|Below is an attempt to rank the 30 major-league closers for the 2009 season. The rankings are not purely objective, but based on a variety of criteria that I can collectively label "reliability." That means first and foremost their ability to convert save opportunities into team wins. When Joe Nathan enters a close game with a lead, that game is all but over. When Joel Hanrahan enters a close game with a lead, it's still anyone's ball game. |
That "game over" factor is the primary criteria, but reliability also means the ability to take the ball with typical effectiveness. A current 15-day DL stay didn't knock anyone down this list provided their prompt return is expected, but a perpetual inability to stay healthy (I'm looking at you, B.J. Ryan) has, as have the advanced ages of future Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, while Troy Percival suffers on both fronts. (Remember, I'm ranking these pitchers based on their expected 2009 performance, not their career achievements.)
I've treated a tenuous hold on the job like a tenuous hold on health or those late-inning leads.
Were I to revisit this list in September, I'm sure it would look very different after the top six or so, with both rankings and the listed pitchers for several teams likely to fluctuate. Here at the beginning of May, this is my best estimation of what to expect.