Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Rumors: Best Fantasy Baseball Landing Spots for Brian Wilson

The Hot Stove season certainly has its impact on fantasy baseball. While he’s been a non-factor in fantasy baseball terms over the last two years, one of the more intriguing names out there that can add some depth to the closer position is Brian Wilson.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, eight potential teams are in the mix.

I won’t presume to live in Brian Wilson‘s head. But for the sake of fantasy baseball, I’m going to go ahead and say that he’d have little to no value with the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants. It’s hard to imagine Koji UeharaKenley Jansen, or Sergio Romo getting supplanted by a guy who hasn’t recorded a save since the first week of the 2012 season.

Now, you can find some value with middle relievers, but you generally want guys who can dominate in stats like ERA and WHIP for that. Wilson’s got a career ERA/WHIP of 3.10/1.319 and in his last full year, his marks were 3.11/1.473. The ERA isn’t bad, but probably not good enough to have much value as a middle reliever, and the WHIP totals are well below average. So, unless your league counts holds, avoid putting Wilson on your roster if he’s not going to be a closer.

That leaves the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners. Before I break these down, let’s look at Wilson’s numbers. 

Career (Regular Season)333.2294/1461153533.101.319
2013 (Regular Season + Playoffs)19.212/61210.460.915


Now, for us as fantasy owners, what factors do we want to see working in our favor?


– A Good Team

Have a look 2013’s Top-10 (Top-11 counting ties) in saves. 

Player, 2013 Team
2013 Saves
2013 Team record
Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles5085-77
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves5096-66
Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals4786-76
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees4485-77
Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers4391-72
Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals4386-76
Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox4063-99
Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics3896-66
Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants3876-86
Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds3890-72

So, nine of the Top-11 in saves played on a winning team. You can certainly get a lot of saves if you play for a losing team, as even the worst team in baseball (Houston Astros) won 51 games in 2013, and bad teams tend to win close games. It can happen, but generally speaking, the best way to rack up saves is to be on a team that will give you plenty of chances, and that means plenty of wins.

The Tigers, Reds, and Indians each made the postseason in 2013, while the Tigers and Reds have each only missed the playoffs once since 2010. The Mariners haven’t had a winning season since 2009, which is a bit troubling. But they seem to be at least interested in some big name guys this offseason, so they’re likely to improve. The Rockies are the only team here that don’t seem that likely to be good or significantly improved in 2014, and you certainly can’t put them at the level of the three playoff teams.

How They Rank Here:

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Colorado Rockies


– Good Ballpark Factors

With some closers, this isn’t much of a factor. For example, if we were talking about Craig Kimbrel here, I wouldn’t worry about the ballpark so much. But with Wilson, it’s an issue. Even in his best years, Wilson has not been a shutdown, 1-2-3 inning type of guy. He frequently comes in and allows a runner or two, and then finds a way to make the save. The thing is that except for a brief stint with the Dodgers, he’s been closing games at AT&T Park throughout his career.

Wilson will best in a park where he has a safety valve — something like a big gap, or a part of the yard where the ball just doesn’t carry. If he’s in a big hitter’s park, he’s going to be flirting with danger too many times.

Now, you could point out that he’s the closer at home and on the road, but consider that most teams win more games at home than on the road, so most of their innings are at home. In Wilson’s case, we’re talking about 179.2 career innings at home, and 154 on the road, which is not a small difference considering we’re talking about a guy who’s job is to pitch for one inning.

As far as the home parks here, we have two pitcher’s park (Safeco Field, Progressive Field), one relatively fair one (Comerica Park), one regular hitter’s yard (The Great American Ballpark), and the ultimate hitter’s yard (Coors Field).

How They Rank Here

  1. Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field)
  2. Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)
  3. Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park)
  4. Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ballpark)
  5. Colorado Rockies (Coors Field)


– Stability as the Closer

We’re saving probably the most important factor here for last. If I’m drafting a guy like Wilson to be one of my fantasy closers, I’d like to know that he’s a little bit more than a bad week or two away from becoming a set-up guy. So, since this is the most important, let’s do this team-by-team.

  1. Cincinnati Reds: You saw in Brown’s tweet that their interest is largely depending on what they decide to do with Aroldis Chapman. No matter what they decide, Chapman’s presence would make me really nervous about drafting Wilson. Let me put it this way, even if they break camp with Chapman as a starter and Wilson as the closer, I’d still need both of them to do well in those roles to feel good about it sticking. If Chapman struggles as a starter early, the possibility is too strong that they’d move him back to the bullpen. If Wilson struggles early, then it’s possible that they’ll move Chapman back to that role and put Wilson in a set-up spot.
  2. Cleveland Indians: I don’t hate this situation, but I don’t love it. Wilson’s experience as a closer dwarfs that of Vinnie Pestano, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen. But Shaw and Allen had good years in 2013, and Pestano had good seasons in 2012 and 2013. So, while their collective closer experience is somewhat limited, it’s very possibly that a good pitcher will show himself worthy of being a closer and beat Wilson out.
  3. Colorado Rockies: He’s not anywhere near the presence that Chapman is, but Rex Brothers was pretty good in 2013. I don’t know that he quite holds the stature of Uehara, Jansen, or Romo, so I’d expect Wilson to at least compete for the closer’s job if he’s signed by Colorado. Still, Brothers’ presence on the team makes me nervous about this possibly happening.
  4. Detroit Tigers: Now we’re cooking. Anyone who watched the 2013 ALCS knows that Detroit has some issues in the late innings, and their closer from last year (Joaquin Benoit) is a free agent. I’m guessing that the Tigers will be looking to revamp their bullpen this year, so they’d probably sign a few guys with late-inning/closer experience. But judging by the players currently on the respective rosters, this is easily the top option of the five.
  5. Seattle Mariners: Similar to the Indians. They don’t have a great closer like Chapman or even a guy who was as strong in 2013 as Brothers on the roster, but Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen would provide plenty of competition.

How They Rank Here

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. Cincinnati Reds


So, with those factors in mind, where should we want Brian Wilson to land?

  1. Detroit Tigers: At this moment, there’s not a close second on this list. They rank well in every factor and unless they also sign Joe Nathan or make a trade, I can’t see them bringing in anyone that would definitely push Wilson into a set-up role.
  2. Cleveland Indians: They haven’t won consistently in recent years, but I like the makeup of this team. Progressive Field is a good pitcher’s park and there aren’t any proven closers that would definitely put Wilson on the back burner.
  3. Seattle Mariners: I’d like to see what they do in the offseason, but there’s almost no way that they’d fall out of the No. 3 spot on this list. They’re a lot closer to No. 2 than No. 4.
  4. Colorado Rockies: Wilson and Coors Field just don’t work for me. Throw in the presence of Brothers, and I don’t like this. If he falls to the waiver wire after the draft, I may look into him. But if someone in my league drafts him, it won’t be me. I’d suggest you follow a similar model.
  5. Cincinnati Reds: Good team, but a bad ballpark and terrible stability. Again, I wouldn’t draft him. If you want to do that, it’s your business, but it’d be a big gamble.

Tags: Brian Wilson Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies Detroit Tigers Seattle Mariners

comments powered by Disqus