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The 2012 fantasy baseball rankings are just about in the bag, but first we look at the top 20 middle relievers for 2012 fantasy baseball.  No, next we’re not going to do the Top 20 Guys Who Will Have The Most Balks.  Chillax.  The only people that seem to pay attention to middle relievers are those that play in a Holds league.  That’s wrong, I tell ya.  A great way to balance out your ratios is by carrying a few middle relievers on your staff.  (BTW, Ron Jeremy can carry three middle relievers on his staff.)  Say you had Francisco Liriano last year and he mistook your team’s ERA for his toilet, but you also had Jonny Venters.  With just Liriano, you had the 5.09 ERA dump to clean up.  With Venters and his brand new toilet brush, you had a 3.81 ERA.  If you also carried Tyler Clippard, you had a combined 3.24 ERA.  Not to mention, you had 5 vulture saves.  9 junky wins.  8 maids o’ milking.  7 Gary Matthews Jr.’s leaping.  Oh, and your WHIP went from Liriano’s 1.49 to 1.19 and had an additional 200 Ks.  Okay, school’s out, Alice Cooper.  Now, with that said — yes, I pulled out the “with that said” — this middle men post is for 5×5 leagues where you want to handcuff your closer to potentially snag some saves and get good ratios.  I projected Holds for these guys, but they are not the top 20 Holds guys.  They are the most valuable when you consider vulture saves, Ks and ratios.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 middle relievers for 2012 fantasy baseball:

1. Aroldis Chapman – This is the first tier.  This tier goes from here until Adams.  I call this tier, “They might not have the best ratios, but they have the best ratios with the most vulture saves.”  Aroldis is being stretched out to start, but I don’t see how that happens without an injury to one of their starters.  Then again, Dusty is managing the Reds so no pitcher is safe, which could be a tagline for the movie made about the Dusty Baker biography, “Pitchers Ain’t Sh*t But Hos And Tricks.”  2012 Projections:  7-2/3.00/1.26/90, 22 Holds, 5 saves

2. Javy Guerra – As Aroldis might be in the rotation (doubtful), Guerra could be the closer.  I’m going on the assumption that the Dodgers make the right move in regards to their bullpen, but I’m not sure who received “common sense” in the divorce proceedings.  2012 Projections:  2-3/3.50/1.25/55, 20 Holds, 12 saves

3. Jon Rauch – I have him down for ten saves because he has closing experience (though none of it terrific) and Frank Francisco is just passable.  Honestly, a lot of guys below him are more valuable than him.  That’s not a tall crack either.  2012 Projections:  4-5/3.55/1.30/40, 20 Holds, 10 saves

4. Tyler Clippard – Nats have a solid staff, one of the best set-up men in baseball and a good offense.  In twelve-after-twenty, the Nats lost their innocence and their suckitude.  Now all praise to Jim Bowden for not being there anymore!  2012 Projections:  5-3/2.65/1.15/90, 20 Holds, 5 saves

5. Mark Melancon – Okay, besides Venters and Clippard this entire tier could be below the next tier if you’re not looking for saves.  For ungstance (which is how I say instance), David Robertson is soooooooooo (yeah, 10 oh’s) much better than Melancon if you just want ratio help.  Robertson probably won’t sniff a save though, unless Mo farts and explodes his colon and Soriano is a casualty.  2012 Projections:  6-2/3.25/1.25/65, 22 Holds, 5 saves

6. Jonny Venters – My projections for Venters might be on the low side.  He was fantabulous last year.  He also pitched in every game and then threw on the side five times a game then was taken to a carnival by Fredi Gonzalez to throw at the speed gun stand to try and win him a SpongeBob.  2012 Projections:  7-2/2.75/1.15/70, 24 Holds, 3 saves

7. Francisco Rodriguez – He’s getting paid something like $18 million to set up one of the best closers in the game, so he might just take a siesta for the better part of the season.  Or maybe the Polish Kielbasa from the sausage race will kidnap him to free up some salary money.  2012 Projections:  6-4/2.75/1.26/80, 18 Holds, 3 saves

8. Mike Adams – I thought hard about moving Adams up because of my distrust of Nathan’s stuff, not just his lips and ass.  The problem is the Rangers are stacked with potential Nathan replacements.  Good for them, not so good on speculating for vulture saves.  2012 Projections:  5-1/2.70/1.05/70, 24 Holds, 3 saves

