So you want to be a high-stakes fantasy player? You think you have what it takes to draft home run hitters, strikeout pitchers; and even savvy base stealers. No problem, right? Well, REAL fantasy owners know that all the research you can do and all the numbers you can crunch don’t necessarily give you the answer of who will earn saves. You can go wrong drafting closers early, late, or anywhere in between. For my money, it’s the toughest category to lock down. So to help, we’ve drawn an analogy to a famous 1977 movie and enlisted the alien close encounter classification system: A close encounter of the first kind is the sighting of a UFO; the second kind is physical evidence to prove the existence of an alien, and the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms.
Closer Encounters of the First Kind
Using this system we can divide the team closers into these three categories. A closer encounter of the first kind are those that are doing very well – this is very similar to the notion that it’s great to see an alien; know he exists and still not be in danger. There are 10 teams that sport a closer that has done extremely well, is getting the needed volume, and has no real risk of replacement at present. If you have two of these guys you’re doing very well (save totals as of 6/4): M.Melancon (17 saves); A.Reyes (16); L.Hendriks (14); C.Kimbrel (13); M.Barnes (12); A.Chapman (12); J.Hader (13); E.Diaz (10); R.Iglesias (9); R.Pressly (8)
Closer Encounters of the Second Kind
A closer encounter of the second kind are those that are doing well but there is some real danger – we have seen the physical evidence that there is an alien and we cannot ignore the possibility that we might be at risk. There are 7 teams that sport a closer that has risk regarding volume, replacement or performance. They are highly useful commodities, but you need to stay vigilant regarding their situation: I.Kennedy (11 saves – could he be traded?); K.Jansen (12 saves but they haven’t been without drama and the Dodgers do have other options); Y.Garcia (9 – a little rocky lately); W.Smith (9 – seems secure but isn’t a lock-down closer and is valuable against left-hand batters); B.Hand (9 – see W.Smith); H.Neris (9 – has a 3.73 FIP and has lost the role in previous years); R.Rodriguez (7 – one of Pittsburgh’s few trade chips).
Closer Encounters of the Third Kind
A closer encounter of the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms – this is where many Main Event owners are forced to tread given the limited number of saves in general. There are 13 teams that are what highly paid baseball analysts like myself refer to in technical terms as “a mess.” Questions abound such as: Who is going to get the save opportunity? Will they even be able to convert if presented with that opportunity? Why is this guy pitching in the 6th inning? If you are relying on these guys you probably have low save totals AND they have hurt your ratios. Please remember – these aliens do NOT come in peace!
Main Event Saves
So given all this what is the TARGET 5000 for saves (what yields 500 points in saves - since reaching 500 points out of 645 in all 10 categories is enough for 5000 points and a top 20 overall position)?
MLB saves totaled 1180 in 2019. In 2021, there have been 405 (as of 6/4) saves or 34.3% of the 2019 total in 34.4% of the season – so virtually the same pace! So what total yields 500 points in the save category? In the Main Event for the full season 2019, 71 saves produced points at the 77.5% level. And since we’ve played 34.4% of the season you’d expect the 500-point plateau to require 24.4 saves. And again, this puts you right at the proper number for 2021.
2019 Full Season: 77.5% level in Main Event = 71 saves
2021 thru June 4th: 77.5% (Target 5000) level = 25 saves
At this point, we’re about one-third of the way through the season, and Main Event fantasy owners are balancing the original $1000 of FAAB t