We’re almost there. Opening Day is just 11 days away (10 if you’re counting down to the Cubs/Cards game on Sunday night), which means that fantasy draft season is in full swing. For those of you who are veterans of the FBB world, you know that draft day can be quite unpredictable. Average draft positions can mean next to nothing at times, particularly in competitive leagues. What should you do if Kershaw falls into your lap unexpectedly at the turn? How about if pitching is flying off the board and productive hitters start dropping an extra round or two below ADP (or more importantly, your own personal rankings)?

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Whenever spring training starts to wind down and the closer spot is yet to be determined, it’s never a good thing.  It causes rosters to get fat off the land, and wastes your draft picks on no-news type situations. I will turn my one good lazy eye to the Minute Maid conundrum of “who closes for the Astros?”  Some may ask: “who cares?” But this is the essence of SAGNOF believers. Cheap closers are what makes the fantasy world get on a sit, spin, chug a beer, and scream obscenities at trolley cars.  So from the beginning of the hot-stove baseball season, and even after they signed Luke Gregerson, I believe that it’s still Chad Qualls‘ job.  No news is good news for the incumbent… Even though the news all across the reliever landscape is all speculation, “he said this” and “the beat writer said that”.  Well, the only person who actually knows is the manager, Hinch.  So I am going to do my best to break it down from my ivory soap tower.  Stick around, there may be something fun or edible once you get inside.

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It’s been a long, tough winter (especially for those of you who live in the Northeast), but the wait is almost over. Spring training is in full swing and the regular season is just around the corner. That means, of course, that fantasy baseball draft season is here.

Recently, we’ve attempted to identify the next Corey Kluber and looked at some hitters who displayed above average power and plate discipline over the past couple of seasons. Today, we’re going to focus on relief pitchers. If you’re looking for the latest closer rankings as well as the top handcuff and hold options, check out the Bullpen Report, which provides excellent RP analysis each and every week.

This post will attempt to identify relievers with a very specific profile: power arms with high K-rates. Players who throw hard and miss bats. It’s that simple. Well, mostly. Let’s take a look at the search filters that I used for this exercise:

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So with the arrival of February comes the arrival, or “un-hibernation” of Smokey.  I was just getting comfy, curled up in my crochet loogy-blanket that my grandma made me, dreaming about what else? Bullpens, of course.  So this first post of the year is to bring you up to speed on my drafting advice for the upcoming year as it relates to the closers/holds and guys who will help you do everything but start the games.  I will be here every week, to update you on the chicanery that is the MLB bullpen picture.  So sit back, relax, and just think, it’s only four more weeks of me talking about bullpens and closers…Can you feel the excitement?  If you hate me now, you will probably wanna hold my hand by week 20 and maybe go see Jared by September 1st.  Here’s my thoughts on draft strategies for saves in the upcoming year of 2015…

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We now get to the ugly step-sister of rankings and the waiver darling position that we all chase.   The relief pitcher is by far the most debated position on who to draft, where, and when.  For the most part, I agree with you (with whatever you think), but the guys you want…if you get them where they are being drafted, usually beat or exceed value.  Injuries suck and do happen, you just can’t prevent them. You just have to be in a position of favor and hope that you land his replacement.  Sucktitude, i.e see Joe Nathan last year, is just a roster burden and usually drags you down all season because he isn’t someone you can just drop, but he makes it awfully hard to roster.  It’s a catch-22, to stat or not to stat.  Last year saw an unforgivable 10 closer changes in the first six weeks. That is not something you can pad your roster with enough save-cuffs for.  So let’s get to the first set of rankings of the year.  I will get into draft strategies for them, and as always, cover holds in the countdown to the season.

Note: Don’t forget to come visit me on the new Razzball Fantasy Soccer home everyday of the week. If you’re not familiar with the format, NBD, relax, you got us. Ralph and I are giving you the best Fantasy Premier League coverage out there. If you haven’t tried fantasy EPL, you’re missing out…

