Mike explains why elite middle relievers haven't climbed his tiers, before revealing the latest edition of those tiers and the updated dollar values.
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week this factors into the ranking as well.
Last week, one of my readers wanted to know why I didn’t have a middle reliever in the top tier. Although middle relievers are integral in some leagues, I have not been ranking them due to the fact that their value is vastly different depending upon each league’s rules. In leagues that use holds as a separate category, non-closers carry a great deal of value. In standard mixed leagues with no start limits, you might not feel the need to carry a middle reliever on your staff at all. My goal is to take a cursory look at a handful of valuable middle relief arms in a non-holds, deeper-league, standard Roto format.
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Two closers jump into the top tier, as Mike catches you up on the latest news and shuffling from the league's bullpens.
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third-tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week, this factors into the ranking as well.
In this week's edition, Mike obliges multiple reader requests by adding tiers to the reliever rankings, to go with the regular news and notes.
For this installment of the Bullpen Report, I am adding rankings, by popular demand. Closers are rated in five tiers, from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third-tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week, this factors into the ranking as well.
On five players attempting to do new things this season, and whether those things have worked.
Four teams asked five players to do things this season that they’d never done prior to 2013. This article is about how well those things have worked for the first six weeks, and whether they can continue.
1. Shin-Soo Choo: start in center field
It’s not that Choo has turned into a superb center fielder. That was never the plan. Starting Choo in center, a position he hadn’t played at all since 2009 and hadn’t played regularly since 2002 (as a 19-year-old in A-ball), was always going to be an exercise in extreme double-entry bookkeeping: Would the runs his bat added outnumber the runs his glove gave up? So far, the answer is an easy “yes.” Choo’s .347 TAv ranks 10th among players with at least 100 plate appearances, and he’s second only to Miguel Cabrera in VORP.
Janssen, Fuentes, and Thayer are discussed in this week's Value Picks
The debate between the old and new schools as to the usefulness of defined bullpen roles is as strong as ever, and with such a high turnover rate in the early going of this season, both sides have had plenty of fodder to build their arguments. For those of us who partake in fantasy leagues, however, such philosophical pedantry is a mere luxury. Chasing saves, after all, is a dirty game, so let’s have a look at some relievers of interest.
Just because you're out in your fantasy league doesn't mean you shouldn't go shopping for potential ninth-inning guys.
For the past four years, I’ve written an article at the end of each season discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. Today, I’m going to do the same, explaining the strategy and then trying to figure out which middle relievers are poised to step into the ninth-inning role.
The Strategy All keeper leagues are different, but if you are in one where your leaguemates make a habit of keeping top closers, this strategy will be especially good for you. In these leagues, when auction day or draft day rolls around, the number of closers will be limited. Those who haven't kept a top closer will be bidding against each other for the leftovers, the second-tier closers. By default, their prices will rise, quite possibly above their raw value. This can trickle down the list of closers until Kevin Gregg is being auctioned for some crazy amount, like $18.
The Padres’ array of inexpensive and effective relievers offer a course in Bullpen 101.
Several months ago, Tommy Bennettpenned a paean to the economy and efficiency of the Padres’ bullpen. In retrospect, his choice of topic seems particularly prescient, given that the Padres had played all of three games by the time his article appeared. 135 games later, San Diego’s relief unit has outperformed even Tommy’s lofty expectations, supplying league-best performance at a fraction of the costs associated with other teams’ firemen. Despite their recent 10-game losing streak, the Padres sport a 78-59 record and the best run differential in the National League, and much of the credit for their success must go to the relatively unheralded men who compose their relief corps.
The Padres’ offense, while not quite the utterly anemic attack that Petco Park makes it appear, still rates as something less than a strength: the team’s .258 TAv ranks 13th in the NL. San Diego’s .02 PADE qualifies as an asset, but not a spectacular one, ranking fifth in the NL, and while the Friars have performed well on the basepaths, their speed hasn’t been a major factor behind their success.
The Padres would have an effective—and cheap—bullpen even if they traded Heath Bell.
Bullpens sometimes get a bad name. Although by some metrics, elite relievers can be worth more than five wins to their squads, other metrics value the best relievers at no more than three wins. Because nearly all pitchers improve their rate stats (strikeout and home run rates in particular) when moving from the rotation to the bullpen, there is a common mood among the sabermetric community that relief pitchers are overvalued, overpaid, and that they should speak only when spoken to. I think the problem of reliever valuation is extremely tricky and I shout my ignorance of the answer from the rooftops. But I do have two basic observations: