Is there a difference in value between closers in fantasy baseball as opposed to the "real-life" variety? For me, there isn't much of one. The only conceivable reason to distinguish between real-life and fantasy success is the arbitrary nature of classic baseball statistics, stats that are more offense- and defense-dependent results. Wins, saves, and ERA -- along with playoff and big-game experience -- are other possible factors. But if I were a real general manager looking for a big-time closer, I'd want a
• a four-seam fastball in the mid-to-high 90s with some downward movement.
• a two-seamer with lateral movement or a cutter with late downward movement.
• a slider or splitter with a hard, sharp break.
Come to think of it, I might be looking for
• Good closers use a bevy of different fastballs as out pitches. They don't rely on slow breaking balls or straight change-ups to sit batters down.
• The most successful pitchers in late-game situations will always be those who can make batters miss on several types of heat -- and when they can't, force grounders that can result in double plays.
I agree wholeheartedly with
• Pitchers who have high K/BB ratios and higher ground ball/fly ball rates are best equipped to help your team win.
Offense and defense obviously play a crucial factor in determining wins, saves and ERA. But having a good closer helps you win tight games. The top five closers in baseball are invariably going to be among the Top 10 relievers in standard, 5x5 fantasy scoring formats.
Should you temper your expectations for a talented closer on a bad team? Until last season, I would have said yes. But then the fantasy world was introduced to
The timeless, itinerant