Taking a Closer Look

Hey everyone,

We all know how crazy the closer turnover has been so far this year, whether it be due to poor performance, or injury. So just for fun, I decided to do a little study to figure out the exact number of undisputed current closers who are the same guys we drafted for saves if our drafts were held on or before March 15. The answer? Less than half. 14 of 30 to be exact. Here’s the breakdown, with the name on the left being the draft day closer and the name on the right the current closer.

NYY Rivera Robertson/Soriano
BOS Bailey Aceves
TB Farnsworth Rodney
TOR Santos Janssen
BAL Johnson Johnson
DET Valverde Valverde
CWS Thornton Reed?
CLE Perez Perez
KC Soria Broxton
MIN Capps Capps
TEX Nathan Nathan
LAA Walden Downs
OAK Balfour Fuentes
SEA League League
PHI Papelbon Papelbon
ATL Kimbrel Kimbrel
NYM Francisco Rauch?
WSH Storen Rodriguez
MIA Bell Bell?
STL Motte Motte
CIN Madson Marshall
CHC Marmol Dolis
MIL Axford Axford
HOU Myers Myers
PIT Hanrahan Hanrahan
ARI Putz Putz
LAD Guerra Jansen
COL Betancourt Betancourt
SD Street Thayer
SF Wilson Casilla

But does this disprove the longstanding 411 strategy of drafting elite closers early? Not exactly, as noted by Cory below:

I think the injury part skews the analysis, especially in Mariano’s case. I’ve never see any evidence to suggest that closers are greater injury risks than other groups of players. Moreover, Bailey was known to be injured during spring training, so even though his replacement was in doubt, his injury was not. Same with Madson, Storen and Soria.

In my opinion, the closers to truly “lose” their jobs this year, along with their order of selection among all relievers in my NFBC league, are:

5. Bell (although he did get it back, for what that’s worth)

6. Walden (not even a top-10 closer in the 411 preseason rankings)

17. Francisco (assuming he has lost the job)

20. Marmol

24. Balfour

26. Guerra (Kenley got taken before him, too)

27. Thornton (although this one was up in the air from the start)

Yes, the injury rate has been unusually high this year, but this fail rate does nothing – NOT ONE THING – to disprove our assertion that top-tier closers are a better investment.

So what do you guys think? All opinions are welcome.

-Zach

3 Comments

Closers are infuriating!!!
My four leagues closer situations:
20 team league: Soria!!!!!!!! Lucky got Capps plus a couple players who might be closer if ppl get hurt (Ogando, Salas, Crow, and Romo)

12 team league: already lost half of the 4 projected closers. Have Jansen and Jim Johnson (who would thought he would be so good) and just picked up Scott Downs

4 team league: Papelbon, Rodney, and Betancourt, but have gone though at least 4 other closers

10 team league: Kimbal, Motte, and Jim Johnson all good there
Jon from Texas

I have followed the 411 mantra regarding closers for years, with mixed success. For every Rivera, I got a Soria blowup. Going into this year, I decided to try and wait, figuring that SVs are only one category, and I would not reach for someone like Capps just for the SVs.

If you are going purely after SVs, yes drafting the top tier guys is the better route. But why not stock up on SPs and middle relief to help with Ks, ERA, and WHIP, and just punt saves or pick up SVs as they come into the league?

The injuries may not prove that it is better to not pay for saves, but doesn’t it lend a little bit of creedance to the fact that saves come into the league throughout the season? Nobody could predict that Mo or Storen would go down, but couldn’t you figure that at least a couple high-end guys would not live up to their draft value? Happens every year, and why not go for a hitter (hitter’s hit!) and lessen that risk that you spent a 5th rounder on the stinker closer?

This isn’t entirely honest. The conversation has degraded to whether or not top-tier closers are the way to go, but in context your argument has been to spend on elite closers rather than starters since PoD is a viable option in many leagues (even my 14 mixed). So the real question is whether top tier closers have been more valuable, more worth going after, than aces…

Me, I’m really happy with drafting Weaver, A.Sanchez, Hanrahan and League. I’ve picked up Casilla, Thayer, Broxton, Capuano, McDonald and Zambrano along the way. Leading ERA, WHIP and Svs, about 3rd in Ks. I don’t mind chasing saves.

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