2022 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 75 DYNASTY LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHERS, #1-20

At the Dynasty Guru we continue highlighting our top players at every position, moving from Starting Pitchers last week to Relief Pitchers this week.  If you value our work here, please consider donating to help the cause!

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1. Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 1)

100% of the rankers at Dynasty Guru chose Josh Hader as their #1 dynasty relief pitcher, joining Vladimir Guerrero and Ozzie Albies as the only unanimous number ones at their respective positions in 2022. Hader closed out 34-of-35 save opportunities, finished with a 1.23 ERA, an 0.84 WHIP and an outrageous 102 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings, which is good for a 15.7 K/9, the best in all of baseball. He struck out 45.5% of the batters he faced and when batters did put the ball in play, Hader allowed a Hard Hit Rate that was in the top-5 percentile in the league (Savant). This translated to 3.8 H/9, best in the league just a tick above Jacob deGrom. It’s hard to poke any holes in this profile, but a 10.7 BB% is the only place to do so. The Brewers have even done a great job protecting Hader’s arm, as he only threw a combined 77 2/3 innings in the 2020-2021 seasons combined. As much of a sure bet as they come. (Bob Osgood)

2. Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 2)

Are you looking for the dominance of Josh Hader, without the walks, regardless of age? Well, you’ve come to the right place and Liam Hendriks is your guy. The fastball velocity just keeps rising for Hendriks as he gets older. After throwing 94-ish from 2015-2018, 96-ish in 2019-2020, Hendriks fastball averaged 97.7 MPH in 2021. He appears to be on pace to throw 110 MPH by the time he’s Rich Hill’s age. He threw the pitch 69% of the time, allowing a .216 BA, but the true hammer was the slider. Hendriks threw the slider 21% of the time, allowing a .086 BA and gathering a 57.7 Whiff% and 35.4 Put Away%. That Slider Whiff% was 2nd in all of baseball to the 58.1% from deGrom (who hopefully will find his way into every write-up in this article). Hendriks had an incredible 39.7 K-BB%, while saving 38 games and is a perfectly viable first closer off the board in redraft leagues in 2022. (Bob Osgood)

 

3. Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 16)

Clase entered 2021 in a potential timeshare with last year’s #4 dynasty relief pitcher, James Karinchak. Coming off a year where Clase had been suspended for the entirety after testing positive for a banned substance, he left the season as an elite closer with impeccable batted ball data, thanks to the fact that he throws as hard as any pitcher in the league. Clase strikes out “only” just over a batter per inning, but with great control and only allowed three barreled balls out of 189 balls in play all season, finishing with a 1.29 ERA in 69 2/3 innings. For pitchers with 60+ innings, only Jacob deGrom, at 1.08, had a better ERA (nice, three-for-three). Draft Clase in all formats for elite ratios and the strikeouts should arrive eventually.  (Bob Osgood)

 

4. Edwin Diaz, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 3)

It’s amazing what keeping the ball in the yard can do for a closer’s optics. After allowing 30 home runs from 2017 to 2019, Diaz allowed five home runs combined in 2020-2021. While a 5.3% HR/FB in 2021 might have contributed a bit, Diaz had a 67.8 LOB%, which likely landed his 3.45 ERA in the right spot. Diaz has pitched six full seasons in the majors, saving 173 games, and is still just turning 28 years old next month. The Mets should be improved, stop me if you’ve heard that before but this spending spree seems to be on the next level, allowing for more save opportunities. Closing games behind perennial Cy Young contenders Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom (fist pump) doesn’t hurt either. Diaz will always walk a few too many guys and blow a handful of saves as a result but he is certainly one of the few reliable closers in an unreliable mid-lockout market.  (Bob Osgood)

5. Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 5)

The Aroldis Chapman Experience is becoming more of a rollercoaster each season but at the end of the season, you can usually look at the stat line as a whole and be more than fine with it. Another 30 save season (that’s 8-out-of-9 full seasons with 30+), six wins, a 3.36 ERA, and 97 strikeouts in only 56 innings. However, Chapman landed in the bottom 1 percentile in the MLB in walk rate (15.6%) and lost his closer’s job mid-season, not tallying a save from June 20th to July 20th. There is volatility here but it’s important to note that his new Split Finger adds a new element. He threw the splitter 111 times, allowed one hit, and had a 66.7 Whiff%, which was the highest Whiff% of any pitch by any pitcher in all of baseball. I have a feeling Chapman will continue that experiment in 2022. (Bob Osgood)

6. Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 7)

Our 5-7 RPs, Chapman, Pressly and Iglesias make up the early-30s closers tier of last “sure thing” closers on good teams with safe jobs. When it comes to drafting time, pick your favorite if you think the run on closers is happening soon. If two of them are gone, take the third. Since emerging as a top middle-reliever early in 2018 with Minnesota, Pressly finally got a full-season closer role with Houston in 2021. In those four seasons, he’s allowed a .209 BA, 1.04 WHIP, 2.48 ERA, and a 27.1 K-BB%. As the closer for the defending AL Champs, there is limited risk here for the 33-year-old. (Bob Osgood)

 

7. Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 6)

Multiple rankers had Iglesias as high as #3, and the difference between our 5-7 closers were minuscule. Iglesias’ rank could easily read as “5C”. Raisel’s 34 saves, seven wins, 2.57 ERA, and 0.93 WHIP were worth $23 of value in a 15-team league, the second most value after Liam Hendriks of all RPs. That value may have been a bit inflated, considering the Angels 77-85 record was actually a significant record improvement over the previous two seasons. Trout, Ohtani, and Iglesias deserve better. Iglesias’ 36.8% CSW was best in all of baseball, a tick above (ahem) deGrom. Despite coming off a contract year and now 32-years-old, Iglesias is almost as safe a closer as you can find. (Bob Osgood)

 

8. Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays (Age 28, Previous Rank: 51)

Romano has been excellent since the start of the short season, combining for a 9-2 record, 1.97 ERA, .176 BA allowed, and 34.2 K%. He’s 28-years-old on a team that won over 90 games, and his fastball averages 98 MPH. What’s the problem? Probably nothing, but the 2021 Blue Jays did start spring training with Ken Giles as their closer, passed the baton around from Julian Merryweather until he got hurt, to Rafael Dolis, to Romano who thrived and saved 23 games. It’s possible that the Jays add another reliever if we ever play baseball again. If they do not, Romano should be a great value once again. (Bob Osgood)

 

9. Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 25)

First things first, Gallegos is one of the most reliable and consistent relief pitchers in baseball for three years running now. He also has, to date, handled a heavy bulk of innings as a reliever. His 80 1/3 innings were the fourth highest in MLB for a full-time reliever. The problem is that he only has 19 career saves. 14 of those saves came last year, while teammate Alex Reyes had 29 saves, and flame thrower Jordan Hicks will finally be returning in 2022. We all think that Gallegos should get all, or most, of the 2022 saves but no one knows for sure. Over the past three years combined, Gallegos has a 2.76 ERA, 0.85 ERA, .174 BA allowed, 32.4 K%, 6.2 BB%. Let the man close! (Bob Osgood)

 

10. Kenley Jansen, Free Agent (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 9)

Until Jansen has a season that falls off a cliff, he will continue to rank around the top-10 in our rankings. However, the walk rate increases in recent years have been concerning. After Jansen’s peak 26 to 29 year old seasons, his BB-rate has risen from 0.92 per 9, to 2.13, to 2.29, to 3.33, to 4.70. Last year’s BB% was in the bottom 8 percentile of the league, but all other metrics still check out great. Jansen allowed 4.7 hits per 9 as well, identical to his walks. For pitchers with 60+ innings, the only better H/9 rate than Jansen was Jacob deGrom (knew I could sneak him in one more time). Jansen’s exit velocity allowed has been in the top 1 percentile four of the past five years. Obviously, where Jansen signs in free agency will be a huge factor in his redraft value in 2022 but his role will almost certainly be as a closer. If he can get the walk rate down a bit, he will continue to be a top ten closer for years. (Bob Osgood)

 

11. DEVIN WILLIAMS, MILWAUKEE BREWERS, (AGE:27, PREVIOUS RANK: 11)

Devin picked up where he left off in the 2020 season. Devin finished the season with an impressive 8-2 record, with that record no doubt being a reflection of the new extra innings rule that places a runner on second each extra inning. I am not taking anything away from his dominance, it just helps to secure more wins as a relief pitcher if your team can get that guy on second base across home plate in the bottom half of the inning after Devin did his thing in the top of the inning. Devin mows down lineups among the best of them. His whiff percentage is in the 99th percentile which means that he is better than 99% of the league at getting swing and misses. The only thing holding Devin from climbing up rankings is that he isn’t the closer in Milwaukee. (Brett Cook)

12. WILL SMITH, ATLANTA BRAVES, (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 28)

Will had his best career season in 2021. He had more saves in 2021 than in any other season. Smith also had the most relief work for any season in 2021. His walk rate was a little higher than you want to see but he made up for it with a solid 11.5% strikeout rate per nine innings. When you look at the sabermetrics, the strong point for Smith was in chase rate. His chase rate was in the 94th percentile, which means that Smith was among the league’s best at getting hitters to chase pitches outside of the strike zone. He also dominated in the whiff percentage department as Smith finished the season with sabermetrics right outside the 90th percentile. Smith, then, was among the best in the league at getting hitters to chase pitches outside the zone as well as swinging and missing the ball altogether. If that isn’t a recipe for success than I don’t know what is! (Brett Cook)

13. GARRETT WHITLOCK, BOSTON RED SOX, (AGE:25, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Garrett came out with guns blazing in 2021. He also came out of nowhere evidenced by the fact that he was not ranked last year. Garrett tallied up 73.1 innings of work and struck out 81 hitters. Garrett also posted a solid 1.96ERA. Whitlock also won 8 games last season in his first year in the majors. It is no wonder he finds himself ranked this high. One thing that stands out in the sabermetrics is his barrel percentage which was in the 95th percentile. What this tells us is that Whitlock isn’t getting hit hard and hitters aren’t able to put a great launch angle on his throws. (Brett Cook)

