The 2011 fantasy baseball rankings have reached the next to next to next to last stop with the top 20 closers for 2011 fantasy baseball.  These top 20 closers are different than all of the other rankings.  The closers on the top of this list you should not draft and there are closers that aren’t on this list that you should be targeting.  Shortly, there will be a list of every team’s closer and setup man.  The projections are also a bit wonky since you can’t predict saves.  It’s a fool’s errand.  If fool’s errand means what I think it does.  Some well-known projectionists (not the pimply kid unspooling The King’s Speech) don’t even attempt to predict saves.  Saves come down to opportunity.  This is yet another reason why you shouldn’t draft the top guys.  Nevertheless, my projections are listed along with where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 closers for 2011 fantasy baseball:

1. Carlos Marmol – To illustrate further why you shouldn’t draft a top guy, three of the top four closers when rankings came out last year were Joe Nathan, Papelbon and Broxton.  As for the shocker at the top of my rankings, Marmol struckout 138 hitters in 77 2/3 IP.  The only thing shocking to me is how he’s not the number one closer for everyone.  As I’ve already said in this post, you can’t count on saves.  You can count on crazy strikeouts though.  This is the first tier.  This tier goes from here until Brian Wilson.  I call this tier, “The guys you can’t afford to draft unless they fall a few rounds.”  2011 Projections:  5-3/2.90/1.20/120, 40 saves

2. Neftali Feliz – To be brutally honest, I think other ‘perts aren’t ranking Marmol and Feliz this high because they’re scared of being the first person to say it.  You’d be surprised at how scared they are of their readers.  Once all readers think Marmol and Feliz are the best closers in the majors then they will rank them there.  Bunch of pigs and I’m the angry bird.  2011 Projections:  5-2/2.75/1.00/90, 40 saves

3. Joakim Soria – I flip-flopped a few times with whether to place Soria or Heath Bell here.  Ended up going with Soria because I think Heath Bell just had a career year and he’s going to come back to earth a little bit.  And if you’re thinking to yourself, “The Royals and Padres aren’t going to give either of these guys save chances, I’m going with Mariano.”  Think about how last year you didn’t want Bell because he was getting traded and Soria because he pitched for the Royals and they combined for 100 saves.  2011 Projections:  2-3/2.50/1.00/75, 40 saves

4. Heath Bell – I sorta just went over Bell in my Soria blurb.  Blurb on, playa.  2011 Projections:  3-4/2.90/1.18/85, 40 saves

5. Brian Wilson – One of the few elite closers that really scares me.  His K-rate (11.21) last year was so juicy that I can’t drop him any further, but I swear to you every game I watch him close he leaves at least one man on base.  I suppose that’s the idea with closers, but he’s putting them on too.  2011 Projections:  3-5/2.80/1.20/85, 40 saves

6. Jonathan Papelbon – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until K-Rod.  I call this tier, “There’s some shine off these guys so you might be able to draft them.”  Papelbon pitching last year was reminiscent of his dancing.  Now he’s got, like, five backup closers and people are scared of him.  Whatever, he’s the closer, draft him.  2011 Projections:  5-3/2.75/1.18/75, 38 saves

7. Jonathan Broxton – Wasn’t one of dem super pretty closing years for Broxton in 2010.  Okay, but he can strikeout 100 guys in just over 70 IP and he’ll only be 27 years old for the majority of 2011.  I’m not worried. 2011 Projections:  6-4/3.00/1.20/95, 36 saves

8. Jose Valverde – He threw a 6.38 ERA in the 2nd half last year.  Eh, he also has a career 3.15 ERA and a 10.68 K-rate.  You’ll take 70 Ks and 35 saves and like it.  2011 Projections:  5-2/3.00/1.18/70, 35 saves

9. Francisco Rodriguez – To say the shine is off K-Rod is like saying Ronnie from The Jersey Shore is on steroids.  Well, no duh.  Assuming no opposing team hires K-Rod’s father-in-law to coach first base when Rodriguez takes the mound, he should be fine in 2011.  2011 Projections:  3-5/2.95/1.16/60, 35 saves

