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Fantasy Baseball Profile: Andrew Bailey

On Monday, Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey won the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Award. Bailey received 13 first place votes and held off Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus and Tigers starter Rick Porcello to claim the award.

The 2009 All-Star was one of the top sleepers to emerge in 2009 fantasy baseball. He finished his rookie season with 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA, striking out 91 in 83.3 innings of work. His WHIP was 0.88 and he also won 6 games.

In comparison to fellow ROY winner Chris Coghlan, Bailey was much more useful in fantasy baseball circles. According to ESPN ownership data, Bailey could be found on teams in almost 72% of fantasy leagues. This is likely because closers are generally in high demand. Also, the more closers a fantasy team owns, the better chance they have of dominating the saves category in head-to-head or roto leagues.

Bailey was also a WHIP and ERA monster, meaning that playing Bailey regularly meant that fantasy baseball owners could keep their ERA and WHIP down, increasing their chances of winning weekly matchups.

Despite his relatively low fantasy baseball ownership percentage, Bailey finished 2009 as the no. 2 overall relief pitcher in fantasy baseball. Finishing just behind Dodgers stopper Jonathan Broxton and ahead of fantasy baseball legends like Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan, expect Bailey to be in high demand in 2010.

Because of his top-notch performance in 2009, Bailey is very likely to be drafted TOO EARLY in most 2010 fantasy leagues. Too many fantasy owners will be expecting a repeat performance of 2009 and will take Bailey as their top reliever.

While Bailey had a great year and is deserving of a draft spot in 2010, he probably belongs on a roster as a low-end no. 1 closer or high-end no. 2 closer. This is more to do with the fact that the A’s likely will not be in the pennant race in 2010, so Bailey’s save opportunities will be less than his AL West counterparts Brian Fuentes, David Aardsma, and C.J. Wilson.

And besides, closers like Rivera, Nathan, Broxton, and Papelbon should definitely be drafted ahead of Bailey too.

Bailey is a quality closer. Fantasy baseballers should resist the urge to reach for Bailey in 2010, however. Remember – post season awards don’t guarantee success the following season. Just because he won Rookie of the Year in 2009 doesn’t mean Bailey is going to save your squad in 2010.

It’s ok to proceed after Andrew Bailey in fantasy baseball, just proceed with caution.

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