14. CRAIG KIMBREL, CHICAGO WHITE SOX, (AGE: 33, PREVIOUS RANK: 17)

Kimbrel proved that you can climb out of the fantasy grave, as he came to life in fantasy in the 2021 season, following two bad seasons in Chicago. Playing for a new team in the same town since last July, Kimbrel looks to stay true to the dominance he experienced in 2021 and before those two years for the Cubs. The dominance that leads you to strikeout 100 batters in 59.2 innings and be in the 100th percentile in whiff percentage and a strikeout percentage in the 99th percentile league wide.. Simply said, Kimbrel is among the elite of the elite in the business at striking out hitters. He will continue that success in 2022. (Brett Cook)

15. COREY KNEBEL, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 63)

Knebel didn’t get a ton of work in 2021 for the Dodgers as he battled with injury, but in the little time he did play there was no disappointment. This is evidenced by the fact that even with the injury struggles, Knebel jumped up 48 spots in this years rankings. This season he finds himself with a better chance to rack up saves in Philadelphia with a less dominant bullpen. One area that Knebel drastically improved was in the area of walks per nine innings, an area he had weakened in after the 2015 season. If Knebel stays healthy this year, he has the repertoire to continue climbing up our rankings. (Brett Cook)

16. TAYLOR ROGERS, MINNESOTA TWINS, (AGE: 31, PREVIOUS RANK: 13)

Let’s begin with the good for Rogers. His strikeouts per nine innings were the best of his major league career by far as he posted 13 per nine in 2021. His home runs allowed per nine inning was the second best of his career and best since 2018. He also posted 9 saves in back-to-back seasons, which isn’t dominant but every save matters in fantasy. There is more good but let’s talk about the bad. First, Taylor Rogers doesn’t look like Mr. Rogers. I don’t know what that has to do with fantasy but it is nevertheless a strike against him. More importantly, Rogers isn’t leaving hitters on base with the same success you saw from him during the 2017-2019 seasons. Rogers also struggled at home. His ERA was almost 4 times higher at home than on the road. It is hard to feel good about a guy who struggles in his own ballpark. (Brett Cook)

17. JAMES KARINCHAK, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS, (AGE:26, PREVIOUS RANK: 4)

Oh how the mighty fall! Last year we had James in our top five and here he finds himself near the bottom of the top twenty relief pitchers. The sabermetrics show you just how much change you can see in a sophomore slump as James finished in the league’s 97th percentile or better in the following areas in 2020: xwOBA, xERA, xBA (100th percentile), xSLG (100th percentile), barrel percentage, strikeout percentage (100th percentile), and whiff percentage. The only two areas that saw similar sabermetric success for Karinchak were strikeout percentage and xBA. With a bounce back season Karinchak could put himself back in the top ten once again but it will take similar numbers to 2020. (Brett Cook)

18. GARRETT CROCHET, CHICAGO WHITE SOX, (AGE:22, PREVIOUS RANK: 18)

Crochet was one of the many strong points in the Chicago White Sox bullpen last year as he finished the season with 12 holds in 54 appearances. Across 54 innings of work, Crochet finished with a 2.82ERA. One of the areas where Crochet struggled was in WHIP but he evened that out with a pretty decent LOB%  of 71.4. If you look at the sabermetrics you will see that Garrett’s bright spots were in the areas of barrel percentage, xSLG, and fastball velocity. This is encouraging to know, especially the barrel percentage. I put a lot of weight on this area because it lets us know that Crochet, who weighs 230 pounds and stands at six foot six inches has the ability to use his frame and pitches to keep hitters from barreling the ball. (Brett Cook)

19. CAMILO DOVAL, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Here is another guy that came out of nowhere and supplanted himself in the top 20 relief pitchers. Doval struck out over 12 hitters per nine innings last year and also only walked 3 per nine innings. Adding to that impressiveness, Doval stranded over 81% of hitters on base last season. I know that Doval only pitched in 27 innings in 2021 but with that left on base percentage is better than Kimbrel through Crochet (14-18 on this list). Doval is another guy I could definitely see jumping a few spots in the rankings next year if he can continue what he started in 2021. (Brett Cook)

20. JOE BARLOW, TEXAS RANGERS, (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Joe was able to pick up 11 saves and 3 holds in 2021. If LeClerc comes back healthy in 2022 then Barlow will no doubt take a back seat to LeClerc in the saves department, but that still leaves room for Barlow to get some holds which will benefit those who have holds as a category in leagues. One thing going for Barlow is that he doesn’t give up many home runs, evidenced by the fact that in his whole minor league and major league career he averaged 0.5 home runs per nine innings, better than everyone on this list besides Crochet. It was a small sample size in 2021 and Barlow didn’t overpower with strikeout numbers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Barlow regresses in 2022. (Brett Cook)

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Bob Osgood

Bob Osgood

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