Andrew Bailey and Ryan Madson are two old faces in new places. Very similar in style and substance, the closers are separated by just eight picks in Yahoo! drafts. Many would consider the difference between the two negligible. However, Y! fanalysts Brad Evans and Andy Behrens disagree.
Evans leads off: Speaking candidly, comparing Bailey to Madson is a splitting hairs exercise. The similarities between the pair are endless. Both are injury concerns. Both are pitching for new teams. Both are cemented ninth-inning options for division contenders. Both are roughly going in Round 11 in 12-team mixers …
However, of the red-clad closers, Bailey is the appropriate choice.
The transition from pitcher friendly Oakland to a slugger AL East team is, admittedly, a noteworthy knock, but the SAWKS' potent offense and solid starting staff should present many door-slamming opportunities for the reliever. And don't expect his ERA to rise dramatically. Bailey misses many bats (Career 9.10 K/9) and rarely surrenders the long-ball (Career 5.4 HR/FB%). If he can stave off the injury imp, he's a near lock for numbers around 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5 W, 60 K, 35 S. In other words, he's an upper-tiered RP2 in mixers. And that could be a conservative estimate. Keep in mind Jonathan Papelbon saved at least 35 games in five of six years as Boston's stopper. It's within the realm of possibility Bailey's saves total matches the number on his jersey.
Madson, too, is an excellent option, but his recent elbow soreness is a concern. For two nearly identical closers, it's silly to invest in the enhanced risk.
For my buck, Bailey provides the most bang.
Behrens cleans up: I'm going to keep this brief, then yield my remaining word-count to my esteemed colleague. For me, here are the key details: Ryan Madson posted a better K-rate and ERA than Andrew Bailey last season, while saving more games. Madson is the unrivaled closer for an NL club, whereas Bailey will earn his living in a degree-of-difficulty environment, the AL East, plus his team's bullpen has a respectable Plan B in Mark Melancon.
True, Madson dealt with some elbow soreness early in the spring, but he's dismissed the issue as "something I've had before" and, according to his pitching coach, he "felt great and threw great" on Wednesday. He's fine. Bailey has been slowed by injury this month, too (lat muscle), and of course he has a history of ... well, not pitching. If the 15-day DL had a rewards program, he'd have platinum elite status. Bailey threw just 41.2 innings last season and 49.0 the year before. He's simply tough to trust. I'm no fan of the Oakland-to-Boston jump, either.
I don't doubt that I'll have shares of both of these pitchers in my 2012 fantasy portfolio, but I'll feel better about the Madson investment. He gets higher grades in reliability and environment, and there's just not much separation between these two in terms of talent. Don't pay the inflated Red Sox tax on Bailey; you're not getting the 2006-09 version of Jonathan Papelbon.