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Showdown: Jansen vs. Kimbrel

Opening Day Aftermath

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A blockbuster trade has already shaken up the top of the closer tiers

Often times in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2014 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

We’ll offer up one Showdown per position (catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starter and reliever) here, and you can get dozens more by purchasing the 2014 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.

Kenley Jansen vs. Craig Kimbrel


Kimbrel is coming off another one of the greatest relief seasons in history, but last year's dominance didn't match his 2012 showing. He went from striking out 16.7 batters per nine innings in 2012 to 13.2 last year. He got almost one-third fewer swings and misses, a good sign that the league doesn't find him quite as overpowering as it once did. Jansen actually had a higher swinging-strike percentage, even if his strikeout rate was still a bit lower (he finished at 13.0). His K rate, like Kimbrel's, has diminished since he first entered the league, but his walk rate has declined more sharply. Last year, he walked just 18 in 76 2/3 innings, allowing him to post an even better WHIP than Kimbrel (0.86 to 0.88). Most likely, no one who drafts either of these guys is going to come away disappointed. Jansen just projects to be a little better now. For one thing, he's probably on the better team in Los Angeles, which could result in an extra couple of save chances. More importantly, he'll probably pitch a few more innings -- he topped Kimbrel by 9 2/3 last year -- giving him more opportunity to help his fantasy teams in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)


So my task here is to make an argument for a guy that has been unquestionably the most dominant closer in baseball over the last three seasons? Alright, I’ll give it a shot. Yes, Kimbrel’s strikeouts dropped a little bit last season, but he still struck out an absurd 98 over 67 innings. The 25-year-old has piled up a whopping 341 whiffs across 206 2/3 frames the last three seasons, and over that time he’s registered a microscopic 1.48 ERA and 0.87 WHIP while averaging 46 saves. There’s no doubt that Jansen is fantastic, and it’s possible that he’ll inch past Kimbrel as the top fantasy closer this season. However, there are his past heart problems to consider, a health issue that is hopefully behind him but we can never be certain. Both of these guys will almost surely be elite, but I’ll go with the one who has done it more and who has shown no real signs of slowing down. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)


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