2018 Fantasy Baseball: Left-Handed Closer More Valuable Than Name Suggests

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Adam Ronis looks at an under-the-radar closer of the San Diego Padres, Brad Hand!

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

People tend to pay for name brands. The same thing happens in Fantasy Baseball. If the player doesn’t have a long track record, the player doesn’t go high in their rankings.

Take away the name and look at the stats and sometimes people get blown away not realizing how good the player is. Brad Hand fits into this category.

Hand has been one of the best relievers the last two seasons and was the closer at the end of last year. While he hasn’t closed for long, when he received the opportunity he was excellent. Since the rate of closers who begin the season with the job and hold it for the whole season is low, it’s best not to spend much for closers in drafts.

One way to do that is by targeting Hand. He’s often drafted outside the Top 12 closers and he’s in my Top 10. Over the last two seasons, Hand has a 2.56 ERA with 215 strikeouts in 168.2 innings. He has appeared in more games than any reliever over the last two seasons except Addison Reed.

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Hand didn’t begin last season as the closer, but finished the year with the job, converting 21 of 26 saves. He pitched 79.1 innings and allowed 54 hits, 20 walks and struck out 104. He had a 2.16 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and limited hitters to a .190 average.

Hand doesn’t allow much hard contact with a 27.8 percent hard hit rate and a career-high 13.3 percent swinging strike rate. He found his best success last year by throwing his fastball less and increasing the use of his slider and it made sense with batters hitting .102 off his slider.

There aren’t many left-handed closers, but Hand dominates right-handers, too. He limited righties to a .206 average and .252 wOBA.

From 2013-14 with the Marlins, Hand spent time as a starter and reliever. The results weren’t great and the Padres made him a reliever in 2015 and it proved to be a much better fit. He pitched 89.1 innings and allowed 63 hits, walked 36 and struck out 111 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.

The average player might not be familiar with Hand making him a good value in the middle rounds.

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Adam Ronis
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