State of Saves: 2020 Edition

I know information from the 2020 season will be suspect for future use and that includes closer usage patterns. Some parts are interesting. Others useless. Before going through each closer situation, I figured it would be a blood bath. After a month of constant flux, the results are better than I expected (not one established closer lost his job in September). The useable information seems to be in line with the last few seasons.

First off, the emphasis of this study is to determine how many draft-day closers make it through the season. Here is this season’s list with all previous studies found here.

2020 Initial Closers
Team (Eventual)Top Guy Going into season Last Until Reason if Replaced Saves % of Team Saves
Angels Hansel Robles One Guy 8/4/2020 Poor Performance 1 8%
Astros Ryan Pressly Replacement Coming EOS None 12 75%
Athletics Liam Hendriks One Guy EOS None 14 82%
Blue Jays Ken Giles One Guy 7/26/2020 Injury 1 6%
Braves Mark Melancon One Guy EOS None 11 85%
Brewers Josh Hader One Guy EOS None 13 93%
Cardinals Kwang-Hyun Kim One Guy 8/5/2020 Retrun to Rotation 1 8%
Cubs Craig Kimbrel One Guy 8/3/2020 Poor Performance 2 13%
Diamondbacks Archie Bradley One Guy 8/31/2020 Traded away 6 46%
Dodgers Kenley Jansen One Guy EOS None 11 73%
Giants Tyler Rogers Competition 7/30/2020 Poor Performance 3 23%
Indians Brad Hand One Guy EOS None 16 80%
Mariners Matt Magill Competition 8/28/2020 Injury 0 0%
Marlins Brandon Kintzler One Guy EOS None 12 67%
Mets Edwin Díaz One Guy 8/7/2020 Poor Performance 6 55%
Nationals Daniel Hudson One Guy EOS None 10 83%
Orioles Mychal Givens Competition 8/31/2020 Poor Performance 5 45%
Padres Kirby Yates One Guy 8/10/2020 Injury 2 15%
Phillies Héctor Neris One Guy 8/23/2020 Poor Performance 5 45%
Pirates Kyle Crick Replacement Coming 8/28/2020 Injury 0 0%
Rangers José Leclerc One Guy 7/29/2020 Injury 1 10%
Rays Nick Anderson One Guy 8/23/2020 Injury 6 26%
Red Sox Brandon Workman One Guy 8/21/2020 Traded away 9 64%
Reds Raisel Iglesias One Guy EOS None 8 89%
Rockies Wade Davis One Guy 8/2/2020 Injury 2 13%
Royals Trevor Rosenthal One Guy 8/29/2020 Traded away 11 58%
Tigers Joe Jiménez One Guy 8/26/2020 Poor Performance 5 45%
Twins Taylor Rogers One Guy EOS None 9 53%
White Sox Alex Colomé One Guy EOS None 12 92%
Yankees Zack Britton Replacement Coming 8/19/2020 Injury 8 57%

In the sprint, 11 made it, a four-year high. The number would have likely dropped in a normal season. Basically, the full-season turnover happened in the 60-game sprint. Here is how the abbreviated season compares to the last few (incumbent is the pitcher who is the presumed closer to start the season).

Historical Initial Closer Summary
Year Saves by Incumbent Team Saves % Saves by Incumbent Total EOS EOS % Same Incumbent as the previous year Same Incumbent % Players Getting Saves
2013 927 1266 73.2% 15 50.0% 130
2014 746 1264 59.0% 11 36.7% 16 53.3% 134
2015 737 1292 57.0% 11 36.7% 14 46.7% 145
2016 797 1276 62.5% 11 36.7% 16 53.3% 148
2017 668 1179 56.7% 10 33.3% 13 43.3% 162
2018 759 1244 61.0% 5 16.7% 12 40.0% 165
2019 573 1180 48.6% 7 23.3% 9 30.0% 199
2020 202 422 47.9% 11 36.7% 8 26.7% 131
Avg 676.1 1140.4 59.3% 10.1 33.8% 12.6 41.9% 151.8

Again, most of the information can be ignored because of the small sample. The main points are.

  1. Saves are being spread around with the “closer” getting fewer and fewer chances. The drop could be overstated because closers could throw in both halves of all the doubleheaders.
  2. Fewer than a third of the closers keep the job from season-to-season. They are just horrible keeper/dynasty investments.
  3. With closers, it’s getting more important to focus on talent since most relievers will end up with some Saves.

That’s it for this year. Onto more seasonal recaps.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Pirates Hurdles
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Member
Pirates Hurdles

For point #1, are they all really bad investments or are elite guys on top teams that hold the job long term really good investments? I mean if turnover is so high, wouldnt guys like Chapman, Kenley, Hader, etc be good ideas? I guess No in 12 teamers, but in 20+ deep leagues I think that changes because there just aren’t easy add new closers available.

kingsofkenmore
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kingsofkenmore

Auction keeper leagues are another place closers’ aren’t bad keeper options.