10. Mariano Rivera – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Street.  I call this tier, “They might end being donkeycorns, but I’m worried.”  I don’t know when the bottom is going to fall out with Rivera but I’m sick of predicting it and looking like a flippin’ moron.  Actually, what do I care how I look?  This year it’s going to fall apart for him.  His K-rate last year was 6.75.  That’s hideous.  Even if he finds ways to save games, he’s not getting Ks with a K-rate that bad.  Then throw a very capable set-up man and the end is nigh!  If nigh means near.  I’m not sure.  2011 Projections:  5-4/3.10/1.00/50, 30 saves

11. Andrew Bailey – Is it me or is this the news once a month for him, “Andrew Bailey has been cleared to start throwing.”  Hey, Bailey, throw already!  The A’s signed Fuentes and Bailey just had elbow surgery.  I’m sure he’ll be fine… Actually, no, I’m not.  He should be good for when he’s actually closing, if that helps matters.  2011 Projections:  2-1/2.25/1.05/40, 24 saves

12. Huston Street – Word out of Colorado is Street will be healthy for Spring Training.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is the Rockies feel the need to say it.  2011 Projections:  3-1/3.35/1.10/50, 28 saves

13. J.J. Putz – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the end of the list.  I call this tier, “I want at least three closers.  Start drafting!”  Wanna know how locked in Putz will be to the closing job in the desert?  Look at his set-up men.  Belch.  2011 Projections:  2-4/2.70/1.15/60, 30 saves

14. John Axford – 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.  2011 Projections:  3-1/3.00/1.22/80, 32 saves

15. Chris Perez – You talking in a baby voice, “Buh-but, Grey, he closes for the Indians.”  Me, “Stop talking in a baby voice and draft him.”  2011 Projections:  1-4/3.10/1.16/70, 30 saves

16. Craig Kimbrel – 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.  2011 Projections:  3-3/2.95/1.18/80, 30 saves

17. Drew Storen – He’s right there with Kimbrel as a guy that can become “I don’t know who Craig Kimbrel is but I’m glad I drafted him?”  Wait, what?  No, we know who Storen is and he’s going to be a solid donkeycorn.  2011 Projections: 2-5/3.00/1.25/60, 30 saves

18. Brad Lidge – Just know that after you draft him you should buy a case of Tagamet.  2011 Projections:  1-4/3.25/1.25/65, 32 saves

19. Francisco Cordero – Honestly, I’d draft any of these guys; they’re just closers.  Cordero’s as good as any.  Sure, if you draft him, you won’t find yourself soiling pictures of Cordero.  At least not the good kind of soiling.  2011 Projections:  4-5/3.50/1.35/60, 40 saves

20. Leo Nunez – Yes, Chris Sale and Matt Thornton will be better, probably.  Or Matt Capps and Joe Nathan.  The problem with those shituations is I don’t know who the closer is.  If I’m drafting today, I want the guy with a job and I don’t believe Clay Hensley is going to close games for the Marlins.  Though when Spring Training hits, these things will change.  2011 Projections:  4-4/3.40/1.25/65, 30 saves

After the top 20 closers for 2011 fantasy baseball there’s a lot of names, but here’s one that stands out:

Joel Hanrahanananananan – I could’ve put Fernando Rodney, Lyon, Franklin, etc. etc. etc. here.  Just grab all the closers you can at the end of your draft.  As soon as the season starts, they become gold on the trade market.  Much more will be said about this at a later date. 2011 Projections:  2-4/3.95/1.25/80, 30 saves

 
  1. DrEasy says:
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    Hi Grey, where does Frankie-squared fit in all this?

  2. Steve says:
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    Grey – at what point in the draft do you start thinking about a closer?

    Or will all be revealed in the Top 100/300?

  3. kevin says:
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    drew storen lives in the dorm across from me!! that is all :)

  4. Cain Fan says:
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    Hey Grey – being in a keeper league that keeps 8 and equally devalues closers (none kept and none taken in the first 10 picks), when would you say that you get value for a top guy, 90 overall, 100? Or would you suggest going with the tier method where you just try and grab the last guy in a tier regardless of timing? Curious as to what dropped too far means. Thanks!

  5. LMack says:
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    Brian Wilson is a funny guy.

  6. Eddy says:
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    Nice Angry Birds reference!

    I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only weirdo thinking Feliz is a top 3 guy. His stuff is just ridonkulous (or “eosinophilia” as my iPhone seems to believe. I don’t even have a clue as to what that is).

    I’m looking forward to hoarding 5 closets again this year in my main league!

