March 13, 2014
10. Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates — Had a great 2013, but he’s older than you might think, with lingering health concerns. Still the top option for a team good enough to win a lot, but not good enough to win by a lot.
8. Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins — The team was lousy, but it wasn’t his fault. The Twins should almost certainly improve, and Perkins’s job security is excellent.
7. Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers — The 39-year-old was fantastic last year, and he’ll close for a better team in 2014.
6. Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox — Uehara has been very good ever since he entered the league in 2009, but his performance in 2013 was nothing short of shocking. He should have more save opportunities this year, and he remains an elite option, to be sure — but keep in mind that he turns 39 this April, and that he started in Japan for eight years, averaging 175 innings a year.
4. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals — Now we’ve reached the Big Four, the highest level of bullpen excellence. Holland has been fantastic over the past few years, and if the Royals continue their improvement, his stock could rise even further. He did get a high number of save opportunities last year.
3. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers — For the first 4 1/2 years of his career, Jansen was a catcher who struck out in 27% of his at-bats. Over his last 4 1/2 years as a pitcher, he’s made hitters look even sillier, striking out 40% of batters faced.
1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves — Never a doubt; Kimbrel has been utterly unhittable since his rookie season in 2011.