If you’ve read MoneyBall, saves guys are a dime-a-dozen and once they rack up big saves numbers, you can trade them when they are at the peak of the market.
It’s no different in fantasy baseball where saves are even more over-rated than Billy Beane thinks they are. The thing is that there are 30 teams out there, each with a guy who can rack up saves. And, rarely are there 30 teams in the same league!
In our post yesterday, we preached about finding value. Nowhere is there more value than in closers. Take Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants. Pick up Wilson (not the Beach Boys one) and you’ll get 41 saves from last year–the same as you’d have gotten from Jonathan Papelbon or Brad Lidge! Now, with Wilson, you get 41 out of 47 save opportunities and with Lidge you got a perfect 41 out of 41. You also get a 4.62 ERA with Wilson, but he only pitched 62.1 innings so that won’t affect your team ERA very much.
2009 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – Closers
National League Relief Pitcher Sleepers
Brian Wilson, RP, Giants — A closer can get his ERA bounced around in just a few bad appearances when you only toss 62.1 innings in a season. But, Wilson also contributed 67 strikeouts which will help you out in that category. The Giants should get more opportunities for saves this year as they should win more than 72 games in 2009. Wilson earned all 41 saves that the Giants had in 2008 so you don’t have to worry about much competition taking away his saves. Bob Howry had 14 saves over the past three seasons with the Cubs so he’ll be next in line if the Giants tire of Wilson.
Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals — Jason Motte will be the closer for the Cardinals this year. The job appeared to be in the hands of Chris Perez at the beginning of spring training, but Motte appears to have won the job. Perez had an injury that kept him out of games for several weeks this spring and Motte picked up the closer role and did fantastic. In 9.1 innings, he struck out 13 and gave up just one run. This spring was no fluke. Last year, he worked 11 innings and gave up just one run while striking out 16. Cardinal fans are going to love this guy’s fastball; he can hit triple digits!
Matt Lindstrom, RP, Marlins — Matt Lindstrom had 6 saves last year, but will be the Fish’s closer this year. He’ll be battled for the spot by Leo Nunez who may be the better overall pitcher, but Nunez does not have a save in three seasons with the Royals. Based purely on his lack of stats from last year, you should be able to pick up Lindstrom in a late round and pick up a nice number of saves.
Joel Hanrahan, RP, Nationals — Joel Hanrahan took over the closer role last year for the Nationals and ended the year with 9 saves. He can also help your strike out totals; Hanrahan had 93 K’s in 84.1 innings last year.
American League Relief Pitcher Sleepers
Frank Francisco, RP, Rangers — Frank Francisco blew more saves last year (6) than he actually saved (5). Francisco, however, has the closer role this year for the Rangers. He has some serious K potential too; he had 83 strike outs in 63.1 innings pitched.
Joey Devine & Brad Ziegler, RP, Athletics — Who is the Athletics closer is still anybody’s guess. Both had record seasons last year so the Athletics are in good hands regardless of whom they go with. Joey Devine had the lowest ERA in the history of MLB for a pitcher with over 40 innings pitched. Devine didn’t allow an earned run in 24 straight appearances and ended the season at 0.59. Brad Ziegler broke the all-time record for most consecutive innings without givine up a run when he twirled 27 scoreless innings.