The same day as the announcement of Buster Posey winning the National League Rookie of the Year, the American League award was bestowed upon Neftali Feliz, the closer of the Texas Rangers. Similar to Posey, Feliz earned 20 of the 32 first place votes for the award.
Feliz outpaced Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson for the award, who received eight first place votes. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia finished third.
Neftali was one of our top sleepers as a starter coming into draft season last year, but he got moved into the bullpen as the season wore on. By the break, he had converted 23 save opportunities and was named to multiple All-Star teams. And on September 1, Feliz clocked a fastball at 103.4 MPH. While his fastball feat turned out to happen the same night that Aroldis Chapman lit up the speed gun at 103.9 MPH – his heater still registers as the third fastest observed pitch in MLB history.
Statistically, Feliz finished the season 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA, 71 strikeouts, and a 0.88 WHIP in 69.3 innings of work. By season’s end, he was owned in over 99% of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
And, with Feliz’s top 5 ranking on our first list of 2011 fantasy baseball closers, expect him to be owned in around 100% of fantasy leagues again in 2011.