The First Annual Closer Awards: Part I

The Closer AwardsGood evening everyone! I am your host Michael Zakhar, and welcome to the first annual Closer Awards. Yes, it’s that time of the year where we take time out to recognize the accomplishments of fantasy baseball’s top relievers of the 2015. We will also make note of some of the disappointing events we’ve seen this season. Some special guests may even stop by this evening, so let’s get started!

We’ll begin the evening on a positive note. Every year, we worry about whether the closers we draft are going to last the season. Often, these worries are justified. But sometimes, somehow, some relievers last the whole season and make a contribution in spite of their drawbacks, our concerns, and the occasional hiccup. We recognize their longevity and endurance over the course of the year with the Borowski Award.  Let’s take a look at the nominees:

  • Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers

And the winner is . . . Francisco Rodriguez! K-Rod has not been a stranger to controversy in the past; perhaps that’s why he has been providing good value for a couple of years running. Outside of trade rumors around the deadline there wasn’t much controversy at all as K-Rod cruised along to another solid year. He is the choice over Casilla, who was more of a roller coaster and is probably a bad bet to get through another season as a closer. Boxberger has 37 saves at the moment, but his ratios are ugly enough to make K-Rod a clear choice. Congratulations K-Rod!

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And now for our first special guest, we start with the best: Here to present the Waiver Wire MVP, from WFAN radio, please welcome Mike Francesa!

“Thank you, Michael. You know, I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams I’d be standing here at an event this size. It’s really taken off, this fantasy stuff. I did not think it would take off. It has really taken off. My kids are crazy about it. I really wouldn’t even pay attention to this stuff if not for my kids. So this is for them”.

The nominees for the Waiver Wire MVP are:

  • Juerys Familia, New York Mets
  • Andrew Miller, New York Yankees
  • Shawn Tolleson, Texas Rangers

“Now of course, we know Famila and Miller very well, but who is Shawn Tolleson? Shawn Tolleson . . . Wayne’s kid? No? What has this Shawn Tolleson done to deserve this nomination? Why not the kid from Toronto?  Well, it doesn’t matter, I can tell you right now that Miller is going to win this award. Miller has been great for the Yanks. He is a mortal lock, ok?

And the winner is . . . Juerys Familia! We all thought that Miller was going to win this award. A rare victory for the New York Mets over the Yankees! Not that I begrudge them their fun, I know awards like this mean a lot to the Met fan and you know I like to tweak the Met fan. Congratulations to Familia. An enormous achievement.”

That’s right, Mike, as great as Miller has been, we found Familia even more deserving. Both had dominant numbers, but Familia was healthy all year. Plus, he really came out of nowhere whereas some astute owners may have actually drafted Miller. As for Tolleson, he only became the closer in the middle of May but still racked up 33 saves. Very impressive, but not as good as Familia.

Thanks again to New York’s number one, Mike Francesa. Give him a big hand.

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Moving on, it’s time to give a little recognition to a few players who have made some underappreciated contributions to your fantasy teams.
It is the award for Best Middle Reliever. The nominees are:

  • Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
  • Carter Capps, Miami Marlins
  • Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals

And the winner is . . . Wade Davis! An afterthought in the James Shields-Wil Myers trade that was supposed to be a disaster for the Royals, Davis once again posted video game numbers. So far, his ERA is .86, his WHIP is .80, he vultured 8 wins, and he has 13 saves and counting as he will likely close for Kansas City from here on out. Betances contributed 50 more strikeouts than Davis, but was not his equal in the other categories. And speaking of strikeouts, Capps and his funky windup struck out 58 men in 31 innings. Though injuries derailed his season, in the Yahoo player rater he is still ahead of starters who were rostered all year-long like Taijuan Walker and Alex Wood. Remember, a great middle reliever is out there on waivers who can help you more than even a starting pitcher who’s pretty good.

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Before we get to our next award, we are going to introduce someone very special in the crowd. Someone who pitched with courage and fortitude. A true workhorse. Everyone, please give a hand to former major league pitcher, Scott Proctor! Give us a wave Scott, if you can.

