Pre-Draft Player Rankings

53 Craig Kimbrel (Atl - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 44.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 3 50 67.0 98 1.21 0.88
2014 Projections 7 3 37 69.0 114 1.82 0.87
3 Year Average 4 2 46 69.0 114 1.43 0.87
Outlook: For the third consecutive year, Kimbrel led the National League in saves, becoming the 11th pitcher in major league history to reach the 50-save mark in a single season, while also becoming the first pitcher in the history of the game to record 40-plus saves in each of his first three full seasons. He set a Braves franchise record in 2013 by converting 37 consecutive save chances, and ended the season by converting 40 of his final 41 opportunities. After the calender turned to June, Kimbrel allowed just four earned runs over 46.2 regular-season innings (0.77 ERA), and he held opposing batters to a .161 average for the year. His strikeout rate did, however, drop by more than three per nine innings, to a career-low 13.2 K/9, and his swinging-strike rate was well below where it was in 2012 (13.6% from 19.2%). Lefties hit .211/.265/.309 against him, up from .116/.189/.143, and his walk rate was up slightly as well. All that aside, Kimbrel didn't lose any juice on his fastball, and is unquestionably one of most dominant end-gamers in all of baseball. He's still the easy choice for first reliever off the board in 2014.
68 Kenley Jansen (LAD - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 65.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 3 28 76.7 111 1.88 0.86
2014 Projections 6 3 37 66.0 106 1.85 0.86
3 Year Average 4 2 19 65.0 102 2.35 0.91
Outlook: Well who knew Jansen would be a better closer than Brandon League last year? Okay, put your collective hands down. Jansen was spectacular, posting a 1.88 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and an eye-popping 111:18 K:BB in 76.2 innings. Jansen has cut his BB/9 rate from 4.4 to 3.1 to 2.1 over the last three years while maintaining a 13.0 K/9 rate. He should be a top-five closer again in 2014 and should not have a problem topping the 2013 save total (28) with a full season handling the Dodgers' ninth-inning role.
82 Greg Holland (KC - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 79.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 2 1 47 67.0 103 1.21 0.87
2014 Projections 5 2 31 63.0 89 2.08 1.02
3 Year Average 5 2 22 64.7 89 1.95 1.07
Outlook: While Holland looked impressive during the latter half of the 2012 season after finally being handed the closer's job, his 2013 campaign looked even better. The season opened a bit on the rocky side, but after the first few weeks, he settled down and proceeded to dominate hitters in outstanding fashion. His 47 saves ranked second in the majors and his 13.8 K/9 and 103 strikeouts over 70.1 innings each ranked second among qualified relievers. Add in a 5.72 K/BB and you certainly have all the ammunition needed to claim that Holland was indeed the best closer in baseball last year. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a high-80s slider, Holland will continue to close for the Royals in 2014 and should be one of the first relievers off the board in most drafts.
98 Trevor Rosenthal (StL - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 90.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 2 4 3 75.3 108 2.63 1.10
2014 Projections 2 2 22 49.0 68 2.92 1.10
3 Year Average 1 3 2 49.0 66 2.57 1.06
Outlook: Rosenthal had a terrific first full season with the Cardinals, posting 29 holds while striking out an impressive 108 batters in just 75.1 innings pitched. His xFIP (2.34) indicates he was even better than his ERA shows. Rosenthal is a heavy fastball pitcher who averages around 97 mph on his heater but in 2013 began using his changeup much more, and with very good results. Rosenthal was inserted into the closer's role for the final weeks of the 2013 season and into the playoffs where he proved plenty capable for the job. He'll head into 2014 as one of the top closers in baseball and in fantasy, likely a top five option in all league formats.
105 Koji Uehara (Bos - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 91.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 1 21 74.3 101 1.09 0.57
2014 Projections 5 2 30 54.0 74 1.40 0.63
3 Year Average 2 1 7 58.3 76 1.70 0.63
Outlook: Uehara was Boston's regular-season MVP after stabilizing the closer job in June. He saved 21 games, was dominant against both righties and lefties and struck out a ridiculous 12.2 batters per nine innings. The plan in spring training was to avoid using him on back-to-back days because of a 2012 shoulder injury, which delayed the decision to give him a shot at closing, but he countered that by being an efficient strike-thrower and generally avoiding big pitch counts in his appearances. Uehara threw more innings last season than he has in any big league campaign, and it remains to be seen if that workload affects him at all in 2014, which is in part the reason Boston signed former Cardinals closer Edward Mujica. However, coming off his dominant 2013 campaign, Uehara will open this season as Boston's closer.
120 Glen Perkins (Min - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 117.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 2 0 36 62.7 77 2.30 0.93
2014 Projections 4 4 29 62.0 72 2.92 1.10
3 Year Average 3 2 18 65.0 73 2.49 1.06
Outlook: Perkins proved that his success as a closer in 2012 was no fluke and he's entrenched as Minnesota's stopper and one of the top relief options in the AL. Perkins increased his strikeout rate to 11.1 K/9 while maintaining good control. He's also proven durable by pitching in 60 or more games three seasons in a row after injures plagued him earlier in his career. Although he's left-handed, the Twins haven't been tempted to use him earlier in games against lefty hitters. He made just one appearance last year before the ninth inning. Both last season and for his career, he's actually slightly better against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters, which has helped him avoid becoming a lefty specialist. While using him earlier in games may be a better use in real baseball terms, using him in only save situations boosts his fantasy value. He should be set for another successful season as Minnesota's closer given his high strikeout rate and usage patterns.
121 Joe Nathan (Det - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 100.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 6 2 43 64.7 73 1.39 0.90
2014 Projections 3 3 25 48.0 53 2.66 1.04
3 Year Average 4 3 31 58.0 65 2.79 1.02
Outlook: Nathan's two-year run as Texas' closer came to an end after he chose not to exercise a contract option for 2014, making him a free agent. Nathan was outstanding again in 2013, allowing just 36 hits and 22 walks in 64.2 innings, fanning 73 and racking up 43 saves. The uptick in walks and elevated strand rate (87.2% LOB mark) don't support the elite 1.39 ERA, but Nathan still misses bats at a very good clip and seems to have enough left in the tank to remain a top-10 closer. The Tigers locked up Nathan with a two-year deal in December, where he'll offer an experienced option to finish out games on a club with World Series aspirations in what might be the final chapter of his career.
125 Aroldis Chapman (Cin - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 79.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 5 38 63.7 112 2.54 1.04
2014 Projections 6 3 37 62.0 103 2.23 1.05
3 Year Average 4 4 26 61.7 102 2.48 1.02
Outlook: For the second offseason in a row, Chapman's role hasn't yet been determined. For manager Dusty Baker was the primary impediment to the plan to move Chapman to the starting rotation (though Chapman himself didn't seem to be sold on the idea -- whether he was always uncertain or whether Baker pushed him in that direction is up for debate), and now that Bryan Price has taken over as the manager, that door remains open. One thing seems likely -- even if Chapman closes, his usage won't be as rigid as it was last season, when often it was "save situation or bust" -- the Reds lost six extra-innings games where Chapman never got into the game. When he got on the mound, Chapman had a few hiccups but was typically dominant again, carrying a 15.8 K/9. His walk rate and home-run rate both trickled upward, and on occasion he struggled with his secondary offerings.
129 Sergio Romo (SF - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 117.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: MR-3
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 8 38 60.3 58 2.54 1.08
2014 Projections 6 3 37 55.0 63 2.23 0.93
3 Year Average 4 4 18 54.7 64 1.98 0.90
Outlook: In 2013, Romo received his first full season as the Giants' closer and came through with flying colors. His saves (38), ERA (2.54), and WHIP (1.08) all ranked in the top five for closers in the National League. His ERA actually rose from 1.79 in 2012 due to his unreal strand rate (90.7 LOB%) returning to a realistic level (78.0 LOB%). Still, it was hard to find anything to complain about from Romo in 2013. He doesn't fit the mold of a typical closer, as his fastball isn't overpowering (87.7 mph), but he relies on pinpoint control and a dominating slider that is considered to be the best in baseball. He will enter 2014 as the unquestioned closer for the Giants, and should remain so barring injury.
146 David Robertson (NYY - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 125.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 1 3 66.3 77 2.04 1.04
2014 Projections 4 4 33 64.0 84 2.67 1.11
3 Year Average 4 3 2 64.7 86 1.95 1.11
Outlook: While the Yankees have been cautious about anointing Robertson the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, Robertson's performance over the past several seasons certainly justify giving him the job. All of Robertson's peripheral statistics back up his more obvious high strikeout rate and low ERA; his BABIP against in 2013 was .293, and his 6.8% HR/FB was fairly consistent with his career norm. If the fact that the Yankees haven't guaranteed Robertson the closer job knocks a few dollars of his draft day value, jump in and enjoy the numbers of this potential top-10 closer provided that clear-cut veteran option is not obtained before spring training.
