Top 10 MLB Fantasy Sleepers
Top 10 MLB Fantasy Batters
Top 10 MLB Fantasy Starting Pitchers
Sorry, You Missed the Cut: Jonathan Broxton, Drew Storen, Houston Street
#10. Jose Valverde, Closer, Detroit Tigers
Soriano being signed by the Yankees as a setup man allows Valverde to be added to this list as the #10 closer for the 2011 season. The Tigers are strengthening their pitching staff and now have one of the best setup men in the league in Benoit. The Tigers also re-signed Zumaya, who can help this bullpen if he can stay healthy. Valverde is a great pickup for the 2011 fantasy season.
#9. Joe Nathan, Closer, Minnesota Twins
Nathan missed all of 2010 due to injury. Although I wouldn’t expect him to return to his 2009 self, there is a good chance he will once again be one of the most dominant closers in the game. Nathan had 47 saves in 2009 with a 2.10 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
#8. Andrew Bailey, Closer, Oakland A’s
Bailey missed a month during the 2010 season from mid-July to mid-August, but came back strong and should continue his progression as a closer. Bailey managed to keep a very low 1.47 ERA, which is more impressive than the 25 saves and 42 strikeouts. Bailey is a great value pick for one of your closer positions.
#7. Jonathan Papelbon, Closer, Boston Red Sox
Papelbon had 37 saves and 76 strikeouts, but had an unimpressive 3.90 ERA and had seven losses and 8 blown saves. It was a rough year for Papelbon, but he still is a top 10 closer and should have a solid year.
#6. Francisco Rodriguez, Closer, New York Mets
In just 53 games last year Rodriguez recorded 25 saves and 67 strikeouts with a 2.20 ERA. Rodriguez had a very unfortunate incident that ended his season by way of an injury. Rodriguez looks to gain his credibility back and deliver this season, and he has the talent to do so. This might seem like a risky pick, but I like Rodriguez to bounce back strong this season.
#5. Mariano Rivera, Closer, New York Yankees
Rivera did not have a very impressive season last year. Rivera only had 45 strikeouts and 33 saves, both way under average. It is hard to tell if Rivera is finally past his prime, or if he simply had an off year. This 40 year-old still has some game left, but he looks hittable for the first time in his 16 year career.
#5. Rafael Soriano, Closer, Tampa Bay Rays Signed by the Yankees as a setup man
Soriano has settled in nicely at the closer position, and at 31 he still has a lot left in his arm. He racked up 45 saves with a 1.73 ERA. Although his strikeouts could stand to be higher (57 in 62 innings), Soriano has kept walks dqown to 14 and batting average against is at a very impressive .149. Look for Soriano to get 40 saves with a 2.00 ERA and around 60 strikeouts.
#4. Joakim Soria, Closer, Kansas City Royals
Soria had another great year for a bad team. Soria only allowed 16 walks and recorded 71 strikeouts with 43 saves and an ERA of 1.78. The Royals look to be a worse team in 2011 with the loss of Greinke and other prospects, but Soria should hold strong, even if he is traded.
#3. Carlos Marmol, Closer, Chicago Cubs
My upset top 3 pick is Carlos Marmol. The Cubs were too bad last year to recognize how good Carlos Marmol was. Marmol dominated hitters and led all closers with 138 strikeouts. Although he did allow 52 walks, he still managed a 2.55 and had the lowest batting average against out of all closers at .147! (Hong-Chi Kuo RP LA Dodgers has a 1.39 BAA) The Cubs should be improved to give Marmol more than his 38 saves from 2010.
#2. Heath Bell, Closer, San Diego Padres
Heath Bell had an amazing season with 47 saves, 6 wins, and 86 strikeouts. Bell allowed only one home run in 70 innings of baseball. The Padres will not give him as many save opportunities this season as in 2010, but his overall performance should not drop much.
#1. Brian Wilson, Closer, San Francisco Giants
The man who threw the final pitch of the 2010 season is #1 for fantasy closers/relief pitchers. Wilson led MLB in saves last season with 48. Wilson also had 93 strikeouts, a 1.81 ERA, and allowed only 26 walks. Wilson is still getting better, and the Giants should have plenty of save opportunities for him once again in 2011.