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May 29, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Your Annual Reminder: Don't Pay for Saves

by Jason Collette


“Don’t pay for saves!” is an adage that ESPN’s Matthew Berry may have printed on his tombstone when he leaves this life. But while it has been uttered by many a pundit, from Berry to industry stalwart Lenny Melnick, we still see significant money spent on closers even in expert auctions each season. In the 2013 15-team mixed Tout Wars league, nine percent of the overall draft dollars went to players that have saved at least one game this season.

The current leader in saves in 2013, Jason Grilli, is a former fourth-overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft. In his career, he has been traded twice, released twice, purchased once, and granted free agency three different times before finding a home in Pittsburgh, where he has been nothing short of amazing since 2011. Last season, Grilli was drafted as a setup guy to Joel Hanrahan, and this season, the Mixed League Touts paid more for 12 other closers before setting on Grilli at $12. He is not the only story in the latest chapter of the unpredictability of saves in fantasy baseball.

Eighteen closers have already earned at least 10 saves this season (as of the start of play yesterday):

So far, only Mujica has been able to net double-digit saves while going unpurchased on draft day, but Heath Bell and Jim Henderson are both just one save away from joining that group. Three different closers have been able to join the double-digit saves club while going for fewer than $10 in the auction. That said, both Frieri and League have tenuous holds on their jobs, even though they are still compiling saves.

Chapman and Kimbrel were two of the most desirable closers on draft day because their saves also came with unusually high strikeout rates that could help offset certain types of starting pitchers. Both players came at premium costs even though they have produced far fewer saves than some of their more cost-effective contemporaries. The only other closer to go for at least $20 was Jonathan Papelbon, who just earned 10th save of the season for the struggling Phillies.

Papelbon has been hurt by a lack of opportunities, but several closers that went for double-digit dollars on draft day have yet to return double-digit save totals in 2013. The unmagnificent seven includes Papelbon, Fernando Rodney, J.J. Putz, Greg Holland, Chris Perez, Joel Hanrahan, and Steve Cishek. Putz, Perez, and Hanrahan are all on the disabled list, and Hanrahan will remain there all season. That group of seven closers cost $97 on draft day and has saved just 45 games as a whole.

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Related Content:  Saves,  Closers,  Jason Grilli

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (05/29)
<< Previous Column
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