Fantasy baseball closer report

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In honor of the All-Star break, the Closer Report has decided to hand out some accolades of its own.

First-half MVP: Craig Kimbrel

The rookie hurler, who, in most drafts, came off the board after Joe Nathan, Jonathan Broxton and Brad Lidge, has provided the best return for owners who took a chance on him. He leads the majors with 28 saves (a first-half rookie record) along with 70 punch-outs in only 46 innings. His workload may catch up with him (he's on pace for 76 innings), but in the meantime, enjoy the surprise of 2011.

First-half bust: Jonathan Broxton

Despite some late-season struggles in '10, Broxton was a consensus top-10 reliever entering this year. When he has pitched, however, he's been far from it. The burly Dodgers' reliever, who was placed on the DL on May 6 with discomfort in his right elbow, has a 5.68 ERA in 12.2 innings in '11. And the Dodgers aren't optimistic he'll pitch again this year. All that said, owners are still keeping the faith: Broxton remains owned in over 50 percent of leagues.

First-half surprise: Joel Hanrahan

This award could easily go to Kimbrel, but why not spread the love around? Hanrahan entered the season with 20 career saves and a tenuous hold on the Pirates' closer job. By June 22 he had matched that saves total and established himself as one of the premier ninth-inning options. Hanrahan has always had great stuff (career 9.98 K/9) but mastering the strike zone (1.79 BB/9 in 2011) pushed him to another level. A trade to a contender would kill his value, but the Pirates are intent on competing this year. Consider yourself lucky if you were able to nab him for cheap on draft day.

Best bet for saves in the second half: Andrew Bailey

The Oakland A's closer has been stellar since he was activated from the DL in late May, allowing only four earned runs in 15 innings. Bailey's skills look sharp (7.80 K/9, 1.80 BB/9), and the A's boast one of the league's worst offenses (28th in runs scored), making the Oakland closer a solid bet to surpass his first-half saves total (eight saves).

Second-half sleeper: Mike Adams

Adams' value hinges on a Heath Bell trade. If the Padres deal Bell -- which they are expected to do; the Phillies, Angels and Rangers are reportedly interested -- Adams automatically becomes the favorite for saves in San Diego. The reliever has been stellar in '11, posting a 1.32 ERA along with 18 holds. He's a must-have for any Bell owner and worth an add in all mixed leagues.

Deep second-half sleeper: Wilton Lopez

Lopez, a popular sleeper entering the season, spent some time on the DL earlier this year, but the Astros' reliever is healthy and hurling entering the All-Star break. Since he was activated from the DL on May 3, Lopez is sporting a 2.23 ERA and a spectacular 60.3 percent ground-ball rate. With current closer Mark Melancon struggling (he's given up eight earned runs in his last 7.2, innings), Lopez may be netting save opportunities by the end of the month. He's worth a speculative add in all NL-only leagues.

Heath BellMariano RiveraCraig KimbrelCarlos MarmolJoel HanrahanBrian Wilson

Is the Giants' closer hiding an injury? San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy claims otherwise, but something is clear amiss with Wilson, who has given up four earned runs in his last five innings. Maybe an All-Star game save opportunity -- Bochy is expected to utilize Wilson as the closer on July 12 -- will help him return to form.

Jonathan PapelbonDrew StorenAndrew BaileyJose ValverdeBrandon LeagueJohn AxfordHuston StreetJoakim SoriaFrancisco Cordero

Soria reportedly can block trades to six teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. This is good news for Soria owners, as the Royals' closer would likely set up in all three cities. ... Aroldis Chapman is a must-add for Cordero owners. The current Reds' closer has given up seven earned runs in his last 3.1 innings and looks shaky entering the All-Star break. With 17 saves in the first half, Cordero has earned the Reds' trust. But if he falters into August, look for Chapman to inherit the ninth inning.

Francisco RodriguezJordan WaldeLeo NunezChris PerezKyle FarnsworthSergio SantosFernando SalasKevin GreggNeftali FelizAntonio Bastardo

Walden has been another pleasant first-half surprise. The rookie closer has notched 20 saves with a 2.84 ERA since taking over for Fernando Rodney on April 5. Expect him to continue compiling saves for the Halos in the second half.

Mark MelanconMatt CappsDavid HernandezJon RauchJavy Guerra

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said he expects Putz to regain the closer role once healthy. Given Putz's injury history, David Hernandez is still rosterable in NL-only leagues. ... Rauch is expected to serve as closer in Toronto as Frank Francisco works through his issues. Rauch (4.34 ERA, 2.27 K/BB) has already saved seven games this season, and if he can get hot, he could seize the Blue Jays' job for the rest of the season.

Brad LidgeJonathan BroxtonJ.J. Putz

Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down: