Rankings 2017: Top 100 Relief Pitchers for Saves + Holds Leagues

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The closer and holds rankings have been unveiled, now time to put the lists together for all of you in Saves+Holds leagues. Which if you haven’t taken part in one yet, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Middle relievers were always the only players in baseball that constantly got ignored in fantasy baseball. The inclusion of the holds stat has changed all of that and added a whole different dimension to the fantasy baseball experience.

Tier 1

1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)

2. Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)

3. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)

4. Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)

The Hold Up Pre-Season Edition: Top 70 Relievers For Holds In 2017

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Outside of the few trust worthy options each year, holds are very tricky to predict on a week to week basis. I’d consider 40% of these rankings based on hold potential and 60% based on talent, upside and statistics. Even in leagues where holds are counted, always give more value to saves (the exception being the top 2 guys on this list). Saves are generally more reliable, as long as you have a top 20 closer or so. With that being said, here are my preseason rankings of the relievers not currently listed as their teams closer.

TIER 1: Good Vibrations

1. Andrew Miller (Cleveland Indians)

2. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

No one else really comes close to these two. Andrew Miller is a fringe top 10 option among all relievers, while Dellin Betances is in the top 20 discussion. K/9 leagues and such, I’d maybe even bump them up 5 spots.

Closing Time Pre-Season Edition: Top 30 Closers for Fantasy Baseball in 2017

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After going through our Top 100 Starting Pitchers and all position player rankings, we finally get to the Relievers. Today I will be ranking the 30 current MLB closers and tomorrow we will go through the Top 70 holds options for all of you in holds leagues. Finally on Wednesday, we put it all together with the top 100 combined relief pitcher rankings for leagues that use holds as well as saves.

In the spirit of our saves segment “Closing Time”, each tier will properly be named after a different 90’s one hit wonder song.

TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U

1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)—Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez

Lets just start off with the bad first, as there are 2 slightly concerning numbers on Jansen’s resume. His low BABIP and dead last GB % (among the 30 current closers) could mean he is due for a bit of regression. For anyone else, I would completely agree (see Roberto Osuna) but he has put up back to back dominant seasons now, despite his below average GB% and BABIP numbers. His high SwStr% along with the fact he doesn’t allow free passes (K-BB% 1st among all closers thru ’15-16) make me believe he will be dominant again this year. He and his cutter are as close to a Mariano Rivera clone as we’ve seen. He is the only RP I would consider in the 5th round as I feel there is more value down the board at the position this season.

2017 Rankings: Top 15 Designated Hitters for Fantasy Baseball

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As the 2017 fantasy baseball season approaches, we’ve finished up just about all of our positional rankings, save for designated hitter. The majority of these players (except for three) are eligible at other positions, and since we’ve already written about them, I will just link you to our in depth analysis in their respective articles. If you happen to be in a league that has a specific DH spot, all of these guys should qualify.

1. Edwin Encarnacion (Cleveland Indians) – We went over Edwin Encarnacion in our Top 25 First Basemen for 2017 article.

2. Nelson Cruz (Seattle Mariners) – We went over Nelson Cruz in our Top 20 Outfielders for 2017 article.

3. Mark Trumbo (Baltimore Orioles) – We went over Mark Trumbo in our Top 20 Outfielders for 2017 article.

4. Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians) – We went over Carlos Santana in our Top 25 First Basemen for 2017 article.

On The Corner Podcast Episode 20 – The Top 60 Starters For 2017

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Nick Pollack and Alex Fast from Pitcher List are back for another episode of the On The Corner Podcast. This week they continue their run through of Nick’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers, shifting to the Top 60 as they dive into Garrett Richards, John lackey, Robbie Ray, Dallas Keuchel, Vince Velasquez, Lance Lynn, Jharel Cotton, and many others.

2017 Rankings: Top 80 Outfielders for Fantasy Baseball

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We continue with our fantasy rankings in anticipation of the upcoming 2017 fantasy baseball season (which cannot get here soon enough). If you’re reading this and haven’t looked at our Top 20 OutfieldersTop 40 Outfielders, or Top 60 Outfielders articles, take a look before we continue with another 20 outfielders with the Top 60 Outfielders today.

Tier 7: Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too (Continued)

61. Josh Bell (Pittsburgh Pirates) – This late in a draft, when you’re looking at the 61st outfielder, you’re looking for upside. Josh Bell definitely has that, we just don’t really know what he’s going to do this year. Bell’s biggest strength is his hit tool, he’s someone that could eventually hit in the .290s-.300s every year, but I don’t think he’s there quite yet (though it’s not outside the realm of possibility). Bell showed impressive plate discipline for a rookie last season, ending his 45 games with a .368 OBP and an impressive 1.11 BB/K ratio. Bell could hit around .275-.280 with 10-13 home runs and probably 70ish runs considering he’ll be batting at the top of the lineup.

