From the beginning of my fantasy baseball career, a simple draft approach has been hammered into my mind and soul: Never take a closer early. The position is tenuous, save chances are unpredictable, and closers only contribute in a single category. It’s never worth an early pick – until now. Yes, the chosen one has come to break the mold and save us all.
Kimbrel Be Thy Name
Fantasy championships and tales of glory will be delivered to all who put their faith in the golden arm of Craig Kimbrel. His fastball is too fast for fiber optics, his curveball is sharper than HD. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is reason for hope in a closer, and Kimbrel be thy name.
What Craig Kimbrel has done over the course of the past two years, and what he offers when compared to other closer options this year, leaves us fantasy industry types in a sticky situation. His numbers are undeniably dominant, as evidenced by his 46 saves to go along with a 2.10 ERA and 14.84 K/9 in HIS BAD YEAR way back in 2011.
You read that correctly, that’s a 14.84 K/9, which translates to 127 strikeouts. Kimbrel knew he had to step things up after that disappointing 2011 season, so last year he improved that dreadful ERA to 1.01 and that pedestrian K/9 to 16.66. The fantasy world clearly believes that his monster 2012 was no fluke, as Kimbrel’s current ADP is 39. Is Kimbrel’s current 12 team 4th round value justified? Absolutely.
Changing the Way We View Kimbrel
Is it still wise not to invest in a closer early? Yeah, duh. So what to do with Kimbrel? How do you make those two opposing statements work together? Simply put, we change the way we view him.
He should not be seen as a closer, but as an elite fantasy option atop a tier of one, with a barren wasteland separating the remaining tiers. View him as an asset, a commodity. Look, in fantasy baseball, we put a premium on any player who is head and shoulders above his peers in a weak position. We see this with Miguel Cabrera at third base and Robinson Cano at second.
Those two are no-brainer early first round picks because of that dynamic. Drafting based on position scarcity, especially when coupled with a truly premiere talent, is advantageous for each owner lucky enough to grab one of those “head and shoulders” players. The strategy also applies to closers, even though we’ve been conditioned to think differently.
I’m not advocating taking Kimbrel in the first round, I’m saying that you want to make sure he’s on your team, even if that means taking him as you squirm.
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