I think he’ll be closer to his projected 63 innings than his 90 last year.

Sean Doolittle isn’t an upside play, but I suspect he will be underrated on draft day. Koji Uehara is perhaps an upside play: his projection factors in his health concerns, so if he can stay healthy all year, he should bolster his return on investment.

David Robertson: he’s good, but his competition is great. Not a top-10 RP in my book. Likewise with Trevor Rosenthal, who has never really had a good grasp on where the strike zone is.

Will Zach Britton continue to induce an absurd number of ground balls? Yes, although perhaps not as extremely as he did last year.

No offense to Brett Cecil, but I think the Blue Jays will trade for someone in due time.

Dark horse candidates in Mark Melancon and Jake McGee as they round out the top 10. I think they may be a bit overrated, but I would take them over literally everyone below them except maybe Cishek, if we’re pulling hairs.

Bobby Parnell is competing, so to speak, with Jenrry Mejia; Jonathan Broxton is competing with who the heck knows. Santiago Casilla could likely cede the role back to Sergio Romo. Other pitchers in some sort of danger of losing their jobs during the seasons include Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Drew Storen, LaTroy Hawkins, Neftali Feliz and Chad Qualls.

Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Addison Reed seem to have some semblance of job security, but they also seem to have a semblance of not being very reliable anymore. Papelbon and Nathan will be the most interesting bullpen storylines, especially if Nathan struggles again and the Tigers are competing.

I haven’t contextualized these rankings for points leagues or a top-300 type of thing for roto formats, but hey, that’s why it’s preliminary.

Updated closers rankings

New standings reflect Aroldis Chapman’s injury and Joakim Soria’s victory over Neftali Feliz for the Texas 9th-inning job.

Based on standard 10-team 5×5 rotisserie format.
Updated 3/25/14.

Name – Saves / ERA / WHIP / K’s

  1. Craig Kimbrel – 47 / 2.32 / 0.65 / 106
  2. Kenley Jansen – 39 / 2.48 / 0.87 / 103
  3. Greg Holland – 42 / 2.21 / 0.99 / 97
  4. Trevor Rosenthal – 39 / 2.41 / 1.00 / 90
  5. Koji Uehara – 34 / 2.42 / 0.69 / 81
  6. Aroldis Chapman – 30 / 2.42 / 0.83 / 81 … down 4 spots (CIN committee: J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek)
  7. Joe Nathan – 40 / 3.15 / 0.95 / 72
  8. David Robertson – 38 / 3.13 / 1.05 / 82
  9. Jason Grilli – 34 / 2.80 / 1.14 / 78
  10. Sergio Romo – 36 / 2.93 / 0.99 / 67
  11. Grant Balfour – 43 / 3.46 / 1.11 / 74
  12. Glen Perkins – 34 / 2.93 / 0.98 / 68
  13. Ernesto Frieri – 36 / 3.74 / 1.14 / 91
  14. Steve Cishek – 31 / 2.92 / 1.14 / 70
  15. Casey Janssen – 34 / 2.91 / 1.01 / 54
  16. Addison Reed – 32 / 3.19 / 1.18 / 71
  17. Jonathan Papelbon – 33 / 3.30 / 1.14 / 66
  18. Jim Henderson – 32 / 3.76 / 1.18 / 80
  19. Fernando Rodney – 32 / 3.26 / 1.32 / 74
  20. Bobby Parnell – 32 / 2.76 / 1.16 / 48
  21. Nate Jones – 30 / 2.64 / 1.22 / 52
  22. Jose Veras – 33 / 3.62 / 1.22 / 69 … up 1 spot
  23. Huston Street – 29 / 2.52 / 1.15 / 47
  24. Rafael Soriano – 43 / 3.85 / 1.25 / 52
  25. Joakim Soria – 32 / 3.55 / 1.12 / 54 … up 3 spots; won closer role from Neftali Feliz
  26. John Axford – 35 / 4.36 / 1.33 / 80
  27. Jim Johnson – 36 / 3.42 / 1.17 / 41 … down 1 spot
  28. Tommy Hunter – 30 / 3.85 / 1.10 / 43
  29. COL time bomb: LaTroy Hawkins or Rex Brothers
  30. HOU committee: Chad QuallsMatt AlbersJosh Fields … Jesse Crain injured