  7. Swagger Jackers says:
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    @Grey: Why wouldn’t you rather have Ryan Franklin than Aardsma, Lidge or Cordero?

  8. It’s about time someone gave Marmol the props he deserves.

  9. Mann of Sandd says:
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    Surprised that Thornton didn’t make the list, at least at the end. Do you think he loses the job to Sale?

  10. Beau says:
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    Grey —

    I think Marmol is a top 5-10 closer but I think making him #1 is putting a little too much stock in last year’s performance. You really think he maintains his 16 k/9 when he has never come even close to that his whole career? You think he can really maintain a sub 2% hr/fb rate when his career rate is closer to 7%, and was closer to 11% before the last 2 years? Lets not forget he walks batters at a rate of 6 per 9 IP.

    Dont get me wrong, I love the Ks from my closer and he should be reliable for top 5-10 save numbers, but I just think last year was clearly an outlier, not a clear indication that hes the #1 closer in the league.

  11. schlitzy says:
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    Re: last post- that aj mass is such a rebel! After reading that I pictured grey doing his best jeff von vonderen impression “aj, you got a bunch of people here that love you like heck, they feel like they’re losing you and they wanna fight to get you back.” “Your crappy fantasy advice has affected my life in the following ways- I overvalue the sb and lost my league when no one wanted to trade me for rajai davis.”

  12. Campbell says:
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    Hey Grey, not to be greedy, but at some point will we get a post on MR guys who might end up closing this year? Thanks!

  13. Wilsonian says:
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    I agree with Eddy…gotta love the Angry Birds ref! Either that, or I just proved how much a douche I really am that I got excited when you referenced a game that I spend waaaay too much time playing.

    Anyway, I’m creepin’ on a comeup in my 16 Team draft. For clarity’s sake, here’s my team:

    C – Napoli
    1B – Dunn
    2B – Hill
    3B – Wright
    4B/SS – Andrus
    OF – Hamilton
    OF – Heyward
    OF – Tabata
    UTIL – ________
    UTIL – ________

    SP – Lester
    SP – Marcum
    SP – Gio
    RP – ________
    RP – ________
    P – _________
    P – _________

    5 Bench spots, as well. With these gentlemen currently available, can you give me about 5 or so of them in ranking order that I should look to for my next couple of picks to fill some holes? Thanks man.

    Kimbrel, Storen, Nunez, Lyon, Rodney, Beckham, Hunter, Bay, Morrison, Blechtran, Carlosly, Snider, LaRoche, EJax, Kennedy, Floyd, Cueto, DLR, Vazquez, Carmona, Matusz, J-Zim, Johan, Minor, McDonald, Norris.

    If it’s any consolation, I’m looking at taking Kimbrel and Storen with my next two picks, assuming they’re there. I owe you big time. Thanks.

  14. Matt says:
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    Grey – just found your site a few weeks ago thanks to Rundown. I feel like I randomly flipped on the tube to some boxing and then was compelled to Google, Manila (were there Google in 1975). You’re dismissal of Mass and Cwal is MJ’s left-handed nudge to Russell in the 1998 NBA finals. You’re like the Sports Guy before he began writing letters to his own mail bag, started wearing guy-liner and the Dooze died. My father always told me, “No matter how good you are at something, there’s always about a million people better than you,” but I think he was wrong, you may be the best at this fantasy baseball thing. Anyway – I’ve been participating in a very competitive auction league for the past five years, but drinking the ESPN Kool-Aid and haven’t enjoyed much success. Will you be directing any of your wisdom towards auction leagues as we count down to Thrilling Thursday?

  15. royce! says:
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    An illustration of our fickleness regarding closers- Broxton’s ADP is 205. And I suppose to illustrate the other side, Rivera is being drafted first, at 61.

    And I think that your mustachstic bias might be showing a little in your evaluation of Axford.

  16. Smokey

    Smokey says:
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    Aardsma isn’t going to be ready for start of season. Fla job is going to be a grab bag affair also.

  17. Asdrubal Bastardo says:
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    “Bunch of pigs and I’m the angry bird.” ha!

    They should change the saying “killing two birds with one stone” to “killing two pigs with one angry bird.”

