Wednesday, October 5, 2011

bdj610's 2011 End of Year MLB All-Star Teams...The Relief Pitchers

As I have done every year for the last 23 years, I am going to compile lists of players for my 2011 End of the Year (or 2012 MLB) All-Star teams. If you want to know what the heck I'm talking about, please review the introduction and brief history (ahem...brief???) as to why I have done this every year for the past 23 years.

Quick rules on how I comprise the teams:

  • Two teams, one American League team, and one National League team
  • There are 36 spots on each team (three first basemen, three second basemen, three third basemen, three shortstops, nine outfielders, three catchers, six starting pitchers, four relief pitchers/closers, one relief pitcher/set-up, and one DH-the NL spot is taken by the player with the highest average who did not make the team at any position)
  • Every team gets a representative. No exceptions. If a player gets snubbed by a guy who is only there because a team needed a rep, then that's sadly the way it goes.
This is going to be a four-post process. Today, I will announce the bullpen staffs for each team.

Why start with the bullpens?

Because it's relatively simple. The top four guys with the most saves are automatically on the teams. Usually.

Last year, I started with the American League staff, this time, I'll begin the National League closers. On this year's team are:

  • John Axford, Brewers (2-2, 1.95, 46 saves)
  • Craig Kimbrel, Braves (4-3, 2.10, 46 saves)
  • J. J. Putz, Diamondbacks (2-2, 2.17, 45 saves)
  • Heath Bell, Padres (3-4, 2.44, 43 saves)
Now I know that Drew Storen of the Nationals had the same number of saves as Bell, and Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates has a much lower ERA than both Bell and Storen.  It was really a tough call to pick between these three. But the truth is that I picked Bell because he might be the only Padre to get on this team.  And before you ask, yes, I checked the stats of the rest of the Padres' roster. 
The American League closers for the 2011 team are:

  • Jose Valverde, Tigers (2-4, 2.24, 49 saves out of 49 opportunities)
  • Mariano Rivera, Yankees (1-2, 1.91, 44 saves)
  • Brandon League, Mariners (1-5, 2.79, 37 saves)
  • Neftali Feliz, Rangers (2-3, 2.74, 32 saves)
It was a tough call between Feliz and Chris Perez of the Indians for the final spot as Perez saved four more games than Feliz. But Feliz has more strikeouts (54 to 39), a lower ERA (2.74 to 3.32) and lower WHIP (1.16 to 1.21) than the Tribe closer (and card collector).

If recent All-Star Game history has shown us, it's that middle relief pitchers, those guys who ride the bullpen, and barely ever get any baseball cards, are now an important part of any All-Star bullpen.  And the two middle relievers this year not only made their respective league's All-Star roster, but got to pitch in the game.

The NL Middle Reliever for the 2011 team will be the Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals. He is the 2011 NL leader in holds with 38, had a 3-0 record, sports a dazzling 1.83 ERA, a minuscule 0.84 WHIP, and struck out 104 batters.  He beats out fellow NL All-Star Johnny Venters for the middle relief

The AL Middle Reliever for the 2011 team will be David Robertson of the New York Yankees. The AL co-leader in holds in 2009 with 34, Robertson went 4-0 this year with a 1.08 ERA and 100 strikeouts.  The runner up for this spot was the other AL holds leader, Daniel Bard.

So right now, we've named the bullpens for each team. Who will fill out the rest of the rosters?

On Thursday, I will name the six starting pitchers that will round out the pitching staffs on each team.

By Friday, every team will get a representative as I announce just some of the players who will take spots on both leagues' rosters.

And finally on Saturday, I will round out the rest of the rosters and introduce the complete National and American League teams.

Wait and see. It's going to look good I promise.


JayBee Anama

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