It’s never too early to prepare for your draft, and some of us draft fiends are already setting our draft dates. We’re still early in the offseason, but it’s a great time to start discussing some players to watch as we look toward 2016.
Saves are one of the most frustrating categories for fantasy owners because we are at the mercy of major league managers. Much of the fun in fantasy preparation is forecasting based on indicators, talent, and predictable skill, yet saves are just as much about opportunity and being in the right place at the right time.
Ryan Madson, Athletics
Oakland has invested heavily in relief arms this offseason, adding Madson and John Axford for significant dollars and also acquiring Liam Hendriks from Toronto. The arms give them plenty of backup plans of Sean Doolittle’s arm issues from last year continue to hinder him. While Axford has the greatest and most recent closing experience, I make the case that Madson is a better option as the closer if Doolittle is hurt.
Madson was more or less out of the game for three straight years following Tommy John surgery in 2012, just after signing a contract to be Cincinnati’s closer. Returning with the Royals last season, Madson’s fastball velocity and superb changeup returned, allowing him to post the second best K/BB ratio of his career (4.14).
The return of Madson’s control would seem to make him more reliable than Axford, if healthy, given Axford’s BB/9 above 5.0 in each of the last two seasons and career 4.5 BB/9. While Madson can’t match Axford’s 141 career saves, he has tallied 55 for his career and converted 32 saves for the playoff-bound Phillies in 2011. For what it’s worth, the value of Madson’s contract with Oakland is also more than double that of Axford’s ($22 million to $10 million).
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