Todd Farino, The Closer Report
The National League has the charismatic Brian Wilson. The American League has Brandon League. A fired up, hard throwing tattooed closer for the Seattle Mariners. League enters his second full season as the Mariners closer and showed us last year that he can handle the job.
League ended last season with 37 saves on a team with only 67 wins. He also finished with an ERA below 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.10. However, that is not what got my attention on Brandon League. His stellar slider is both is rise and fall. He has one of the most electric sliders in baseball, but it can hurt him more than help him. What also impressed me about League was his ability to bounce back from disaster.
Last season, League had a stretch of games where he blew three consecutive saves and over four straight games gave up 10 runs. It looked as though he was done, but he wasn’t. He went on to save 28/30 games and confirmed his status as a closer.
Brandon League comes at hitters with three great pitches. Like all closers, he throws his 97-98 MPH fastball early and often. What compliments that fastball and keeps the hitters honest is a great split finger fastball and his slider. The only way that League runs into problems is when he can’t throw his slider for a strike and hitters walk. Least year he reduced his BB/9 to a career low of 1.47.
If League was on a better team, he’d be a rare candidate for 50+ saves. I expect a big season from League with a team that is on the rise in the Seattle Mariners.
The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 43 Sv – 4 Wins – 2.42 ERA – 1.11 WHIP – 62 Ks
2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:
League is an intriguing draft pick. He pitches for a team that at this point are unpredictable in how they will play. So there is a risk in drafting Brandon League. However, if you get him in the right round, he will be a great pick for your fantasy team. Right now, his ADP is around 183 and he’s gone as low as 240. Getting League after round 12, is a tremendous value pick and well worth the risk. If he stays healthy and consistent, League could have a career year and surpass even my expectations.