Buster Olney began his rankings of the top players by position on Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have any starting pitchers in his top ten. I don’t think anyone is surprised to hear that. What might be surprising to some is his ranking of the top relievers in the game. Felipe Rivero was ranked among a group of seven pitchers who missed the top ten, but considered to be the best of the rest.
Most people read these lists and say that they are just one man’s opinion, but Olney receives input from others at ESPN, along with the opinions of baseball evaluators (scouts, front office members, etc). So it’s not just a list he hastily throws together on his own.
This list, including the “best of the rest”, was heavy with New York Yankees, as nearly their entire bullpen got mentioned. Only one other NL Central reliever was mentioned. Corey Knebel of the Milwaukee Brewers, was rated as the fifth best reliever.
Rivero had a 1.67 ERA and a 2.47 FIP last year in 75.1 innings over 73 appearances. He struck out 88 batters, posted an 0.89 WHIP and converted 21 of 23 saves. He held batters to a .473 OPS in 300 plate appearances.
Olney will have a new position each day over the next eight days, followed by best teams on Friday (Jan 12th) and best units on the 13th. I’m not quite sure what that last category is, but in the past he has done the best rotations, best infields, best outfields, best bullpens and best defensive teams, so it might be those lists.