RotoGraphs Consensus Ranks: Relief Pitchers

I think we’re the last ones to finish up. We’re so slow, Eno apparently already dropped the full spreadsheet. But, really, don’t you just want a thread where you can bag on how the Rockies claim that LaTroy Hawkins may open the season ahead of Rex Brothers on the depth chart?

Reliever rankings come courtesy of the guys (Alan, Ben, and Colin) who’ll once again be on Bullpen Report duty. You aren’t going to quibble with the top six or so (although you might want to shuffle up the order). Where things get really interesting is wading into the quagmire of guys past RP20 or so. As always, relievers look to be a volatile breed. Do you look for guys with weaker peripherals but have the tentative “closer” tag or do you draft for peripherals and assume your guy will float to the top as the season grinds along? And who knows who Houston is going to tab as their next closer? Are you going to be the one rolling the dice on Josh Fields, Chad Qualls, or (insert reliever X here)? (Aside: it’s not me.)

Sidenote: Starters who may qualify as relievers (so no Alexi Ogando, Brett Anderson, Hector Santiago, or Drew Smyly) were not ranked. In particular, a couple of my leagues have decided to implement a starting “penalty” for getting “GS” out of your “RP” slot, so you’re on your own if you see a couple SP/RP guys and think they can be helpful for your team.

Rankings based on 5×5 roto, 12 teams with 9 pitchers. Each ranker had their own mix of projections and intuition.

EDIT: There were some formatting issues with the table when first published that caused some of the players to not be aligned with their correct ranks. Should be fixed now.

Player Ben Colin Alan
1 Craig Kimbrel 1 1 1
2 Aroldis Chapman 2 2 3
3 Kenley Jansen 3 3 2
4 Greg Holland 4 5 4
5 Trevor Rosenthal 5 4 6
6 Koji Uehara 6 6 5
7 David Robertson 7 7 8
8 Glen Perkins 8 8 7
9 Sergio Romo 9 10 10
10 Jason Grilli 10 9 12
11 Joe Nathan 12 12 9
12 Addison Reed 11 13 11
13 Jim Henderson 15 11 14
14 Jim Johnson 13 19 13
15 Casey Janssen 17 15 16
16 Grant Balfour 14 17 21
17 Bobby Parnell 19 18 15
18 Jonathan Papelbon 16 16 23
19 Fernando Rodney 20 20 19
20 Huston Street 21 22 17
21 Ernesto Frieri 18 24 18
22 Neftali Feliz 24 14 24
23 Rafael Soriano 22 23 23
24 John Axford 27 21 26
25 Steve Cishek 23 29 22
26 Nate Jones 25 25 27
27 Tommy Hunter 26 27 25
28 Rex Brothers 29 26 28
29 Jose Veras 28 30 29
30 Joaquin Benoit 33 28 36
31 Joakim Soria 31 31 31
32 Tyler Clippard 32 32 37
33 LaTroy Hawkins 30 42 32
34 Luke Gregerson 35 33 38
35 Mark Melancon 34 34 39
36 Brian Wilson 37 38 34
37 Sergio Santos 38 35 43
38 Cody Allen 41 36 42
39 Josh Fields 40 39 41
40 Carlos Martinez 36 43 30
41 Jesse Crain 39 46 40
42 Luke Hochevar 42 40 44
43 Edward Mujica 48 44 35
44 Ryan Cook 44 41 45
45 Junichi Tazawa 49 52 33
46 Darren O’Day 43 45 51
47 Pedro Strop 45 48 47
48 Danny Farquhar 52 37 52
49 J.J. Putz 46 47 48
50 Chad Qualls 47 49 46
51 Francisco Rodriguez 50 51 49
52 Tanner Scheppers 51 50 55
53 Brad Ziegler 54 53 50
54 Kevin Siegrist 56 54 54
55 Heath Bell 53 55 56
56 Jason Motte 55 56 53



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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.


36 Responses to “RotoGraphs Consensus Ranks: Relief Pitchers”

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  1. Vic says:

    I think everyone’s too low on Frieri.