155 Jason Grilli (LAA - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 131.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: MR-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 0 2 33 50.0 74 2.70 1.06
2014 Projections 2 2 20 41.0 58 2.94 1.12
3 Year Average 1 3 12 47.0 67 2.68 1.13
Outlook: Grilli easily earned his $2.5 million salary with 30 saves through July 22, before a forearm strain sidelined him for six weeks. How he comes back after an offseason of rest remains one of the biggest questions surrounding the 37-year-old in 2014. For the season, Grilli compiled a 2.70 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with a 74:13 K:BB ratio in 50 innings. However, the man Twitter calls "Grilled Cheese" struggled somewhat in his return, albeit in a minuscule sample size - 4.70 ERA, 1.83 WHIP and an opponent's .928 OPS in just 7.2 innings. Grilli's velocity suffered in September, making his spring training more important than usual. Provided he finds his 93-94 mph fastball in the Grapefruit League, he should continue on as the Pirates' closer again in 2014.
156 Addison Reed (Ari - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 142.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 4 40 71.3 72 3.79 1.11
2014 Projections 2 3 17 44.0 46 3.56 1.23
3 Year Average 3 2 23 44.7 46 4.23 1.23
Outlook: The perk of closing for the worst offense in the American League is that there are generally abundant save opportunities. Such was the case for Reed in 2013. He received 48 save opportunities for a 63-win team, and he successfully closed out 40 of them. Reed's average fastball velocity of 92.7 mph is a few ticks slower than other upper-crust closers, but opposing batters only hit .180 off his four-seamer. He exhibited some fatigue in the season's final month with a 7.88 ERA and a 9:8 K:BB in his nine September appearances. The White Sox traded Reed to Arizona in December, where he will take over as the closer in the D-Backs' rebuilt bullpen while continuing to pitch half of his games in a hitter-friendly home park.
161 Jim Johnson (Oak - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 137.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 3 8 50 70.3 56 2.94 1.28
2014 Projections 4 4 30 74.0 49 3.30 1.15
3 Year Average 4 5 37 76.7 52 2.70 1.13
Outlook: Johnson delivered back-to-back 50 save seasons, but he blew nine opportunities in 2013 and at times was walking on eggshells to keep his job. Johnson increased his K/9 to 7.2, the best full-season mark of his career and he plugged along with a 58 percent groundball rate. This season will be Johnson's last arbitration year, making him a free agent next winter. Unwilling to pay a premium to retain his services, the Orioles flipped Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks at the non-tender deadline in December. Most likely, Johnson will plug in as the A's replacement in the ninth-inning for Grant Balfour in 2014.
162 Rafael Soriano (Was - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 142.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 3 3 43 66.7 51 3.11 1.23
2014 Projections 3 3 23 53.0 50 3.04 1.17
3 Year Average 2 2 29 58.0 52 2.95 1.22
Outlook: For the third time in four seasons Soriano picked up 40-plus saves, but there's also a reason he accomplished that feat for three different teams. A career-worst 6.9 K/9 rate and declining velocity on his fastball are glaring warning signs, and while usage is still the most important predictor of closer value, the Nationals have other options in the bullpen to take over ninth-inning duties if Soriano's performance degrades any further. Paying top dollar for a closer on draft day should provide plenty of options safer than Soriano.
165 Jonathan Papelbon (Phi - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 147.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 1 29 61.7 57 2.92 1.14
2014 Projections 4 3 29 62.0 71 2.74 1.02
3 Year Average 5 3 33 65.3 79 2.76 1.04
Outlook: Papelbon failed to rack up at least 30 saves last season for the first time in his career as a closer. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of opportunities from a Phillies team that struggled last season, but he also blew seven saves. His surface numbers were solid, but there are signs of decline that raise red flags moving forward. Papelbon's fastball velocity dropped to 92 mph last season which was a 1.8-mph drop from 2013 and a 3.0-mph drop from 2012. His K/9 of 8.3 was the lowest it has been since his first full season in Boston, and the first time it dipped below double digits since 2006. He did improve his walk rate, however, which allowed his K/BB ratio to basically hold steady from last season. Papelbon can still be effective with the lower strikeout rate, but it makes him a riskier investment this season as his margin of error has decreased with diminished stuff. There was mention that a minor hip injury suffered during the season could be to blame for the dip in velocity last year, but scouts were questioning his stuff during spring training. The safer approach in fantasy leagues may be to let others draft Papelbon based on his previous reputation and focus instead on closers with stronger profiles that are not quite as risky.
