2013 MLB Preview: Fantasy Baseball AL-Only Closer Rankings

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IMarch 21, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 2:  Geovany Soto #8 of the Texas Rangers congratulates closing pitcher Joe Nathan $36 of the Texas Rangers after a win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Here’s the 2013 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for AL-Only Leagues.

1. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

Nathan returned to form with 37 saves, 78 strikeouts, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Other than his 2011 hiccup, he’s been one of the steadiest closers over the past decade.

2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Mo is a risk coming off a knee injury, but he should be able to bounce back. His cutter will still be troublesome for opposing batters. This could be his final season and I expect Mo to go out in style.

3. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles

Johnson actually had more saves (51) than strikeouts (41) last year. His peripherals (2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) were good, so he should remain a top-10 closer.

4. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays

Rodney saved 48 games last year with 76 strikeouts. His 0.78 ERA and 0.60 WHIP were ridiculous, but his career marks are 3.75 and 1.36, respectively. His peripherals will go up, but he should be in line for a bunch of saves.

5. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians

Perez has 75 saves over the past two seasons. After averaging a 5.9 K/9 ratio in 2011, he bounced back with a 9.2 K/9 mark. His career ERA is 3.23 with a 1.18 WHIP.

6. Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners

Wilhelmsen is an under-the-radar option. He saved 29 games last year while posting a 2.50 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 79-1/3 innings (9.9 K/9).

7. Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox

Hanrahan has 76 saves over the past two seasons, and one would think that the move from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Boston will increase his save opportunities. That said, he will be facing more potent lineups.

8. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals

Holland converted 16 of his 18 save opportunities and posted a 1.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP when he took over the closer gig. The Royals have an improved rotation, which should provide more leads to protect.

9. Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics

Balfour nailed down 24 saves last year, but posted a rock solid ERA (2.53) and WHIP (0.92). He records approximately a strikeout per inning and he’s nearly untouchable at home (1.06 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).

10. Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox

Reed’s positives were his 29 saves and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. His negatives were his ERA (4.75) and WHIP (1.36). He is only 24 and has good stuff. He should make strides in his second season at closer.

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