Predicting the Top 10 Finishers for Saves

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Over the past couple of years, there's been a bit of a shift in how relievers are typically used. At times, managers will bring their closers in to pitch in "high leverage" situations, that might surface before the ninth inning. That type of reasoning is very sound and makes sense. Why save a closer for a save opportunity that may or may not exist? (I'm looking at you Buck Showalter).

That said, the save is still a telling stat. There's a great deal of value in being able to rely on pitchers to get the final three outs (sometimes more, sometimes less) in a game. From a fantasy perspective, a dominant closer helps in many areas. In addition to being able to win a single category alone (saves), good closers can help a great deal in ERA and WHIP. Here is a look at the potential top ten finishers in the saves category. You can read about our other predictions here.

Editor's note: make sure to use our free Rankings Wizard - all of your 2017 fantasy baseball rankings, in one easy place. Tiered rankings for every position, points leagues, auction values, impact rookies and lots more. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

2017 Predictions: Top 10 Saves Leaders

1) Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen got paid this offseason! Jansen has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball since he made his debut in 2010, and that shouldn’t change now that he has bundles of money. Jansen has never had an ERA above 2.85, and he has 44 or more saves in two of the last three years. Jansen is right on target to have his first 50-save season.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

47

68.2

1.83

104/11

2017 (projected)

52

65

2.20

100/18

2) Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Zach Britton had a historic season in 2016. After April 30th, the lefty allowed just one earned run the rest of the way. In addition, he was 47/47 in save opportunities. The 2017 Baltimore team will have an improved offense, and the young pitching rotation is expected to take a step forward this year as well. Both of those factors should result in Britton getting a slight bump in save chances this season; expect him to convert them at a high rate.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

47

67

0.54

74/18

2017 (projected)

50

70

1.75

75/20

3) Seung-hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals

Seung-hwan Oh’s first season in the big leagues was a very dominant one. At 34 years old, his shelf-life in the majors will likely not be very lengthy, but while he’s here, he should continue to dominate. Oh had just 19 saves last season, but that’s because it took him a while to supplant Trevor Rosenthal as the closer. With a full season as the closer, he should pile up the saves.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

19

79.2

1.92

103/18

2017 (projected)

47

72

2.20

90/22

T-4) Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Craig Kimbrel’s first season in the American League didn’t go as planned. His struggles were likely more a result of bad luck than a decline in skills. Kimbrel’s 97.3 MPH average fastball tied the career best average he set in 2015, and the 15.1 percent swinging strikes he generated were right on pace with his career average of 15.8 percent. The big outlier seems to be his 70.9 percent LOB%; drastically higher than his career total of 83.2 percent. That should correct itself, and Kimbrel should go back to his dominant ways.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

31

53

3.40

83/30

2017 (projected)

46

64

2.15

90/26

T-4) Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

Mark Melancon doesn’t fit the prototypical bill of a dominant closer, but his numbers have indicated otherwise. Melancon had 47 saves in 2016, and had 51 conversions in 2015. Melancon makes the move to the spacious confines of AT&T Park in San Francisco, and he should see his stretch of four-straight dominant seasons continue both this year and in the future.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

47

71.1

1.64

65/12

2017 (projected)

46

71

1.90

62/12

 

6) Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna is just 22 years old, but the hard-throwing closer’s ice cold demeanor has resulted in some dominance under pressure. The Toronto Blue Jays have shifted identities a bit, and have morphed from an offensive juggernaut to a team built around solid starting pitching. Expect Osuna to get more save opportunities, as the Jays rely a bit more on pitching to win some close ball games.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

36

74

2.68

82/14

2017 (projected)

44

71

2.40

77/15

7) Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

It’s almost unconscionable that Aroldis Chapman – one of the most dominant relievers ever – has never had a 40-save season under his belt. That should change this year, as he settles in to his long-term role as the closer for the Yankees.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

36

58

1.55

90/18

2017 (projected)

40

63

2.08

100/25

T-8) AJ Ramos, Miami Marlins

AJ Ramos wasn’t as dominant in 2016 as he was in 2015, but he still put together his first 40-save season. When all was said and done, Ramos had a 2.81 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with some slips along the way. The WHIP was due to his 35 BB in 64 innings. The control issues are not a new thing for Ramos, but he’s extremely hard to hit and should continue to serve as the closer for Miami for all of 2017. Brad Ziegler and the emerging Kyle Barraclough will apply pressure on Ramos, but he has the stuff to hold them off.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

40

64

2.81

73/35

2017 (projected)

37

72

2.66

80/38

T-8) Sam Dyson, Texas Rangers

Sam Dyson has been a very underrated reliever since 2014. As the closer for the Texas Rangers last season, he ranked seventh in baseball with 38 saves. It was Dyson’s first full season as a closer in the big leagues, and he should continue to put a stranglehold on the position this season.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

38

70.1

2.43

55/23

2017 (projected)

37

69

2.85

65/20

10) Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Kelvin Herrera had arguably his best season in 2016. He had a career best 4.2 percent BB-rate to go along with a career high 30.4 percent K-rate. He used a 97.1 MPH average fastball to put away hitters with regularity, and he did a good job filling in for former closer Wade Davis. Herrera will be the closer for the Royals from day one, and he should instantly become one of the best the game has to offer.

SV

IP

ERA

K/BB

2016

12

72

2.75

86/12

2017 (projected)

35

68

2.55

73/20

 

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