We’ve reached the end of the actual rankings portion of the Positional Power Rankings, having covered every single position on the field, designated hitter, starting rotations, and now bullpens. Tomorrow, Dave Cameron will wrap it all up. I encourage you to get caught up and ready for the season by reading every single post, starting with Cameron’s introduction. But as your journey has brought you here, please read on for a look at 15 of the best bullpens in the game. Below is a graph showing every bullpen and their projected WAR on the season.
Last season, 375 pitchers recorded at least 10 innings as a reliever last season, an average of of more than 12 per team. As a result, there are a lot of names and projections listed below. Bullpens can change greatly from year to year and even during the season. The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers remade their bullpens on the fly last season on their way to the playoffs. The Royals have made significant changes since last summer when Wade Davis was not even the closer yet. It helps to have a great reliever at the back end of the pen, but if you want to be ranked first on this list, you need to have three.
|Andrew Miller||65.0||13.7||3.0||0.8||.309||81.5 %||2.32||2.39||2.3|
|Dellin Betances||65.0||13.3||3.5||0.7||.301||81.7 %||2.33||2.49||2.0|
|Aroldis Chapman||55.0||14.3||4.0||0.7||.309||82.3 %||2.35||2.50||1.4|
|Chasen Shreve||55.0||9.5||3.7||1.1||.303||75.4 %||3.77||3.96||0.3|
|Branden Pinder||45.0||8.1||3.4||1.3||.301||72.3 %||4.36||4.46||0.0|
|James Pazos||40.0||8.9||3.9||1.0||.304||72.8 %||3.98||4.02||0.1|
|Nick Rumbelow||35.0||9.1||3.0||1.2||.306||72.9 %||4.03||3.96||0.0|
|Bryan Mitchell||30.0||7.3||4.4||1.1||.308||69.6 %||4.82||4.74||-0.1|
|Kirby Yates||25.0||9.4||3.8||1.4||.305||74.7 %||4.18||4.42||0.0|
|Nicholas Goody||20.0||9.7||3.7||1.0||.306||73.7 %||3.81||3.82||0.0|
|Tyler Olson||15.0||6.6||3.1||1.2||.297||71.7 %||4.29||4.54||0.0|
|Jacob Lindgren||10.0||10.4||4.4||1.1||.305||75.9 %||3.75||3.91||0.0|
|Johnny Barbato||10.0||8.4||3.8||1.2||.307||72.5 %||4.34||4.44||0.0|
|Evan Rutckyj||10.0||8.7||4.6||1.0||.296||73.2 %||4.04||4.28||0.0|
|The Others||19.0||8.2||4.0||1.2||.322||69.5 %||4.73||4.50||0.0|
Within these projections, there are 10 relievers forecast to produce at least 11 strikeouts per nine innings and at least 50 innings pitched. There are five relievers with at least 12 strikeouts per nine innings and at least 50 innings pitched. There are three relievers with at least 13 strikeouts per nine innings and at least 50 innings pitched, and all three are members of the New York Yankees. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman were the only pitchers in Major League Baseball last season to exceed 14 K/9, striking out roughly 40% of all batters who stepped to the plate against them last year. Miller and Betances combined to lead the Yankees bullpen last season, and this season the team added Aroldis Chapman at a discounted price due to a offseason domestic-violence incident which eventually resulted in a 30-game suspension.
Last season’s Yankees bullpen pitched very well, posting the third-highest bullpen WAR, although with 530.2 innings, the pen was forced to carry a relatively large load due to fewer innings from the starting rotation. The fewer innings a bullpen has to pitch, the greater percentage go to the best pitchers. With three of the very best relievers in baseball, a healthier rotation could push the Yankees to the top spot this season.
The Yankees traded away another lefty in Justin Wilson to the Tigers during the winter. Wilson was perhaps a bit underrated, and limits the improvements the Yankees can make over last season’s very good pen. Chasen Shreve is the forgotten lefty in the Yankees pen with the potential to be this season’s Justin Wilson. He can prpoduce strikeouts, but last season, they came with walks and a few too many home runs. After Shreve, we have a host of replacement-level pitchers the Yankees can cycle in and out as they see fit, but the top three alone vault the Yankees to the top of Power Rankings by a healthy margin.