Joe Nathan had to go and get hurt on us so here’s another look at the closer rankings.

1.  Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
Others prefer Mariano Rivera, but Broxton’s strikeout totals put him as the top of my chart.

2.  Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
At some point he’ll slow down. At least I think he will. Until I see it though, I won’t believe it

3.  Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
Papelbon anchors one of the best bullpens in baseball. He should get plenty of opportunities to close out ballgames.

4.  Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals
Soria could lead the league in the highest percentage of saves in relation to team wins. He also sports low a ERA and WHIP with a high strikeout total.

5.  Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
The Twins have some interest in Bell. If he stays with San Diego or goes to Minnesota, he’ll be in line for another spectacular season.

6.  Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers should be improved in 2010, thanks in part to Valverde.

7.  Andrew Bailey, Oakland A’s
Previously I had him lower on the list, but his high strikeout totals and low peripherals should make him one of the best closers once again.

8.  Francisco Rodgriguez, New York Mets
I’m a little afraid that the Mets are cursed, though he did manage to put together a solid season last year despite the injuries.

9.  Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
The Giants have the pitching to keep the scores down with an offense that’s not going to run over many teams. Wilson is in great shape to put up another fine season.

10.  Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
If he stumbles Fernando Rodney could get a look, but Anaheim’s style is very conducive to racking up huge save totals.

11.  Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays
I’d rank him higher if he played in a different a different division. That said, he’s still a quality option thanks to his large strikeout totals.

12.  Huston Street, Colorado Rockies
As long as the second-half Rockies show up, Street be a solid #1 fantasy closer.

13.  Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati Reds
Cordero has become one of the best at closing out a game. His ballpark and less than spectacular strikeout totals keep him from climbing higher.

14.  Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves
The jury is out whether or not he can do it for a full year again. I in the camp that says he can…at a very high level.

15.  Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers
At 42 I can’t count on him as a #1 option, but his solid save totals and low WHIP make him a good #2.

16.   Frank Francisco, Texas Rangers
C.J. Wilson did well when filling in for Francisco last year. That concern puts him in the middle of the pack.

17.  Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
He was amazing in the first half last year. I think he steps back, but remains a solid #2.

18.  Chad Qualls, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks pitching staff could prove to be one of the best in the league meaning Qualls has a chance to move even higher up the list.

19.  David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners
I’m a little worried that last year was a fluke, but with one of the best pitching duos handing him their leads, I think he’ll be solid.

20.  Octavio Dotel, Pittsburgh Pirates
I’m not sure he reaches the 30 save mark, but he could be among the leaders in strikeouts among closers.

 

Click to see the rest of the 2010 fantasy baseball rankings.

Here’s my second look at Closer Rankings.

1.  Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
Clearly he’s among the top closers in the game. His strikeout total ensures him the #1 ranking.

2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
The ageless wonder continues to baffle hitters.

3.  Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
Reliable and dominant. Two excellent characteristics for a closer.

4.  Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
See #3. Slipped a bit last September, but still a high end closer.

5. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals
Kansas City’s wins are going to be close meaning Soria could pick up a nice saves total to go along with his wonderful peripherals.

6.  Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers should be improved in 2010, thanks in part to Valverde.

7.  Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
Has the benefit of pitching in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the league.

8.  Francisco Rodgriguez, New York Mets
The Mets should be much better in ’10, which means K-Rod should be a top closer once again.

9.  Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
Excellent ERA last year. Helps having Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain handing him leads.

10.  Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Anaheim’s system is ideal for closers to pick up a ton of saves.

11.  Andrew Bailey, Oakland A’s
His impressive rookie season has me excited. He should continue to post a low ERA and put up a healthy number of strikeouts.

12.  Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay has a deep bullpen so he could lose some save opportunities. That could also help keep him fresh.

13.  Huston Street, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are really coming on as a team. Street should see plenty of save opportunities.

14.  Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves
With one of the better rotations in the league, the Braves should hand Wagner a bunch of leads to protect, which has been the name of the game for Wagner for years.

15.  Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati Reds
If he can get his strikeout total up, he’ll move up the list.

16.  Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers
Hoffman continues to provide 30+ save seasons with one of the lowest WHIPs among closers.

17.  Frank Francisco, Texas Rangers
Should post an impressive strikeout total. I’m a little cautious as he has just 30 career saves.

18.   Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
I don’t expect him to be as effective as last year, especially when you look at his first half and second half splits (0.79/3.33 ERA), but he should still rack up the saves in St. Louis.

19.  Octavio Dotel, Pittsburgh Pirates
I’m not sure he reaches the 30 save mark, but he could be among the leaders in strikeouts among closers.

20.  David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners
Was a great find last year. His ERA takes a step back, but should have plenty of save opportunities with King Felix and Cliff Lee handing him leads.

21.  Mike Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles 
He’s an elite strikeout pitcher, but could struggle in the AL East.

