Closers to target during your 2010 fantasy baseball draft

Those of you who read my closer drafting strategy, comparing the concept of drafting closers and fantasy football kickers, know what type of closer candidates we are targeting this spring in fantasy baseball drafts.

But to be a little more specific, and to complete the series where we list our personal targets at each position (check them out here: catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher) in upcoming drafts, here are the closers we are most likely to draft in 2010.

Early-Round Picks

Joakim Soria: We, collectively, refuse to select closers early in drafts. I did take Broxton and Papelbon in one league, but that was partially an autodraft snafu. If you must choose a closer somewhat early, consider Soria. He should earn you around 35 saves with a sub-3.00 ERA and approximately 70 strikeouts. And he will be much cheaper on draft day than the current big-three (Rivera, Papelbon, Broxton).

Middle-Round Picks

Jose Valverde: Another consensus pick, this is a closer that will likely be seen on a lot of ninja teams in 2010 and beyond. Few closers have notched as many saves as Valverde has the past three seasons (116), although most people could not tell you that. He is the main man for closing duties in Detroit, which is the perfect situation for a closer.

Ep: Brian Wilson: Good closers provide solid saves and strikeout numbers. Wilson does both, at a much cheaper price than most of the name brand ninth-inning options.

Jzak: David Aardsma: Another closer in a good situation, Aardsma is young and closing games for a team good enough to win close games and provide him with plenty of save opportunities. There were some injury concerns about Aardsma this spring, but as of this writing, he is ready to start shutting down opponents on opening day.

Late-Round Picks

Want to win fantasy championships? Fill out your roster with solid players and address your closer needs by snatching a plethora of these guys:

Chris Perez: The new closer for the Cleveland Indians after Kerry Wood went down with yet another injury. Ninja nation expects Perez to keep the closer gig, even after Wood is allegedly healthy.

Mike Gonzalez: Seems like he is been around the block for a while now, but he will be closing games in Baltimore in 2010. He will strikeout batters as well as anyone on this list, and 25-30 saves are a safe estimate, depending on how quickly Baltimore’s young talent matures.

Ep: Frank Francisco: May seem like an unsexy pick. Bet your opponents will think so, too, on draft day. A really cheap source of potentially 30 saves.

Ep: Ryan Madson: The defacto closer now that Brad Lidge is yet again relegated to the DL, Madson finds himself in a nice situation closing games for the reigning NL champions. Considering Lidge’s recent track record, Madson may be in line for more saves than most think in 2010.

Ep: Neftali Feliz: Uber-talented prospect was projected originally to find his way to the Rangers rotation before being inserted into the bullpen. Francisco is not exactly money in the bank over a 162-game season, and if Feliz starts blowing away batters like he’s capable of, he could find himself in a closer role fairly quickly.

Jzak: Jon Rauch: Part of a committee of closers for the Twins in the wake of Joe Nathan’s season-ending surgery, Rauch at the moment has a slight edge over Matt Guerrier or Jose Mijares. Who was the last team to be truly successful with a closer-by-committee approach? Ca not think of any? Neither can I. If the Twins don’t acquire a more lights-out finisher, than I will gamble late in drafts that Rauch will get his fair share of opportunities and ultimately saves.

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