2017 Rankings: Top 60 Outfielders for Fantasy Baseball

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We continue with our fantasy rankings in anticipation of the upcoming 2017 fantasy baseball season (which cannot get here soon enough). If you’re reading this and haven’t looked at our Top 20 Outfielders or Top 40 Outfielders articles, take a look before we continue with another 20 outfielders with the Top 60 Outfielders today.

Tier 5: So Hot Right Now (Continued)

41. Stephen Piscotty (St. Louis Cardinals) – After what was a nice half a season in 2015, Stephen Piscotty came out and surprised a lot of people in 2016, hitting .273 with 22 home runs, 86 runs, and 85 RBIs. The power makes sense if you pace out his 2015 campaign, in which he hit seven home runs in 256 plate appearances. If you pace that out to the 649 plate appearances he had last season, 22 home runs doesn’t sound all that crazy. There were some not-so-positive signs with Piscotty last year, however. His hard-hit rate dropped but his HR/FB rate went up. He also saw a big increase in infield fly balls, which is never a good thing. I don’t see Piscotty necessarily improving upon last season, I think that’s just about his ceiling, but I could see him batting in the high-.260s/low-.270s with 16-20 home runs and 70-75 runs and RBIs.

2017 Rankings: Top 40 Outfielders For Fantasy Baseball

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We continue with our fantasy rankings in anticipation of the upcoming 2017 fantasy baseball season (which cannot get here soon enough). Check out my Top 20 Outfielders article from yesterday if you missed it and we’re moving on today with the Top 40 Outfielders for the season ahead.

Tier 3: La Tigre

21. Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) – Christian Yelich had kind of a wonky year last season, at least, not what you’d expect from Christian Yelich. Up until this point, Yelich had been a high-average, decent steal, low power guy. He was someone who’d bat .290-.300, hit like 10 home runs max, and steal 15-20 bases. A super useful player, but not even close to what he became last year, which was a .298 hitter with 21 home runs and nine steals. You almost expect the steals and home run totals to be flipped, that’s more like the Christian Yelich we’ve come to know. So the obvious question is, is this legit? Is Yelich a power hitter now? Is he going the Brett Gardner route, cutting down on steals and focusing on power? Well, I don’t necessarily see him as a 20 home run guy, but he could be close. His hard-hit rate shot up to a career-high 38% last year. Before that, the best it had been was 34.3%. That’s not necessarily insane, in fact I would say that it’s encouraging, suggesting that he’s making better contact. Other evidence that suggests that is that his groundballs dropped to a career-low, his line drives went up to a career-high, and, perhaps the most interesting info of all, his wRAA against Curveballs and Changeups shot way up. I think Yelich is seeing the ball better and is developing his power more than people expected. Now, his 23.6% HR/FB rate suggests to me that the power will decrease a little, but I think a 15/15 season with a shot at 20/20 while batting ..285-.295 is perfectly realistic.

2017 Rankings: Top 20 Outfielders For Fantasy Baseball

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After my colleague Andrew Todd-Smith went over the infield fantasy rankings, I’ll be taking over our outfield rankings starter with the Top 20 Outfielders today. Ultimately I’ll be doing a total of 80 outfielders, with 20 dropping each day during the week. Outfield is a deep, and difficult, position, but it’s where you can get some major production.

So we begin with our top-20 outfielders for the 2017 fantasy baseball season:

Tier 1: Really Really Ridiculously Good Looking

1. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) – What a shock. I’m sure no one saw that coming. Mike Trout is likely the top player in any and everyone’s drafts this year (though you could argue some other players ahead of him), and for good reason: The man contributes in every single category. Last year Trout his 29 HRs with 105 R, 104 RBIs, 30 SBs, and slashed .315/.441/.550, and what’s crazy is, that was kind of a down year for him. Part of the reason for the drop in power was a drop in HR/FB rate, but I don’t think there’s any reason to be worried, especially considering his hard hit rate was a career high last year. Will Trout hit 40+ home runs again like he did in 2015? Probably not. But he’ll likely hit around 35 or so home runs with another 25+ stolen bases, and a real shot at 30/30. Honestly though, if you told me that Trout ended up going 40/40 next year, I wouldn’t be shocked. Do I think it’ll happen? No, but the man has that much talent. In my opinion, he should be the number one overall pick in any draft.