After appearing in 83 games in back-to-back seasons, Scott Proctor never pitched more than 40 innings in a year before retiring in 2011. It’s for this reason that we have created the Scott Proctor Red Flag Award. While these pitchers made positive contributions this year, there may be danger ahead for them, thanks primarily to overuse and mismanagement. Let’s take a look at the nominees:

  • Juerys Familia, New York Mets
  • Kevin Jepsen, Minnesota Twins
  • Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays

And the winner is . . . Aaron Sanchez! Sanchez began the season as a starter before suffering an injury. The Jays brought him back as a reliever and he was looking like a solid add, especially in holds leagues. However, Gibbons started going to him more and more and the wheels are already falling off. He has given up runs in 4 of his last 5 outings and has lost his grip on the eighth inning. Sanchez is a highly touted prospect so it would be a shame for this kind of talent to be squandered. Who know what this inconsistent usage may bring in the coming years? Let’s hope the Jays don’t treat him so rough going forward.

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Our next award is going to be presented by a very special guest. It is my honor to welcome one of the greatest closers of all time, the Major League Baseball hall of famer, Goose Gossage!

“Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Well most of them. I’d like you to clarify something you said in that introduction of yours. When you call me a closer, some people here may assume that I’m like a lot of these guys today. See, when I pitched, I pitched multiple innings at a time. Today these so-called “closers”  come in, face just a couple of guys, get a “save,” which I don’t even know what that means, and make a hell of a lot more than I made while pitching a hell of a lot less than I did! So if that’s a closer, I don’t want to be called a closer! You call me a pitcher!”

“And I got tell you, this idea of overuse is a bunch of crap and this little award you gave out just about made me sick. The Red Flag Award?!? Do your job and get out there and pitch! And speaking of getting out there and pitching . . . 83 games?!? We’re making a big deal about some guy pitching 83 games?!? I was pitching 130 innings a year in the 1970s. That’s more than this guy Proctor ever pitched in his life!

Excuse me Goose . . . Umm, Mr Gossage. . . this really isn’t necessary or appropriate

“You shut your mouth and listen to what I have to say! When I was 32 years old I pitched 100 innings. And I was clean too! When this guy was 32 he was licking his wounds! Is that necessary? Is that appropriate? No, that’s chicken stuff!”

“So, what’s this award you want me to give out now? This “Where Were You When I Needed You” Award? Well, I give it to all of these guys here and every other “closer” today that you want to name! Where are they when their team needs them in the eighth inning? Or the seventh inning? Do you know I used to come in the sixth inning? Sometimes I even came in during the fifth inning? Once in the playoffs I came in suring the fourth inning and finished the damn game! That’s what we did back then! Because it was about winning! It wasn’t about selfishness and stats and drugs! So congratulations, closers! No matter how many awards they give you, you’re still a bunch of losers in my eyes!”

We apologize for Mr. Gossage’s actions. That’s completely uncalled for. His views are his own do not reflect the views of the Closer Awards.

Now, the Where Were You When I Needed You” Award is given to the pitcher who you relied on all year, but who, when you could use that key save for a point in the standings or to help you win your head-to-head playoffs, has gone belly up or just plain AWOL. The nominees are:

  • Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
  • Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
  • David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

And the winner is . . . Zach Britton! There was some skepticism surrounding Britton coming into the year, but he continued to get his grounders and upped his strikeout rate. Alas, he has a lat injury and in late September teams out of contention don’t take their chances with good young players. Go get Darren O’Day if he’s still out there! He may get you the numbers you need. Robertson has been suffering through a number of ugly outings of late, but had a couple of blown saves earlier and so was not quite Britton’s equal for most of the year. Perkins has been hurting for a while now, so chances are if your fantasy team is in the running you moved on a while ago, much like the Twins have.

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We are going to have to take a commercial break, but tune in next week for part 2 of the Closer Awards!

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Michael Zakhar

Michael Zakhar

Michael lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife Virginia and his adorable son Johnny. We enjoy going to see the Lakewood BlueClaws, who play 20 minutes from home. In addition to baseball, Mike loves reading, music and professional wrestling.