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Top relievers struggling in first half

Brad Lidge is not alone in disappointing fantasy owners this season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Here in Philadelphia, where we watched closer Brad Lidge manufacture a "perfect" season in 2008, we are witnessing a perfect example of why not to use top draft choices on closers.

"Mr. Perfect" was drafted in the ninth round (Average Draft Position of 84) this spring and has done everything in his power to destroy your pitching staff. He's got an 0-4 record, an ERA of 7.03, a WHIP of 1.84 and six blown saves.

But Lidge is not alone in disappointing fantasy owners, as the list below shows that five of the top-10 closers at the All-Star break are no longer in the top-10.

And the five closers who cracked the top-10 (Ryan Franklin, Heath Bell, Huston Street, David Aardsma, Francisco Cordero) had a preseason ADP of 229.6. That means they were either drafted around the 23rd round or were free agents.

Franklin, the No.2 overall closer, wasn't even the St. Louis Cardinals closer on opening day, that was Jason Motte. But when Motte failed to produce, Franklin inherited the role and thrived in it. It's a similar story for Aardsma in Seattle where he got the opportunity and ran with it.

In 2008 the names were Joakim Soria, Brian Wilson and George Sherrill and in 2007 they were Takashi Saito and Jeremy Accardo.

What this tells me is that closers are hard to pick from year-to-year and easy to find decent ones off waivers after the season begins. So stop drafting closers so early and work the wire and you'll have a better roster in the end.

Top-10 Closers by ADP
Player Team ADP Current Rank
Jonathan Papelbon BOS 53.8 92
Francisco Rodriguez NYM 69.0 73
Joe Nathan MIN 71.3 17
Brad Lidge PHI 84.0 816
Mariano Rivera NYY 83.3 55
Joakim Soria KC1 101.5 96
Jose Valverde HOU1 119.6 204
Bobby Jenks CWS1 111.8 116
Carlos Marmol CHC1 119.6 570
Jonathan Broxton LAD1 119.6 24

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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