Top 10 Closers

Official K-Zone Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking Guti’s Ranking
1. Kenley Jansen (LAD) Kenley Jansen (LAD) Kenley Jansen (LAD) Kenley Jansen (LAD) Kenley Jansen (LAD)
2. Craig Kimbrel (BOS) Corey Knebel (MIL) Craig Kimbrel (BOS) Craig Kimbrel (BOS) Craig Kimbrel (BOS)
3. Corey Knebel (MIL) Craig Kimbrel (BOS) Corey Knebel (MIL) Roberto Osuna (TOR) Felipe Rivero (PIT)
4. Aroldis Chapman (NYY) Brad Hand (SD) Roberto Osuna (TOR) Aroldis Chapman (NYY) Wade Davis (COL)
5. Filipe Rivero (PIT) Aroldis Chapman (NYY) Aroldis Chapman (NYY) Wade Davis (COL) Corey Knebel (MIL)
6. Roberto Osuna (TOR) Ken Giles (HOU) Zach Britton (BAL) Ken Giles (HOU) Aroldis Chapman (NYY)
7. Ken Giles (HOU) Filipe Rivero (PIT) Felipe Rivero (PIT) Felipe Rivero (PIT) Sean Doolittle (WSH)
8. Wade Davis (COL) Edwin Diaz (SEA) Ken Giles (HOU) Raisel Iglesias (CIN) Raisel Iglesias (CIN)
9. Raisel Iglesias (CIN) Cody Allen (CLE) Raisel Iglesias (CIN) Corey Knebel (MIL) Cody Allen (CLE)
10. Brad Hand (SD) Raisel Iglesias (CIN) Cody Allen (CLE) Greg Holland (FA) Alex Colomé (TB)
Sleeper Archie Bradley (CLE) Archie Bradley (ARI)

Sean Doolittle (WSH)

Edwin Diaz (SEA) Archie Bradley (CLE)


Closer has long been the home of the players who can put up the best inning-by-inning results, and as I have written, they are the future of the game. If this future stays with top closer Kenley Jansen, it’s in good hands. Jansen had multiple historic stretches in 2018, and he finished with a 1.31 FIP, 1.82 xFIP, and 1.48 SIERA. His peripherals supported the historic numbers, including the 14.36 K/9, 0.92 BB/9, and 5.57 WPA as a reliever. And, he did all that with a sustainable .289 BABIP and 8.9 HR/FB. While nobody could get close to what Jansen did, Craig Kimbrel is a pretty darn good second best. The Boston closer struck out nearly half the batters he faced (49.6%) on his way to, and forgive me for spewing stats twice in a row here, a 1.43 ERA, 1.42 FIP, 1.50 xFIP, 1.18 SIERA, and 4.48 WPA. “Evil” Corey Knebel was a major part of the 2017 Brewers’ breakout, with 46 shutdowns (as defined by Fangraphs). A 14.92 K/9 led his charge to a 1.78 ERA. It’s hard to call fourth best closer Aroldis Chapman‘s 2017 a “down year,” but for his standards, 12.34 K/9 was just not good enough. He induced a stellar 48.7% ground balls last season, and one can reasonably expect a sub-2.50 ERA in 2018, although it’s not the guarantee it was a couple years ago. While some would argue that Filipe Rivero broke out a couple years ago, he came to the public eye this season after being named the Pirates’ closer. The 25-year-old showed no growing pains, posting a 1.67 ERA with 10.51 K/9, 2.39 BB/9, and 0.48 HR/9. Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays was a FIP champion last year, with a figure of 1.74. He reached that thanks to a 9.22 K/BB ratio and 48% ground ball rate. Old early season worries were quickly overcome by #7 closer Ken Giles, who nearly hit 12 strikeouts per nine on his way to a 2.30 ERA and 2.39 FIP. The ability to retain a low home run rate has been key to Giles success, which the Astros hope he can repeat as they make another championship run. Wade Davis brings his services to Coors Field in 2018 after another year of strong statistics. Davis’ 2017 ERA of 2.30 is actually the highest that it’s been in four years, and if he continues to strike batters out at a high rate, he can expect to continue his consistently strong statistics. Rising senior Raisel Iglesias has improved in every season of his young career, so far culminating in a 2.49 ERA and 2.70 FIP in 2017. Iglesias owns a similarly counter-intuitive yet possible portfolio of high strikeouts and low home runs to many of the closers ahead of him on this season’s top 10 list. Instead of getting traded from the Padres, Brad Hand got extended by his home team this offseason. He slots in 10th on the overall chart after breaking out with a 2.16 ERA, backed by 5.20 K/BB and a batted ball profile that built a 2.56 SIERA.

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Baseball Reference

Images Attributed to:
Getty Images


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