Hello everyone. For those who don’t know me, I’m Viz, Razzball’s fantasy hockey editor. I’m going to be contributing to baseball throughout the season looking at keeper values of players who are already in the majors. For my first preseason piece, I’m going to take a look at closers, specifically how their values are affected by the amount of keepers you have, the size of your league and your ability to make moves throughout the season. I’ll also mention a couple guidelines into what I look for from my closers and what I look for in guys who currently don’t have the role but could get the opportunity.
Let’s get right to it!
How many players are you keeping?
In leagues were you are keeping 5 or less players, there isn’t anything to think about. You fall too far behind in every other category keeping a closer. As good as Aroldis Champan and Craig Kimbrel are, they don’t pitch enough innings to have a significant impact. Once you reach the point where you are keeping 8 or more guys, you can start thinking about keeping a closer if it’s a first tier guy. For example, I do a 10 man roto keeper league where you can keep up to 11 players. If I owned one of the top 5 guys, I would keep them in this format. Ideally, I would have 8 bats, 2 starters and then a wild card spot for the best player left on your roster. If it’s a closer, then I’d hold him instead of being desperate for saves in your draft.
How many people are in your league?
If you’re in an 8 team league, you should have no problems acquiring closers. In that case, steals ain’t got no face holds completely true. In standard 12 man leagues like the RCL’s, it’s a little more difficult but with unlimited moves (more on that later), if you stay on top of things you can grab setup guys who move into the role due to injury. I do an 18 team dynasty with player contracts, no benches, and adds only once a week with FAAB. Obviously in this league, it’s extremely difficult to get closers so SAGNOF doesn’t hold true. We can also keep up to 15 players and keeping a closer is a near must. Obviously it depends on their salary you can keep them at but your options are much more limited than in a standard draft. Same holds true in AL and NL only leagues where all of the closers are owned as well as the top setup men.
How many moves can you make and when can you make them?
This is a factor I consider when I decide who I’m keeping and a bigger factor in how many closers I want to leave the draft with. If you’re in a league where there are unlimited moves, then you can leave the draft a little behind in closers knowing that eventually, you’ll be able to pick up a guy who moves into the role or possibly even stream them. If you’re in a league where you have a cap on how many moves you can make a week, say 7, then I consider this the same as if you had unlimited moves. You’ll still be able to acquire closers, no problem.
The issue comes when you are in leagues with FAAB, be it with waivers that go off every day or once a week. In the 10 man league I mentioned before, we have a $75 budget for the season with waivers that go off every morning. You have to bid at least $1 meaning you get 75 moves max. Virtually all closers are owned and when a new player gets the closer role, they go for $5-10 in bidding. In a league like this, I am always looking to leave the draft with at least 3 closers, probably 4. I don’t want to end up wasting all of my free agent money on grabbing closers. Personally, I prefer leagues like this where you can’t make unlimited moves and all moves process at a certain time every day. It shouldn’t be a race to the computer every time somebody gets hurt to see who acquires the player who receives the boost. I like rewarding people who drafted well instead of people making 500 moves cycling their roster constantly, especially in head to head leagues.
What do I want from my closer?
There are two things I’m looking for, especially in 12 man or fewer roto leagues: a strong K/9 and lack of competition. As good as Brad Ziegler’s ERA and WHIP are, getting only 36 K’s in 68 innings is pretty rough. You can have one guy like him but a bunch of closers with weak K rates puts you behind the 8 ball. I’d much rather have guys like Jake McGee or Cody Allen who are striking out 50 more guys than Ziegler over a season. You also have to look at the people lurking behind your closer and the quality of his team. For example, you know Jonathan Papelbon is going to stay the closer because he will cry like a baby otherwise. The security there is obviously nice to have. On the other hand, Jason Grilli has a quality setup man behind him in Arodys Vizcaino and Grilli is sure to be moved at the trade deadline by a rebuilding Braves team if he is pitching well. It could be okay to start but you’d be smart selling high on Grilli if he has a quality first month.
What should I target from non-closers?
Just like closers, I’m looking for guys who have high K rates and their closer is either shaky or could be moved. Santiago Casilla was quite lucky last year so if he struggles, Sergio Romo should step in. Romo has had the role before and has an excellent K rate making him an ideal stash in deeper leagues. Trevor Rosenthal was also a mess in stretches last year so Kevin Siegrist, who had 90 K’s in 74.2 innings, could be placed into the role if Rosenthal struggles again.
How do I approach potential closer prospects?
In dynasty leagues where you have minor leaguers, I rarely, if ever, own players who project to be relievers. One, injuries are quite prevalent with these flamethrowers. Two, rarely are prospects placed right into the closer role meaning you have to wait it out until they get there, if they ever do. Most importantly, they simply don’t make enough of an impact over their 60-80 innings. Load up on bats since they are more likely to make an impact and take a couple shots on starters if you do so desire. Just draft guys who already have the role; that’s 80% of the battle.
I hope this helps you guys out on how to approach closers in your leagues. Next week, I’ll going to look at outfielders that I like or dislike compared to their rankings at the “major” sites, especially from a keeper standpoint. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Take care everyone!