Francisco Rodriguez tied former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen’s 18-year old record for saves in a season in Thursday night’s 7-4 Angels victory over the Seattle Mariners.
With K-Rod now one save shy of the all-time record, the question arises… how should fantasy owners handle K-Rod in 2009? Closers are some of the toughest players to judge in fantasy baseball. While a closer who gets several appearances a week can benefit a fantasy team with increases in strikeouts and drops in ERA and WHIP, they really only contribute in one category – saves.
K-Rod’s 57 saves are definitely sexy, and he’s recorded at least 40 saves the past five years. Those are some dominant totals, but his other stats leave something to be desired when compared to other closers in fantasy baseball. Remember, saves are only one category (and an overvalued one at that) in fantasy baseball.
While only one other closer in MLB currently has more than 40 saves, and five closers are currently over 35, elite fantasy closers should also have ERAs and WHIPs that are very low.
Having K-Rod as a closer on your roster could eliminate the need for applying a “three closer” strategy to your draft. That said, consider Rodriguez’s stats this season against the top three relief pitchers in fantasy baseball this season (K-Rod is currently ranked fourth).
- K-Rod: 2 wins, 57 saves, 2.42 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 1.26 WHIP (63.3 innings)
- Mariano Rivera (no. 1 RP overall): 5/33/1.43/71/0.68 (63 innings)
- Jonathan Papelbon (no. 2): 5/36/1.89/71/0.90 (62)
- Ryan Dempster (no. 3, eligible at RP): 15/0/3.02/173/1.21 (190.7)
What should you do when K-Rod comes up in your draft next season? He’s going to get a lot of attention and hype in the offseason because he is a free agent. The Mets are also expected to inquire about his services. If he doesn’t sign with the Mets and doesn’t resign with the Angels, he goes into next season as (at best) the third best closer in fantasy baseball.
If Mariano Rivera retires and K-Rod signs with the Mets, he would no doubt be the no. 1 closer in fantasy baseball based on hype. In terms of talent and potential, however, he would probably continue to have an overall ranking at no. 2 or no. 3.
Our advice for drafting K-Rod in 2009 fantasy baseball is let another owner reach for him in your draft… and then select the next two best available closers that follow K-Rod. Use his draft selection as an indicator to start drafting your closers.