Closer Busts: Top 38 Relievers by Steamer & Oliver Projections

Joe Nathan

This post will wrap up our series on 2014 Fantasy Baseball busts. We’ve looked at outfielders, infielders, starting pitchers, and now we will examine closer busts. As a supplement to this discussion we will look at the velocity loss leaders from 2013 at the end of the post.

More so than any other position in Fantasy Baseball, a closers’ value is based primarily on opportunity. The best middle relief pitcher is not as valuable as the worst closer; saves are all that matter. As long as a pitcher gets the opportunity to pitch in the ninth inning, he can be a valuable Fantasy asset. Ask Shawn Chacon about his 2004 season, and he’ll be able to attest.

That said I’ve chosen to rank any pitcher that has a likely possibility to close in 2014 (i.e. Jake McGee), and all closers that were ranked in the top 132 pitchers for last year’s final roto ranks (i.e. Edward Mujica).

(If you read the previous two articles you can skip the next two paragraphs, which describe how we define a bust.)

To ascribe an analytic value to how we quantify a bust, we will look at a player’s 2013 roto value and a hybrid of their Steamer and Oliver projections.

Bust: Our formula for a bust will be a player’s projected 2014 roto value—this forecasted value will be composed of an average between a player’s Steamer and Oliver projections—minus their 2013 roto value. (Values will be calculated for a 12-team 5×5 roto league)

Steamer & Oliver Closer Ranks

PlayerProjected tzSCR2013 tzSCRDIFF
Kevin Gregg-8.79-2.09-6.70
Edward Mujica-6.05-0.62-5.43
Chris Perez-7.25-2.49-4.77
Jose Veras-6.84-2.20-4.64
Fernando Rodney-4.92-0.54-4.37
Heath Bell-6.63-2.74-3.89
Brandon League-7.71-4.28-3.44
Joaquin Benoit-3.31-0.11-3.20
Rex Brothers-4.60-1.45-3.15
Joe Nathan0.002.30-2.30
Jason Grilli-3.25-1.03-2.22
Tom Wilhelmsen-5.62-3.53-2.09
Steve Cishek-0.270.29-0.56
Koji Uehara2.042.47-0.43
Rafael Soriano-1.09-0.70-0.39
Greg Holland2.242.56-0.32
Jim Henderson-0.57-0.33-0.24
Sergio Romo0.240.240.00
Casey Janssen-0.17-0.300.13
Addison Reed0.14-0.100.24
Huston Street-0.70-0.970.27
Craig Kimbrel3.463.070.39
Grant Balfour-0.24-0.710.47
Bobby Parnell-0.32-0.900.58
Glen Perkins1.170.380.80
Jonathan Papelbon0.34-0.751.09
Kenley Jansen2.841.741.10
Mark Melancon0.92-0.251.17
Ernesto Frieri0.51-0.861.37
Aroldis Chapman2.731.221.51
Danny Farquhar0.53-3.093.61
Trevor Rosenthal2.36
Jake McGee0.76
David Robertson0.67
Tommy Hunter0.31
Nate Jones-0.35
John Axford-0.84
LaTroy Hawkins-1.98

*Rosenthal, McGee, Robertson, Hunter, Jones, Axford, and Hawkins did not finish in the top 132 pitchers from last year so their is no 2013 rank for them, but I thought it would be helpful to look a their projection for this year.

Fernando Rodney: Free Agent

Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney is without a team but not without a future, as he is projected to have a better 2014 than 2013. Photo by Keith Allison

Rodney is the first big name on this list that is projected to have a drop off from last year to this year. However this projection should be discredited more than it should be valued. Steamer and Oliver project Rodney to have a minimal amount of saves in 2014, but there will most likely be one team (i.e. the Mariners or Orioles) that bite the bullet and pay for Rodney’s services. Rodney is actually projected by Steamer and Oliver to have a better ERA in 2014—2.88 for the former and 3.18 for the latter—than he did last year.

Joe Nathan: Detroit Tigers

Since 2006 Joe Nathan’s control has headed north, while his K% has trended in the wrong direction. Last year was his worst year as far as BB% goes since 2003, which could be a sign that his control or stuff has begun to slip. Joe Nathan's K% and BB% Control aside, all five of Nathan’s pitches’ velocity was down, and he threw his fastball less than he ever has before (38.2%) and his slider more than he ever has before (33.8%). With Nathan’s age in mind, it makes one think about whether or not his arm will be able to handle the wear and tear that comes along with heavy slider usage at an advanced age.

Rex Brothers: Colorado Rockies

It’s been stated that the Rockies plan to use LaTroy Hawkins as their closer when the 2014 season opens up, but Hawkins will be 41 when the season begins, and Brothers is sure to receive some save opportunities when/if Hawkins performs poorly or makes a trip to the DL. But should you be interested when/if Brothers’ time comes? His projection says otherwise, but his velocity loss says more on that as well. Of any qualified reliever from last season, Brothers lost the sixth most average velocity on his four seem fastball from 2012 to 2013. It still remains to be seen whether of not a loss in fastball velocity is correlated with an overall slip in performance—I should probably look into it myself—but it gives you a reason to pause about Brothers or anyone atop the list below.

