With the the top 20 closers for 2011 fantasy baseball, we’ve finished our recap of the 2011 fantasy baseball rankings.  Some will feel like it came too soon, others will think let’s get 2012 under way already!  Whichever camp you fall in, don’t eat cherimoya seeds, they are poisonous.  This is our final look back.  This is still a look back.  It is not how I’d rank them for 2012 aka next year.  As with the other rankings, the final rankings come from ESPN’s Player Rater.  I did this so I could objectively critique MY preseason rankings to THEIRS.  Their rankings for closers weigh wins when I’d just want saves, but whatevs.  At least it’s unbiased.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 closers for 2011 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

1. Craig Kimbrel – There’s a theme in the top 20 closers we need to address.  Where I ranked them (or didn’t rank them at all) compared to where they ended up is all over the place.  Now you can either think I’m a jerkoff or you can realize how unpredictable closers are.  This is why you never pay for closers.  The ones that you think will be fine end up disappointing (Soria) or flat-out sucking (Broxton).  Then there’s the ones that just come out of nowhere.  It all comes back to SAGNOF!  In my defense, I told you to draft from a tier that included Putz, Axford, Kimbrel, Storen and Chris Perez.  For Kimbrel, I said, “Want a closer that can go from “Who’s Craig Kimbrel?” to “I don’t know who Craig Kimbrel is but I’m glad I drafted him?”  Then you’re in luck; Craig Kimbrel is just the guy to do it.”  And that’s me quoting me!  Preseason Rank #16, 2011 Projections:  3-3/2.95/1.18/80, 30 saves, Final Numbers:  4-3/2.10/1.04/127, 46 saves

2. Drew Storen – It’s pretty cool how many new names are at the top of the closer year-end list.  I mean, not cool like it’ll help you get laid unless you’re actually one of these closers, but cool nevertheless.  Storen bumped his K-rate up to 8.84 and lowered his walk rate from 3.58 to 2.39.  Not a bad season for a guy who was never named the closer.  Preseason Rank #17, 2011 Projections:  2-5/3.00/1.25/60, 30 saves, Final Numbers:  6-3/2.75/1.02/74, 43 saves

3. John Axford – Member when K-Rod was traded to the Brewers and you started crying because Axford was going to lose his closer job?  Think of all those tissues you wasted.  In the preseason, I said, “I almost put Axford in my top five overall but I would like to see him do it one more year.  Correction:  I want to see him do it another year on all of my fantasy teams.  Go after him aggressively.  Could be a huge fantasy year.”  Can’t make this shizz up.  Well, you can, but it would be pretty easy to double check.  Preseason Rank #14, 2011 Projections:  3-1/3.00/1.22/80, 32 saves, Final Numbers: 2-2/1.95/1.14/86, 46 saves

4. Mariano Rivera – Yet another year that Mo did what Mo does and I said he wouldn’t do it.  I also said to avoid Bailey and Street, so I wasn’t totally crummy from being crackers.  One interesting thing to note on Mariano’s line is the 1-2 record on a team that won 97 games.  Shows you how predictable wins are, i.e., they’re not.  Preseason Rank #10, 2011 Projections:  5-4/3.10/1.00/50, 30 saves, Final Numbers: 1-2/1.91/0.90/60, 44 saves

5. J.J. Putz – This was one of the easier calls of the preseason.  As long as Putz didn’t go down to injury (ouch), he was going to have a good year.  On a side note, Putz has an orange curtain on his bottom lip.  You expect Carrot Top to come out from his chin and do some prop comedy.  Maybe it’s just me.  Preseason Rank #13, 2011 Projections:  2-4/2.70/1.15/60, 30 saves, Final Numbers:  2-2/2.17/0.91/61, 45 saves

6. Jose Valverde – Do they still give out a Rolaids Relief Man of the Year?  If they do, Valverde won it this year.  If they don’t give out that award anymore, they should give out a Sunglasses and Advil, Last Year Was Mad Real award.  That’s what Kanye and I would name it.  Preseason Rank #8, 2011 Projections:  5-2/3.00/1.18/70, 35 saves, Final Numbers:  2-4/2.24/1.19/69, 49 saves

7. Joel Hanrahan – I can tell people to draft closers from lousy teams, but I don’t know if anyone really listens that isn’t already prone to do it anyway.  Hey, choir, hear me preach.  Hanrahananananan was actually a bit disappointing with his Ks and was a tad lucky with his ERA and, in turn, his WHIP, but he still did more than you could’ve wanted, so you’re welcome.  Preseason Rank #21, 2011 Projections:  2-4/3.95/1.25/80, 30 saves, Final Numbers:  1-4/1.83/1.05/61, 40 saves

8. Francisco Cordero – I could be yelling fire before the match is even lit here, but I feel like Cordero is becoming a wickmen though not quite a FEMA.  Preseason Rank #19, 2011 Projections:  4-5/3.50/1.35/60, 40 saves, Final Numbers: 5-3/2.45/1.02/42, 37 saves

