Anyone who has participated in fantasy football knows how much of a kicker's score is pure luck. Sure, some will argue that there is strategy in factoring in a team's offense, the kicker's accuracy, dome or grass, etc etc. But what it really comes down to is how many times on that given day is that kicker's offense going to drive down to the opponent's side of the field and then be stopped. It has nothing to do with the kicker's skill level, although you don't wanna guy that's so bad he loses his job. He has almost zero participation in how his team arrived at this scoring opportunity.
To me, a closer is the same way. It's PURE chance and luck! Sure, picking a closer on a winning team generally gets you more save opportunities for the simple fact that that team is winning more games. But it's not just winning, it's being ahead by three or less in the 9th inning.
Two of last year's league leaders in saves were Jose Mesa and Mike Williams. The Phillies were an unspectacular 80-81, yet Jose Mesa nailed down a cool 45 saves. The Pirates were a disappointing 72-89, yet Mike Williams rocked the house with 46 saves!!!!!
So doesn't this mean that the leaders of their respective divisions should have like 70 saves each? Not hardly. The Braves ruled the regular season in the NL (notice I said regular season) with 101 wins. John Smoltz had but 55 saves, only nine more than Jose Mesa despite his team winning over 100 games. And even that is a rarity as Smoltzy's 55 saves were the second most saves in a season all-time. And in the NL Central? The Cards finished 97-65 and their three closers, Izzy-Veres-Kline, COMBINED for a mere 40 saves! That was all the saves their entire team had!
What is the point of this rant? I hate the category of saves and I think it should be removed from many fantasy leagues and replaced with a more skill-driven category such as K/9 or quality starts. I want skill rewarded, not luck.
Just off the top of my head I would say saves has less to do with winning record and more to do with both the teams winning record and number of close games they are involved in. I think what this translates to is you want to look for a closer from a "pitching strong winning team" not just a "winning team". That's where the golden closers lay their eggs. For the most part you are right though, it is largely unpredictable.
Strategy for closers really depends on your overall pitching strategy and the type of league you're in. In a typical 5X5 roto league, having a good stable of closers will get you ERA, WHIP and Saves. Typically good closers will have a lower WHIP and ERA than starters. They will also have less Ks. If they get as many Saves as (proportinatley speaking) Starters get wins, then you will be winning 3 of 5 pitching categories. That means you'll win pitching.
That's over a full season. If you're playing head-to-head, then you have a different game because you will have to deal with the week-by-week fluxuations of a closer. For example - if a closer gives up a 3-run homer then he's screwed your team ERA. That's when it's necessary to have a few solid starters (people that get occasoinal wins, but have very low ERAs and WHIPs like Woody Williams, Rick Reed, Greg Maddux traditionally have). Those people will serve to minimise any individual variance in your relievers.
Now, by "good stable" of relievers... I'm talking about having at least 2 closers for top-10 teams (Yankees, Braves, Mariners, A's, Astros, etc) and 2 closers for teams with decent pitching (Cubs, Expos, Twins). You can't have duds like Braden Looper or inconsistent pitchers like Kelvim Escobar on your staff, otherwise you'll be in trouble.
I have won a league (although an open Yahoo league) with 4 closers and 3 top starters. And in my comptitve pool (with ALL active owners) one of the perennial top teams goes with a 4-closer approach, spending 3/4 of his pitching budget on closers. He's finished no lower than 4th in a 12 team league in 5 years.
...of course, I go with 1 or 2 closers, and generally finish in the top 3, but he's my biggest challenge every year.
I neglect kickers in football ( was 14-1 and 13-2) and I'm gonna neglect closers in baseball and see how it turns out I picked up dejean, acevedo and alfoseca off the WW and will just try my luck with my torrid offense.
We are head to head but aren't 5x5 (more like 10x10 so it should work being that saves are but one category out of 10 pitching categories in our league. I kinda laughed at the people that didn't analyze our league structure and went closer heavy because now they are like 20 games behind me already.
What is the point of this rant? I hate the category of saves and I think it should be removed from many fantasy leagues and replaced with a more skill-driven category such as K/9 or quality starts. I want skill rewarded, not luck.[/quote]
Saves as a stat, is a bad stat, but quality starts isnt any better. You can have a 4.50 era and have a quality start. And strikeouts are already a stat, why double dip with k/9? I always look for closers with good whips and eras, and let the saves fall as they may.
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I hate closers. I just traded my only good closer (Percival) in a multi player transaction for Miguel Tejada. I plan on staying right where I am in my league while neglecting to have top closers. I am currently kicking some serious arse in a 10 team 5x5.
Forget about fantasy baseball -- the creation of the "saves" stat. was one of the worst ideas by anybody, ever, relating to baseball.
The whole thing is incredibly arbitrary. It's VERY simple to understand average, HR, RBI, Wins, Ks, etc. etc.
Saves is a completely arbitrary stat. Why a 3 run lead in the last inning? Why not 2, or 1, or 4? Who knows?
Raise you hand if you are 100% confident that you completely understand every permutation that can result in a pitcher getting, or not getting, a save. Raise your hand if you think you could explain it to a non-baseball fan in less than half an hour... It's all just a ridiculous formula that someone came up with in order to give credit to pitchers who throw in late inning, pressure situations. Why a 5-2 lead in the 9th inning against the bottom of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' lineup is a "pressure" or "save" situation, I have no idea.
"You can observe a lot just by watching."
You got me there Amnorix. I know baseball like my own hometown but couldn't tell you what constitutes a save. It's kinda like the kid you have with one bulbous malignant tumor hanging off the side of his face. You know he's there and sometimes you open up the cellar door and throw him some fishheads, but for the most part you just avoid the subject when company comes over.
Good timing for this little nugget to be in the paper today:
Your leader in the clubhouse for Cheapest Save of the Year is just-recalled Cub Alan Benes, who nailed down a dramatic 16-3 win over the Reds on Thursday. But Benes isn't even in the top two in the cheapest-save-of-the-2000s competition.
The leaders in that derby: Willie Banks, who saved a 22-4 win for the Red Sox last July 23, and Todd Erdos, who saved a 16-1 game for the Padres on Aug. 22, 2000.
"You can observe a lot just by watching."