Velocity Loss Leaders (Relief Pitchers)

PlayervFA 2013vFT 2013vFA 2012vFA DIFFvFT 2012vFT DIFF
Adam Ottavino91.491.594-2.694.6-3.1
Carter Capps95.594.997.8-2.3
Ryan Webb91.993.8-1.9
Jonathan Papelbon929293.8-1.893.9-1.9
Addison Reed92.793.594.5-1.895.5-2
Rex Brothers93.492.895.2-1.895.2-2.4
Casey Janssen89.986.691.7-1.891.4-4.8
Joe Nathan92.391.794-1.793.6-1.9
Wilton Lopez92.289.593.6-1.4
Oliver Perez91.793.1-1.4
Jamey Wright89.590.8-1.390.9
Chris Perez92.891.294-1.292.3-1.1
Josh Roenicke91.590.692.6-1.191.7-1.1
Trevor Rosenthal96.497.4-1
Dale Thayer92.89393.8-193.8-0.8
Luke Gregerson88.188.289.1-189.7-1.5
Brandon League94.195-0.9
Jim Johnson93.593.994.4-0.994.2-0.3
Rafael Soriano91.491.792.3-0.992.3-0.6
Jose Mijares90.289.491.1-0.990.4-1
Huston Street88.188.9-0.8
Pedro Strop95.695.796.4-0.896.9-1.2
John Axford95.391.696.1-0.8
Drew Storen93.794.5-0.8
Jared Burton91.892.292.6-0.893-0.8
Tyler Clippard9292.7-0.7
Kevin Gregg90.791.4-0.7
Wesley Wright89.89090.5-0.790.3-0.3
Santiago Casilla93.29393.9-0.793.7-0.7
Bobby Parnell95.194.995.8-0.796-1.1
George Kontos90.390.490.9-0.690.6-0.2
Darren Oliver87.387.887.9-0.688.5-0.7
Heath Bell93.193.6-0.5
Jason Frasor92.593-0.592.9
Josh Collmenter87.187.6-0.5
Ronald Belisario94.394.7-0.4
Carlos Marmol93.694.894-0.493.90.9
Edward Mujica91.69292-0.491.80.2
Craig Breslow90.589.590.9-0.490.6-1.1
Casey Fien91.190.691.5-0.491.7-1.1
Mark Melancon92.793.1-0.4
Sergio Romo87.687.9-0.3
Anthony Swarzak92.191.892.4-0.392.3-0.5
Jason Grilli93.393.6-0.3
Michael Gonzalez91.289.391.5-0.3
Matt Belisle90.591.590.8-0.3910.5
Tom Wilhelmsen95.996.396.2-0.395.90.4
Matt Lindstrom9595.2-0.2
Joel Peralta90.190.3-0.2
Sam LeCure89.589.389.7-0.289.5-0.2
Kelvin Herrera97.297.597.4-0.297.8-0.3
Matt Albers93.493.6-0.2
Shawn Kelley92.192.2-0.1
Mike Dunn94.39494.4-
Craig Stammen91.391.691.4-
Tim Collins9393.1-0.1
J.J. Hoover92.792.8-0.176.1
James Russell88.988.989-
Ryan Cook94.794.594.8-0.195-0.5
Greg Holland96.196.10
David Robertson92.392.30
Glen Perkins95.294.495.2094.40
Ernesto Frieri94.194.5940.194.30.2
Alfredo Simon94.394.594.
Brian Duensing92.492.30.188.2
Tony Watson87.287.10.1
Craig Kimbrel96.997.396.
Tanner Scheppers96.396.10.2
Jim Henderson95.296.1950.294.91.2
David Hernandez94.994.794.
Steve Delabar94.194.793.80.394.70
Fernando Rodney96.696.396.20.495.90.4
LaTroy Hawkins92.691.692.20.491.8-0.2
Aroldis Chapman98.4980.4
J.P. Howell87.587.10.4
Koji Uehara89.289.788.80.488.61.1
Joaquin Benoit9494.293.60.493.90.3
Nate Jones96.797.796.30.497.60.1
Cesar Ramos91.891.30.5
Darren O'Day86.185.60.591.3
Sean Doolittle94.192.393.60.591.31
Cody Allen95.394.70.6
Grant Balfour93.393.992.70.692.11.8
Jake McGee96.196.595.50.695.70.8
Charlie Furbush92.191.391.50.691.10.2
Logan Ondrusek93.793.10.6
Robbie Ross92.491.591.70.7
Bryan Shaw90.8900.8
David Carpenter95.194.794.30.890.83.9
Luis Avilan93.59392.
Junichi Tazawa93.492.21.289.6
Kenley Jansen93.692.21.490.2
Burke Badenhop8987.31.7
Aaron Loup91.59291.7-0.2
Troy Patton88.989.8-0.9

*vFA stands for four seam fastball and vFT stands for two seam fastball.

Follow Me on TwitterDevin Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed reading him, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.

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