When I graduated high school, I went to Regis University in Denver, CO, for one year, because I thought I wanted to play baseball.
After two weeks I not only knew that I did not want to play baseball, but that the title of “University” was a misnomer for what Regis really is: 13th grade. Don’t get me wrong, it may have been an ideal situation for some, but for me the lack of beautiful platinum blondes and recreational indulgences spelled out URGENT.
My relocation to the University of Colorado at Boulder met all of the requisite needs that I had for an institute of higher learning, but my transition from Regis to CU enforces an important idea: context.
If you took a girl of average appearance from the University of Colorado, G.O.A.P. mind you, and placed her next to the most attractive girl at Regis, most would mistake the girl from Regis for a soccer mom that has given birth to three children and whose last priority, right below procurement of coupons for oven degreaser, is her appearance.
The girl from the CU did not change at all to have her value increased. She was just placed into a different context. The same can be true for elite relievers that are not closers in Fantasy Baseball. Unless relievers are placed in a certain context—used as the pitcher that throws the last inning of each game—they maintain significantly less value.
Over the long run, a reliever will pitch the same whether or not it’s the seventh inning or the ninth. Like I’ve said before, I assume that because you’ve found this article on some far off corner of the Internet, and as a result have a more developed knowledge of baseball than people that consume baseball through ESPN, you’ll know the previous statement to be true. And because this statement is true, I thought we would look at the best non-closing relievers, as projected by the 2014 Steamer forecasts.
The deeper the league, the more important these pitchers become. Because as the season goes on, closers will lose their jobs, get injured, or a combination of the two, and be replaced by the players on this list.
There are some starters sprinkled in this list because Steamer, the projection system that I used to forecast fantasy value, doesn’t think they will pitch more innings than the maximum innings threshold it set, and there are pitchers—Jason Motte and Kyuji Fujikawa—who were injured the majority of last year that Steamer does not account for. I also just focused on runs allowed per nine and total strikeouts. Relievers that play for teams that have a cluster of relievers that are till in a situation to vie for the closer role have been left in the chart: Rangers, White Sox, Astros.
Best Non-Closing Relievers
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Jake Mcgee: Tampa Bay Rays
Jake McGee tops the list, and although he showed signs of decline at the start of last year, there may be somewhat of an explanation for the ineffectiveness. McGee worked on cutter in spring training last year, and when the 2013 season started he put the cutter away, and said that he didn’t have as good of command with his fastball because of the time he spent with the cutter in spring training. I tried to find a source for this, but was only able to find a dialogue about it in the most recent episode of the Sleeper and the Bust.
This isn’t to say that Grant Balfour, the incumbent Rays closer, will lose his job in 2014. It’s to say that if Balfour happens to get hurt or become ineffective, McGee could become a top Fantasy option.
Joaquin Benoit: San Diego Padres
I planned to associate a metaphor between Lindsay Lohan’s frequently, regular tendency to fall off the wagon, and Huston Street’s similar pattern of misfortune when it comes to injures, but that would be low hanging fruit. So instead, we can talk about what we know. 1.) Huston Street will—we can’t say with absolute certainty, but the greatest predictor of future injuries are past injuries, which he has had a lot of—land on the DL in 2014. 2.) Joaquin Benoit is good reliever. Great combination.
Devin Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed reading him, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.