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With the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings for every position done, we turn our lazy eye towards the top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball. These 2015 fantasy baseball rankings are one part fresh and two parts to def. They own a cat, a dog and a lizard in a two bedroom apartment where pets aren’t allowed. Know why? Cause they don’t care! None of this top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball is meant to surprise. *jumping out of a closet* Boo! Now, that was meant to surprise. This top 100 is just taking my positional rankings and putting guys in The Big Picture. You really should read each ranking post because the blurbs in this top 100 are on the skimpy side because there’s so many of them, and I went over each one of these guys already. Obviously at a hundred players, some guys just didn’t make it. About 300, to be inexact. It’s okay; there will be a top 400 tomorrow. Shortly, Sloth, you’ll have your Baby Ruth. Not to get all biblical on you, but this is the gospel. Print it out and take it to Mt. Sinai and it will say, “Win your 2015 fantasy baseball league, young prematurely balding man.” Projections were done by me and a crack team of 100 monkeys fighting amongst themselves because there were only 99 typewriters. Somebody please buy Ling-Ling his own typewriter! Anyway, here’s the top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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Man do I hate the end of the year. People chasing saves are all into it, while the ones that are dead in the water couldn’t care less. And let’s be honest, they were prolly dead in the water all year when it came to saves. The end of the year chase is starting to show casualties, like the fall from grace of Glen Perkins. Glen is the kinda guy that I like, home-grown guy, pitching in his home state, took a nice friendly contract from the team. He can totally date-my-sister type. Unfortunately, he is staggering to the finish with an unimpressive last few weeks. I personally feel bad, because I own Perkins in a lot of places. I have so many teams, that I actually counted and the only closer I don’t own is David Robertson. Yes, every other single closer on this list is owned in some way shape or form by yours truly. So back to Perkins… his ERA and his K/9 rate have seemed to morph into some sort of Jeff Goldblum fly concoction of fantasy uselessness. Overwork and or an injury are the only things I can think that are the problem. He is/was a semi-elite guy until the wheels fell off. So if you’re still chasing, Jared Burton and Casey Fien look to be the guys lost likely to take the helm until Perkins rights the ship…which will prolly be next year. Only two weeks to go and we will get one Bullpen Report and one more Closer Report to end the year. The last will be a souped up version with lot’s of 2015 treats and stuff. So stay tuned or don’t. Your choice.

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Ryan Braun revealed he doesn’t have a thumb issue, he has a whole hand issue. Unfortch, he’s also proving to have a ‘can’t stay on the field without steroids’ issue, which is the result of a ‘steroids has broken down his ability to stay healthy’ issue that’s brought up a ‘is he really trying to get on the field’ issue that all came about when he was ‘wearing scrubs, watching his wife spit out a kid and his wife was squeezing his hand too tightly’ issue that leaves the issue, ‘will he return and do anything this season?’ Basically, Braun’s got more men’s health issues than Ricky Martin. Whether or not you drop him or just bench him comes down to who you have to replace him, but, in September, he’s hitting .200 with zero homers, and he hit .240 in August with four homers, so chances are good you can find someone better than him for the final two and a half weeks. This will definitely muddy waters on if Braun is a mannish boy or what to expect from him in 2015 fantasy baseball. Unless Lame-Ass-Busta Excuses is a category in your league, then Braun has it on lock. (Also, applies if the category is spelled Lame-Ass-Buster Excuses or simply Lame Excuses.) Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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“We’re more alike than we are different.” That’s what Mary Ann said of her and Ginger, but it could also be said of Marcus Stroman and a Flat-Billed Pitchypus. He needs maybe a fifteen-second ironing and a quarter-cup of starch and he’d be there. Considering the tumultuous recent years of the Flat-Billed Pitchypus, maybe it’s for the best. “You want more starch on this?” “Yes.” Dontrelle Willis reaches for his TGIF’s hat, drops jalapeno poppers on his foot and screams. Yesterday, Stroman threw a shutout in 93 pitches. Greg Maddux called and said, “You owe me a nickel.” Stroman’s sparkling like I screwed his head into my SodaStream, pushed down the level way too long and bubbles started coming into his eyes. Mary Ann’s existential quote could also be used to say there’s more similarities than differences between Stroman and an ace. He shouldn’t generate that much velocity from a five-foot-nine frame. Yet, there he is throwing 94 MPH while high-fiving his teammates on a step stool. He’s credited with a six-pitch arsenal that he can locate with pinpoint accuracy. I’m going to have a Marcus Stroman post for 2015 fantasy baseball to highlight his sensational stuff for next year, and then he’ll probably be in the top 10 pitchers for 2016. A star is born just don’t iron the brim any further; you’re good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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After Rafael Soriano once again looked like his apologetic alter ego, Sorry-yo, Matt Williams said the Nats won’t have a set closer. Let’s backtrack to August 18th, it was a day after the fourth time Soriano had given up runs in the matter of two weeks. At that point, I wrote there was a problem, and I grabbed Drew Storen. That was three weeks ago, and things haven’t gotten better. So, why was I able to spot there was a problem with Soriano three weeks prior to the Nationals manager, Matt Williams? Terrific question. There’s a few possible reasons A) Matt Williams’s Oakleys are worn to shield TV cameras from showing he’s actually asleep. B) Matt Williams can’t find steroids that make him smarter. C) There’s no C. D) In a secret meeting in Bud Selig’s wood-paneled basement in Milwaukee in 1999, Major League Baseball declared that every team must have at least one Mark McGwire. Matt Williams was elected to be Arizona’s Mark McGwire. (Sosa was elected to be the Cubs’ McGwire, which is why he bleached his skin.) The experiment to have a McGwire on every team was a success at first, but soon the players that were elected to be McGwire began to say, “I’m not here to talk about the past,” every time any question was asked. The biggest offender of this was Matt Williams, so, rather than risk being found out, MLB made him the Nats manager. Any of these reasons could be right, but it’s probably D. So, with Soriano in trouble, the Nats could go to Storen, Tyler Clippard or Matt Thornton. My guess is it’ll go in that order, and yesterday Storen got the clean save, helping his case. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?