2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: CLOSERS

It was very close, but Neftali Feliz edged out Carlos Marmol as our #1 Closer here at 4th and Home. You’ll notice Marmol was the only closer to get (2) #1 votes, but it wasn’t enough. Quite honestly, I don’t see how you go wrong with any of those top 5 guys and our Composite Ranking shows just how close they really were. Of course, if Feliz joins the rotation and Andrew Bailey has additional meetings with Dr. James Andrews, these rankings will shake up a bit. And yes, I am expecting Kimbrel to close for the Braves…I could be dead wrong.

Lots of value throughout these rankings, so waiting on a closer is always advised unless the top tier guys fall into your lap.

RANK PLAYER Brian Mike Killboy Jesse Eric COMP
1 Neftali Feliz – TEX 1 5 4 3 2 3
2 Carlos Marmol – CHC 4 1 5 5 1 3.2
3 Joakim Soria – KC 5 4 3 1 3 3.2
4 Brian Wilson – SF 3 3 1 7 4 3.6
5 Heath Bell – SD 6 2 2 4 5 3.8
6 Mariano Rivera – NYY 2 8 6 2 6 4.8
7 Andrew Bailey – OAK 9 7 10 8 7 8.2
8 Jonathan Papelbon – BOS 8 15 7 6 10 9.2
9 John Axford – MIL 10 10 14 10 8 10.4
10 Francisco Rodriguez – NYM 11 13 8 12 12 11.2
11 Matt Thornton – CHW 7 12 12 9 16 11.2
12 J.J. Putz – ARI 12 16 9 14 9 12
13 Huston Street – COL 13 11 11 14 14
14 Joe Nathan – MIN 15 6 16 15 19 14.2
15 Chris Perez – CLE 16 11 18 16 13 14.8
16 Jonathan Broxton – LAD 14 18 13 11 15.4
17 Brad Lidge – PHI 19 14 15 19 17 16.8
18 Craig Kimbrel – ATL 17 9 20 18 17
19 Jose Valverde – DET 13 20 15 18
20 Ryan Franklin – STL 20 17 18 19.4

NEFTALI FELIZ…Our #1 ranked closer now may not even be a closer at all – this is a topsy-turvy world we live in!  The 2010 AL Rookie of the Year racked up 40 saves last year to propel himself to the tops of fantasy rankings.  His peak value in fantasy is at closer this year but as a starter he is still going to rack up the Ks big time.  The question is whether he can get stretched out and develop a 3rd pitch to pair with his devastating fastball and curve.  Fantasy owners should hope Texas keeps him in the pen. 2.70/1.00/80/36 as Closer…10-7/3.30/1.25/166 as Starter

BRIAN WILSON…Rising K rate (11.21 per 9) and dropping BB rate (3.13 per 9) suggests he is only getting better. He will continue to get loads of opportunities in pitcher friendly AT&T Park. He also led the league in saves last year with 48. 2.25/1.15/96/45

JOHN AXFORD…Last season John Axford proved that he was ready to take over the closer role in Milwaukee.  After a May call up, he stole the closer job from Trevor Hoffman and saved 24 games while racking up 76 K’s  in 58 innings.  The Brewers will give Axford plenty of opportunities for saves this year, and the strikeouts are an added bonus. 2.85/1.25/88/35

SLEEPER: JOE NATHAN…Hey, you! Remember this guy? Since 2004 he’s been the #3 Closer (on average) in all of baseball and now he’s the #21 Closer off the board? So you’re a little nervous about his past TJ surgery? Don’t be. Lots of success stories where guys came back stronger (Josh Johnson, Francisco Liriano…) and Nathan will be no different. He’s already throwing as hard as he did before the injury and you will pay nothing for his services this year. By year’s end you will be happy because you heeded my advice. 2.25/1.00/80/35

BUST: FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ…Coming off of thumb surgery, serious personal problems that led to his arrest and playing for a Mets team my colleague has predicted for a 71 win season, drafting Rodriguez as a top 10 closer is an extremely risky proposal. With the Mets potentially looking to shed dollars in season, 71 wins may be difficult and that translates to a lack of opportunities for a closer. K-Rod may be ready, but I just don’t see the Mets being willing and able this year. 3.00/1.14/50/26

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