Fantasy Baseball 2013: The Relievers

Mariano rivera2The 2013 baseball season is weeks away, and for us that means only one thing: it’s time to start drafting. Over the next two weeks the Gunaxin team is going to be putting out our 2013 Fantasy Baseball guides, with rankings for every position and some extra content for hardcore players. We will be breaking down the top fantasy options by position, putting the players in tiers to make your draft day experience easier.

We continue our breakdown with the relievers. The most important part of drafting and starting a closer is how your league awards points. Are you a weekly or season long league? Do you count K’s or K/9? Is the scoring biased in favor of closers or starts? Do you have a minimum inning count?. Answering those questions is as important as picking the best options.

We aren’t including players like Kris Medlen, who will retain eligibility but will start this season.

The Young Stud

Craig Kimbrel1. Craig Kimbrel

It’s rare when a closer is considered a safe pickup, but there is no other way to describe the 25-year-old Kimbrel. A poor WBC showing aside, he’s been virtually unhittable in his short career, with the ratios to go with that.

The Risky Proposition

Aroldis Chapman2. Aroldis Chapman

There is no question about Chapman’s talent, or his ability to score for his fantasy owners. The only question for the Red and Chapman is whether he is going to wind up as a closer or starter in 2013. We are banking on the fact that he becomes the closer early in the season.

The All Stars

Jason Motte3. Sergio Romo

4. Jason Motte

5. Fernando Rodney

6. Jonathan Papelbon

7. Raphael Soriano

Soriano is changing places, moving to DC, and Romo is going to have to prove that he can hold the position for a second straight season after supplanting the injured Brian Wilson. Rodney was actually the top scorer at the position last season, but we don’t think he can match those numbers again.

The Old Guys

Mariano rivera18. JJ Putz

9. Joe Nathan

10. Mariano Rivera

Unlike virtually every other position we’ve covered, where youth has held sway, there are still a number of 35+ closers getting the job done. Rivera is the riskiest play in the group, having missed the 2012 season after suffering an ugly knee injury.

The Unusual Closer

Jim Johnson11. Jim Johnson

We couldn’t figure out a better title for the Orioles’ closer, as he is so unlike what we normally expect from closers. The biggest difference between Johnson’s game and those of his rivals is Ks, where he suffers a distinct disadvantage. We aren’t sure how he keeps racking up saves, but as long as he’s closing for the Os there are saves out there to be earned.

The Safe Starts

greg holland12. Tom Wilhelmson

13. John Axford

14. Addison Reed

15. Greg Holland

16. Joel Hanrahan

17. Huston Street

18. Glen Perkins

19. Chris Perez

20. Rafael Betancourt

Following this tier is the biggest dropoff in talent at the position, making it critical to walk out of your draft with 2-3 from the 18th spot and above. These guys aren’t as talented as the ones above them, but their jobs are relatively secure and they can convert most of their opportunities.

The Bad Team Starters

bobby parnell21. Jason Grilli

22. Steve Cishek

23. Jose Veras

24. Bobby Parnell

We’re not comfortable counting on any of these players getting enough chanced to actual close games to matter in fantasy

The Job Shares

Kenley Jansen25. Kenley Jansen

26. Ryan Madson

27. Ernesto Frieri

28. Grant Balfour

29. Carlos Marmol

30. Ryan Cook

31. Kyuji Fujikawa

32. Casey Janssen

33. Brandon League

34. Bruce Rondon

We won’t call this group handcuffs, as it’s not clear who among them will be the #1 option this season. They are all talented, but until someone takes a hold of the position it’s best to leave them for someone else to draft. We’re including Rondon here despite his nominal hold on the Tigers job, as we’re not sure how long it is going to last.

The Unemployed

Jose Valverde35. Jose Valverde

36. Brian Wilson

Two former elite closers both start this season out of baseball, with no sign of an immediate return. Valverde was burned by baseball’s new CBA and some off field issues while Wilson missed all of last season with an injury and saw Sergio Romo steal his job in San Francisco. Both players are worthless now, but there is some value there if either signs on with a desperate team.

The Cuffs

Pedro Strop37. Jonathan Broxton

38. Pedro Strop

39. Drew Storen

40. Luke Gregerson

41. Vinnie Pestano

42. Tyler Clippard

43. Mike Adams

Broxton could wind up as a top 10 closer if Chapman winds up in the rotation, but we just don’t see that happening. With the rest of these players you are hoping for injury, ineffectiveness or a trade for the guy currently holding the job.

The Minor League Stud

Dylan Bundy44. Dylan Bundy

Bundy is the best pitching prospect in baseball, and a future starter, but the Orioles may choose to ease him in to the majors in the bullpen. If that happens we wouldn’t be surprised to see him emulate Chapman by spending time in the 9th inning role.