Don’t shy from injured pitchers

Drafting injured players can be tricky. The success of the strategy is largely dependent on your league’s rules. In a single-year format, where all players are thrown back into the pool for next season’s draft, the room for error is much narrower. In a dynasty format, however, where players are kept for X number of years or at an additional premium to the player’s salary of Y dollars, it can be used much more effectively because the chances for success are spread distributed temporally.

For example: An owner in my primary 10-team standard rotisserie league with an auction draft purchased an injured Hanley Ramirez last year for $6. Had he been healthy, he probably would have gone for $25, but his estimated time of arrival in 2013 was uncertain; he actually played his first game April 1, 2013, but appeared in only three more games between then and June 4. This uncertainty greatly reduced his value.

I should re-phrase: the uncertainty greatly reduced his 2013 value. With four days until draft day, I’m realizing now that Ramirez’s value at $6, even in 2013, was immense for the format of our league, because now he will be owned for a measly $9 — all because the owner was willing to plug a hole with a replacement-level shortstop for two months. Now his team is poised to dominate this year with cheap retention prices for Chris Davis and Paul Goldschmidt to boot.

Breaking down the strategy, it makes a lot of sense. Stream someone like Stephen Drew, ESPN’s 18th best shortstop of 2013, for two months while Ramirez heals. Their patchwork stat line would have looked like this:

.302 BA, 80 R, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB

That is a solid line for a shortstop, regardless of whose name — or names — show up in the box score.

If you fancy yourself a bargain hunter or someone who can spot the late-round sleepers, this strategy makes even more sense: Draft a superstar for less than face value, stash him on the DL and fill the opening with whomever this year’s Jean Segura may be. Even if you can’t find this year’s breakout star, the replacement-level strategy still has the opportunity to be effective.

Upon further reflection, I may take a chance on players such as Cole Hamels and Hisashi Iwakuma whose draft stocks may take a hit. There’s enough pitching depth for me to make their absences painless, and I have a chance to retain them next year at a discount (relative to their expected salaries).

It’s important, though, that the player has already established a high benchmark for himself. In this case, Jurickson Profar wouldn’t be as smart a play here; he wasn’t going for a lot of money (or too quickly off draft boards) in the first place.

The best opportunities, therefore, are found in the best players who are out for two or three months. It’s important to wring out as much 2015 value as possible, but you don’t want to clog your DL all year and hamper your 2014 value too much, or it defeats the purpose. Clearly, one must strike a fine balance.

But, basically, if you see an injured player heavily discounted on draft day, and you’re  in a league that rewards bargain hunting, take a stab at him.

Here are some so-called “eligible” players for this injured-player strategy and what I predict their discounts might be:

Hamels, SP, expected to miss a month | $10, three to four rounds
Iwakuma, SP, expected to miss a month | $11, seven to eight rounds
Mike Minor, SP, expected to miss a month | $8, six to seven rounds
Aroldis Chapman, RP, expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks | $9, four to five rounds
Manny Machado, 3B, expected to miss a week, but could miss a month | $3, three rounds
Michael Bourn, OF, expected to miss a couple of weeks, but could be longer | $4, four rounds
Matt Harvey, SP, expected to miss entire year | $18, 12 to 15 rounds
Kris Medlen, PS, expected to miss entire year | $15, 10 to 12 rounds ***DISCLAIMER: may not return to form after second Tommy John surgery

Players for whom the strategy may not work so well:

Mat Latos, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Homer Bailey, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Profar, 2B, will miss 10 to 12 weeks but isn’t valuable enough
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, will miss two months but isn’t valuable enough
A.J. Griffin, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Jarrod Parker, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Brandon Beachy, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough

Players who are wild cards:

Matt Kemp, OF, depends on if you think he’ll return to form

2014 Rankings: Closers

Rankings based on standard 5×5 rotisserie format.

