When Should Fantasy Baseball Managers Pick Their Closers?
ALSO: WONDERING WHERE, WHEN, AND IF 2022 ALL-STAR GAME WILL BE
IBWAA members love to write about baseball. So much so, we've decided to create our own newsletter about it! Subscribe to Here's the Pitch to expand your love of baseball, discover new voices, and support independent writing. Original content six days a week, straight to your inbox and straight from the hearts of baseball fans.
Did you know…
The only players with 500 homers and three World Series rings were Hall of Famers David Ortiz, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson . . .
Ortiz had 11 regular-season walk-off homers and two more in postseason play . . .
He’s also one of four Dominicans in the Hall, along with Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero, and Pedro Martinez . . .
In three of the last six years, voting writers elected someone in his last year on their ballot (Larry Walker in 2020, Edgar Martinez in 2019, and Tim Raines in 2017). Jim Rice was chosen in his 15th and final year in 2007, while Ralph Kiner also was elected in his last try, in 1975 . . .
Maximum time on the ballot was shortened to 10 years, as opposed to 15, in 2015.
The Closer Quandary – The Closer in Fantasy Baseball
By Ray Kuhn
It is all about the challenge. We know that not all fantasy baseball categories are created equal, and when it gets to saves, that sentiment certainly rings true.
Quite simply, baseball organizations do not care about fantasy managers. To be clear, they are not supposed to and those thoughts should not be even on their radars, but it is not something that cannot be ignored when it comes to saves.
While saves are just one of the 10 standard categories we are measured by, some receive more attention than others do, and that is what we are dealing with here. How saves are handled is the source of a lot of debate, strategy, and to be honest, agony, over the course of fantasy baseball prep and then in season management as well.
One of the biggest questions on the minds of fantasy baseball managers for 2022 is how early is too early to select closers. At this point, I think the only real answer left to that question is not in the first round.
By no means do you have to agree with this logic, but you do have to understand it and play within its confines. It all comes down to economics and the simple principle that we have learned about on multiple occasions; supply and demand.
We are sick of hearing about inflation in our daily lives and its impact is less than favorable, but it applies here as well in large way. There are only 30 major league teams, so at any given point there are, at most, 15 games per day. That means there is a maximum of 15 save opportunities per day. Other than wins, for which any pitcher ultimately is eligible for, saves are the only category where there is a true finite limit as to how many are available.
Wins are easier to deal with because there are, generally, five starting pitchers per team at any given time and each get at turn on a weekly basis and all are eligible to pick up a victory. In addition, there will be a winning pitcher in every single game while the same cannot be said for saves. For the most part, there is generally only one closer at a time per team. I know there are committee situations all the time, but you have to be able to predict, at any given time, who is going to come out of the bullpen for their team in a save situation. The other problem, is that not every game is close enough to meet the criteria for a save opportunity.
This then creates the lack of supply and the presence of heavy inflation in our earlier economics exercise. So then, what are we to do?
In some cases, and wouldn’t it be great if we could do this in the real world as well, the best response is just to ignore it. Throw your hands up, and say who cares? All we are talking about here is scarcity and hyperinflation and we have not even gotten to the fact that in a good amount of cases, the best relievers are not the ones getting the save.
There is clear value in being able to pitch the ninth inning coming away with the save, but especially on the weaker teams, you are giving up strikeouts and ratio health (ERA and WHIP) to chase those saves. Roster management is not a zero-sum game, and there is risk here to three of the other pitching categories, and the weaker the pitcher, the less likely they will hold on to the closer’s job (and with it their fantasy relevancy).
Fantasy managers combat that in drafts by continuously pushing up the top closer options as they are often on better teams, have greater stability in their roles, and have a better chance at contributing in the other pitching categories.
At the draft table, or in the auction room, there is nothing wrong with not being the number one trendsetter. However, you do want to be an early adopter. Depending on your draft slot, there is a fine line to walk in which you do not start a run at the position, but also that you do not miss out at the position.