2017 Rankings: Top 25 Third Basemen for Fantasy Baseball

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We’ve gone over the Top 25 Catchers, Top 25 First Basemen, Top 25 Second Basemen, and Top 25 Shortstops, and today we’re covering the Top 25 Third Basemen for your fantasy leagues.

Tier 1: The Mob Bosses

1. Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies) — If baseball happened to be illegal and guys who were really good at it worked their way up to patriarchal positions atop syndicated crime organizations through fearmongering and ruthlessness, this tier of unsavory gentlemen would be your godfathers and cartel heads. The prolific work of Nolan Arenado at the plate continues to manifest itself in numbers that make you rub your eyes to double-check that you’re not hallucinating. You may call him Don Corleonolan, if you are even worthy of addressing him directly at all. Entering his fifth year in the majors, Colorado’s 3B whiz kid has accomplished such feats as amassing 130-plus RBI and 40-plus HRs over each of the past two seasons and batting for never lower than a .287 average in so doing. Usually, I find myself doing the hard-to-please “Not Bad Obama” sneer of approval when surveying really impressive fantasy stats; but upon reacquainting myself with Arenado’s résumé, my jaw did go a little slack in disbelief all over again. Hard contact percentage of 37.9% and over 90% contact in the zone would likely make him a joy to own in fantasy no matter what, but when you remember he is a hitter going yard and generating runs in the previously heralded offense factory that is Coors Field it’s that much more appealing to pick him up. If some unlucky accident should befall your fantasy team this year, understand that Arenado’s work could still very well keep you in the postseason mix right until the very end. Arenado is the real deal and, frankly, if he stole bases with any frequency or statistical significance it would be difficult to snub him from the top spot in fantasy rankings across any position. Own him at all costs.

2017 Rankings: Top 25 Shortstops for Fantasy Baseball

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The rankings continue like you knew they had to, as we went over our Top 25 Catchers, Top 25 First Basemen, and Top 25 Second Basemen earlier this week. Next up are the Top 25 Shortstops and let’s get to it.

Tier 1: Your Side of the Bridal Party

1. Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles) — This top-flight story of fantasy baseball SS are the equivalents of your inner circle of trusted confidant(e)s you’d want flanking you at the altar as you exchange vows with your soon-to-be spouse. They are ironclad picks to be groomsmen or bridesmaids at your wedding and you would trust them with your life. Manny Machado is top of that very esteemed heap (though I think he may prefer to be Best Man vice Maid of Honor; sorry, ladies). Not worth worrying too much about semantics of the analogy here since Machado is certifiably your closest friend who’s been through highs and lows with you, and he’s the one person you ensure is in place to make sure your big day (read: fantasy season) goes according to plan with flying colors. He has eligibility at both 3B and SS after sufficient starts at both spots last year for Baltimore, making him even more of a treasure for the roster flexibility. He’s gone yard 35 and 37 times in the last two seasons, coupled with 102 and 105 RBI, respectively. Those are some beefy numbers, friends. What’s more, Machado brings a superb average to the plate that’s been increasing since the start of 2014. If you don’t expect .290 from him, you’re being too stingy in your forecasting of Machado’s abilities or you’re too stubborn to accept the truth that he is a one-man wrecking crew. If only he could get muster a healthy chunk of his 2015 steals back, he’d be a Top 5 pick instead of *just* a first-round pick overall for 5×5.

2017 Rankings: Top 25 Second Basemen for Fantasy Baseball

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The Pitcher List trek through the landscape of what MLB infielders have to offer in the alternate universe of fantasy baseball continues! Herein lies an enumeration of the best bats eligible to slot in at second base after going over The Top 25 Catchers and Top 25 First Basemen earlier this week.

Tier 1: The Sea Monsters

1. Jose Altuve (Houston Astros) — Inspiring awe and fear in the hearts of pitchers trying to sail baseballs across the ocean between the hill and home plate is this first tier of 2B studs. If the biggest imaginable undersea creature in folklore is the Biblically referenced Leviathan, Altuve is that beast. We mentioned Miguel Cabrera having won four of the last six AL batting crowns in the 1B rankings: well, Altuve is not only the reigning defending champ in 2017, but he’s also the culprit behind that other title Cabrera missed out on. Unsurprisingly, he leads at the position in expected weighted runs created with such a gilded batting average to look forward to—virtually worth wagering your firstborn on it being north of .310. Neither his 2016 BA of .338, nor the BABIP of .347 to which it was married, were even career-bests for him: those zeniths of .341 and .360 happened during his last AL batting title run in 2014. The good news for prospective fantasy owners is that Altuve has figured out how to make power a legitimate part of his portfolio. He went yard 24 times for Houston last year on the wings of a glorious-for-him ISO of .194 and a HR/FB ratio of 13%. He probably won’t get back to 20 HRs but even 15 would be icing on the cake, since he has scorchingly stolen no fewer than 30 bases for five straight years. The man is a fantasy force regardless of format, but he’s a particularly desirable dream come true in 5×5 because he makes you a threat to win two categories (BA and SB) and be dangerously competitive in the remaining three. Altuve could score close to 100 times and will be driving in perhaps RBI as well. A real-life contender for AL MVP with the likes of Mookie Betts and actual award recipient Mike Trout, Altuve is hands down the top second base pick and you’ll be waving his native Venezuelan flag in celebration when you get to see the statistical deluge he will use to rain on your opponents’ parades.