9. Heath Bell – Modifying clause, Bell has been the safest closer that has given you the most stress over the past two years.  He’s not getting traded… Yes, he is!… No, he’s not!… Is too!… Is not!… I stole the cookie from the cookie jar!  Preseason Rank #4, 2011 Projections:  3-4/2.90/1.18/85, 40 saves, Final Numbers:  3-4/2.44/1.15/51, 43 saves

10. Jonathan Papelbon – I owned Papelbon on a few teams last year so it wasn’t like I wasn’t aware of the huge WHIP and Ks season he was having.  Yet, I didn’t realize he had so few saves.  Only 31 saves?  I know there’s no accounting for saves, but how is that even possible for a 90 win team?  Without having my crack team of 100 monkeys look it up (so going off the top of my head), I have to think that’s the lowest save total for a 90 win team for a closer who had the job for the whole year.  Preseason Rank #6, 2011 Projections:  5-3/2.75/1.18/75, 38 saves, Final Numbers:  4-1/2.94/0.93/87, 31 saves

11. Fernando Salas – Not only did he put together a fantastic season, but he also dealt with a dozen closer role changes depending on which way La Russa’s feathered hair blew.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 5-6/2.28/0.95/75, 24 saves

12. Ryan Madson – This from the Phils GM for 2012, “I don’t feel comfortable with the guys we have internally,” Amaro said. “If Ryan does not sign, we might have to go outside the organization. There are some people in our system who think [Justin] DeFratus or [Phillippe] Aumont can [close]; I am not convinced of that yet.”  Since the Phils also said Madson can’t close to start the 2011 season, I guess Aumont or DeFratus will close in 2012.  Preseason Rank #7 for Middle Relievers, 2011 Projections:  3-3/3.25/1.28/60, 18 Holds, 7 Saves, Final Numbers:  4-2/2.37/1.15/62, 32 saves

13. Kyle Farnsworth – Hmm… Only 25 saves?  Maybe I do need my crack team of 100 monkeys to look up the lowest save total for a closer on a 90 win team.  Then again, Farnsworth had some injuries this year and ceded to Peralta for a stretch.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  5-1/2.18/0.99/51, 25 saves

14. Brandon League – Someone should see if there’s a mathematical formula for the likelihood of saves for a losing team vs. a winning team.  If someone hasn’t done this already.  My monkeys have their hands full.  Masturbating.  Hey, it’s the offseason.  Cut them some slack.  Preseason Rank #5 for Middle Relievers, 2011 Projections:  4-4/4.25/1.28/60, 10 Holds, 12 Saves, Final Numbers: 1-5/2.79/1.08/45, 37 saves

15. Sergio Santos – Had a terrible September (9 ER in 8 2/3 IP), wasn’t the closer for stretches of the season (or was but wasn’t official) and had to deal with Ozzie.  Still, his K-rate — I’m putting my fingers together at my mouth and blowing air kisses — muah, muah!  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  4-5/3.55/1.11/92, 30 saves

16. Jordan Walden – Well, he was no Fernando Rodney.  Thankfully.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  5-5/2.98/1.24/67, 32 saves

17. Mike Adams – I contemplated leaving the Holds guys off this list and just going a little deeper on the closers.  Then I contemplated changing the title to the top 20 relievers.  Then I decided to do nothing and just tell you I contemplated that other shizz.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  5-4/1.47/0.79/74, 2 saves

18. Tyler Clippard – If you would’ve blindfolded me before writing this and asked who was more valuable Venters or Clippard, I would’ve said why are you blindfolding me?  Can’t you just ask me?  I mean, the blindfold makes it kinda weird.  Are you going to tickle my feet with a feather?  Oh, and I would’ve said Venters.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  3-0/1.83/0.84/104

19. Chris Perez – You could put his stat line next to the definition of a donkeycorn.  Nothing spectacular, just good old fashioned valuable closing games with closer-style old fashioned stuff… Wow, I got totally lost in that sentence and didn’t know how to finish it.  Preseason Rank #15, 2011 Projections:  1-4/3.10/1.16/70, 30 saves, Final Numbers:  4-7/3.32/1.21/39, 36 saves

20. Neftali Feliz – Honestly (unlike the rest of the post where I was lying), no closers really disappoint as long as they keep the job and get saves.  Though if you’re one of those types with high expectations, Feliz disappointed.  And I’m not just talking in the World Series.  There’s always next year, Rangers! (Assuming Washington doesn’t blow the team’s salary in Vegas.  With the key word being blow.)  Preseason Rank #2, 2011 Projections:  5-2/2.75/1.00/90, 40 saves, Final Numbers:  2-3/2.74/1.16/54, 32 saves

  1. chata says:

    this must have been your worst season for closer projections .
    am too lazy to look it up to support it with actual numbers , but
    remember having the impression that your closer rankings ,
    throughout the season , were too inflexible and didn’t seem to accurately reflect what was happening on the field .

    you’re the ‘pert and i often ask your opinion when i’m unsure ,
    but to this dummy it seems that the most valuable closers are the ones
    racking up the most saves … since their contribution to my over-all
    era and whip categories are negligible in comparison to the havoc
    caused by my front-line sp’s .

