Why doesn't Jim Johnson rank among top-end closers?
When you talk about the species, you mean Mariano Rivera (before he tore his ACL, and maybe for a half-dozen years afterward, given his seeming immortality), Craig Kimbrel and, well ... maybe Joe Nathan?
Many roto managers have learned not to allow previous results in such a team-dependent statistic to influence their bidding. Invariably, however, the number of saves that someone like Johnson recorded in 2012 (51, in 54 of the 73 quote-unquote save opportunities Baltimore generated) drives up his price in the sequel, at least a little, and often in hindsight, by quite a lot.
The New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, for instance, are winning organizations; they tend to manufacture chances year in and year out. Prediction models often project them to be winning teams, usually at or near the top of their respective divisions. Those systems cannot be 100 percent reliable for an array of reasons, but they aren't intended to be. They estimate a relatively high degree of confidence all teams' capacities to win games in a given season. Indirectly, but at least correlatively, we can look at their teams' facilities to conjure save opps in a similar fashion. The O's 2012 success is rooted in a range of concepts, including quality management techniques and cutting-edge evaluation, but there isn't pure statistical, or perhaps even empirical, evidence that would rate Johnson's chances of seeing 50-plus save chances again in 2013 as highly probable.
Besides, the right-hander is a ground-ball specialist who won't strike out more than 50 or so batters while he's in the closer's role. He'll depend heavily on his infield defense to help him prevent runs, and he may once again yield an ERA of 3.00 or lesser. He's nothing special, among his peers, where he has a ton of competition in what we know is an unstable field. In mixed leagues, he's probably nothing more than a top-24 reliever, except that he gets a little extra credit for some dependability points.
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About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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