Last season, I had the chance to pick Aroldis Champman as a free agent in my fantasy league. Little did I know he was the reason why I won my league. The ridiculously hard-throwing Cuban was mowing down hitters like King Kong Bundy chows down at a Chinese Buffet. His fastball that exceeds 100 MPH becomes unhittable to left-handers and a guessing game to righties. The Cincinnati Reds Southpaw was the best closer in 2012 and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat in 2013
With the exception of a younger Randy Johnson, I cannot remember a more intimidating pitcher in my lifetime. The ball explodes out of his hand and his location. In 71.2 innings, his WHIP was .809. That’s well less than a hit or walk per inning. Impressive? Well yes, but his most impressive statistic is 122 strikeouts. To put this in perspective, over a nine inning game, that is an average of 15.3 Ks per nine innings. Where Chapman does struggle is with walks. You may not ever hit him, but he will give up a walk or two. His 23 walks come to an average of 2.9 walks per game. In previous seasons, his control was a concern. But not last year. As long as he finds the plate, it becomes a very difficult guessing game. The four guys that hit home runs off him last season should probably get a raise.
Where Chapman does struggle is off-the-field. He’s had some strange moments during his career. In addition to some speeding concerns, a weird incident happened in a hotel with a woman. While the details were sketchy, Chapman was supposedly found tied up. While having a closer that is a bit unstable isn’t the worst thing in the world, Chapman may be bordering on legal concerns. That isn’t what the doctor ordered.
Regardless of what 2013 holds, I am fairly confident calling Chapman the best closer in baseball. And if he stays healthy, he could be one of the best of all time. Or at least stop getting into trouble.