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    • quinceleather says:

      dotn let the cat out of the bag…there are others–wait until my drafts are done

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    • Actually, while I am low on Frieri, some of the ranks ended up offset by a line in the table.

      That has been corrected now (Frieri jumps up slightly to 18, 24, 18 among the three rankers).

      Thanks for pointing that out so I could catch it!

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      • RotoworldModsAreNazis says:

        He’s still way too low. I’d put him ahead of the 5 guys in front of him along with Henderson.

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  2. californiajag says:

    Through some offseason moves I currently have:

    Holland $0
    Jansen $1
    Rosenthal $0
    Uehara $3

    They each go up ten bucks if I keep them. How many should I keep? Was leaning toward Holland/Jansen for a combined $21 but this is the first ranking I’ve seen with Rosenthal over Holland so now I’m rethinking.

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    • Depends on how long you keep them and what the going rate for non-kept closers is.

      My gut tells me to keep Holland, Jansen, and Rosenthal. If mid-tier closers go for double-digits in the draft, I’d also keep Uehara and then try and trade one (or more) of the guys to a closer-hungry team.

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      • californiajag says:

        We have four available “core” spots that stay the same price for two years, then go up $10 after (so for example, Holland would be $0 in 2014, $0 in 2015, then go up to $10). Ten total keeper slots available; all non-core keepers go up $10 each year.

        I already have:

        Core $8 Mike Trout
        Core $41 Miguel Cabrera
        Core $23 Clayton Kershaw
        Core $15 Adam Jones
        $3 Yasiel Puig ($13)
        $26 Hanley Ramirez ($36)
        $12 Adrian Beltre ($22)
        $0 Alex Cobb ($10)

        If I keep three of the closers I’d have to throw Cobb back or make a consolidation trade, which is really hard at this point.

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      • Well, it’s almost a pick-2 out of your collection then, with Jansen being a nose ahead of the rest.

        I’d be burning up the phones trying to deal the other two closers if you aren’t planning on keeping them. Outside of Uehara’s age, there are few concerns among the top-6 guys. After that everyone seems to have at least one question mark, so if someone is an owner that feels they need an elite closer, they will probably be willing to pony up.

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      • Chicago Mark says:

        I was just reading this post for some rp ideas. How does anyone…..ANYONE get the top two hitters (Cabrera and Trout), THE top pitcher, a top 2 SS, another top 3 x 3 baseman, another top 5 OF’er and…..AND the top four relief pitchers as holdovers. Cali is either in a 2 team league, playing with the dumbest bunch in the world, or???. It would be hard to get all these in a two team league. I love these posts.

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  3. Red says:

    FYI: Robertson link to Roberts

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  4. Detroit Michael says:

    Luke Hochevar looks too high to me. His track record of excellence is only 70 IP. He’s in a deep bullpen with a solid closer, so the saves expectation should be low. I’d rather have any of the other pitchers listed within 10 picks of Hochevar.

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    • If you need saves, then I agree he’s less likely than some of the guys behind him to provide value in that category.

      However, among all RP last season, he was top-15 in both K% and SIERA, so if he can maintain that level of performance, he’ll offer elite rates and potentially elite holds.

      Ex: if you desperately need saves, you may look at Pedro Strop ahead of Hochevar. Otherwise, I want Hochevar.

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      • jonas says:

        Nice job ranking Farquhar. As a Rays fan (okay, dont need to be a rays fan to know about Rodney), I dont see Rodney holding him off ROS. 2 Other rankers, not so good.

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      • I’ll admit my ranking of Farquhar might be low. The Mariners didn’t sign Rodny only to give him a short leash but even with that said, Farquhar’s likely better than some of the other setup men I’ve ranked him behind.

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  5. pogotheostrich says:

    Soriano at #23 seems really undervalued to me.

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    • Can’t speak for the other rankers, but I see decline in FBv, decline in K%, decline in SwStr%, and decline in F-Strike% and I’m worried.

      He also got knocked down a couple pegs because there Clippard and (potentially) Storen are capable options behind him.

