The 15 Best Closers in Major League Baseball
15 Best Closers in MLB
As many people know, the shelf life of any bullpen pitcher is short lived. This is especially evident with the men at the end of the game.
I am a Seattle Mariners fan so I have a few good examples of men who succeeded in the short term but can count as a failure as a closer overall.
Starting in 2006 J.J. Putz was the Mariners closer, and he was fantastic through 2007. But then in 2008 Putz got hurt so the Mariners turned to Brandon Morrow to fill the hole.
Morrow lasted a total of about two weeks. Then the Mariners traded Morrow for another Brandon. Brandon League, but before League the star who was shutting down the ninth inning was David Aardsma.
Aardsma was fantastic in 2009 but then in 2010 he got injured and never recovered. So we released him.
Moving on to League. He was alright during the end of 2010, but was absolutely fantastic in 2011.
League consistently got booed off the field in 2012. Tom Wilhelmsen is the current man at the end of the game for the Mariners. But looking back over trends, I am sad to say that it wont last through 2013.
The best closers are the ones who can stay both healthy and relevant. A great example is Trevor Hoffman. A man who will obviously not be on this list, but men like Hoffman or Mariano Rivera (don’t worry, he is on the list), have stayed healthy and have done something that seems impossible.
Be consistently good.
#15 Addison Reed
Addison Reed came onto the scene last year as a rookie totaling 29 saves.
He wasn't too fantastic with a 4.75 ERA, but if you get the job done, you get the job done.
#14 Brandon League
Brandon League was fantastic back in 2011 but fell apart at the beginning of last season.
It seems that the change of scenery was all League needed. When he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers he shut down everybody. But that was as a set up man, not a closer.
We will find out whether League still has the ability to be a shut down closer this season.
#13 Sean Burnett
Sean Burnett pitched very well as a set up man for the Washington Nationals last year, bridging the way from their starters to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.
He had two saves last year and doesn't have much closing experience so we will see how he does as the new closer for the Los Angeles Angels.
#12 Grant Balfour
Grant Balfour had been a great middle reliever and set up man for most of his career, but last year he was moved into the closer role.
Balfour really burst onto the scene as a closer last season.
Being a Seattle Mariner fan I'm not going to root for Balfour to have a lot of save opportunities, but it is really fun to watch O. Co Stadium explode when he comes into the game.
#11 Tom Wilhelmsen
The Seattle Mariners needed to try a new solution at closer last season once manager Eric Wedge realized that Brandon League was not getting the job done.
Mariners closers have notoriously short lives, so we will see just how long Wilhelmsen can last.
#10 J.J. Putz
J.J. Putz has been a closer for awhile. Starting back in 2007.
When healthy, Putz has been one of the best closers in the league. The question is whether or not he can stay healthy.
#9 Rafael Soriano
Rafael Soriano did very well filling the production drop off once Mariano Rivera went down with injury.
He also did very while with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Washington Nationals will be Soriano's fourth team in five years, and I see him doing very well in our nation's capital.
#8 Jason Motte
Jason Motte has been closing games for the St. Louis Cardinals for the past few years.
This converted catcher throws upper 90s and is really learning how to pitch.
#7 Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson had an amazing season last year and was perfect for the Baltimore Orioles up until the playoffs.
Johnson ended last season with 51 saves. He shouldn't get to that level again but I predict that Johnson will still be a very good closer in Baltimore.
#6 Fernando Rodney
Fernando Rodney was the best closer in the league last year.
His 0.60 ERA was the best in the history of baseball.
During the World Baseball Classic Rodney looked like he is ready to repeat in 2013.
#5 Joel Hanrahan
Joel Hanrahan has pitched very well the last couple of seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But this year he is moving into the American League East with the Boston Red Sox.
We will see if Hanrahan can pitch as well in the American League as he did in the National League in the coming year.
#4 Chris Perez
Chris Perez has had a couple of fantastic seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
He has been very good and has been the anchor to Cleveland's "bullpen mafia".
I think Perez will continue his dominance of the American League central in 2013.
#3 Mariano Rivera
What can't you say about Mariano Rivera. He is the best of all time.
Rivera has been the best in the game for years now and the most amazing thing is he has done it all with just a cutter.
Everyone knows Rivera's story, and for years he would have been number one on this list. But there are two young guns ahead of him.
#2 Aroldis Chapman
What is there to say about Aroldis Chapman.
He throws 100 MPH and has a nasty slider that he can drop in at any time.
He had a historic season in terms of strikeout rate of 15.3. He struck out 122 batters in just 71.2 innings.
In almost any other era Chapman would be the best, but there is one man better.
#1 Craig Kimbrel
The Atlanta Braves have, without question, the best bullpen in baseball. And it is in large part due to this man.
Craig Kimbrel is amazing, straight up.
Everything he throws is amazing. H has an upper 90s fastball and sick slider. He had one of the best seasons ever for a closer in 2012, and I expect him to be close to as good in 2013.
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