2012 National League Closer Rankings

1. Craig Kimbrel ATL – Fantastic Rookie Season that saw Kimbrel notch 46 saves while striking out 127 batters in 77 innings.  Only concern is how good his set-up man Jonny Venters is if Kimbrel were to falter.  But there is no other closer I’d rather have on my 2012 fantasy team then Kimbrel, so he gets the # 1 spot.  Next in line: Jonny Venters.

2. Jonathan Papelbon PHI – His last game of the season asside, 2011 was a pretty good year for Pabelbon.  Philadelphia should play their share of tight games so saves should be plentiful for Papelbon.  If you took him as the first closer off the board I wouldn’t blame you.  Next in line: Antonio Bastardo.

3. Drew Storen WAS – nice year from Storen, who didn’t even start the year as Washingtons closer.  Picked up 43 saves to go with about a K per inning.  Should be good to go again in 2012.  Next in line: Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge.

4. Joel Hanrahan PIT – Had a WHIP of 1.05 last season which goes against everything he’s shown in the past. (Even during his real good 2010 season)  So expect that to regress but he still has a secure hold on the closer job in Pittsburgh and gets over a strikeout an inning.  I like him.  Next in line: Evan Meek.

5. John Axford MIL – ERA under 2.00 with a 1.14 WHIP.  Whats not to like.  Francisco Rodriguez in the setup role doesn’t scare me very much.  Axford looks ready to have another good season in 2012.  Next in line: Francisco Rodriguez.

6. Ryan Madson CIN –  Looked like he had a 4 year deal to remain in Philadelphia.  That feel through and the Phillies quickly signed Papelbon.  All and all Cincinnati isn’t such a bad place for Madson to end up, although I’m sure he wanted more then just a one year deal.  Next in line: Sean Marshall.

7. Brian Wilson SFG –  Not a great year from my 2011 number one ranked closer.  My fault,  hopefully it didn’t cost you your league.  Still finished with 36 saves but that 1.47 WHIP was ugly.  Elbow problems ended his season early.  Already had Tommy John surgery once.  Hopefully he won’t need it again.  Next in line: Sergio Romo.

8. Jason Motte STL –   My fantasy team namesake “Drop It Like It’s Motte” became the closer for St Louis in September and never looked back.  The Cardinals used a ridiculous amount of different pitchers to close out games in 2011.  But alas Tony LaRussa is gone and hopefully new manager Mike Matheny will stick with one closer all year.  And Hopefully that closer is Jason Motte.  Next in line: Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs.

9. Houston Street SDP – SLEEPER!!!!  I love Street going into 2012.  Heath Bell was a top closer for the Padres and Street has equal if not better raw skills then Bell.  Injury history is concerning but I can almost guarantee Street will be on my fantasy team in 2012.  Next in line: Ernesto Frieri, Andrew Cashner.

10. Rafael Betancourt COL –  Has equal skill of all the top closers.  But two big red flags loom large.  Never been a closer to start the season before.  And he’s 37 years old.  If Betancourt can get past those two hurdles, you could have a top 5 closer on your hands.  Next in line: Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle.

11. J.J. Putz ARZ –  Last time Putz had 30 saves in back to back season was ’06-’07.  So your kinda betting against history if you think he’ll be an elite closer again in 2012.  A better play might be to pass on Putz and grab David Hernandez at the end of your draft.  Next in line: David Hernandez, Takashi Saito.

12. Heath Bell MIA –  Skills have been on a downhill slide the past two seasons, and now he’s moving from a very pitcher friendly park to a very hitter friendly park in Miami.  Marlins gave him closer money and three years so the job is his…..  but I’m skeptical.  Next in line: Juan Oviedo (aka Leo Nunez), Edward Mujica.

13. Frank Francisco NYM –  Francisco is a perfectly fine average closer.  Should be one of the last closers off the board but I wouldn’t mind having him on my team.  Next in line: Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch.

14. Carlos Marmol CHC –  Still had 99 strikeouts in only 74 innings.  But this was a train wreck from the very start of 2011.  Cubs GM has already said Marmol is on a short leash.  Just not a good situation.  Next in line: Kerry Wood.

15. Javy Guerra LAD –  Its not so much that I dislike Javy Guerra.  He’s a fine player.  Its just that Kenley Jensen has by far the superior skill set, I don’t see any way Jensen doesn’t lead the Dodgers in saves in 2012.  Jensen has the type of raw stuff to potentially be the best closer in the National League.  Skip Guerra and snag Jensen later in your draft.  Next in line: Kenley Jensen.

16. Brandon Lyon HOU –  If you take him your basically just wasting a draft pick.  Word is David Carpenter is next in line if when Lyon falters or gets injured (most likely both).  Carpenter has marginal control but can strike some people out.  Wilton Lopez should be in the mix as well.  But definitely avoid Lyon at all costs, even if he slips way far down in the draft.  Next in line: David Carpenter, Wilton Lopez.

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