9. David Robertson – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the end of the post.  I call this tier, “Best Holds guys coupled with maybe a chance for some saves, though that’s less likely.”  Wow, Robertson’s numbers were insane last year.  A 13.50 K/9 and a 1.08 ERA.  Seriously, I looked at two different sites because I didn’t believe them at first.  His walks are such a mess that if he loses a K or two off his K/9, then the walks might catch up to him.  Know what happens when walks increase?  Runs.  It’s yours, Highlights!  2012 Projections:  3-1/2.70/1.22/90, 30 Holds

10. Sergio Romo – Another guy who had insane K numbers, only Romo’s weren’t coupled with any walks.  Like, none.  His season seemed like it was above his head, so I imagine his stats will come down a little.  Also, I will never use the word coupled again.  Sorry about that.  2012 Projections:  4-3/2.45/0.95/60, 28 Holds

11. Greg Holland – Speaking of a lot of Ks, Funky Cold Me-Holy-Crap Greg Holland was great last year.  I think fantasy baseballers (<–my mom’s term!) are gonna want to own Greg Holland more this year than Derek Holland.  Or not!  The future is a fickle mistress that blackmails you with pictures of your balls.  2012 Projections:  3-2/2.60/1.06/70, 28 Holds

12. Sean Marshall – He worries me a bit, though his recent numbers tell me he’s nothing to worry about.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Dusty uses him as a situational guy a lot more than he’s been doing recently, especially if Aroldis stays in the bullpen, which I think he does, and this is a long sentence, but still 40 words short of the world’s longest sentence; damn, that’s really long; I’m not even sure I can get there when I’m trying, which I’m not right now, otherwise I’d be disqualified from Guinness; I think; I’m not sure, actually.  2012 Projections:  4-2/3.00/1.15/70, 30 Holds

13. Joaquin Benoit – He has a good team for Holds, a closer in front of him that should keep him in the set-up role and a cool name.  Six of one, half dozen of another and sixteen more gives you 28 Holds.  2012 Projections:  6-2/3.00/1.04/60, 28 Holds

14. Vinnie Pestano – Vinnie invented swag, poppin’ bottles, making batters look like scabs.  Proof, I guess Vinnie got his swagger back, truth.  New watch alert; he throws.  Like the big ‘stache, Rollie; Vinnie got Ks like all of those.  Arm out the window through the city, he doesn’t throw slow.  Cock back, snap back, every hitter’s swing now has holes.  2012 Projections:  1-3/2.75/1.09/80, 25 Holds

15. Koji Uehara – There was talk of him moving to a new club.  Again.  I’m sure wherever he ends up he’ll get his Ks, Holds and Korean-fusion tacos.  2012 Projections:  2-2/2.85/1.00/70, 22 Holds

16. Antonio Bastardo – When Ryan Madson left Philly, he told Charlie Manuel you won’t have this bastard to kick around anymore.  Then him and Antonio had words.  Bastardo was almost ranked much higher, but I settled here because Papelbon should be fine and Antonio walks a crapton.  2012 Projections:  5-3/3.25/1.20/70, 25 Holds

17. Eric O’Flaherty – Top o’ the morning to you!  O’Flaherty had a huge number of Holds last year, but I think Fredi Gonzalez is the new Torre, chewing up and spitting out middle men.  The Braves should bring in Scott Proctor to be their pitching coach.  2012 Projections:  4-3/2.50/1.15/65, 25 Holds

18. Jose Veras – His walks are slightly egregious, but they used to be wholly egregious so we’re moving in the right direction.  He is Charlie Sheen in Major League sans the interesting haircut and hookers in the honeywagon, a name Sheen took quite literally.  2012 Projections:  1-3/3.75/1.28/80, 20 Holds

19. Michael Dunn – Another guy who’s trying to do his best Wild Thing impersonation.  Stay away if you’re trying for ratio help.  More of a Ks, Holds possibility.  2012 Projections:  3-1/3.70/1.32/75, 20 Holds

20. Joel Zumaya – UPDATE:  He’s donezo. There’s some guys that should be above Zumaya — Chris Resop, Grant Balfour, Ernesto Frieri, Jeff Samardzija, to name a few.  I’m more putting Zumaya’s name here to give people a head’s up that he’s coming back and he’s in a place where the closer had Twins fans thinking they were clever every time they’d say, “Oh, Crapps.”  2012 Projections:  Probably nothing, but it’s a deep league flyer.

From Around The Web

  1. Dingbat says:
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    Mmmmmm, Korean fusion tacos… My mouth is watering.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Dingbat, Yumyum.

      • dingbat says:
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        @Grey, The fact that Kogi hasn’t expanded beyond LA represents a failure of free market capitalism.