178 Grant Balfour (TB - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 149.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 1 3 38 62.7 72 2.59 1.20
2014 Projections 4 3 31 59.0 62 2.46 1.07
3 Year Average 3 2 21 66.3 68 2.58 1.04
Outlook: Balfour had an exceptional 2013 season as the A's closer, converting 92.7 percent of his save opportunities, aided by his 28 consecutive saves to begin the campaign. Aside from a brief stretch in August where he struggled, Balfour was a rock at the back end of the A's bullpen. Balfour's strikeout rate took a nice bump up in 2013 from 8.7 K/9 to 10.3 K/9, but his H/9 and BB/9 also went up. Balfour is entering his age-36 season, but he has shown no signs of slowing down and should be a solid second-tier closer as long as he's signed by a club intent on using him in the ninth inning. After signing a two-year deal with the Rays in January, Balfour appears to be on track to close out games in a strong Tampa Bay bullpen.
183 Casey Janssen (Tor - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 162.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 1 34 52.7 50 2.56 0.99
2014 Projections 5 2 32 56.0 57 2.37 1.00
3 Year Average 4 1 19 57.3 57 2.51 0.98
Outlook: Janssen was one of the few bright spots for Toronto in 2013, finishing with a 2.56 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, while converting 34-of-36 save opportunities. He doesn't pile up strikeouts like some of the other top closers (8.5 K/9) but has better control (2.2 BB/9) than your average hard-throwing reliever. Even with Sergio Santos healthy, Janssen appears to be locked in to the closer's role with a bit of leeway to err for the start of 2014.
193 Ernesto Frieri (Pit - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 161.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: MR-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 2 4 37 68.7 98 3.80 1.24
2014 Projections 3 4 26 67.0 92 3.45 1.15
3 Year Average 3 3 20 66.0 91 3.00 1.18
Outlook: The Angels began 2013 with the expectation that Ryan Madson would challenge Frieri for the closer's role upon his return from Tommy John surgery. Madson didn't make it back to the majors last season, leaving Frieri as the ninth-inning man for much of the year, and allowing him to pick up an impressive 37 saves in the process. Frieri's primary strength as a reliever is his astounding strikeout rate, which was actually down a tick last season at 12.8 K/9, but his walks also decreased slightly (3.9 BB/9). If there is a cause for concern for Frieri, it may be that his flyball rate last season spiked to 59.2 percent, after being at 52.6 percent in 2012. This led to the highest HR/9 rate of his career (1.4), and led him to share the closer's role with Dane De La Rosa for a brief period in August. Frieri was able to reclaim the role before the end of the season, but he may run into trouble in 2014 if he can't keep his homers down.
196 Steve Cishek (Mia - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 167.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 4 6 34 69.7 74 2.33 1.08
2014 Projections 3 3 26 62.0 63 3.07 1.19
3 Year Average 4 3 17 62.7 66 2.59 1.18
Outlook: Cishek hit a stride down the stretch last season following a shaky start that left him with a 5.40 ERA on May 18 (16 appearances). From that point on, however, the Marlins' stopper was among the most automatic relief arms in the game, allowing just eight earned runs over his final 53.0 innings pitched (1.36 ERA) and striking out over a batter per inning. All told, Cishek cashed in 34-of-36 save opportunities to go along with a sparkling 2.33 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Cishek bumped his strikeout rate up for a third straight season to a career best 26.3% in 2013 while also inducing groundballs at a 53.1% clip -- the second best rate among pitchers who recorded 20 or more saves. The 6-foot-6 righty capitalizes on a side-arm delivery to work with a 92-mph sinker that continues to get the job done in the ninth. Cishek will enter the season locked in at the back end of the Miami bullpen.
200 Huston Street (LAA - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 173.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 2 5 33 56.7 46 2.70 1.02
2014 Projections 3 3 23 51.0 47 3.36 1.08
3 Year Average 2 3 28 51.3 49 2.98 1.01
Outlook: Street is a top-tier closing option when he avoids the injury bug, and he mostly upheld his end of the bargain last year, spending just one stint on the disabled list due to a sore calf. En route to the third 30-plus save season in his eight years in the majors, he shockingly did not receive a save chance for nearly a month between Jun. 23 and Jul. 20. Still, he managed to post a more-than-respectable 2.70 ERA, despite career worsts in K/9 (7.3) and HR/9 (1.9). Considering statistical trends, Street may be hard-pressed to replicate the 2013 campaign, especially if his body betrays him as it has in the past.
