Ranking the top 20 closers in fantasy baseball for 2010

Researching these closers made me realize those early ADP rankings probably need some updating.

A couple weeks ago, Joe Nathan was still a top two or three closer. Not so much any more. But somebody moved into his spot and other closers are pulling up lame here in the spring of 2010.

A couple injured closers may not even be ready for opening day. Don’t avoid them completely, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up the setup star on that team.

As usual with these ADP listings, the comments are the important part.

1. Jonathan Broxton – Well, we’ve done tiers with the rest of the positions, so we have to do them here. This tier goes to Rodriguez. This is the great but overpriced tier… Projections: 5/40/2.50/1.10/100

2. Jonathan Papelbon – See, picking one of these top guys is a waste. Closers are only good for saves. Projections: 5/40/2.80/1.05/75

3. Mariano Rivera – And because these guys only pitch one inning a couple days a week, they’re contributions to your Wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts are pretty trivial. The only thing they’re good for is saves. Projections: 5/40/2.50/1.05/65

4. Francisco Rodriguez – So, you could draft these guys in the top 80 and get their 40 saves, or you can wait two a few more rounds and get your 40 saves. Projections: 5/40/3.00/1.25/80

5. Joakim Soria – Soria starts a new tier. This tier is still a little pricy, but it’s the first one anyone should really think about. It runs through Bailey. Soria is the highest priced closer I’d pay for. He ended last season on the DL for a month, but should be ready for opening day. Projections: 5/35/2.75/1.05/70

6. Heath Bell – He could be a cheapish source of 40 steals, or his downside risk could shine through. Projections: 5/40/2.75/1.20/70

7. Francisco Cordero – At 35, Cordero ties with Brian Fuentes as the oldest player in the tier. As Rivera’s proven, closers age well. Projections: 5/35/3.20/1.30/70

8. Brian Fuentes – Fernando Rodney will be there to pick up the pieces if Fuentes’ decline continues. Projections: 5/35/3.70/1.30/55

9. Andrew Bailey – One of the pleasant surprises from last season, he picked up 24 of his 26 saves after June. Bailey could just as easily disappoint this season, especially considering he’s got a sore elbow. He’s “optimistic” he’ll be ready by opening day. Projections: 5/30/3.25/1.20/70

10. Jose Valverde – This is a new tier, it runs through the end of the top 20. This tier proves why you don’t draft saves in the first eight rounds. Valverde has one of the best save totals in the majors over the last three years with 116. Projections: 5/35/3.30/1.30/65

11. Carlos Marmol – He hasn’t been tremendous when put in save opportunities, but finished last year on an 11-for-11 string. He gets Ks like those really expensive guys, too. Projections: 5/35/3.30/1.30/90

12. Brian Wilson – After the top options are off the board, you shouldn’t have a problem picking Wilson. He’s only turning 28 this March and had a 10+ K/9 last season… Oh, and look, he’s got 40 saves, too. Projections: 5/40/3.40/1.30/70

13. Billy Wagner – Wagner’s going to turn 39 in May, but his fastball touched 101 in a spring game this season. Closers age gracefully, even injury prone ones. I’d take a chance on Wagner with the Braves this season. Projections: 5/30/3.20/1.10/60

14. Huston Street – There’s no structural damage to Street’s shoulder, but he could still start the season on the DL. Franklin Morales is listed right behind him on the bullpen depth chart. Projections: 5/35/3.20/1.10/65

15. Ryan Franklin – Turned 37 in the beginning of March and is no sure thing to repeat last season. Still… Projections: 5/45/3.70/1.30/45

16. Rafael Soriano – Signed on with the Rays for 2010. Could be better than these predictions. Projections: 1/25/3.30/1.20/70

17. Bobby Jenks – The Jenks era may be coming to a close in Chicago. He’s got a sore calf and has struggled. Keep an eye on setup man Matt Thornton and recent addition JJ Putz. These feel a little optimistic… Projections: 5/30/3.40/1.20/50

18. David Aardsma – I’d definitely go with Aardsma before Jenks. The Mariners stopper is 28 this season. Projections: 5/30/3.70/1.35/70

19. Trevor Hoffman – Dude is old, but last season at age 42 he had a 1.83 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and 37 saves. That’s why the Brewers had no problem signing him to a one-year deal. He’s being picked around the 17th-18th rounds. Projections: 1/30/3.30/1.10/45

20. Chad Qualls – Picked Qualls without hesitation at his draft slot in a recent mock draft. You probably don’t want to rely on him as your No. 1 closer — especially since his knee, injured by a line drive last August, may keep him off the mound on opening day. Projections: 1/30/3.50/1.20/50

Bonus round

Just so we’re all clear. There will be a guy in this bonus round and a couple guys we don’t even talk about that end up among the top closers in 2010. That’s the nature of the position, and another reason why you don’t pay.

Some other guys worth radaring right now: With Baltimore now, Mike Gonzalez could save 25 games and strike out 70. He might not be ready for opening day … Frank Francisco and Brad Lidge, although they have their warts, are potential 30-save closers available in the bonus round … Don’t worry about Matt Capps closing for the Nationals, bad teams earn saves, too … Kerry Wood turns 33 in June and he already has a sore lat. He could score 25 saves, but make sure you pair him up with setup man Chris Perez, who could fill in nicely as closer if given the opportunity. While he’s got Fuentes in front of him, Fernando Rodney could get 25 saves if given the opportunity. He’s had sore shins this preseason, but everyone should note that he saved 37 games for the Tigers last season.

For more rankings, sleepers and busts for every position, check out our 2010 fantasy baseball page.

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