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Ranking The Top 10 Relievers for 2023

The Top 10 Relievers
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Welcome to part VII of Ranking MLB Players by position. This will be the Top 10 Relievers.

This list is strictly predicting how these players will perform in 2023. Does that mean last year doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Last season matters the most. However, this list also factors in how the players have performed since 2020, how much they progressed or regressed, and if 2022 was just an outlier.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Relievers of 2023.

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(By the way, yes, I am a Mets fan, and yes, I wrote this entire article depressed over the idea that Edwin Diaz will not be pitching this year.)

10. Felix Bautista

Bautista had a very impressive rookie season with Baltimore. He had a 2.19 ERA, 2.66 xERA (Expected ERA), 2.91 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and 2.77 xFIP (Expected FIP). Bautista also had a strikeout rate 25.7% higher than his walk rate. He is 27 now, so it is a relatively late start to his career, but he still has plenty of time to improve his game and become one of the better relievers in the game.

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9. Jason Adam

Adam was super solid in his first year with the Rays. He had a 1.56 ERA, 2.09 xERA, 2.86, FIP, and 3.17 xFIP. He also had 10.7 K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 innings) and 2.4 BB/9 (Walks per 9 innings). The Rays have a history of building great bullpens, so I would fully expect Adam to be as good, if not better, in 2023.

8. Evan Phillips

After having a rough start to his career from 2018-2020, Phillips has been absolutely filthy the last two years. Last year he had a 1.14 ERA, 2.18 xERA, 1.94 FIP, and 2.72 xFIP. Phillips also had a strikeout rate 26.6% higher than his walk rate. The Dodgers will be a great team whether Phillips has a great season or not, but he will still be a key piece of their ceiling come playoff time.

7. Raisel Iglesias

Iglesias was a huge pickup for the Braves last trade deadline. At the beginning of the year, he struggled with the Angels, where he had a 4.04 ERA and 3.17 FIP. After he got traded to Atlanta, he turned it around big time. Iglesias had a 0.34 ERA, and 1.52 FIP with the Braves. He was so unstoppable in the second half of last year that it will be almost impossible to sustain it, but if he is even close to what he was, it will be hard to keep him out of the top 5.

6. Ryan Pressly

The closer for the 2022 World Series champs comes in at number 6. He was not super impressive in the regular season, with a 2.98 ERA, 2.62 xERA, 2.31 FIP, and 2.21 xFIP. However, he more than made up for it in the playoffs. In 11 innings pitched, he did not give up a single run, struck out thirteen, and walked three batters. Even though this is a small sample size, it shows you that he can handle the pressure, which is precisely what you need in a reliever.

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5. Andres Munoz

Munoz had the first full season of his career in 2022 with the Mariners. He had a 2.49 ERA, 1.84 xERA, 2.04 FIP, and 2.04 xFIP. Munoz also had a 38.7% strikeout rate and a 6.0% walk rate. Having a solid strikeout-walk rate is one of the best assets that a pitcher can have. And when you have a guy who has that and routinely throws over 100, that is easily a top 5 reliever

4. Ryan Helsley

Helsley was so great last year that he got Cy young votes as a reliever. He had 1.25 ERA, 2.04 xERA, 2.34 FIP, and 2.60 xFIP. His strikeout rate was 31% higher than his walk rate. The Cardinals are going to be one of the more interesting teams in the league this year, and if Helsley has a similar season to how he did in 2022, they will be playoff contenders.

3. Devin Williams

Devin Williams has had a fantastic start to his career. In his rookie season in 2020, he won Rookie of the Year and finished seventh in Cy Young voting. Last year, Williams had a 1.93 ERA, 2.04 xERA, 2.01 FIP, and 2.36 xFIP. Milwaukee has one of the best pitching rotations, including both starters and relievers, and Williams is one of the main reasons for it.

2. Josh Hader

Even though Hader had a down season in 2022, he certainly has the track record for us to give him the benefit of the doubt. In 2022, he had a 5.22 ERA and 3.45 FIP. In 2021, he had a 1.23 ERA and 1.69 FIP. Hader will be 29 next month. So even though he probably will not be as good as he was in 2021, I would be shocked if he played as he did in 2022.

1. Emmanuel Clase

The 2022 Saves leader comes in at number 1. Chase came in fifth place in Rookie of the year in 2021 and made his first all-star game in 2022. He has been filthy for all of his young career. Last year he had a 1.36 ERA, 1.97 xERA, 1.98 FIP, and 2.18 xFIP. His Strikeout Per 9 was 7.7 points higher than his walks per 9. He just turned 25, so the sky’s the limit with a guy as talented as him.

Conclusion

Relievers have become more and more important through the years. Starters are starting to throw fewer innings, relying on bullpens to be more active. These ten guys and many others are going to be talked about a ton this season


Main Image Credit: 
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