At 31, Jonathan Papelbon has already achieved much in his career; he has over 200 saves and one World Series ring. Now Jonathan Papelbon, the one-time Boston Red Sox closer, has achieved something else— a big payday. Papelbon will be making $11,000,058 – the $58 for his uniform number – in 2012 as part of his four-year, $50+ million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
So what does this mean for fantasy baseball 2012? Papelbon is one of the top closers in major league baseball, and should continue to do so in 2012. He has gone from a once-good, now underachieving Red Sox team to the Phillies, who underachieved in the playoffs last year after a great 2011 regular season. The pitcher who was on the mound during the last game of the Red Sox's 2011 meltdown is now shipping out of Boston, leaving behind the worst regular-season collapse in regular season history. However, although Jonathan Papelbon did falter in some critical games, he was actually perceived as being one of the more mature players on the Red Sox, and did not have any connection to the fried chicken and beer scandal.
The thing is with Papelbon is that while he might still be known for his over-the-top personality— something he has toned down a little in recent years—he should also be known for consistently being one of the top closers in the major leagues since 2006, when he started making an impact. When it comes to fantasy baseball projections, you should be able to expect over 30 saves a season, with more than a strikeout per inning, and a pitcher who has been able to stay on the pitchers' mound, missing little time due to injury. Jonathan Papelbon is not Mariano Rivera; but who is? He's still close to the top of the heap when it comes to Major League Baseball.
Fantasy baseball projections when it comes to closers can be a shaky endeavor – the position can be extremely volatile, with closers flaming out quickly. However, when it comes to Jonathan Papelbon, he has been consistently good over the years. In addition, when looking at closers for fantasy baseball 2012, Craig Kimbrel is very young, while Mariano Rivera is heading into his golden years. Jonathan Papelbon is right in the middle, age-wise.
As for how Papelbon will do in the National League, his fantasy baseball projections could be even better than they would for the American League, given that he is facing hitters who are not as familiar with his stuff as American League hitters, especially those in the AL East, became over the years. So when it comes to fantasy baseball 2012, you might want to consider Jonathan Papelbon for the top spot on your closers draft list.