Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Playing the Saves Market

by Todd Zola, on March 26, 2014 @ 08:32:03 PDT


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How are you approaching saves in your various drafts and auctions?

Greg Morgan

With much prayer and supplication.

Tim Heaney

Most years, I'd agree with Greg. This year? Not so much. 

Minnesota Twins RP Glen Perkins
Perkins a popular pick

I'm not necessarily "Get Craig Kimbrel" in your average league but definitely not going much lower than "Get David Robertson or Glen Perkins" ... and I'm then waiting a long time for a second and sometimes third." Depends on how the draft board plays out.

I've tried as often as possible to avoid messing with the middle tiers because they're often inflated. The dwindling reliability of middle-rounds offense and the developing homogeneous collection of useful starting pitching allow you to focus on a big-armed closer. For as much as we like to hate on closer reliability, at the time you're getting some of the quasi-elite firemen (Joe Nathan, Perkins and the like) in the average draft, you're creating some breathing room for them to fail. 

In LABR, I waited too long and had to settle for Bobby Parnell. But later, I handcuffed Joakim Soria to Neftali Feliz (whew) and tucked away Joaquin Benoit. In the Tout mixed auction, I purchased Aroldis Chapman post-injury for $11 (4-5 months of him is still worth that, in my book) then followed him up with Glen Perkins ($14) and Jesse Crain ($1 prayer). 

You don't want to go all-in every time, but you shouldn't be comfortable starting the season with nothing. When you force yourself into overpaying for FAAB candidates to get just a taste of saves potential, you're predisposed to committing even more attention to something shaky. Why not get ahead to start the season to avoid an exaggerated chase?

Brian Walton

In 2014, I haven't done anything different with closers/saves from prior years. As good as the top-tier closers are, they cost a lot of money. I saw a dependable middle tier and have been comfortable to land there in most drafts. I am fine with one closer in a mono league and spending a buck or two on a speculative play that will help my ratios in the interim. I'd rather use my FAAB elsewhere than to chase saves.

As far as drafting multiple closers in an AL- or NL-only league, I don't like to do it. It is a hammer that is difficult to dispose of. Trade values are often depressed - for the simple reason that trading partners know another new closer is going to appear among the free agents in a few weeks. Several years ago in NL Tout, I ended up with three closers. Despite a 20-saves lead on the second place team, I could not give any one of my three away. Perhaps that is also a by-product of teams being reluctant to trade with league leaders, but that is a topic for another day....

A few more Knights chime in....

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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