We’ve covered the top twenty draft lists for catchers, 1st basemen, 2nd basemen, shortstops, 3rd basemen, outfielders and starting pitchers for ’08. Finally, the top twenty closers 2008. I can’t stress this enough, don’t take any closer before the 7th round. Saves are a category, so you should draft at least three closers, but they don’t pitch enough innings to make a solid dent in your pitching ratios. The good ones give a nice push to the stats outside of saves. Like J.J. Putz, for instance. But he was drafted in the 7th round last year according to the ESPN average, so you see they’re unpredictable, as well. Don’t go drafting him in the fourth round this year. It ain’t worth it. For some prospective, take a look at our ’07 player rater.
1. Jonathan Papelbon – He’s unhittable and on a 95 win team. That, my friends, is a recipe for a stud closer. Odd, since his dancing is very unstudlike. If he saved 55 games with 100 Ks and a .90 ERA in 60 innings, it wouldn’t surprise me. Projections: 5-0/90/1.10/.75/45 saves
2. Joe Nathan – Phenomenal peripheral stats, year in and year out. He can fluctuate from 35 saves to 50 saves in any given year, depending on chances. He’s starting to get up there in age (33), but he doesn’t seem to be slowing just yet. Projections: 6-1/80/1.90/1.00/40 saves
3. J.J. Putz – He can strikeout any hitter at any given time, which makes things easier for a closer. (I’m talking to you, Todd Jones.) He’s not prone to injury and his team will probably be in a lot of close games. Very solid number #1 closer for any fantasy team. Projections: 4-2/80/2.00/.90/40 saves
4. Francisco Rodriguez – K-Rod’s pitching motion scares the bejeezus out of me, but he still puts up sick stats every year. Sick meaning well, not sick meaning sick. Projections: 6-2/90/3.00/1.25/45 saves
5. Mariano Rivera – Until he can’t close, he’s going to be on the list. Look at Hoffman, he’s still doing it. Projections: 5-2/70/2.75/1.10/40 saves
6. Francisco Cordero – To be honest, I don’t trust him. His time closing for the Brew Crew was solid, but I can’t help shaking that year in Texas when he lost the job. Although, that was a hitter’s park. Wait, so is Cincinnati. Projections: 2-5/65/3.50/1.20/35 saves and the Reds fans call for Bill Bray to take over by June.
7. Trevor Hoffman – His entrance music “Hells Bells” was released two years before Adrian Gonzalez was born. Hoff’s old. No doubt, but as long as he keeps doing the same thing every year, kind of hard to find fault. Projections: 3-2/40/3.50/1.15/40 saves
8. Takashi Saito – He’s 38 years old for the ’08 season, but his ‘07 season was proof American hitters still haven’t figured him out. I’m pretty confident Torre will stay with the elder, but for fear of Broxton, I won’t be drafting Saito. Then again, I’ve also feared Shields for the last three years and not drafted K-Rod. I’m an idiot. Projections: 4-1/75/1.75/.90/40 saves
9. Bobby Jenks – Raise your hand if you saw his last season coming. Okay, now lower your hand if you’re lying. Okay, now lower your hand, if you’re still lying. Projections: 5-2/65/3.00/1.00/40 saves
10. Brad Lidge – The park could send Lidge into fits if he gives up too many long balls, but, I have to say, his stock is so low, I’m buying. He strikes out hitters by the boatloads and he’s another year removed from the Poo-holes ass-reaming. Projections: 3-3/90/3.25/1.20/40 saves
11. Billy Wagner – Ok, I know what you’re thinking and it’s true. His collapse towards the end of last year has me very nervous. I’m going to pass on Wagner this year, but he could be better than fine. You’ve been warned. Projections: 2-3/70/3.75/1.35/25 saves and Heilman takes over in August and gets 15 saves.
12. Joe Borowski – He’s on a great team for saves and…. Um…. I can’t think of anything else positive. Here’s hoping Betancourt hurts himself playing Guitar Hero. Projections: 2-5/50/4.25/1.35/35 saves
13. Todd Jones – He had more saves than strikeouts last year. Seriously. Yet, I’ll still probably draft him. You want saves and he looks like the man for a team that could win 90 games. Though watch Rodney in the rearview. Projections: 4-4/30/4.50/1.30/35 saves
14. Jose Valverde – Last year, after he started off good, I anticipated a collapse and traded him away. He got better. So, what now? I still don’t trust him. I might draft him, but I doubt I keep him the whole year. He loses his shit and, before you know it, he’s given up five runs in a third of an inning. Projections: 2-6/65/4.00/1.25/30 saves and loses the closing job three times in ’08.
15. Chad Cordero – Is it me or does he simultaneously look like he’s twelve years old and a child molester? Might be the low-hat-wearing-brim-thing. Anyway, the team sucks, so saves may not be plentiful and talk of a trade will invariably happen in July, but he’s solid for what he is. Projections: 2-3/60/3.50/1.35/30 saves
16. Jason Isringhausen – IS-ring-how-zin instills no confidence in me, but he’ll probably end up on a few of my teams because he doesn’t instill confidence in anyone, except his manager. In other words, he’ll be cheap at drafts and get the saves. Projections: 2-4/50/3.75/1.15/30 saves
17. Matt Capps – Got the kind of stuff that could propel him into the top ten closers for ’09. He’s not going to get many opportunities, but hopefully with Tracy out he’ll get the ball and hold onto it. Projections: 2-5/75/2.25/1.00/25 saves
18. Manny Corpas – Not thrilled about the fact that Fuentes is still there. I feel like the slightest hiccup and Corpas will be looking over his shoulder. Projections: 3-3/70/2.50/1.15/25 saves and Fuentes picks up 15 saves.
19. Brian Wilson – The genius behind Pet Sounds! Oh, no, wait a minute. Bochy has stated that Wilson will be the Giants closer, which means he’ll have nothing to close, because they’ll suck this year. When he pitches, he can be lights out. Hopefully, he doesn’t come into too many games to ‘just get work.’ Projections: 2-6/65/2.50/1.05/20 saves
20. Carlos Marmol – Or I could have just said, whoever the hell is closing for the Cubs in 2008. Kerry Wood, Howry, Marmol… They have to decide on someone (at least I hope they do) and whoever gets the ball in the ninth will get lots of opportunities. This is something that needs to be watched in spring training. 2008 Cubs Closer Projections: Nice stats/boatload of saves
After the top twenty there are lots of options, obviously, but one that really stands out:
Rafael Soriano – His stuff is overpowering. Absolutely filthy and he’s got the Braves job all to himself this year. He’ll probably be in the top ten next year when the rankings come out. Projections: 3-4/85/1.25/1.00/35 saves
One name I don’t want any part of:
Huston Street – Injuries and lack of offense for the A’s have me pretty down on Street. If he gets traded to the Braves, I’ll be disappointed to say the least. Maybe Rafael Soriano slept with Bobby Cox’s wife.
Once Spring Training gets underway, we’ll break down what every team is going to do for a closer.