Jason Grilli leads the league in saves. Across the state, Jonathan Papelbon has only 10. Few could have foreseen these, and other early closer outcomes, on draft day.
“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.
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The Pirates and Red Sox closer situations get the first Reaper treatment of 2013.
Jason Grilli| Pirates Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): No Super Deep (200 Keepers): Fringe
So much has happened since our last installment of Keeper Reaper: Relievers. Christmas and New Year’s came and went. The fiscal cliff was (sort of) avoided. And, of equal importance to all of that, the Pirates traded their closer and named a new one.
Investing in top non-closers now could save you loads of money next draft day.
For the past five years, as the season winds down, I’ve made it a habit of discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. This, of course, isn’t viable in every single keeper league based on format, depth, and rule quirks, but in leagues where it is, it can be a powerful way of accruing cheap value for your 2013 squad before the 2012 season even ends.
As I discussed the strategy in detail last season, I’ll simply repost for those who are new to BP:
When there are no good starters in your league, the bullpen can offer you the wins you need.
It may sound strange, but one of my absolute favorite parts of running a fantasy team is finding undervalued relievers. Having Matt Kemp fall to me in the middle of the first round and getting 10 home runs through the first three weeks? Eh. Having my 24th-round pick throw a perfect game? Color me mildly elated. But grabbing Jason Grilli for $1 in Tout Wars? I’m throwing a parade in my mother’s basement!
Middle relievers can be an underappreciated source of value, especially in AL/NL-only leagues and in leagues with innings caps. Not only are they capable of producing elite ratios, but they can also match near-elite starters in wins on a per-inning basis, which is incredibly important in leagues with innings caps. Even if your league doesn’t have an innings cap and is simply deep, these relievers can be worth several dollars. Your pitchers are going to get injured, and when you find out that Michael Pineda is done for the season, there aren’t exactly a lot of options out on the waiver wire. In a lot of leagues, there may not be a single starter available at all, even of the Adam Wilk variety.
Even Alexis Gomez came from somewhere (Kansas City). Kevin tells us how the Tigers and A's acquired the rest of their postseason difference-makers.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.