Followers of Razzball know this site has a concise strategy when it comes to saves: SAGNOF. In short, 30 saves is 30 saves, so why pay Papelbon for the privilege of providing them, when you can get them on the cheap from Brian Wilson?
Followers of Baron Von Vulturewins know that the Baron is the greediest, horniest, dirtiest, most shameless saves-whore around. (For patented strategy, see comment under this post. How shameless? Well, if the Baron found Jensen Lewis lying dead by the side of the road, he’d shake the corpse by the ankles just to see if five saves fell out. (Last year, 13 fell out.)
In short, me love the Junky Closers.
A common objection is this: Sure, Junky Closers give you dirty, dirty saves, but just how much will Joe Borowski/Brian Wilson/C.J. Wilson/Carnie Wilson hurt my team in other categories? Won’t he poop all over my team ERA and WHIP while hurting me in Ks?
To which the Baron says: Good question. Let the numbers speak!
Let’s start with ERA. In my regular league (12 team mixed league roto), we play with a 1300 IP maximum, which is pretty standard. Last year, the winning ERA was 3.25. (Dude had Halladay.) Now, I’m no mathemagician, but in that scenario, that means the pitchers on Team X – let’s call them the Dribbling Nozzles – gave up roughly 469 runs.
Now, let’s say that the Nozzles carried a Mint Closer like Nathan all year (39 saves, 1.33 ERA), who gave up just 10 ER. Now let’s replace Nathan with a year’s worth of Junky Closer/SAGNOF favorite/obese housebound harmonizing genius Brian Wilson (41 saves, 4.25 ERA), who gave up 32 ER. Big difference, right?
Well, when we make this swap the Dribbles team ERA balloons to – wait for it! — 3.40. So the difference between Nathan (arguably the best reliever last year and a costly 5th round pick) and Wilson (lame-ass 17th round workaday schmo), is about .15 points of team ERA. Which in our league would have slipped the Dribbles from first in ERA down to, um, a tie for first. Total loss = 1/2 point — you know, like in that old karate video game.
Of course, in a tighter race, this could have meant losing a point or even two. But in that tight of a race, you’re probably not wishing you drafted Nathan instead of Wilson. You’re probably wishing you hadn’t RUN IAN SNELL OUT WEEK AFTER AGONIZING WEEK FOR, LIKE, TWO MONTHS.
But wait, you say! Wilson was actually pretty decent for a Junky Closer. Okay, then let’s swap in the most turdtastic closer in recent memory, Mr. Joe Borowski circa 2007, when he tallied 45 saves and a malodorous 5.07 ERA. If you traveled back in a time machine, drafted Blowrowski, transported him to 2008, and replaced Nathan with him – well, then your 3.25 team ERA wouldn’t swell to 3.40. It would swell to 3.43.
Keep in mind that top closers actually accumulate very few IP, usually around 70 (or about 5% of your season total). So even a bloated, ugly, horror-movie-quality ERA (like 5.07) means relatively few runs added to your total ER, and thus a small total effect on your team ERA. The gap between Nathan (10 ER) and Blowrowski (37 runs) is just a net gain of 27 ER, or roughly one bad outing by Aaron Harang in Coors.
Now onto WHIP. Our league’s WHIP leader last year (same team, surprise, surprise) was at 1.20. Swapping out Nathan for Wilson raises that to 1.22. Swapping in Borowski ’07 raises it to 1.23.
Not exactly the final minutes of the Hindenburg.
The Nozzles did pretty badly in strikeouts, finishing 9th with 1075. If they’d had Papelbon (77 Ks), not Borowski ’07 (58), the 19 extra Ks would have moved them up one place in the standings. But, really, is 19 Ks – i.e. one-and-a-half Lincecum starts — really going to make your break your season? What are you, made of baby-juice?
Obviously, you have to adjust this for your particular league, rules, roster-sizes, etc. But the basic point is: Grabbing Paps or Nathan early might gain you a point or two overall, assuming he doesn’t pull a Putz and blow out his elbow. But ask yourself this: How many extra points would you have gained by using that 5th round pick on a stud OF instead of Papelnuts?
The only category where closers add real value is – wait for it — saves. And Joe Borowski’s 45 saves are exactly as valuable as Jon Papelbon’s 45 saves. And a whole heck of a lot cheaper.
Now ask yourself this: If you have a time machine, why are you using it to go back in time and draft Joe Borowski and not to kill baby Hitler?
Seriously, you should have killed baby Hitler.