On Friday night (and then again this afternoon), MLB Network aired an episode of their Top Ten Right Now. It was based on the top Relievers right now heading into the 2013 season.
The one bright spot for the KC Royals over the last two seasons has been their bullpen and not one of those talented young relievers was on that list.
Not surprising, Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves was number one, as he has been nothing but lights out over his first two seasons in the big leagues (minus his collapse in September of his rookie season). He ranked number one on everyone’s list.
According to Clubhouse Confidential’s The Shredder, here are the next nine.
Sergio Romo of the SF Giants, coming off his second World Series title, was second. This is kind of a surprise, as he burst onto the closing scene last August.
The legendary Mariano Rivera of the NY Yankees came in at number three, but now one knows how he will pitch in 2013 at age 43 and coming off major knee surgery.
Koji Uehara, who is now with Boston, was fourth. I think he deserved to be on this list, as he is often overlooked (which I think he was with both Baltimore and Texas). But this high?
Fernando Rodney, who had the best season of ANY reliever in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays, was fifth. Can he do that again? The Rays are hoping so, as they picked up his option for 2013.
Eric O’Flaherty of the Braves came in at six. The lefty has pitched in a ton of games over the last few seasons and I always wonder when manager Fredi Gonzalez will burn him out. I was actually surprised that Jonny Venters was not on this list. He is the better of the two Braves lefty relievers.
Kenley Jansen of the LA Dodgers was good in 2012, but had health issues with his heart and no one knows if he can return to form. The former catcher for the Netherlands in previous World Baseball Classics was a surprise on this list for me.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched well in his first season in Philadelphia, but did not receive a ton of save opportunities due to the Phillies troubles. If the Phillies can rebound, he will prove if he is still one of baseball’s top closers.
Jim Johnson was one of the reasons Baltimore finally reached the postseason in 2012. He had a career year and only missed time when he got sick and was hospitalized. However, he has never been fully healthy. Plus, can he repeat his 2012 season?
Grant Balfour of Oakland was a big reason the A’s shocked everyone and won the American League West title in 2012. He has always been a solid reliever. Is he top ten though?
No Royals reliever was named to Mitch Williams or Bill James’ list either.
Fire baller Kelvin Herrera was third in the Majors in innings pitched in his rookie season. He had better numbers than Balfour, as did Greg Holland. Both had similar numbers to Jansen. Outside of an ERA under 1.50, Uehara did not have better stats than Herrera and Holland. Plus, he only pitched in 37 games for the Rangers.
Even Aaron Crow had numbers similar to those who were chosen as the Top Ten Relievers Right Now.
The walks for lefty Tim Collins most likely kept him off the list. He struck out more batters and pitched in more games than O’Flaherty. His ERA was higher though.
Now if the Royals win in 2013, they should have a reliever named to this list.
*I was honestly surprised that Washington relievers Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen were not on the list (along with former Nat Sean Burnett). And who left off Aroldis Chapman? But I guess since he is supposed to be a starter in 2013, that is why.