CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage Dail... (05/14)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (05/10)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (05/17)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (05/14)

May 14, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

A Bad Month to Be, Or Own, a Closer

by Derek Carty

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

There’s an old adage in fantasy baseball to “draft skills, not roles.”  The reasoning behind this is that the cream will rise to the top, that the better player will eventually take on the more prominent role.  This advice is often given in regard to closers, but it’s advice which I’ve expressed my disagreement with on multiple occasions.  While “draft skills, not roles” is a romantic notion, studies I’ve run in the past have shown that role is far more important than skill when it comes to saves and that closers in waiting are generally poor investments.

When Fernando Rodney received the first two save opportunities following Kyle Farnsworth’s injury, one site said that “while it would be nice to think that the 35-year-old will continue to close out games so effortlessly, his track record and bullpen competition probably make him one of the biggest sell-high candidates in baseball.”  Rodney proceeded to roll off seven more (consecutive) saves en route to becoming one of the most valuable closers in baseball over the first six weeks.  He had the role, which is more difficult to lose than most assume.

Or is it? After all, Rodney is one of the few closers who has managed to keep a grip on his ninth-inning gig this year.  In total, six Opening Day closers have lost their jobs (seven if Frank Francisco is removed today) and another nine have been placed on the disabled list, which seems to run contrary to my “draft roles, not skills” stance.

Closer

Status

Grant Balfour

Demoted

Heath Bell

Demoted

Frank Francisco

Demoted?

Javy Guerra

Demoted

Carlos Marmol

Demoted

Hector Santiago

Demoted

Jordan Walden

Demoted

Andrew Bailey

DL

Kyle Farnsworth

DL

Ryan Madson

DL

Mariano Rivera

DL

Sergio Santos

DL

Joakim Soria

DL

Drew Storen

DL

Huston Street

DL

Brian Wilson

DL

 

So what’s going on?  In short, something we haven’t seen in a very long time.  In the first six weeks of the 2012 season, if we combine demotions with injuries, we have seen 53 percent closer turnover.  In the past 11 years, we’ve seen greater than 53 percent turnover (demotions and injuries combined) just twice… over an entire season.

 

Year

Closer Turnover

2001

52%

2002

29%

2003

59%

2004

43%

2005

48%

2006

41%

2007

45%

2008

52%

2009

53%

2010

57%

2011

46%

Avg.

48%

 

From 2001 to 2011, 48 percent of Opening Day closers lost their jobs* before all was said and done.  That means that even with four and a half fewer months for injuries, implosions, trades, and manager whim-exercising, 2012 has already exceeded the norm.  Granted, some of these closers are likely to return this year (Bailey, Farnsworth, Santos, Storen, and Street), but what we’re seeing is still largely unprecedented, at least in recent history.

*I defined “lost their job” as saving fewer than 30 games, be it as a result of demotion or injury, which should serve as a good enough proxy.

To those of you who own one or two or eight (as I do, in one league or another) of this season’s displaced closers, you have my apologies.  While “don’t pay for saves” is common rhetoric that I am generally against, it’s a strategy that has surely worked out for many a fantasy player this year.  Closers are usually (read: always) a much safer investment than this.

So what is a fantasy owner to do going forward?  Well, just because we’ve seen this kind of ninth-inning demolition so far doesn’t mean it will continue.  Sure, there are still some closers who find themselves in precarious positions, but we shouldn’t be gun-shy about owning them just because so many others have flopped.  There is still a lot of history to suggest that closers are a solid investment.  If you happen to be in a league with an owner who is getting twitchy, it could be worthwhile looking into acquiring his closers.  Maybe he’s seen the carnage to this point and wants to shift his value into something other than saves, just to be safe, even if it means selling for 70 cents on the dollar.  If you find yourself faced with an owner like this, take advantage of it.  In fantasy we need to find value anywhere we can, and this may be one way to do so.

7 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage Dail... (05/14)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (05/10)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (05/17)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (05/14)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 19
Barbecue State of Mind
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Give the Red Sox Your ...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Astros, Marlins, Swap ...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: The Great Big David Pr...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Mike Foltynewicz
Trade Deadline

MORE FROM MAY 14, 2012
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
Premium Article Bizball: New CBA, Fans Sue MLB, Jerry McMorr...
Premium Article Out of Left Field: On Hitting .400
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Vlad to Be There
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Monday, May 14
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, May 14
What You Need to Know: Monday, May 14

MORE BY DEREK CARTY
2012-05-24 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Is Scouting All Bad...
2012-05-21 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Building From the B...
2012-05-17 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Catching Up With In...
2012-05-14 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: A Bad Month to Be, ...
2012-05-10 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Trades of Grey
2012-05-07 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Picking Up Saves In...
2012-05-03 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Scouting the Twins'...
More...

MORE RESIDENT FANTASY GENIUS
2012-05-24 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Is Scouting All Bad...
2012-05-21 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Building From the B...
2012-05-17 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Catching Up With In...
2012-05-14 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: A Bad Month to Be, ...
2012-05-10 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Trades of Grey
2012-05-07 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Picking Up Saves In...
2012-05-03 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Scouting the Twins'...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2012-11-15 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Reviewing Our 10 Bo...