We did it, gang. We made it to the end. In case you missed any of the previous installments, let’s get you caught up before going any further:
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Catcher
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: First Base
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Second Base
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Third Base
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Shortstop
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Outfielders, Part One
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Outfielders, Part Two
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Starting Pitchers, Part One
- Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Starting Pitchers, Part Two
If you’ve been following along or you’re familiar with this exercise from years past, you know that these rankings function best as something like a cross between keeper preferences and dynasty rankings for those whose window of contention is open in the immediate future. It’s important to state that these rankings are mine alone. They no doubt vary from the opinions of other writers on this site and that’s okay. Good, even. This wouldn’t be much fun if we all thought the same thing about every player and couldn’t learn from each other in the cases where we diverge.
Off we go:
These three represent a clear first class in my eyes. I’ll take Jansen at the top because of the team context, but there’s not really a wrong answer when it comes to ordering this trio.
Even the Mariners had to be surprised by how quickly Diaz ascended after converting to the bullpen. It took less than two months for him to snatch the closing gig and only Dellin Betances bettered Diaz’s 15.3 K/9. I made my thoughts known on Allen earlier this week. He’s underrated and a terrific value this draft season. I like Herrera more than I thought I did when I started this exercise. His 4.2 percent walk rate in 2016 was an easy career best and drove a sub-1.00 WHIP. I don’t think we talk about Osuna enough. He just turned 22 years old and owns a 2.63 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 143.2 innings. He lacks the strikeout upside to jump to the top tier but should continue to provide elite ratios for the forseeable future. This is putting a lot of faith in Giles; despite some stretches of utter dominance, he doesn’t have a full-season of closing under his belt. His first year in Houston was uneven, allowing 10 earned runs in as many April innings and walking nearly a batter per inning in September. Giles’ numbers over fourth months of setup duty were better than they were in two months with the closing job. Familia will miss some time in 2017, but he’ll be a workhorse upon his return and his extreme groundball rate and home run prevention will keep the ERA in check. Until the playoffs, anyways. Colome’s 2016 didn’t come out of nowhere. After moving from the rotation to the ‘pen in mid-2015, he registered a 2.66 ERA with a 44-to-7 K:BB ratio in 40.1 innings.
These rankings could look comically low in a few months’ time, but I think there is enough risk in each to warrant the drop. Kimbrel’s strikeout stuff was the same as it ever was in 2016. Meanwhile, he struggled badly with the free pass and hitters squared him up to the tune of a 33 percent hard hit rate, more than six percentage points higher than any year prior. It’s possible this was just a one-year adjustment period to the junior circuit. The risk in Davis is all about health, as he sat portions of 2016 with forearm soreness. The numbers say he was nearly as dominant as we’ve come to expect when he pitched, but the fastball velocity never came back and I’ll take the cautious route with a 31-year-old who has a bunch of innings on his arm from his starting days and, more recently, two deep postseason runs with the Royals.
Melancon relies on command and ground balls instead of velocity, so you’d figure his game will age better than the average 32-year-old’s. I still can’t hide my ageism here. Same goes for The Final Boss, who capitalized on Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles and converted 19 of 22 save opportunities in a half-season as the Cardinals’ closer, with impact in strikeouts and both ratios.
15. Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians
16. Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
Miller’s DRA- of 37 and Betances’ 40 were the first and third lowest in baseball, respectively. Neither is likely to top the 12 saves they each recorded in 2016, but the three-category dominance makes them worth a substantial investment. While we’re talking DRA-, Barraclough’s 48 was fifth lowest and Bedrosian’s 60 was 19th lowest. With Huston Street already banged up, I expect the Bedrosian to take the Angels job and run with it. Similarly, I expect Barraclough to overtake Ramos shortly even though the latter has plenty of club control left. Even if I’m wrong, Barraclough is as good a bet to top 100 strikeouts as anyone.
Like Kimbrel, Robertson struck out plenty of opponents in 2016, but a walk rate that hearkened back to his early days as a Yankee chewed into his overall value. Unlike Kimbrel, some improvement in the quality of contact against offers some hope for a rebound, while the eventuality of a trade clouds his role to some extent. The rest of this tier is about risk tolerance tied to durability. All four are probably the best relievers in their respective bullpens at present, assuming they can stay healthy, yet Ottavino is the only one with role certainty.
26. A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins
These guys are fine. That’s the best I can do.
29. Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox
30. Addison Reed, New York Mets
32. Matt Bush, Texas Rangers
33. C.J. Edwards, Chicago Cubs
34. Grant Dayton, Los Angeles Dodgers
35. Koda Glover, Washington Nationals
36. Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates
37. Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
38. Tyler Thornburg, Boston Red Sox
39. Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
40. Michael Feliz, Houston Astros
Give me top-shelf skills rather than bottom of the barrel, short-term closers like Jim Johnson or Fernando Rodney. It would take an injury, maybe even two, for some of these guys to notch more than the occasional save over the next three years, but I’ll take the ratio padding with triple-digit strikeout potential.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now