Billy Wagner: What’s His Fantasy Value In 2010

As we saw yesterday, Billy Wagner signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves to be their closer in 2010. Now that he has signed, let’s look at the fantasy impact and where you should draft Wagner in 2010.

Wagner has a couple of things going for him in 2010.

First, he is going to be the closer on a winning team–that always helps. The Braves won 86 games in 2009 and are expected to be one of the better teams in 2010.

Wagner should be a top-10 closer in 2010

Second, the Braves offer their closers a decent amount of save opportunities. In 2009, the Braves ranked in the middle of the pack in save opportunities (16th) with 59 and Braves’ closers combined to go 38-for-49 in save opportunities in 2009.

So with a winning team and with a team that gives their closers a good opportunity to save games, Wagner should have a nice fantasy year in 2010.

I do have a couple of concerns however.

The last time Wagner pitched a full season was in 2007. At 39-years-old, can he last an entire season with the Braves? Pitching effectively for 65 games is a lot different from being effective for 17.

My take on Wagner in 2010 is that he is going to get off to a great start, go through a dead-arm period in the middle of the year, and then finish up strong.

I would pencil Wagner in for 30-35 saves with an ERA around 2.30-2.40 and a K/9 around 10.5. He would make for a great second closer option or a very good first closer in most fantasy formats.

Look at the landscape of the closer position in 2010. It’s not very good. Wagner could be a top-10 closer in 2010.

Draft him behind the group of Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell, and Joakim Soria.

Also, if you draft Wagner and you have the roster space, you might want to look at Kris Medlen or Craig Kimbrel. Both could be internal options for the Braves to get saves if Wagner goes on the DL for an extended period of time.

Kimbrel ripped through the Braves minor league system in 2009, going from Single-A to Triple-A in just one year. Kimbrel had 18 saves, 103 K’s in 60 innings, and a 2.85 in 2009.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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