The first three months of the 2013 fantasy baseball season are in the books, and now we’re really starting to get a feel for the fantasy baseball landscape. RotoBaller will be updating our positional rankings over the next week. Today, we’re revisiting the relief pitcher rankings we initially published in April. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs with the expert community and by how much. Check out our tier-by-tier analysis below the rankings, and let us know where you agree or disagree with us!
I ranked the closers or possible replacement closers in six tiers but instead of just numbering them from 1-6, I created a name for each tier. I took a look at several lists of the top 10 hottest actresses in 2013 and picked my favorite 6. Of course all 6 of these women are beautiful so as the tiers descend that does not mean the women get uglier. I think it's fun and better than just reading Tier 1-6. Get it? Got it? Good!!
The Olivia Wilde Tier (1)
Olivia Wilde is the most beautiful actress on the planet (there is no argument here, please save your bandwidth), so the closers in this tier represent the best of the best in baseball. Since they are elite, there is really not much to report in this group, save perhaps a cursory note on each's potential replacement in the case of injury. David Robertson would be the most likely candidate to supplement Mariano Rivera. Jordan Walden is filling in nicely as the setup guy for Craig Kimbrel, and since he has some closer experience from Anaheim, he should be next in line. If Aroldis Chapman where to go down with an injury, Jonathan Broxton would probably have been next, but he is presently disabled. Some experts are touting J.J. Hoover as the next choice, but I would lean towards Alfredo Simon, as (again) he has had some closing experience at the major league level with Baltimore. You cannot overstate the importance of ninth-inning experience to a manager seeking a replacement. As of right now, Tanner Scheppers is manning the eighth so he would probably get the call to step in for Joe Nathan-- though Joakim Soria is due back this weekend, he will likely start off in low-leverage situations and eased back into the eighth.
The Jennifer Lawrence Tier (2)
Jennifer Lawrence's beauty is close to Olivia's, but not quite there. Thus, the pitchers in this tier are very good, but not quite good enough to be considered elite. As I mentioned in last week's column, Jason Grilli is struggling a bit and pitching a ton of innings so far this season; if you have room, stash Mark Melancon. Grant Balfour is probably my favorite closer to watch because he is the RAGE against the pitching machine. Kenley Jansen is really close to being elite and might be by season's end. Glen Perkins and Addison Reed could be moved via trade so keep a very close watch over the next three weeks.
The Megan Fox Tier (3)
Every one of these women is unique in her own way and Megan Fox was just ridiculously hot in the Transformers movies. The closers in this tier are unique, but not as good as the second tier. I wrote about Jim Johnson last week and it seems as though he has put his struggles behind him, but I would still keep Tommy Hunter in the back of your mind. Edward Mujica has been throwing his changeup more frequently which has really contributed to his success this year, thanks to Yadier Molina blocking behind the dish. Greg Holland and Ernesto Frieri have been rock-solid this year, and each should remain the closer for his respective team for the foreseeable future. Fernando Rodney seems to have gotten back on track, but he's still walking batters in bunches. There have been some rumors that the Phillies might look to move Jonathan Papelbon before the deadline, but it seems like a longshot. It's worth monitoring, though, because either Antonio Bastardo or Phillippe Aumont would replace Papelbon if he does get traded.
The Mila Kunis Tier (4)
Mila Kunis will always have a place in my heart because or her performance in That 70's show. She can deliver a laugh-line with the best of 'em, and she's stunning in her own way, which puts her on my list as the fourth tier. These pitchers do not necessarily have a place in my heart, but they do belong in the fourth tier. It looks like Tom Wilhelmsen is back as the Mariners' closer (hallelujah!)-- I'm not sure how much more of Oliver Perez I can take. Steve Cishek has been nailz in June, but there is a possibility that he gets traded. If that happens, then I have to believe that A.J. Ramos would replace him. Ramos has not allowed a run in his last 8.2 innings. Bobby Parnell and Casey Janssen both have been reliable closers this year, and both have put up decent numbers. Chris Perez and Rafael Betancourt both just returned from injuries, and immediately were put back in the ninth-inning role. Chris Perez scares me because his injury was of the shoulder variety which is never good; I would hold on to Vinnie Pestano, even though he has been struggling. I really hate to admit this, but I now believe in Jose Veras. I dogged him earlier in the season, but Veras has been pretty darn good with some really nasty stuff. As long as he doesn't get traded, he should close the rest of the season. If he does change teams, then keep these two names in mind: Jose Cisnero and Josh Fields.
The Amanda Seyfried Tier (5)
Amanda Seyfried is like the girl next door, she is not sexy, but very, very cute. Well, this next tier consists of relievers who are definitely not sexy (nor cute, really), but I am determined to work this metaphor as far as I can, so just roll with it. Francisco Rodriguez is the new closer for the Brewers, but is he only the closer because they are showcasing him for a trade? Calling all Jim Henderson owners, please hold, thank you! I am not a huge fan of either Heath Bell or Huston Street-- I would try to package these guys in the hopes of acquiring a better closer. If you have an owner that isn't paying much attention at this point than I would sell, sell, sell before it's too late. Rumors are that there is a good chance that Kevin Gregg gets traded. I've seen some experts touting Blake Parker, but the guy that needs to be owned here is is Pedro Strop. Joaquin Benoit is an adequate stopgap, but I'm not sure he keeps this role the rest of the way. Pay close attention because I'd bet changes will be coming.
The Emma Stone Tier (6)
Emma Stone is the "perfect combination of sexy and cute," but the only perfect thing about this tier is the potential for one of these guys to eventually become his team's closer. The only reason I created this tier was to list some names that could benefit from trades, injuries or inadequacy. It is quite possible that I have left some names out but they will get addressed in my articles each week.
Stay tuned into RotoBaller.com because the next three weeks are extremely important for relievers as the trading deadline appraoched. Thanks for reading my articles each week; I hope everyone had a great July 4th!