  2. chata says:

    as long as we’re playing in standard 5×5’s , where saves are
    over-valued (imo) , then it should be the only criteria by which closers
    should be evaluated .

  3. papasmurf says:

    League was one of my better picks this year, which isn’t saying much, but he did get me 5 really quick saves. At the time I had 5 closers (in a league that counts holds too) and I needed help in my offense with Morales and Stanton out (and Hill and Aramis and just about everyone on my team sucking) to start the year. I traded him for Morse… who then sucked for a couple of weeks on my roster before I dropped him for I don’t remember who. The rest, as they say, is history. What could have been a great trade turned into shit.

    The only solace I have is that in the large scheme of things, it didn’t matter. I ended up with 4 keepers in the OF already and Hosmer at 1B. Not my proudest moment, not counting the time I accidentally walked in on Smurfette and Handy Smurf.

  4. OaktownSteve says:

    Of the top 10 teams in save opportunities, only 2 were in the bottom half of the league in ERA (Mets Cubs). The rest (Atl, Wash, St.L, Zona, Mil, SF, Pitt, LAAs) were all top 15 in ERA. Buncha pitchers parks in there too (Atl, Wash, StL, SF, Pitt, LAAs).

    Point being I think low scoring correlates (though somewhat weakly) to more save opportunities. Stands to reason that the lower the total number of runs, the higher the probability (mathematically speaking) of a game finishing within 3 runs.

    How many days to pitchers and catchers? You should get a little clock on the home page that counts down to Opening Day.

  5. OaktownSteve says:

    Oops…Pittsburgh also out of top half of ERA. Still…you get my drift.

  6. OaktownSteve says:

    More thoughts on the topic.

    Any game in which 1, 2, or three total runs are scored is a potential save game.

    For games with 4-7 runs total, it’s equal chances (3-1, 4-1, 3-2, 4-2, 5-2, 4-3) saves and (4-0, 5-0, 6-0, 5-1, 7-0, 6-1) non-saves. For every run total of 8+, there are more non-save than save final score possibilities.

    As a quick and dirty check, I looked at save opportunities in the NL and the AL on average for the last 10 years knowing that more runs per game are scored in the AL. The average NL team has 61.2 save opportunities per year, the average AL team 59. Not a huge number but basically a number.

    At an average save conversion rate of 68% you’re looking at boost of 1.5 saves per season by taking a National League closer over an American. The question is whether or not the difference is because of runs scored or some other factor that distinguishes NL from AL when it comes to saves, but I’m willing to bet if you crunch all the numbers, run total is the reason

    If that is the case, then you could, in theory add saves by choosing from low run scoring/allowing teams. The thing is, from a probability standpoint, just looking at runs scored, you can look at each final run total and predict how often it will be a game in which a save was awarded. And whenever you have probability and non-infinite sample size, you get a bunch of outliers (i.e. low run teams that get few chances in a year, high run teams that get many).

    Given the small boost and the unpredictability of year to year distribution, probably not significant from a fantasy standpoint.

  7. OaktownSteve says:

    I guess I should also include the fact that those run total probabilities vis a vis saves are really the total at any point in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning and not at the end of the game, but that doesn’t really make any difference in my analysis…I don’t think. Feel free to poke holes.

  8. OaktownSteve says:

    @Royce: You know what’s funny is the guy in that article misses the forest for the trees. He does runs scored and runs allowed but never runs scored AND runs allowed, despite the fact that margin of victory is one of the requirements for a save. Teams that score a lot and allow few are going to skew the runs allowed number and teams that score few and allow a lot are going to skew the runs scored number.

  9. Howard says:

    @Grey What do you think about closers as keepers? I have Valverde, Soria, Oviedo (Nunez!), FF and Guerra. Am leaning to keeping Valverde but he may not have much longevity. Any of the others stand out?

  10. OaktownSteve says:

    @royce!: run differential is just a side note. My real point is that fewer runs scored means more save opportunities just because of mathematical probability rather than anything on field. I was just surprised that the guy who ran the numbers in Hardball times didn’t look to see if run differential correlated.

  11. OaktownSteve says:

    oh, and, like I said, year to year results are going to vary because we’re talking about probability ranges.

  12. SwaggerJackers says:

    The Morel (Brent?) of the story is I shouldn’t have wasted high draft picks on Soria and The Beard last season so I won’t next season.

  13. OaktownSteve says:

    @grey: you’re welcome to use it any time!

  14. chata says:

    mlb-tv … showing an all-star game vs taiwan …. now .

  15. Steve says:

    No Gold Glove for Jeter. What are they going to talk about at Fangraphs for the next month?

  16. Wake Up says:

    Gardner was robbed! Easily the best LF in MLB (fielding-wise).

  17. chata says:

    top chef : texas
    29 contestants

    pick a winner

  18. chata says:

    group one … nyeesha

  19. chata says:

    wife picks chuy from group two .

  20. chata says:

    nyeesha makes it into top 16 .

  21. chata says:

    chuy’s in also .

    game on !

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