  2. Tony says:
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    middle relievers, Booooooo

  3. Eddy says:
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    Grey,

    In a roto league, is it worth abandoning saves and just getting like 4-5 set up men in on your team and dominating that category? Seems like its virtually impossible to get above 8 point in both categories.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Eddy, dominating what category?

      • Eddy says:
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        @Grey,

        Holds

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          @Eddy, I wouldn’t punt anything, especially not saves which are so easy.

  4. oval rigor says:
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    Vinnie Pestano and commas were the standouts among standouts this morning. Thanks, truly. One question. In a 16-team, h2h league with Holds as a category, what do you think about drafting set-up dudes and closers from the same mlb team?

    Thanks for all you do,
    OR

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @oval rigor, Thanks for the kind words! I have no problem drafting from the same team.

  5. Marqo says:
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    Rafael Soriano!

  6. PublicEnemy#1 says:
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    You should “Add”ison Reed to this list. Or don’t, it’s your list. I’m grabbing him everywhere (makes him giggle), as he’s my pick to become this year’s Kimbrell. Okay, I actually like K. Jansen to be twelve-after-twenty’s (wish i had thought of that) Kimbrell a bit more, but A. Reed is my super sleeper.
    As always, thanks for giving me a reason to grab for my iPhone every morning before I even turn off the alarm.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @PublicEnemy#1, Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, Reed’s not a bad name to look at.

  7. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    I’M A MR. B!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @IowaCubs, Ha!

  8. beardawg says:
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    thanks for ranking Holders, Grey. They get no respect!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @beardawg, No problem.

  9. beardawg says:
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    I’m surprised you weren’t drooling over Al Alburquerque’s K’s

    • Eddy says:
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      @beardawg,

      Can’t expect someone who’s going to miss half the season to be ranked. He had elbow surgery in December.

  10. mauledbypandas says:
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    does this mean top 100 overall tomorrow? I am giddy with excitement

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @mauledbypandas, Nah, Thursday…

  11. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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    Awesome post. Pestano’s blurt made me shit my pants…. literally. That’s gonna cost like $8 in dry cleaning bills, but hurt my ego A WHOLE LOT more when the asian dude stares at me in disgust…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Ha!

  12. AtlantaCrackers says:
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    Grey – I think that Fernando Salas deserves a spot on this list (probably around #10 or so). He’s not as good as his 2011 line suggests but should still be good for a low-3s ERA, 65-70 Ks and a good number of holds, with the possibility to vulture some saves too.

    On a separate note – keeper question. NL-only H2H league, $260 team salary cap, 5 x 5 scoring (OPS instead of AVG) – keep Tulo for $32 or Wainwright for $6? When the offseason began I was sure I’d go with Waino, but now that the NL has lost a lot of its high-end offensive talent, Tulo’s draft price has risen. On the other hand, I have a hard time betting against Wainwright coming back strong.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @AtlantaCrackers, Tulo

  13. airweino says:
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    Nice write up on RPs. Dynasty league trade question: Jerry Sands for Danny Hultzen. Don’t necessarily need other pitching prospects, but seems to good to pass up. Thoughts on it?

    • Al Swedgin says:
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      @airweino, DO IT

  14. Joe says:
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    Is Bard going to be a starter? If not, will he return as the setup man instead of M&M.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Joe, Supposed to be a starter.

  15. CrowHopp says:
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    Grey,
    Only can keep 3….which of the following would provide the best value for me this year and which are better long term based on rounds they can be kept?

    2012 2013

    Posey 16th round 13th
    Asdrubal 17th round 15th
    Harper 18th round 16th
    Pineda 19th round 16th
    Shields 19th round 16th
    Morse 19th round 16th

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @CrowHopp, Asdrubal, Harper, Pineda… Not easy choices…

  16. Eddy says:
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    Grey

    Curious: How expensive is Joey Votto going to be in NL-only leagues?

    Never played in one-sided leagues, but like AtlantaCrackers said, the market for power bats in the NL has gone down.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Eddy, $40ish

    • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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      @Eddy, I think Votto would go for right around $45 in my NL only league if he was available (he’s not though cuz i got him locked up for $20…. BOOM!)

  17. royce! says:
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    Hey Razzballians, I’m proud to write that my wife gave birth to our baby girl yesterday. Born at 3:14 pm on 2/6/12, I think the numbers (1st 3 digits of pi and 2*6=12) reveal that she’ll have a great mathematical mind, so expect a new RCL dominator very soon!

