Each week, the Assembly will put together their positional rankings for keeper leagues. We are looking at player values for 2014, 2015 and 2016, as opposed to Jim’s 2014 Rankings which is solely for 2014. For your standard keeper leagues, these are your best rankings to gauge your Relief Pitcher values.
Our 6 experts, with 135 years combined fantasy baseball experience, each ranked the Relief Pitcher position, and here is the results:
1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL
JIMI: Will be the first RP off the board in every 2014 draft.
TOMMY: He will be 26 in May and he remains the safest and most dominant reliever in the league
2. Kenley Jansen, LAD
KEVIN: Finally closing and has as much strikeout potential as Kimbrel.
JIMI: Finally became the full time closer for LAD. Now that he has he’ll be a top RP in 2014.
3. Aroldis Chapman, CIN
PETER: Chapman struck out a ridiculous 112 batters in a mere 63.2 innings (a K/9 of 15.95). Also converted 38 of 43 save opportunities.
JIMI: Finished 2013 with an unbelievable 15.8 K’s per 9 IP, giving him 14.7 per 9 IP over his 4 year career.
4. Greg Holland, KC
JIM: Any closer that can deliver 100 K’s deserves to be at the top of the list.
KEVIN: Lost his groove for a short bit but returned to the closer role, where he should stay for many years.
5. Trevor Rosenthal. StL
TOMMY: Rosenthal did not get a long look at the job last year, but he has the look of an elite closer for a long time to come.
JIMI: From a starter to setup to closer. Could become one of the best now that he has the closer job
6. Addison Reed, CHW
PETER: Even though he converted only 83.33% of his chances (40/48), Reed showed improvement in his peripherals in his second season as closer.
JIMI: Had 40 saves in ’13, but will need to bring down his ERA to move up in future rankings.
7. Glen Perkins, MIN
JIM: Limited saves potential with the Twins, but his other numbers cover the cost.
KEVIN: Remember when he was a crappy starter? He’s a reminder that closers can come from anywhere.
8. David Robertson, NYY
JIMI: Now that Rivera has retired it’s time to step up and show what he can do.
TOMMY: Robertson has the skills and the Ks to be elite, but he lacks the track record. There is also a possibility that the Yankees sign a big name FA to assume the 9th inning gig. Just know that he has the chance to move up or down this list depending on what the Yankees do.
9. Koji Uehara, BOS
PETER: All he does is throw strikes! (775 strikes to 274 balls in 2013, 72% for his career) Uehara, and the rest of the Red Sox, turned in a season for the ages in 2013. A regression should be expected, but expect 30+ saves and a great WHIP from Koji.
JIM: Would rank higher but can’t ignore the fact he’ll be 41 in 2016
10. Steve Cishek, MIA
PETER: Cishek converted 94.44% of his save opportunities (34/36), the highest conversion percentage for relievers with at least 11 save opportunities
JIM: should/could continue to improve but team around him limits his save chances and value.
11. Joe Nathan, TEX
TOMMY: Nathan is 39 and he is a free agent. His numbers remain elite, so as long as he doesn’t sign with a team that has a younger elite RP, the assumption is that Nathan will continue to close and that he will do it well.
JIMI: A 39 year old FA that still can get the job done.
12. Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
JIM: Acceptable ERA & WHIP, good K’s and a healthy stable option.
PETER: Since coming to Philadelphia, Paps K/9 has dropped nearly 4 (12.17 to 8.32), nearly matching the 3 mph off his fastball, and he is still an adventure when he takes the mound.
13. Sergio Romo, SF
JIMI: Giant closer relies on a great slider, walking only 12 in 60.3 IP.
KEVIN: Drop in K/9 for three years only cause for worry, but he’s still pretty good.
14. Rafael Soriano, WAS
TOMMY: Soriano regressed significantly in 2013 as his fastball velocity continues to fall. His status as the Nats closer doesn’t appear to be in danger, but it could be if he falls off any more next year.
JIM: 40+ saves with solidly unspectacular peripherals.
15. Jim Johnson, BAL
PETER: Johnson had the most save opportunities of any MLB closer in 2013 with 59, and he converted 50 of them.
KEVIN: He’s fine if he’s closing, but he’s not a top middle reliever, and he’s already entering his early thirties.
16. Casey Janssen, TOR
TOMMY: Janssen’s role is safe and his ratios are good enough to help your fake team.
JIM: Middle of the road closer with a good whip, but doesn’t pitch enough innings to rack up K’s
17. Ernesto Frieri, ANA
KEVIN: He has the strikeout rate to be valuable even if he’s not closing.
