The following is a look at the first 30 relief pitchers taken in the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft, with a comparison to their rankings based on 2015 Steamer projections.
Relief Pitchers: 1-10
Relief pitchers started being drafted slowly, with Craig Kimbrel being the first taken towards the end of the 4th round, followed three picks later by Aroldis Chapman. There was a bit of a gap until Greg Holland was taken in the 6th round, then another bit of a gap until reliever started going quickly. Six relievers were taken over thirteen picks in rounds 7 and 8.
The table below shows the first 10 relief pitchers drafted in this mock, along with their Steamer rank and the difference between their Steamer rank and the spot they were drafted. Pitchers with a positive difference were taken higher than their Steamer projection would suggest. Those with a negative difference were taken later than Steamer would have expected.
|FanGraphs Mock Draft RPs 1-10 vs Steamer Rankings|
Based on Steamer projections, Chapman and Kimbrel are ahead of the pack, then there is a large group of reliever that could easily move up or down the rankings based on a few saves here, a slightly higher or lower ERA/WHIP there, and small adjustments to their strikeout numbers.
In this grouping, Dellin Betances is ranked 16th by Steamer, mainly because he is projected for only 23 saves as we don’t yet know what the Yankees will do with both Betances and Andrew Miller at the back-end of their bullpen. With more saves, he moves up.
The big overshoot here appears to be Zach Britton, ranked 26th by Steamer among relievers thanks to a pedestrian 3.21 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and sub-par 7.7 K/9. Britton is projected for 34 saves. Last year, he had 37 saves even though he didn’t get his first one until May 15th. As a team, the Orioles had 53 saves, tied for third in all of baseball. They were tops in MLB in saves in 2013 and second in 2012. If they continue to get saves at that pace, Britton should easily beat that projection.
Relief Pitchers: 11-20
The next 10 relief pitchers were taken over rounds 12 through 15. Here’s the chart:
|FanGraphs Mock Draft RPs 11-20 vs Steamer Rankings|
Based on Steamer projections, Joaquin Benoit looks like a bargain, as he was taken 20th but is ranked 7th. The risk with Benoit is a potential trade during the season. He’s in the final year of a 2-year contract (with a club option for 2016) and Padres’ GM A.J. Preller is not shy about making trades. If the Padres aren’t in contention come June or July, Benoit could be shipped out.
Koji Uehara and Glen Perkins were also taken a bit later than Steamer would suggest. Uehara will be 40 years old and has a career-high of 26 saves (last season). Perkins may not get many save opportunities with the Twins this year because of their last-place projection for the AL Central. With these two relievers, it’s perhaps not surprising to see them both drop a bit.
Francisco Rodriguez had 44 saves last year but has not found a team to play on in 2015. Despite that, he was the 15th reliever drafted, taken ahead of guys with set jobs like Storen, Rodney, Perkins, and Papelbon.
Relief Pitchers: 21-30
|FanGraphs Mock Draft RPs 21-30 vs Steamer Rankings|
Jonathan Broxton looks like an overdraft here, but he is expected to be the Brewer’s closer at this point, so he could easily finish higher in the relief pitcher rankings than Steamer’s current projection of 37th.
Jake McGee (taken 25th, ranked 8th by Steamer) and Brad Boxberger (taken 29th, ranked 18th) are teammates in Tampa Bay. McGee finished last season as the Ray’s closer but had surgery in December to remove loose bodies from his shoulder. He is expected to miss at least the first month, which may allow Brad Boxberger (14.5 K/9 in 2014) to get some early-season saves, although veteran Grant Balfour is still in the mix. If one of them gets off to a good start, McGee may go back to a setup role.
Relievers in the Steamer’s Top 30 who were not drafted among the top thirty relievers drafted in this mock:
Andrew Miller (15th)
Wade Davis (22nd)
Hunter Strickland (27th)
Jason Grilli (28th)
Ken Giles (29th)
The chart below shows each owner’s reliever picks.
|Blue Sox||David Robertson||83||7||5||10||5|
|Blue Sox||Drew Storen||158||14||16||24||8|
|Blue Sox||Jonathan Broxton||230||20||26||37||11|
|Paul Sporer||Dellin Betances||92||8||7||16||9|
|Paul Sporer||Cody Allen||140||12||11||13||2|
|Scott Spratt||Jonathan Papelbon||175||15||19||23||4|
|Scott Spratt||Joe Nathan||234||20||28||34||6|
|Zach Sanders||Craig Kimbrel||46||4||1||2||1|
|Zach Sanders||Mark Melancon||94||8||9||9||0|
|Zach Sanders||Brad Boxberger||238||20||29||18||-11|
- Colin Zarzycki waited longest to take a closer, not drafting Hector Rondon until the 17th round, then adding Neftali Feliz in the 20th.
- Zach Sanders, on the other hand, took a couple of top relievers in round 4 (Kimbrel) and 8 (Melancon), then added a guy with potential in the 20th (Boxberger).
- Steamer most likes the reliever picks of wydiyd. Kenley Jansen was the 4th reliever taken (ranked 3rd by Steamer), Koji Uehara was 13th (ranked 6th by Steamer), and Joaquin Benoit was taken 20th (ranked 7th by Steamer).
Bobby Mueller has been a Pittsburgh Pirates fan as far back as the 1979 World Series Championship team ("We R Fam-A-Lee!"). He suffered through the 1980s, then got a reprieve in the early 1990s, only to be crushed by Francisco Cabrera in 1992. After a 20-year stretch of losing seasons, things are looking up for Bobby’s Pirates. His blog can be found at www.baseballonthebrain.com and he tweets at www.twitter.com/bballonthebrain.