The main thing to be aware of is how your league works. Is there an overall component in which saves then become more valuable? Is there trading? How do free agent acquisitions work? How does this particular league generally handle closers?
Breaking the position into tiers generally serves as the best starting point and helps to ensure that you secure options from each of the three main tiers; elite, serviceable and secure, and then questionable/committee types. Within each group, tiers will, and should, be broken down deeper and this should follow your general overall strategy.
This season is little more difficult as we are currently drafting and roster planning with many player acquisitions still yet to be completed. That puts the emphasis on security and skill more than ever given the uncertainty.
If you are going to take chances in your draft, the closer position is likely where it is going to be, and that is all right. Well, as long as everyone else is doing it, then you just need to make sure you select the right players.
Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantasy Alarm and podcasting at Friends With Fantasy Benefits after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or firstname.lastname@example.org as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game.
Will Dodgers Actually Host All-Star Festivities This Summer?
By Dan Schlossberg
This will be the fourth time — and third in Los Angeles — that the Dodgers have hosted the Baseball All-Star Game.
But it won’t happen without a lot of angst first.
Originally scheduled for 2020, the Dodger Stadium All-Star Game was lost when the season was squeezed into 60 games during the worst of the COVID pandemic.
Knowing how much time and effort Atlanta put into its already-planned 2021 game, Major League Baseball decided to would wedge Los Angeles into the open 2022 slot.
But then work stoppage — actually a lockout imposed by the Commissioner of Baseball — reared its ugly head.
There’s still no baseball. Spring training is delayed, the regular schedule is threatened, and the All-Star Game is in limbo. Again.
Bad enough that Atlanta was denied hosting privileges last year after Rob Manfred determined that Georgia’s new voter registration law would penalize black fans. So he moved the game — and its attached memorial tribute to Braves icon Hank Aaron — to Denver.
He could have moved it to L.A., which had been preparing to host the year before, but decided to wait until 2022. Maybe he forgot that the game could be scrapped again if the protracted labor war can’t be settled.
Already, it’s the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history.
The Dodgers have hosted three previous games: in Brooklyn in 1949 and Los Angeles in 1959 (second game) and 1980.
The Midsummer Classic is scheduled for Seattle in 2023 so it will be on the West Coast at least two seasons in a row — assuming there are seasons.
Considering the fact that the Dodgers know how to throw a good party, here’s hoping the season gets going and the All-Star Game is played on schedule July 19th. If not, the only thing fans can look forward to it is the July 24 Hall of Fame induction, which will swell membership from 333 to 340.
At least there’s only one All-Star Game this year — and only one to lose. For four years, there were two, as part of an effort to raise money for the players’ pension fund.
In fact, Dodger stalwart Don Drysdale started both games for the National League in 1959 — 10 years after earlier Dodger Jackie Robinson was a hometown hero during the game at Ebbets Field.
Little more than an over-hyped exhibition, the All-Star Game is still one of the highlights on the baseball calendar. Let’s hope, for the sake of all, that we have one in 2022.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is author or co-author of 40 books and covers the game for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and more. E.mail him at email@example.com.
Lance Lynn pitched in the last post-season game Tony La Russa managed for the Cardinals and the first one he managed for the White Sox – even though the two games were 10 years apart . . .
The Red Sox hit grand-slams in consecutive innings against the Astros in ALCS Game 2 and another slam a day later but still lost the series . . .
In 2021 World Series Game 4, the Astros started a Cy Young Award winner (Zack Greinke) against an Atlanta rookie who had never started a regular-season game (Dylan Lee) but still lost . . .
NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes (Brewers) began last season without yielding a walk to any of his first 126 batters . . .
Celebrating his team’s NL Central title clinch, Milwaukee’s Devin Williams punched a wall for no apparent reason and was unable to pitch in the playoffs.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.