2020 Positional Power Rankings: Bullpen (No. 1-15)

This morning, Jason Martinez took us through the back-end of the bullpen rankings. Now, we conclude the player rankings (a summary will run tomorrow) the same way most great baseball games do: with elite bullpens.

A substantial caveat for readers: There are some positions for which there is a cleaner, wider gap between the top teams and the bottom, where we can more definitively say that some teams are better than others. For instance, it’s clear the best center field situation belongs to the Angels because of Mike Trout, and that Cleveland belongs at or near the top of the shortstop hierarchy because of Francisco Lindor. Relief pitching is not one of these positions. Sure, we have the bullpens ranked, and you can see their statistical projections above and below, but notice the margins here, and that they’re even thinner than usual because of a shortened season, and recall how volatile relievers are generally. Winning a single, close, coin-flip game is more significant this year than ever before, which means bullpen performance will simultaneously be as meaningful and as volatile as ever.

I’m interested in the benefits of stocking bullpens with pitchers who have varied release points, as well as mechanical looks and repertoire shapes that are different from one another, so I’ve included rudimentary overlays of some of each team’s reliever release points to hopefully give visual learners a more concrete idea of what I’m talking about, while also highlighting which teams seem to care more about having varied looks than others.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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3 years ago

I’m honestly surprised to see Cleveland ranked as high as they are. Hand looked lost in the second half last year. Perez looked lost all year long. Karinchack has talent but he’s a rookie with control issues. And, of course, Clase is out for the year on a PEDs suspension. And there’s really not much to pick them up in one of the top guys falters or gets hurt. On top of that, the new rules will limit what Tito likes to do with his bullpen – last year Cleveland easily led the majors in “short relief appearances” with 42, eleven more than second-place Washington.

Time will tell, but as a Cleveland fan, that bullpen has me worried…

3 years ago
Reply to  emh1969

BTW, I’ll add…all of what I wrote above is compounded by the fact that Cleveland’s starting pitching is unlikely to be as good as it was in the past.