22.  Bobby Jenks, Chicago White Sox
His ERA jumped last year, but if he can get that in order he should be good for 30+ saves.

23.  Kerry Wood, Cleveland Indians
The team is a little green, but Woods should pick up a bunch of K’s and a good amount of saves barring injury.

24.  Chad Qualls, Arizona Diamondbacks
Should give you a nice share of saves with a low ERA and WHIP to boot.

25.  Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
The strikeouts will be there, but will his hold on the closer gig be?

Click to see the rest of the 2010 fantasy baseball rankings.

The Jonathan Broxtons, Mariano Riveras, and the Jonathan Papelbons of the world are going to go early. You can chase along by adding some other elite closers (click to see top 15 closer rankings), but if you wanted to address other needs, here are some closer options that you can get later on.

David Aardsma:  His 2009 success is puzzling considering his track record. He does have the privilege of finishing off Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee starts.

Matt Capps:  I’d have more faith in him if I thought the Nationals could win more games. Still, he was brought in to close out games. He’ll bolster your depth.

 

Octavio Dotel:   We covered him already (click for the article). He’ll give you some saves, along with a bunch of strikeouts.

Jason Frasor:  He’ll have to win the job over Scott Downs. Then he’ll have to hold on to the gig. Not the best option, but a good calculated risk. He had 11 saves with a 7-3 record and a 2.50 ERA last year.

Mike Gonzalez:  Like Dotel, Gonzalez has a new home (Baltimore), and is a strikeout machine. He’s a nice RP2.

Bobby Jenks:  He doesn’t rack up the strikeouts, and his save totals have decreased the past three years, but is still a good bet for 30.

Carlos Marmol:  One of the best strikeout closers. Should get his fair share of saves as the Cubs look to rebound.

Leo Nunez:  He didn’t exactly run away with the gig when he got his chance last year. He’s the front-runner for the Marlins’ gig, but the job is anything but secure.

 

Chad Qualls: Arizona’s closer had 24 saves last year. If Brandon Webb is healthy, there should be more save opportunities.

Kerry Wood:  The switch to the American League was not favorable. Still, he’s a nice value pick to get you saves and strikeouts.

Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, or Pat Neshek: Whoever wins the Twins’ closer gig, assuming Joe Nathan is done for the year, should still be productive given their formula.

Also check out:
Value SB Options
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Here’s an early look at Closer Rankings.

1.  Jonathon Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
While I would feel more comfortable handing the ball to Mariano Rivera to close out a game, Broxton is the better fantasy closer because of his high strikeout total.

2.  Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
How long can he stay at this elite level? Until he falters, I can’t bet against him.

3. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
He’s averaged 37.8 saves with a 1.74 ERA over the past four years without much deviation from the mean.

4. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
The thing that scares me with Nathan is his ERA jumped 1.20 points when moving outside. That could present an issue at Target Field. Of course, his outside ERA was still only 2.79.

5.  Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals
His numbers have been scary good the past two years for the Royals. He’ll need to stay healthy, and have plenty of save opportunities to justify his ranking.

6.  Jose Valerde, Detroit Tigers
He struggled with just 25 saves last year, but averaged 45.5 the previous two seasons. I’m expecting that a bounce back is in order.

7.  Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets
He was about the only start that didn’t get hurt last year for the Mets. I’m expecting them to be healthier, despite Beltran’s continued woes, which should lead to more save opportunities.

8.  Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
Not surprisingly his ERA was over a half a run better at home. That’s what happens when you pitch in a pitcher’s park. He still managed 21 saves and a 3.08 ERA in 28 road games.

9.  Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
He followed up K-Rod’s record-breaking season with 48 saves of his own. Now that he has a season of closing under his belt, I expect his ERA and WHIP to decrease. He’s almost a lock to be among the league leaders in saves simply by pitching in Anaheim.

10.  Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
He’s got a good starting staff to hand him plenty of save opportunities. His strikeouts were up and his ERA down, which is ideal for a closer.

11.  Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays
Soriano was second only to Broxton for strikeouts by a closer.

12.  Andrew Bailey, Oakland A’s
Bailey was outstanding as a rookie year, and barring a sophomore slump should turn in another solid year. I only fear a limited amount of save opportunities in Oakland.

13.  Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves
He looked sharp last year for Boston. He should still have the tools to get it done for the Braves.

14.  Huston Street, Colorado Rockies
Street brings a bunch of K’s and a low WHIP to the table.

15.  Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers
Hoffman just continues churning out solid seasons. He’s a marvel.

Also check out:
2010 Top 15 First Basemen
2010 Top 15 Second Basemen

2010 Top 15 Third Basemen

2010 Top 15 Shortstops

2010 Top 15 Catchers

2010 Top 25 Outfielders
2010 Top 11 Designated Hitters
2010 Top 25 Starting Pitchers


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