No, this is not the bottom of the Top 20 2009 fantasy baseball rankings barrel. No, next we’re not going to do the Top 20 Guys Who Will Have The Most Balks. Chillax. It’s one post. The only fantasy baseballers (<–my Mom’s phrase) that seem to pay attention to Middle Relievers are those that play in a Holds league. This is 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 Aaron Harang last year and he mistook your team’s ERA for his toilet, but you also had Waking Joey Devine. With just Harang, you had the unsightly dump of a 4.78 ERA. With Devine and his brand new toilet brush, you had a 3.95 ERA. Voila, snitches! If you also carried Brad Ziegler, you had a combined 3.36 ERA. Not to mention, you had saves when Ziegler took over for Street. Middle relievers can also help balance out your junky closers. Okay, school’s out, Alice Cooper. Anyway, here’s the top 20 middle relievers for 2009 fantasy baseball:
1. Carlos Marmol – It should be Marmol closing, but I wouldn’t count on it. Five virtual dollars say Piniella pulls the ol’ “Gregg has closer experience” card. All Mr. B’s will be smiling. 2009 projections can be found at the top 20 closers for 2009 fantasy baseball post.
2. Joey Devine – If he becomes the closer, which he should, Ziegler doesn’t replace him at the number two spot. I’d place Ziegler further down the list. Devine’s 2009 projections can also be found at the top 20 closers for 2009 fantasy baseball post.
3. Jose Arredondo – I don’t think Arredondo is a necessary handcuff for Fuentes owners. I think Fuentes will be fine and I think Shields might step in for him even if he’s not fine. Arredondo can be worthwhile to own anyway. 2009 Projections: 5-2/2.25/1.00/60, 20 Holds
4. J.J. Putz – He didn’t rank higher for me because I have no idea how he’ll react to being a setup man instead of a reliever. I think he’ll be fine, but we shall see. 2009 Projections: 6-2/3.00/1.20/75, 15 Holds and 7 Saves
5. Hideki Okajima – Since the Japanese have their last names first, does that mean there’s a better chance Hideki Okajima and Hideki Matsui are related than Hideki and Kaz Matsui? 2009 Projections: 5-1/2.75/1.15/60, 24 Holds
6. Scott Downs – A lefty that can get out righties equals a guy who can find work even in a recession. (Speaking of the recession, it feels like yesterday that everyone was randomly buying stocks simply because they started with an “e” — eToys, eTrade, eBay. The stock symbol is ERR? That sounds wonderful! Give me 500 shares! Then, I got to the point where I bought shares just because I was hungry. Give me 1000 shares of Boston Market and a breast and a thigh! The moral of this story? Don’t buy stocks on an empty stomach. But I detour.) 2009 Projections: 4-5/2.50/1.20/60, 25 Holds
7. Scot Shields – Any true connoisseurs of middle relievers have owned Shields at least once in their fantasy baseball playing days. His ranking now is more dependent on consistency, Ks and Holds than on his ratios helping you as much. 2009 Projections: 4-3/4.00/1.30/70, 27 Holds
8. Rafael Perez – Something happens to Wood, Perez might fall into the closing job. 2009 Projections: 3-3/3.50/1.15/70, 22 Holds
9. Matt Thornton – His K/9 rate is purdy. 2009 Projections: 4-2/3.15/1.10/75, 17 Holds
10. Dan Wheeler – When Percival accidentally steps on his glasses like Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode, Wheeler will step in. He’s a good MR and a very good handcuff. 2009 Projections: 3-2/3.50/1.05/50, 12 Holds and 15 Saves
11. Grant Balfour – Don’t think Balfour steps in for Percy as often as Wheeler. 2009 Projections: 5-2/3.00/1.15/75, 22 Holds
12. Octavio Dotel – Strikes out a lot hitters and gives up a lot of home runs. It’s like he only pitches to Dunn or Cust. Hey, if Dunn and Cust are dining together and neither wants the reservation under their name they can leave it under K. Dunnst. 2009 Projections: 2-5/3.95/1.20/90, 20 Holds
13. Cory Wade – In the most random prediction of the 2009 preseason, I’m going to say Wade leads the NL in Holds. How’s dem apples? Delicious! 2009 Projections: 5-4/3.15/1.10/55, 30 Holds
14. Tony Pena – Pena always ranks up the Holds and might be a challenger for Cory Wade in the race for the most boring preseason prediction of NL Holds leader. 2009 Projections: 5-3/3.50/1.25/55, 25 Holds
15. Jon Rauch – I like Qualls for cheap saves in 2009, but you just never know when a guy gets the job for the first time. His leash is usually a lot shorter. I think Rauch would be his handcuff over Pena. 2009 Projections: 2-2/3.50/1.20/65, 20 Holds
16. Hong-Chih Kuo – If Broxton proves to be a Cuddle Boy then Kuo may end up with some saves too. I don’t think Broxton will end up that way. It’s a Cust Kayin’ scenario. 2009 projections: 4-2/3.25/1.15/65, 15 Holds
17. Damaso Marte – My favorite title I wrote last year? Glad you asked. I like this one. Feel free to search the site and find your own favorite. Anyway, I wouldn’t own Marte outside of Holds leagues, but in Holds leagues he’s in a good spot to accumulate some. 2009 Projections: 4-5/4.15/1.24/65, 25 Holds
18. Joel Zumaya – His walks and Guitar Hero skills worry me. 2009 Projections: 4-2/3.75/1.35/55, 15 Holds
19. Rafael Betancourt – Cuddle Boy. 2009 Projections: Great MR numbers,
20. Kyle McClellan – He’s only here because he recorded 30 Holds last year. I don’t think he approaches that number this year, but LaRussa always manages to get some “6th starter” a lot of Holds. Pay close attention to who LaRussa’s abusing this year. 2009 Projections: Holds, dawg.
After the top 20 middle relievers for 2009 fantasy baseball, there’s lots of names, but two stand out:
Taylor Buchholz – I have my doubts about his breakout in two-oh-oh-eight and this is one MR I worry about (that’s not worrying about an MRI, for those quick readers). 2009 Projections: 2-3/3.25/1.18/50, 20 Holds
J.P. Howell – Really came into his own out of the bullpen. If only Thurston and Lovey lived long enough to see their son’s success. 2009 Projections: 3-1/3.25/1.18/80, 17 Holds