Ranking the top 10 relief pitchers in MLB

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This continues my list where I rank the top 10 players in MLB, moving onto relief pitchers. I know I said starting pitchers was the most difficult top 10 to come up with last time, but I was wrong. Relief pitchers takes the cake, because almost every team has at least one elite arm that could be viewed as one of the best in the league, and some teams have multiple.

If you missed any of the previous editions of this series, follow the links below.

Top 10 MLB Relief Pitchers

  1. Edwin Diaz
  2. Emmanuel Clase
  3. Liam Hendriks
  4. Josh Hader
  5. Devin Williams
  6. Andrés Muñoz
  7. Jhoan Duran
  8. Félix Bautista
  9. Ryan Helsley
  10. A.J. Minter

This list is up for debate, and I’m sure a fan of every team will have a gripe with it, but the only spots that can’t be argued about are the top two. Edwin Diaz is the best closer in the game, and Emmanuel Clase is a close second. After that, everything could be sorted one way or another.

Liam Hendriks had a down year for his standards last year, finishing with a 2.84 ERA, 2.68 FIP, and 1.040 WHIP. Yep, that’s considered a down year for a player like Hendriks. Over the past four seasons, he’s twice finished within the top 10 of the AL Cy Young race, posting a combined 2.26 ERA and 13.5 K/9.

Josh Hader is coming off the worst season of his career and was dreadful after being traded to the Padres. With that being said, this list is about the future, and I’m putting more weight into the entire body of work than just the 2022 season. Prior to last year, Hader might have been #1 on this list, and I think he’ll bounce back just fine in 2023.

At #5 is Josh Hader’s former teammate Devin Williams, winner of the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year. Over the last three seasons, Williams owns a 1.84 ERA and a ridiculous 15.0 K/9.

I lumped a group of fresh faces at #6, #7, and #8. A lot of baseball fans may not even know who these players are, given they only have one year of production under their belts, but their numbers are silly. All three of these relievers have the potential to be top closers for their respective teams moving forward.

At #9 is the Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley. His arm is one of the best in the majors, but he hadn’t quite put it all together… until last season, when he was a top-five reliever in baseball, recording a 9-1 record, 1.25 ERA, and 13.1 K/9.

And finally, we have A.J. Minter. You didn’t think I was going to make this list without one of the Braves’ high-powered relievers, did you? In reality, 10 other guys could have taken this spot, but Minter is as deserving as any. The hard-throwing lefty has put the ghosts that haunted him in the past behind him and turned into a dominant set-up man for the Braves, recording a 2.06 ERA and 12.1 K/9 last year.

Photo: Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire

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