205 Bobby Parnell (NYM - RP)
DL60
ADP: 181.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 5 22 50.0 44 2.16 1.00
2014 Projections 3 4 28 61.0 60 3.36 1.25
3 Year Average 5 5 12 59.3 56 2.73 1.25
Outlook: Parnell was anointed as the team's closer in spring training by manager Terry Collins and he proved that he was worthy of the role. He had a strong overall season, which was capped off by a stretch where he gave up just one earned run in 13 July appearances, Unfortunately, his last appearance of the year came in a save on July 29, after which he was shut down due to a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery in early September. For the year, Parnell posted a sterling 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go with 22 saves in 26 chances, despite posting modest strikeout totals (7.9 K/9) for a closer. The hope is that Parnell will be ready to go by spring training, as the recovery period was expected to be five months, and if he is healthy, he will open 2014 as the team's closer.
230 Jim Henderson (Mil - RP)
DL60
ADP: 185.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 5 5 28 60.0 75 2.70 1.13
2014 Projections 3 3 20 46.0 65 3.18 1.20
3 Year Average 3 4 16 45.3 60 2.98 1.17
Outlook: Henderson quickly replaced John Axford as the Brewers’ closer and never looked back, recording 28 saves over the course of the season. Henderson’s calling card is his high-90s fastball, and though he gave up a few too many home runs, he also had an impressive 11.3 K/9 rate and did a good job keeping runners off base. Henderson will almost certainly open 2014 as the Brewers’ closer, and he will have no trouble holding onto the job if he is effective as he was last season.
234 Neftali Feliz (Tex - SP, RP)
Healthy
ADP: 213.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 0 0 0 4.7 4 0.00 1.50
2014 Projections 13 9 2 36.0 34 2.88 1.17
3 Year Average 2 1 11 36.7 32 2.70 1.17
Outlook: Feliz's expected late-July return from 2012 Tommy John surgery was delayed a bit as he didn't take the mound until early September and made just six appearances in some low-leverage spots during the final month. Joe Nathan's departure via free agency has Texas publicly announcing that 2014's closer will come from a list of internal candidates headlined by Feliz and Joakim Soria, so it appears (for the moment at least) that Feliz's days as a starter may have finally come to an end. We've been down this road before, so Feliz's role and eventual value may not be clearly determined until March.
235 Alex Wood (Atl - SP, RP)
Healthy
ADP: 183.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-5
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 3 3 0 77.7 77 3.13 1.33
2014 Projections 11 10 0 176.0 181 3.67 1.35
3 Year Average 3 3 0 77.7 77 3.13 1.33
Outlook: The Braves were looking for a way to work Wood into the rotation in late July, after the left-hander posted a 1.26 ERA, a 9.0 K/9 and a 3.6 BB/9 over 12 starts with Double-A Mississippi and a 2.45 ERA in 16 appearances with the big club to begin the year. Injuries to Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm opened the door, and Wood went on to go 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA and a 8.7 K/9 in 11 starts with Atlanta. Eventually, Wood transitioned back to a bullpen role, but the 23-year-old will compete for a rotation spot this spring, and considering how well he performed last season, he likely has an edge over the likes of David Hale and J.R. Graham.
245 John Axford (Cle - RP)
Healthy
ADP: 198.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: CL-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2013 Season 7 7 0 65.0 65 4.02 1.52
2014 Projections 3 6 24 70.0 81 4.09 1.33
3 Year Average 5 6 27 69.3 81 3.50 1.36
Outlook: After the Cardinals acquired him in an August trade with the Brewers, Axford finished the final month of the season strong, posting a 1.74 ERA and an 11:3 K:BB ratio over his final 10.1 innings. A slow start to the season included a bad case of gopheritis, but he seemed to figure out some of his issues with the long ball after a dismal April. Keep in mind, however, that the 9.0 K/9 he delivered in 2013 was the lowest mark of his big league career, so the peripherals do not portend a full rebound. Axford is on track to open the season as the Indians' closer after signing a one-year deal with Cleveland in December.
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