|K Zone Master Ranking||Mike’s Ranking||Ian’s Ranking||Mojo’s Ranking|
|1) Andrew Miller (CLE)||Andrew Miller (CLE)||Andrew Miller (CLE)||Andrew Miller (CLE)|
|2) Dellin Betances (NYY)||Dellin Betances (NYY)||Dellin Betances (NYY)||Dellin Betances (NYY)|
|3) Addison Reed (NYM)||Brad Brach (BAL)||Addison Reed (NYM)||Dan Otero (CLE)|
|4) Brad Brach (BAL)||Nate Jones (CWS)||Brad Brach (BAL)||Addison Reed (NYM)|
|5) Dan Otero (CLE)||Kyle Barraclough (MIA)||Dan Otero (CLE)||David Phelps (MIA)|
|6) Nate Jones (CWS)||Addison Reed (NYM)||Will Harris (HOU)||Brad Hand (SD)|
|7) Kyle Barraclough (MIA)||Joe Blanton (WSH)||Nate Jones (CWS)||Kyle Barraclough (MIA)|
|8) Tyler Thornburg (BOS)||Darren O’Day (BAL)||Darren O’Day (BAL)||Brad Brach (BAL)|
|9) Darren O’Day (BAL)||Tyler Thornburg (BOS)||Tyler Thornburg (BOS)||Tyler Thornburg (BOS)|
|10) David Phelps (MIA)||Dan Otero (CLE)||Carter Capps (SD)||Joe Blanton (WSH)|
Some Brief Words of Explanation: Middle Reliever was one of the more difficult lists to make. I found that the primary reason for this was a lack of consistent stars in the field. Other than the clear top two, the rest of the lists are comprised of one-year studs who perhaps had hints of brilliance in the past, and older players attempting to come back. All the new star power is likely new to the the extreme rise of the reliever’s importance. Andrew Miller is the clear #1. He dominated last season with a K:BB ratio of 13 and impressed most recently in an elevated postseason role. He makes a case, along with Clayton Kershaw, as one of the greatest pitchers of this generation. Dellin Betances ruined his ERA with a poor September, but remains an obvious choice as the second best reliever, after compiling 15 K/9 with a 1.75 xFIP. Next comes Mets reliever Addison Reed, who finished 2016 with a sub-two ERA and 7 K:BB. He will serve as closer for 15 games while his bullpen counterpart Jeurys Familia is serving a domestic violence suspension, leading to controversy within The K Zone about his qualifications for this list, but we decided not to count it against him. Breakout Oriole Brad Brach took the reigns former superstar setup man Darren O’Day, who experienced some regression last season (although spoiler alert, he will still make the list), and he ran with it, achieving a 2.05 ERA with 10.48 K/9. Dan Otero led non-Andrew Miller middle relievers in ERA last season, and is the second player to make the chart of the Indians super-bullpen. Nate Jones got a turn at closer last season, but will return to his setup duties in 2017. He had the opportunity deservingly so, as he checked out with double digit K/9 and 1.91 BB/9 in 2016, ranking sixth. Kyle Barraclough (that’s “bear-claw” for all of you nominating him at the auction table) managed to strikeout 14 batters per nine last season. If his walk rate goes down from 5.45 (*shudders*) he can expect to challenge A.J. Ramos for the closer role. Tyler Thornburg has had a bust winter, being traded to Boston from Milwaukee and then getting hurt and blaming John Farrell’s shoulder workout, but despite time lost he ranks eighth and appeared on every writers’ list, after finishing 2016 with 12 K/9 and a 2.15 ERA. Darren O’Day was killed by control last year, or lack thereof. The submariner hopes to return to absolute dominance in 2017. Mojo has carried a second Marlin, David Phelps, into the 10th spot, after the newly converted reliever from swing man notched 114 strike outs. Among those who just missed are Ian’s Will Harris, Mojo’s Brad Hand, and the age-defying Joe Blanton, supported by Mike and Mojo alike.
We’re almost done with our top 10 series, but the fun will continue for a few more days! See it all right here. Find out when the final few lists come out by following us on Twitter and Instagram.