Name – Saves / ERA / WHIP / K’s

  1. Craig Kimbrel – 47 / 2.32 / 0.65 / 106
  2. Aroldis Chapman – 41 / 2.42 / 0.83 / 114
  3. Kenley Jansen – 39 / 2.48 / 0.87 / 103
  4. Greg Holland – 42 / 2.21 / 0.99 / 97
  5. Trevor Rosenthal – 39 / 2.41 / 1.00 / 90
  6. Koji Uehara – 34 / 2.42 / 0.69 / 81
  7. Joe Nathan – 40 / 3.15 / 0.95 / 72
  8. David Robertson – 38 / 3.13 / 1.05 / 82
  9. Jason Grilli – 34 / 2.80 / 1.14 / 78
  10. Sergio Romo – 36 / 2.93 / 0.99 / 67
  11. Grant Balfour – 43 / 3.46 / 1.11 / 74
  12. Glen Perkins – 34 / 2.93 / 0.98 / 68
  13. Ernesto Frieri – 36 / 3.74 / 1.14 / 91
  14. Steve Cishek – 31 / 2.92 / 1.14 / 70
  15. Casey Janssen – 34 / 2.91 / 1.01 / 54
  16. Addison Reed – 32 / 3.19 / 1.18 / 71
  17. Jonathan Papelbon – 33 / 3.30 / 1.14 / 66
  18. Jim Henderson – 32 / 3.76 / 1.18 / 80
  19. Fernando Rodney – 32 / 3.26 / 1.32 / 74
  20. Bobby Parnell – 32 / 2.76 / 1.16 / 48
  21. Nate Jones – 30 / 2.64 / 1.22 / 52
  22. Jesse Crain – 27 / 3.13 / 1.09 / 61
  23. Huston Street – 29 / 2.52 / 1.15 / 47
  24. Jose Veras – 33 / 3.62 / 1.22 / 69
  25. Rafael Soriano – 43 / 3.85 / 1.25 / 52
  26. Jim Johnson – 36 / 3.42 / 1.17 / 41
  27. John Axford – 35 / 4.36 / 1.33 / 80
  28. Neftali Feliz – 29 / 4.13 / 1.19 / 43
  29. Rex Brothers or LaTroy Hawkins
  30. Chad Qualls – pending

Thoughts:

  • All ERAs are inflated a little bit. Closers (and relievers in general) tend to strand more runners than starters and, thus, prevent runs from scoring as often. My model fails to capture this nuance, but the difference isn’t a huge one, as a 2.32 ERA from Kimbrel is still really, really good. But for a guy with a career 1.38 ERA, it makes sense to expect even better from him.
  • The top 5 are pretty much consensus picks. I think Uehara is worth considering as part of a potential “Top 6” elite tier of closers, and he is absolutely better than Nathan. Are you aware that Uehara has posted a 0.702 WHIP in 219-1/3 innings since 2009? Are you serious? And he still strikes out double-digit batters per nine innings.
  • Johnson is absolutely overrated. The Baltimore Orioles generated 113 save situations the past two years. The Oakland Athletics, Johnson’s new employer, generated only 83. That’s two-thirds the opportunities he used to get. If you’re expecting 50 saves again, you’re crazy. He also strikes almost no one out. Try to catch lightning in a bottle if you want, but I think he is one of the worst investments in the game for saves.
  • Henderson and Crain are really underrated (compared to ESPN), but they also don’t have the job security. That leaves Frieri as the last true bargain. He walks too many batters, but at least he strikes out twice as many as Johnson does. Also, if the Angels bounce back in a big way, he will be the beneficiary of greater workload.
  • Sorry, I was too lazy to project Brothers or Hawkins. I just don’t think Hawkins will last long, but it’s tough to say exactly how long, and it’s not worth guessing. Just get him on the cheap, handcuff Brothers to him and be ready to jump ship.