Here come the closers to finish off the dynasty rankings. Stick around for the post-game fireworks.
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.
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Kenley Jansen may be the key to the Marlins' plans for 2017, but do they have a fallback option in place?
The 2016 Marlins faced one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory, as the sudden death of Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident left a scar on the team, the city, and all of baseball.
In the wake of Fernandez's death on September 25, the future of the Marlins' rotation was on no one's mind and rightfully so. In those moments we must remember that baseball is simply a game, a sport, a job, a hobby. It's comprised of human beings who have a purpose, a story, and a life beyond the diamond. No one should have been asking baseball questions.
Ranking closers based on how bad they've looked at the plate.
Roster expansion begins today, so last night's Giants/Dodgers game may be the the last of the season where a reliever batted for both teams. To celebrate the Chris Hatchers and George Kontoses (Konti?) of the world, here's a GIF-laden look at the ones who bat least and why it's often well-deserved. This article originally ran on August 22, 2013.
On Wednesday night, Aroldis Chapman entered an 8-6 game in relief of an injured Jonathan Broxton, who faced two batters in the top of the eighth before his elbow cut his outing short. It was the first time Chapman had been asked to get more than three outs all season. And because a “distraught” Dusty Bakerscrewed up the double switch, Chapman also made his first major-league plate appearance in the bottom of the inning.
The league's highest-payroll team is loaded with fantasy goodness.
The Dodgers rarely had their Opening Day lineup on the field throughout the entirety of last season. This was due, of course, to a confluence of major injury problems to several star players (Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez), as well as the emergence of perhaps the starriest player in Yasiel Puig. Add in the regular rest needed by Carl Crawford, and the pure force of will it must take to rest Puig, and it’s easy to see why that Opening Day lineup rarely materialized.
They’ll give it a go once more, in 2014, as they hope to avoid the injury bug that bit them so often last year. Still, given their outfield depth, there are going to be plenty of lineups that don’t resemble the Opening Day one, although they hope to have more stability at second and third base this season. The team is teeming with fantasy goodness, with power, speed, counting stats, and even the unknowns (Kemp, Guerrero) in the lineup, paired with dominance at the top of the rotation and quality innings in the middle of it. And let’s not ignore the top-three fantasy closer at the back end of the bullpen with another valuable piece in Wilson if your league counts holds. If you’re not a Dodgers fan already, there’s a good chance you will be during fantasy season, as you’re likely to roster at least a couple of their players.
Strikeouts are up this season, and this quartet of untouchable closers is driving the trend.
The evolution of pitching in the 21st century has trended toward increased specialization, to the point of eight-man bullpens and strict pitch counts for starters. The complete game has all but vanished from the baseball lexicon, and most pitching staffs are now structured with the goal of getting through six innings with a lead before handing the ball to the bullpen. Frequent pitching changes have been unkind to the hardcore fan base, slowing the pace of the game when the drama is at its peak, but the stats reflect the advantages that are gained through the tireless recycling of arms.
Major League Baseball has witnessed a historic trend toward increasing strikeouts, with 2012's league-wide K rate of 19.7 percent (through Wednesday) representing the highest figure of all time. The 1.1-point jump in strikeout percentage from 2011 is the largest season-to-season gain in 25 years. Interestingly, we are not in the middle of some historic home run binge, and the 300-K starter has gone the way of the dodo in the span of about 10 years. Mere memories remain of the exploits of Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, while 2011 strikeout kings Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw hit the ceiling at 250 strikeouts, a level that no pitcher is likely to crack this season. The 300-K starter has been replaced by the 100-K reliever.
Kenley Jansen isn't the first player to pitch with a heart condition, as Bill Veeck reminds us.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen hasn’t pitched since August 27th, when he suffered a recurrence of the irregular heartbeat that put him in the hospital last season. Jansen is taking blood thinners, though he may undergo a procedure called cardiac ablation over the offseason, which would allow him to go without the medication. He hopes to pitch again this month.
Sam checks in on several of his articles from earlier this season to see whether what he wrote made sense.
July 18 is as good a time as any to go back and read old pieces to see whether they make a lick of sense in hindsight. It is as good a time as any because there is, from the writer’s perspective, no good time to do this without wondering why that thing was written in the first place. Baseball is really just a lifelong project to break down any sense of certainty you might have about cause and effect.
Nonetheless, let’s review a few of the conclusions I made in March, April, and May to see what new information tells us.