  18. Russ says:
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    @Grey – No way I touch Marmol.

    #1 – He will be drafted too early by most.
    #2 – Sure the K’s are great, but his BB rate means he is really due to implode at any given moment. Funny how you knock Brian Wilson for that but seemed to gloss that over for Marmol.
    #3 – I have this theory that the best closers are ones that pitch for teams with poor offenses but great starting pitching. Seems like those type teams tend to be in a lot of close games, and thus have lots of save opportunities. Marmol does not play for such a team.
    #4 – Related to #2, I really think your WHIP projection is very low. He is closer to a 1.30 WHIP guy. His K rate from 2010 seems very fluky given his career numbers. I hate grabbing closers with high WHIPs – they tend to ruin your overall ratios despite racking up saves (I am looking at you Francisco Cordero….).

    IMO, Feliz is the #1 closer. The kid has amazing stuff and really would be Texas’ #2 SP if they chose to stretch him out. I’d take him over Marmol in a heartbeat.

  19. Giant JJ says:
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    Has Texas abandoned the plan to put Feliz in the rotation? Trading away Francisco is a good indication but I think that fear is driving Feliz’ price down. That’s a good thing unless they actually put him in the rotation. You’d still have a nice player but you probably would have overpaid for him.

  20. sean says:
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    @Grey: EYJr tweeted yesterday that the physical he took was not for the trade talks. I hadn’t heard anything, so I dug a little deeper and found out that the Rangers were shopping Michael Young for EYJr. Fantasy implications abound if this goes down for MMD, EYJr, Young, and Beltre.

  21. RamRod says:
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    Was just over my addiction, now after that reference
    I am back to being an addict……dam you Grey and the
    maker of angry birds…..go SliceIt!!

  22. RemDog Whisperer says:
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    Brian Wilson is the Paps of this year. Last year Wilson was the Paps in a good way and next year Wilson will be the good Paps again. But, for this year, Paps is the Wilson. Chris Perez will be “undraftable” next year. This post reminded me on the Donkeycorn post. Classic! Any youngbloods that missed out on it last year, looked it up, well worth it!

  23. RemDog Whisperer says:
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    *of the Donkeycorn post.

    I don’t know what all the hullabaloo was about in the Bronx regarding the rotation. B Colon and F Garcia. All is well!

  24. wilsoniam says:
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    grey, is it absolutely crazy to deal votto for tulo in a keeper league? or do you think thats about right?

  25. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    @Al, Looks like you were right. ESPN listed Youk with 1B eligibility; he’ll have to earn 3B.

  26. IHeartBaseball says:
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    just wondering razball-ers ifyou would be interested in a season points league on ESPN looking to fill spots it is a 20 team season points league a lil roto feel a lil H2H ….. winner take all let me know

  27. The Dude says:
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    Once again I’m a day late and a dollar short, but in regards to yesterday’s ‘pert post. Lots of people in the comments kept pondering how these jokers get paid for what they do. Well, to put it in perspective the reason they’re getting paid for their poor fantasy advice is because nearly all of them are writers/journalism guys first and fantasy experts second.

    They don’t get paid to be “right” or to draft an awesome fantasy team, or even to accurately rank players pre-during-post-season. Instead they get paid to dazzle you with their literary superiority and spice things up with just enough dissent to keep you coming back to post hateful comments on their stories.

    Even here in Razz-land we all came for the fantasy advice, but we stay for the coherent articles and witty humor. It’s just that with Grey you’ve got the best of both worlds.

  28. The Dude says:
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    In other news, I had a debate in my league back in November about who the top closer would be coming into the 2011 season. We have our own little discussion board and I threw up a poll. Marmol got 2 votes for top guy (one of them was mine), other doods (including several Rivera’s) got 10 votes. I was baffled, and slightly worried about my personal valuation of closers.

    Today’s post is vindication for me, it’s been bugging me for months. I only wish I wasn’t trying to keep this site as secret from my league-mates as possible so I could say “See! Grey agrees with me!”.

  29. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    @Grey: Last year you helped me start off my 12-team dynasty league ($$$) with a bang! Using your strategies and insight, I stacked my roster with future stars and players poised for a 2010 rebound including:
    Braun – 1st Round
    Miggy – 2nd Round
    Wright – 3rd Round
    Votto – 7th Round
    Hamilton – 8th Round
    CarGo – 16th Round

    This season I’m joining a 16-team dynasty league ($$$) and am looking to once again target players in the early to mid rounds that will not be available beyond the 2nd round for many years to come. What players outside of the top 30 (or so) for 2011 (based on ADP), do you project to be 1st or 2nd round talent for 2012 and beyond.

