Every fantasy manager will be out there trying to draft the best bullpen they can. Drafting closers isn’t that far off from brain surgery. It’s very precise and delicate. If you reach too soon for a closer, you could do more harm than good. If you wait too long, the patient (your team) could be DOA. It’s impossible to layout a drafting strategy because every league is different. What I can do with this article is give fantasy managers my top five steals of the draft and where you should take them.
(Please refer to my projections in my 2012 draft kit)
1. Glen Perkins, MIN - Matt Capps will fail as the closer. Many in Minnesota already don’t like the idea of Capps serving as the teams closer with Perkins ready to assume the role. Perkins posted great numbers in 2011 with a 2.48 ERA and 65 Ks in 61.2 innings. If and when the Twins wise up, the job will belong to Perkins. Perkins also just got a 3-year extension further solidifying his role with the team. He has no ADP at this point. Take him at your leisure.
2. Vinnie Pestano, CLE – With Chris Perez on the shelf to open the season, Pestano will be the Indians closer. We don’t know exactly how long Perez will be out, but based on the fact he only has a one year deal, he may never get the job back if Pestano does a great job. Vinnie put up 84 Ks in 62 innings with a 2.32 ERA in 2011. He is the closer of the future for the Cleveland Indians and the future could be April. His ADP has him in the 19th round. That is a steal.
3. Frank Francisco, NYM – Frank Francisco will be closing for the Mets and he will have a surprisingly good year. Most fantasy managers are ignoring him because of his history. Regardless, Francisco has been good everywhere he has gone and his on the field frustrations are the cause of his consistency issues, not talent. Francisco will be a 40+ save closer that you draft all the way in the 24th round.
4. Brandon League, SEA – League really had an outstanding campaign in 2011. Granted Seattle is a bad team, they are a rebuilding team with enough talent to win games in stretches. WHen they do win, the games will be close enough for them to bring in their closer League and he will easily top 40 saves. With an ADP in the 16th round, League is a steal over other top closers like Drew Storen, Jason Motte, and Chris Perez.
5. Andrew Bailey, BOS - Many fantasy managers have lost faith in the often injured Andrew Bailey. Now the closer for the Red Sox, the 28-year old closer is ready to take the American League East by storm. The Red Sox coaching staff knows how to handle sensitive arms and will keep Bailey healthy. I have him projected at 44 saves. With an ADP of 161, Bailey is an absolute steal in the 14th round.
5. Ryan Madson, CIN - Madson has a one year deal and looks to make it a big payoff year as the closer of the Cincinnati Reds. Madson’s ADP has him around the 144 pick. That puts him behind 10 closers. He’s not quite the steal that he was before I released my draft kit, but still he’s better than half the guys being drafted in front of him. 100% healthy, Madson is a 40+ save close that you can get in the 12th round and that is a steal.
Addison Reed, CWS – For now it looks like the young pitcher is out of the running for the closer role on the White Sox. However, don’t under-estimate his ability to take that role at some point in the season. With an ADP in the 26th round, take a flyer on the kid. You may get a STEAL of a closer come June.