On The Corner Podcast Episode 19 – The Top 40 Starters For 2017

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Nick Pollack and Alex Fast from Pitcher List are back for another episode of On The Corner. This week they are continuing their run through of  Nick’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers, shifting to the Top 40 as they dive into Jameson Taillon, James Paxton, Steven Matz, Sean Manaea, Michael Fulmer, Danny Duffy, Zack Greinke, and many others.

2017 Rankings: Top 25 First Basemen for Fantasy Baseball

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I went over the Top 25 Catchers earlier this week and it’s time for some more rankings. The preseason prognosticating here at Pitcher List continues with a rundown of the fellows who play first base you’ll want to keep at the forefront of your fantasy brain for their prowess at the plate.

Tier 1: Take Me Out To The Bank Vault

1a. Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs) — Every name mentioned in this tier has a fearsome fantasy outlook that will be worth its weight in a precious metal of your choosing, and Bryant kicks things off. A genuine superstar is just beginning to show us what he’s capable of, and frankly, I think it would be rather a difficult task to argue that the reigning NL MVP doesn’t belong near the pinnacle of your draft order. While Anthony Rizzo does tend to man first more often for the Cubbies, Bryant’s right beneath him on the depth chart and is eligible in Yahoo leagues. Bryant has monstrous upside and is a threat to score triple digits in RBI and runs all over again, all while probably accumulating an average in the .280s neighborhood. 40.3% hard contact in 2016 is simply obscene. Constructive critics will want him to boost his Z-contact percentage a bit, but it clearly hasn’t limited him thus far. If Bryant falls past the No. 5 overall pick in your draft, multiple people in your league are drunk. You are to acquire him with a vicious quickness and prepare for an onslaught of offensive output from Bryant. He is the crisp $100 bill stack of 1B-eligible fantasy studs.

GIF Breakdown: Our Love Letter To James Paxton

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As pitchers and catchers start to report to Spring Training, some of us writers realize we’re in need of a little warm-up ourselves. What better way to kick off the 2017 season than a Valentine’s Day GIF Breakdown of one of our favorite starting pitchers? I’m here to warm that beautiful baseball heart of yours on this special day with 19 HD GIFs of quality James Paxton material. Oh baby, you shouldn’t have…

Being a Mariners fan, I’ve had a crush on Paxton for a couple years now. What’s not to like? He’s a tall (6’4″) well-built (220 lbs.) power lefty that touches 99mph regularly with a seemingly free-and-easy delivery. He’s also adjusted to a new arm slot he picked up in AAA last year that’s closer to a 3/4 release than his previous over-the-top method of delivery. This change in arm slot added both velocity as well as new movement to his existing pitch types and it’s been giving hitters fits. In short, what I’m trying to say is, if you aren’t already infatuated with at least the potential of Paxton’s 2017, I’m here to fix that.

2017 Rankings: Top 25 Catchers For Fantasy Baseball

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Pitchers and catchers are finally reporting! Getting past that anticipated milestone means the 2017 MLB season is just around the corner and will graciously be upon us soon. The only way for those of us not fortunate enough to live in Arizona or Florida to get our minds off winter and on baseball is to prepare for the upcoming season with vigorous, warmth-giving research before fantasy drafts commence. After going over the Top 100+ Starters last week, Pitcher List will now be examining the best fantasy hitters across The Show to complement coverage of starting rotations. The analysis starts now with a rundown of which catchers’ bats should yield the most fantasy dividends this year.

