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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sleeper Alert - Late Round Closers

A followup to our Draft Strategy article on closers posted early today, we'll now examine the 3 closers I mentioned as good targets for the later rounds of your draft.

Takashi Saito
I have no idea why people are so down on Saito. Even his luck-influenced numbers that most people focus on were amazing last year - 2.07 ERA, 0.91 WHIP. He didn't get a ton of Saves (24), but again, this can fluctuate from year to year. His peripheral numbers are very good.

He had a 12.29 K/9 and a 2.64 BB/9, making for an incredible 4.65 K/BB. His K/9 may drop to 8 or 9 this year, but that is still very good. His 35.5% GB Percentage isn't very good, his his great strikeout rate and command more than make up for it. He will give up more HRs this year, but in the late rounds he is a great pick.

The only reason that I can think of for people not like Saito is that they may be afraid he is the next Shingo Takatsu... but he's not. Takatsu only K'ed 7 per 9 innings and his K/BB was 2.38 in his first season. Saito's K/9 and BB/9 were both better than Takatsu's in his first season. While Saito may regress a little in each, he still deserves a spot on your team.

Jose Valverde
Valverde has never had a K/BB below 2.24, and it hasn't gone below 3 in two years. He K's massive amounts of batters, between 10 and 13 K/9 each year. His GB Percentage is fairly low, 35%, so he will give up a few HRs. But he is an excellent late round target for some cheap saves. The only thing to worry about with Valverde is if he can keep his job. He never seems to be able to, but one of these years his great peripherals will translate to great success.

Octavio Dotel
Dotel has pitched just 25 innings the past two years combined, but he has a ton of talent. Another guy with a K/9 consistently over 10, he also has good control for a guy who Ks as many batters as he does. Count on a K/BB over 3. His GB Percentage is extremely poor, 30%, so again, HRs are to be expected, but his good power and command make him worth it for his low price tag. He may not see a ton of Save Opportunities because he's a Royal, but that's alright. He'll get just as many as a lot of the guys taken 5 or 10 rounds earlier.

These guys all have great K/9 and great K/BB. The drawback is that they have low GB Percentages, and therefore are more prone to the longball. Don't be discouraged if they give up a few though. As I said in my previous article, the ERA of these guys isn't very important. They will blow a few saves in games where they only have 1 run leads, but not enough that they aren't still great values towards the end of the draft.

Bottom line: Avoid closers early, load up on your more important players, and grab these guys late.

1 comment:

The 26th Man said...

Hi Derek-

I found your site from Baseball Musings, and it is very informative.

I also appreciate the explanations of the sabermetric stuff. I try to keep up with it, but it's hard to wrap my little peabrain around much of it.

I've added a link to Saberoticians from my blog, which unfortunately is on hiatus.

Keep up the good work; I plan to visit often.