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While we aren’t even halfway done with the 2016 season, I’m going to jump ahead in a time machine to the mindset of fantasy players heading into the 2017 draft season and later in the 2016 season.

More specifically, this article will look at the value that closers have had this season and how that may affect their value next year.

This idea came to me while reading the Fantasy 30 on ESPN, which highlighted that Craig Kimbrel had not pitched since June 7 (as of Monday night’s games), and caused me to consider how much his owners paid for him during draft season, and what kind of value they got in return.

The problem goes beyond Kimbrel as several players drafted as closers lost their job quickly or never had it, despite their relatively high draft price.

With that said, let’s take a look at what we have learned so far.

Closer Values ROS and Beyond

How they stood heading into the season

While this may be obvious to many, it seems worth rewinding back three months to remind ourselves of how we valued closers at the beginning of the year.

Kenley Jansen, Wade Davis, and Craig Kimbrel were clearly drafted as the top tier of closers, all drafted on average around the 65th pick.

Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal, Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman, and Zach Britton made up a second tier whose ADP spanned from the 87th overall pick to 95th.

Cody Allen, Dave Robertson, Ken Giles, Johnathan Papelbon, Hector Rondon, Francisco Rodriguez, and Huston Street were in the 3rd tier of closers and had their ADP span from 102 to 133.

Closers taken after that were viewed as either having major flaws or posing a major risk of losing their jobs and included A.J. Ramos, Shawn Tolleson, Glen Perkins, Andrew Miller, Santiago Casilla, Brad Ziegler, Jake McGee, and Sean Doolittle. They were taken relatively late in drafts.

There are also some notable performers missing on this list and include Fernando Rodney, Jeremy Jeffress, Arodys Vizcaino, Roberto Osuna, Steve Cishek, Jeanmar Gomez and Alex Colome.

Where they stand now

There are no uniform or perfect ways to measure a player’s in-season value, but since it is common and easy for everyone to access I will use the ESPN Payer Rater as a point of reference for this article.

Jansen, Davis, and Kimbrel are all in the top 20 among closers on the ESPN Player Rater (accurate as of Monday’s games) and are third, fourth, and 16th respectively among relievers. Kimbrel is lower on the list, but that comes mostly from the number of save opportunities, something out of his control.

Of the second tier, three of the five closers are in the top 20 on the player rater, though Chapman is likely on his way to that designation as he missed the early part of the season. That said, nearly all of those players have done what is expected.

After that, things get rough. Of the third tier closers, only Hector Rondon currently stands in the top 20, though Rodriguez and Allen sit at 21st and 25th respectively. However, the rest can fairly be classified as disappointing, with Ken Giles returning precious little value (though that could be changing quickly), and Street and Papelbon battling injury)

The fourth tier was picked mostly later in drafts so it’s hard to find fault with what they have done, even though several have flamed out to this point in the season.

The striking part of the list is all the guys who were not drafted or were cast aside during draft season. Laugh, scoff, or do whatever is necessary, but Fernando Rodney is perfect in save opportunities and hasn’t allowed an earned run. He is currently 17th on the ESPN Player Rater.

Jeremy Jeffress hasn’t been spectacular but has been steady and is currently 13th on the ESPN Player Rater.

Steve Cishek, a player understandably abandoned after his terrible performance last year, is currently 10th on the player rater. Jeanmar Gomez, a player who was thought of in even lesser esteem than Rodney heading into the season, is ninth and Roberto Osuna eighth.

The star of the show however, is Alex Colome. He is the clear closer for the Rays now and is second on the ESPN Player Rater.

What do we do now?

It’s great to list all these facts, but the real question is what do we with this knowledge? First, for any keeper or dynasty owner that doesn’t expect to win this season, putting closers on the block is a prudent move. Especially if you have an elite closer.

It’s great to list all these facts, but the real question is what do we with this knowledge? First, for any keeper or dynasty owner that doesn’t expect to win this season, putting closers on the block is a prudent move. Especially if you have an elite closer.

They will likely fetch a large return, and replacing them, at least their save production, by next season shouldn’t be too difficult if you are diligent on the waiver wire. This season’s list serves an example of how diligence on the waiver wire can reward owners looking for a closer.

For season long leagues, the advice is a bit trickier. How to value closers has always been a topic that causes plenty of disagreements among those in the industry. The crew at ESPN stand out among those who preach to wait on closers, while many others have argued that grabbing closers early is a must, not only for saves but also to help with ratio stats.

Personally, I found a middle ground between the theories and preferred to grab two closers in quick succession right in the middle of the pack, like Mark Melancon and Jonathan Papelbon.

However, this season may push me (and probably others) to rethink my strategy with closers. Though it’s early to nail down a concrete plan, an extreme approach may be the best way to approach drafts next season. That is, go all in and draft Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman (or some similar combination) or speculate for saves both in the draft and throughout the season.

Getting bogged down in the middle tiers of pitchers seems to be quite a risky proposition and at that point in drafts, there are starters or other hitters who will be keys to your championship run.

At this point, this is all food for thought, but at least it should give us all something to chew on.

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