Tier 1: C.R.E.A.M. of the Backstop Crop

1a. Kyle Schwarber (Chicago Cubs) – I’m paraphrasing, but I believe the expression is “catching rules everything around me.” As such, we begin our rankings with a group of exceptional catchers less than half the size of Wu-Tang Clan in number, and you’d be wise to end up with a member of this quartet on your roster. To anticipate your question and then nip it in the bud, yes, Yahoo has made an exception for Kyle Schwarber and he will be eligible at catcher despite not meeting normal criteria for minimum games played at the position last season. He poses arguably the biggest power threat of anybody playing the position. Willson Contreras figures to be the more frequent starter at the 2 for the Cubs, but Schwarber should still get a lot of playing time in the outfield and his bat will still prove immensely valuable in fantasy lineups for this reason. He’s also set to lead off ahead of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and they’re, uh, pretty talented at baseball as well. What I’m saying is Schwarber will circumstantially be getting a shot to score a ton of runs and you’ll want a piece of that action.

2017 Rankings: Top 160 Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball

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After going through the Top 100 last week (well, really Top 125), I’m now going over every other conceivable starter this year to make sure you guys understand why I didn’t elect to have them in the Top 125. Notice that there aren’t number rankings at this point they wouldn’t really serve a purpose – few should be considered for your fantasy team. The first 15 or so listed here are more desirable and then it’s just a grab bag of NOPE. Keep that in mind as we dive in.

Tier 10: The Worst of the Rest

Jeff Hoffman (Colorado Rockies) – I don’t want you guys to let his poooooor 2016 let you forget that he had a stellar 9.40 K/9 during his time in AAA. That being said, that walk rate is terrible and it’s going to take some time before we see Hoffman come into his own – even with his good GB rates – as he spends time in Colorado.

Brett Anderson (Chicago Cubs) – There actually could be some sneaky value from Anderson as he plays for a winning team and has an incredible defense behind him for a grounder heavy pitcher, I simply can’t trust that he’ll play enough to give him an actual ranking. Deeper leagues could find some value here if you’re willing to look past minimal strikeout production.

2017 Rankings: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball

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We’re continuing our rankings of the Top Starting Pitchers for 2017 after going through the Top 20, Top 40, Top 60, and Top 80 earlier this week. One more article awaits tomorrow going over all the possible options and today we have the Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2017 (okay, it’s actually Top 125). Here we go:

Tier 7: Am I Helping? Please Tell Me I’m Helping (Continued)

81. Tyler Anderson (Colorado Rockies) – I have to hand it to Anderson – a 3.54 ERA and matching DIPS numbers while calling Coors your home is not an easy thing to do. Match that with a 7.79 K/9, 2.20 BB/9 and 51% GB rate and suddenly the idea of Anderson being a super sleeper is apparent. I wasn’t a big fan of Anderson last year despite these numbers and it comes down to his repertoire. Essentially, he’s trying to do the Keuchel/Hendricks style of ultra finesse with a heater that sits just under 91mph as he spots his Changeup/Cutter very well around the edges. This allowed him to mitigate Hard Contact at under 29%. That’s excellent command given how easy it is to get tatted in Coors. But if you guys have been reading all of these blurbs thus far, you’ll understand that I don’t like investing in finesse pitchers to duplicate their hard/soft contact numbers after a small sample (just look at how Keuchel fell off after his Cy Young year!) and if you’re drafting Anderson, you’re praying he maintains the same batted ball profile for 2017. Let’s say he does that – you get a #4 SP? But if you don’t, you have a guy who will demolish your team’s ERA in a heartbeat and on the wire before April ends. It could work out…maybe? 

2017 Rankings: Top 80 Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball

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Next up is the Top 80 starters after we went over the Top 20, Top 40, and Top 60 to start the week. We’re still going through upside targets before hitting on pitchers who are questionably beneficial this season. Let’s get to it!

Tier 6: The Nikes (Continued)

61. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – I really want to fall in love with Musgrove, but I just can’t get over his lack of full repertoire like seeing Liam McPoyle in WestWorld. He’s great in it, BUT YOU’RE STILL MCPOYLE. Musgrove is a One-Seam pitcher that mixes in an often beautiful Slider, but I’m not convinced he has the command of his Changeup to make a major stamp in the realm of starters. Speaking of which, he’s currently slated to be outside of the Astros’ rotation with…ahem…Charlie Morton taking the fifth spot, which seems more outrageous than these amazing sales. I’m assuming Musgrove does get that job at some point, even if isn’t straight out of camp, but it does knock him a bit down the rankings as you may be sitting on him for a little bit. When he does come up, he could be a sneaky add for a good amount of Ks – think 8 K/9 or so, with a great walk rate below 2.50 BB/9. Another Flier I’d love to take.

On The Corner Podcast Episode 18 – The Top 20 Starters For 2017

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Nick Pollack and Alex Fast from Pitcher List are back for the 2017 season with their On The Corner Podcast. This week they are going over Nick’s Top 20 Starting Pitchers, including detailed discussions of Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta, Aaron Sanchez, Carlos Martinez, David Price, and more.