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    • Ashman says:

      He will lose his job by July

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    • I’m with Colin here. Soriano had major slippage last year that was overshadowed by his respectable ERA. The bet here is that the ERA is closer to the mid-high 3′s and with Storen and Clippard behind him, his name is more valuable than his likely results.

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  6. Roto Wizard says:

    Any thoughts on Stolmy Pimentel? I’d rather have him over a guy like Heath Bell, Franky R and Chad Qualls. I get that he’s a long reliever who will make some starts, but there’s a chance that when Grilli’s arm falls off he could also vulture some saves from Melancon. He’s looking damn fine this spring and sat about 95 mph with his fastball during his call up last season. Might hit a K per inning.

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    • I am generally a huge fan of hard-throwing youngsters in the bullpen because I think their stuff plays up making them more appealing upside plays than a generic 31 y-o MR.

      There are lots of guys who didn’t make our list (Pimental, Kevin Gausman, Rubby de la Rosa, etc.) who have the upside of being elite MR arms but weren’t established enough to make our first list.

      That said, past like 40 on our list, it becomes a game of “pick em” with who you personally think are better options. I like to just try and draw raw peripherals and let the depth charts chip fall where they may at that point.

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  7. kozilla says:

    Am I the only one who think Putz is going to win the Closer job in ARZ out of camp?

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    • As an Experienced Closer™, Putz will be a respectable option for Arizona but they didn’t move Matt Davidson so Reed could take over setup duties.

      It seems as though there will be a ‘competition’ but my guess is that it’s rigged.

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  8. ML610 says:

    Hochevar is the guy ahead of herrera?

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    • Yeah, Hochevar is next in line for KC. However, Herrera certainly remains an intriguing play for fantasy. Only Aroldis Chapman and Bruce Rondon had a higher average FBv last year. If his HR issue is sorted out by change in approach or just regression, he could have a monster year, he probably should have been noted in the rankings.

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  9. e says:

    peralta had 40 holds last year. how repeatable is that? isn’t that a big enough number to warrant a top 50ish spot?

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  10. Scott says:

    What?? Kimbrel #1? I think that’s going to be a controversial choice.

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  11. James R. says:

    Have Uehara 1$ and Holland at 10$. Traded Robertson, who was 18$ for Lenoys Martin and his SB’s at 17$. The 3- top ranked AL (only) Closers in your rankings. I should be good with Saves going into this years auction. In Holds league have McGee 2$, Adam Miller 1$ and Doolittle at 5$. Only keeping two. I’m thinking lose Doolittle because of Gregerson and the higher contract. Any comments?

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    • Holds are volatile enough that it doesn’t really matter too much if you aren’t concerned with holds + scab saves. I’d just chase the peripherals at that point.

      I assume you mean Andrew Miller and, if so, I have no qualms with your strategy. Doolittle is kind of platoon independent and you should be able to find two other RP with nice periphs for ~=$5.

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  12. SF 55 for life says:

    cishek looks really low

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    • I’m bringing down the average, so I’ll take the heat.

      Cishek gave more than anyone expected last year, but couple the fact that he’s on a bad team, the team got Carter Capps in the offseason, and he still is prone to getting raked by lefties and I’m leery.

      I’m probably a few spots too low, but I can’t imagine him being on any of my teams this year. Of course, if he puts up another 3.00ish season while minimizing the blowups, it’s value I missed out on.

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    • Agree with all the points Colin said. In addition the difference between the 15th and 25th ranked closers is pretty minimal. You could rationalize taking him above a few of the guys he’s ranked behind, they’re all in the same relative tier.

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  13. Michael says:

    why so low on Nate Jones? High k/9 rate and likely closer for Sox. Is it because of lack of closing experience or something else I don’t know about?

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    • For me, it was a job security thing. He’s not 100% locked into the gig and even if he opens the season as closer, as an “unproven commodity” he is on shakier ground that more proven (TM!) guys (even if they have worse periphs).

      Has whiff upside to be in top 15ish range if he can run with job, so he’s a nice value play if he slips out of the top 20 or so.

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    • He doesn’t have the length of leash as the guys ranked ahead of him.

      With that said, he’s a great target in all drafts.

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