    I love the site and read it daily. Thanks again for the help.

  30. Wilsonian says:
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    One final question for the night…

    C – Napoli
    1B – Dunn
    2B – Hill
    3B – Wright
    4B/SS – Andrus
    OF – Hamilton
    OF – Heyward
    OF – Tabata
    UTIL – ________
    UTIL – ________

    SP – Lester
    SP – Marcum
    SP – Gio
    RP – ________
    RP – ________
    P – Cueto
    P – _________

    Plus we have 5 bench spots.

    Cats are: W/L/SV/K/ERA/Whip/Ks9 AND R/H/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/OBPS

    Do I lock up DLR with my next pick (which is 5 picks away) or do I go with Kimbrel or Storen (who are 2 of about 6ish closers left) or do I go with an available bat, who could possibly be Bourn, Beckham, Pagan, Bay, Span, or Carlosly?

  31. steve b says:
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    grey what is the draft password.I lost it…Thanks

  32. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    @Grey et al: Thoughts on my 12-team mock draft results? No auto-pick teams, so it was competitive. In hindsight, I don’t like the Hill, Vazquez, & Anderson picks; however, pitching was going early and often due to the format.

    C: Matt Wieters (15)
    1B: Joey Votto (1)
    2B: Aaron Hill (9)
    3B: David Wright (2)
    SS: Ian Desmond (17)
    OF: Jay Bruce (10)
    OF: Matt Kemp (3)
    OF: Andrew McCutchen (5)
    U: Grady Sizemore (13)
    SP: Francisco Liriano (4)
    SP: David Price (6)
    SP: Max Scherzer (7)
    SP: Brett Anderson (8)
    SP: Edinson Volquez (11)
    RP: Jhoulys Chacin (16)
    RP: Jonathan Broxton (18)
    RES: Gio Gonzalez (12)
    RES: Javier Vazquez (14)
    RES: Bud Norris (19)
    RES: Mike Minor (20)
    RES: James McDonald (21)
    RES: Justin Smoak (22)

    P.S. I know it is early, but I just couldn’t help myself!!!

  33. Wilsonian says:
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    So, do I lock up DLR with my next pick (which is now 2 picks away) or do I go with Kimbrel or Storen (who are 2 of about 6ish closers left) or do I go with an available bat, who could possibly be Beckham, Pagan, Bay, Span, or Carlosly?

    After looking at that, the question really is, DLR or Kimbrel or Storen?

  34. RamRod says:
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    …..totally unrelated but can we come up with a vocabulary word
    to describe those idiots who when calling a sports radio show have to utter the now overly cliched statement, “first time, long time” or is that just a New York thing……..don’t really want a word as doesn’t apply here but would love comments

  35. steve b says:
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    I hate it when every caller says to the host”how you doin ?”.Well he’s doing good just like he told the last 50 people that called.So quit asking him .Idiots

  36. Lou says:
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    Hello Grey. A friend just turned me on to your site……interesting.
    Closer question: I’m in a 14-team mixed auction keeper league. My first 10 keepers are hitters while my last two keepers will come from the following pitchers: $15 Greinke, $1 Morrow, $16 Marmol, $1 Putz. Which 2 pitchers do you recommend I keep? Thanks.

  37. Lou says:
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    Grey, After spending some time in Razzball.com, I would just like to say, I love this website! LOVE IT!

  38. soxman says:
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    Hey Grey.Finished last in the league last year so get to pick a keeper from these guys. Who would you pick? Leaning towards guys w x after name. (i have kept han ram, Mauer, Hanson, Marcum so far)
    Greinke Zack

    Beltre Adrian (x)

    Johnson Josh (x)

    Dunn Adam (x)

    Jeter Derek

    Suzuki Ichiro

    Morales Kendry

    Ethier Andre

    Butler Billy

    Pence Hunter (x)

    Marmol Carlos

    Bruce Jay

    Ramirez Alexei

    Rios Alex

    Hamels Cole

    Rivera Mariano

    Santana Carlos

    Ramirez Aramis

    Wilson Brian

    Soria Joakim

    Young Michael

    Stubbs Drew

    Victorino Shane

    Liriano Francisco

    Gallardo Yovani

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