March 9, 2017
Dynasty League Positional Rankings
The Top 75 Relievers
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about closers, potential closers and middlemen for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.
This also requires a little more of an introduction, though we won’t let it get in the way of the comments. This question comes up every year when we do reliever rankings, and the answer still hasn’t changed—these rankings do not care for holds. If you want to know about holds, Eric Roseberry’s column from yesterday is a great resource. These rankings take into account two things, in the age of the reliever—a pitcher’s ability to rack up saves and a pitcher’s ability to return value regardless of saves via a combination of strikeouts and superb ratios. After all, when Andrew Miller is able to be a top-30 pitcher without a single save (he was also a top-15 pitcher with 12 of them), this means we need to adjust just how valuable a middle reliever can be regardless of the categories you use.
Also, this is also position where age and longevity are pretty unimportant, at least in the grand scheme of a dynasty league. Predicting saves a couple of years out is just about impossible for all but the most elite of relievers, and history has taught us this over and over again. So if this looks pretty close to a redraft list at times, that’s because it’s intentionally like that. Among the 10 relievers who saved the most games just 30 months ago were Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, K-Rod and David Robertson. But also among that group were Greg Holland, Huston Street, Steve Cishek and Trevor Rosenthal. Now most of those players are still on this list, but that’s damning with feint praise. Then there were super cool young closers like Hector Rondon, Sean Doolittle, Cody Allen and Jenrry Mejia. At least one of them is still a closer!