TOMMY: I don’t love Frieri, but he has a great K rate and a 9th inning job.
18. Jason Grilli, PIT
PETER: Grilli missed time in 2013 with injuries, but still converted 33/35 saves. He is also nice source of strikeouts from a closer, with a K/9 of 13.32 (3rd highest).
JIM: He comes with an injury risk tag, but you’ll get a good whip and high K’s when he’s in there
19. Grant Balfour, OAK
TOMMY: Where will Balfour sign, and what will his role be? He is still young enough to have fantasy value for the next few years if he lands in the right spot.
PAUL: Over the past 2 years, there really haven’t been a lot better closer options in all of baseball. He’ll sign a nice contract to close somewhere. Undervalued!
20. Jim Henderson, MIL
KEVIN: Has great K/9 and swinging strike rate, so expect a few 30 SV seasons in his future.
PETER: Made the closer in Milwaukee when John Axford struggled, Henderson converted 87.% of his save chances and struck out 75 batters in 60 innings.
21. Rex Brothers, COL
KEVIN: Ignore the Hawkins signing. Brothers has the stuff to close and will do so in the near future
PAUL: Too much talent to sit behind Hawkins.
22. Huston Street, SD
JIM: You’ll get a good era and whip countered by low K’s and saves. There are better options but he won’t hurt you.
TOMMY: Street’s K rate is not what it once was, but he continues to get hitters out. He is a solid closer option for the next couple years.
23. Bobby Parnell, NYM
TOMMY: Parnell has the skills to excel if he can stay healthy. The neck surgery he recently endured makes him a high risk, high reward selection on draft day.
KEVIN: Not a super K/9 guy, but he has improving BB/9 and a great GB%.
24. Brian Wilson, LAD
JIM: Would rank higher as a closer but still has value as a middle reliever.
TOMMY: Wilson looked pretty good last fall. His signing destination will determine his fantasy value, but he is young enough to return to elite status.
25. Fernando Rodney, TB
PETER: The definition of “heart-attack closer,” Rodney was 37/45 in save opportunities in 2013. The Rays give him plenty of chances each year
PAUL: Like many others, he could lose role any time. He’ll sign as a closer somewhere and his K rate keeps him relevant.
26. Mark Melancon, PIT
KEVIN: Three-year trends of improving K/9 and BB/9 means he’ll close again soon.
JIM: Starting to come into his own in 2013 and should be future closer for Bucs.
27. Drew Smyly, DET
PETER: Smyly served a very valuable role in Detroit in 2013, picking up 6 wins along the way. He could move into the rotation in 2014
PAUL: If he goes to the rotation, his RP value plummets, but his overall fantasy value sky-rockets.
28. Danny Farquhar, SEA
TOMMY: Who knows how long this ride will last, but possession in 9/10s of the law with regards to the 9th inning. The 27 year old looked good in his stint as the Mariners closer last fall.
PAUL: Seattle is looking at FA closer options, but they’ll be hard-pressed to match Lord Farquhar’s talent.
29. Sergio Santos, TOR
JIM: Not a doubt in my mind he’ll be closing games for the Blue Jays come September and the foreseeable future.
KEVIN: Small sample in 2013, but I think he finds his way back into the closer role,
30. Carlos Martinez, StL
PETER: Martinez may not find his way into the St. Louis rotation full time in 2014, so he could be valuable to fantasy owners as a RP option.
PAUL: While his role is undefined, his stuff isn’t.
31. Tommy Hunter, BAL
JIM: Should be the new closer in Baltimore, and if not he slides down to the low 20’s.
TOMMY: He seems to have the leg up for the Orioles closer job. You want any pitcher who closes games in Baltimore.
32. Joquain Benoit, DET
KEVIN: Age and increasing BB/9 against him, but a sudden change in his flyball ways might keep him valuable for a few more years.
PAUL: Another FA closer who should get a nice 3 year deal closing. Benoit has been very effective in the role.
33. Bruce Rondon, DET
PETER: Rondon struggled in 2013, but Detroit is in need of a closer and he has the talent to be a solid option.
KEVIN: He still has a good chance to be the closer. Speculate on his Aug/Sept skills.
34. Tanner Scheppers, TEX
JIMI: His role for ’14 is still not clear. He could be an awesome closer if given the chance.
PETER: Scheppers is the Rangers version of Drew Smyly, a very valuable middle relief pitcher who went 6-2 in 2013
Be sure to check out the rest of our consolidated keeper rankings