    • Eddy says:
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      @royce!, Congratulations!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @royce!, Or she’ll lose her mind playing chess. Tomato-tomahto! Congratulations!

      • chata says:
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        @Grey,

        chess is good .

      • royce! says:
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        @Grey, Damn, good point. Guess we’ll cut back on the math. Hopefully she’ll be satisfied with fantasy football! Burn!

    • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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      @royce!, congrats brother!

      • royce! says:
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        @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Thanks Mr. Dope Man!

    • Wake up says:
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      @royce!, Congrats! I hope whatever you named her ends in an !

      • royce! says:
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        @Wake up, Dammit! We signed the birth cert right before I read this. She’ll just have to change it when she’s 18. Nothing says adulthood like adding an exclamation point to the end of your name.

    • mc serch says:
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      @royce!, congrats brotha! nice work by the wife getting this little bit of business out of the way before pitchers and catchers report :-).

      • royce! says:
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        @Grey, Nice! Nice of Plugs 1 and 2 to make the world a better place.

    • mauledbypandas says:
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      @royce!, congrats!

    • mic says:
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      @royce!, we’ll have 4 girl readers in no time… congrats…

  18. Brad says:
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    Rex Brothers belongs here, no question about it.

    • Pops says:
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      @Brad, I agree. He’s going to be a nice late round sleeper for me.

  19. Jake says:
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    Hi Grey, great writeup as always. The “common sense” one had me rolling. Just finished my draft and here are my picks (I had pick 12 in 12 team league, typical starters; 3OF 2Util and it’s an obp league instead of avg) What do you think? Where can I improve? Thanks!
    C- Mesoraco; 1B- Fielder; 2B- Utley; SS-Hanley; 3B-Youk; OF-Bruce, Hamilton, Heyward; Util-Morrison, Quentin, Bonifacio; SP-Wainwright, Gio, An Sanchez, Hudson, Ubaldo, Bills, Minor; RP-Papelbon, K.Jansen, C.Perez, Guerra, Chapman.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Jake, Thanks! Your hitting looks very solid, your pitching is a bit wonky, and that’s assuming that’s Daniel Hudson. Not a huge fan of Wainwright and Bills. Overall it’s a good team. I don’t mind pitching being a little weaker than hitting. Should be competitive.

  20. exactly says:
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    Hey Grey, not so sure about this whole twelve-after-twenty thing…in fact, I’m doing my best to stop its progress and replace it with twenty-twizzle…izzle.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @exactly, Don’t twizzle my shizzle.

  21. Wake up says:
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    Faulkner…”I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it”…Is MadBum throwing a slider? Or a cutter?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Wake up, He throws whatever needs to be thrown to get batters out.

  22. jack says:
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    Hey Grey: Avid daily reader and enthusiast of all things razzball … but have to comment on what appears to be a recent change with the ads on the site. A couple of videos are on full volume blast! Including one for KY jelly trying to convince me that I should be going on date night (with myself?) every night. Can’t blame you for monetizing, you’re worth way more than whatever you are getting. I click on ads here when I can. But can the volume be turned down? Thx.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @jack, Ads should never be auto-audio. If they are, tell me and I’ll remove them.

      • Wake up says:
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        @Grey, Yeah same thing here. The Carnival one.

  23. Grey

    Grey says:
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    ****THERE’S A NEW POST****

  24. thorbs says:
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    Grey – in a league that counts holds/saves (so I don’t want a Holds guy with Saves potential, as much as a sexy ratios guy), I have Kimbrel, Axford, Guerra, O’Flaherty, and Clippard, and was planning on keeping 2.

    I can flip Axford/Beachy/Goldschmidt for Doc/Madson, was going to only keep Doc, then keep Kimbrel/Clippard as my two RP.

    If saves potential wasn’t in the mix, would Clippard top the list for you?

  25. David Bowies Cousin says:
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    No idea where you come up with the rankings here. Didnt read the preamble, however I think the rankings must have been influenced by a players oppertunity to either become part of the rotation or become the 9th inning pitch.

    Chapman No.1É Over Clippard.

  26. Timothy B. Monahan says:
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    Not for nothing, but I had little prep time and I used your rankings here. I took Chapman in a 6×6 league that credits HLDs as the first middle relief pitcher….and I got laughed at. Are you sure he is first tier?

  27. Mark says:
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    Hey Grey,

    Anyway you can do middle reliever ranking for those in holds leagues? Basically where chance for saves is not necessary, and might even be a little discouraged. Thanks!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      There was just a Holds article two days ago on the site…

  28. 2qbn says:
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    Straight Cashner, homie!

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