MLB Teams Without Closers Performing Well
For years, I've argued that the closer role in Major League Baseball is an overrated, overvalued position.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think bullpens, as a whole, are underrated, but the closer role is overrated.
I've used a number of arguments through the years to back-up my belief, and so far, the 2012 MLB season has back me up.
The top four National League teams all have different closers, for different reason, than were projected on opening day.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the NL West, and have the best record in the league, at 42-25. Javy Guerra began the year as the closer, saving eight games, but lost the closing role Kenley Jansen, and has been on the disabled list since early June. Jansen has 11 saves, and a 2.51 ERA.
The Cincinnati Reds lead the NL Central, with a record of 38-27. The Reds signed Ryan Madsen to be their closer prior to the start of the year, but he was injured, and lost for the year, in spring training, so closing duties have gone to Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman. Marshall has eight saves and a 3.16 ERA., while Chapman has nine saves, with an ERA. of 1.06.
The Washington Nationals lead the NL East, with a record of 38-26. They really didn't know who their closer was going to be, prior to the start of the season, but Brad Lidge, who has recently been designated for assignment, was the Nats' closer on opening day. Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez each have nine saves to lead the way for Washington. Clippard has been especially impressive, with a 2.15 ERA.
The San Francisco Giants, who have the fourth-best record in the NL, are 37-30. The Ginats lost closer Brian Wilson, who pitched in only two games, to injury, but Santiago Casilla has responded with 18 saves, and a 1.37 ERA.
How about the American League?
Well, the New York Yankees, who lead the best AL East, lost future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera early in the year, but Rafael Soriano has responded with 13 saves, and a sub 2.00 ERA.
In the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox, who had closer questions prior to the start of the year, leads the way. Addison Reed leads the way, with eight saves.
Even the Texas Rangers, who lead the AL West, and signed Joe Nathan to be their closer this season, moved their closer from last season, Neftali Feliz, into their starting rotation this year.
The reason why all these teams are winning is because they have good bullpens, and not necessarily because they have good "closers".
Again, give me four or five solid arms for my bullpen, and I'll find one or two guys that are throwing the ball well to close out games, and this season is a perfect example of that.