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Draft Strategy

Showdown: Holland vs. Kimbrel

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Often in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2015 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?


We’ll offer up one Showdown per position (catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starter and reliever) here, and you can get dozens more by purchasing the 2015 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.


Greg Holland vs. Craig Kimbrel




Kimbrel was the unquestioned No. 1 fantasy closer a couple years ago following his historic 2012 campaign. The Braves’ ninth-inning man is still undoubtedly elite, it’s just that he now has some company atop the fantasy closer mountain. Holland is one of those stoppers who is right there with Kimbrel. In fact, his numbers over the last two seasons are ever so slightly better than Kimbrel’s, as Holland holds a slender edge in ERA (1.32 to 1.40), FIP (1.59 to 1.88), WHIP (0.889 to 0.894) and K/BB (5.08 to 4.2). Kimbrel is a little younger than Holland, as he’ll turn 27 in May while Holland turned 29 in November. However, Holland certainly isn’t near an age where we might be worried about a decline in performance. So what’s the tiebreaker here for two guys who look pretty identical on paper? Simple: Holland is on the better team. The Braves are headed for a rebuilding year, while the Royals will be looking to return to the postseason after last year’s run to the American League pennant. With a questionable offense, good pitching and defense, Kansas City again looks poised to play in a bunch of close games, putting Holland in line for a bevy of save chances. Saves are fluky, which means Kimbrel could still wind up with more save opportunities than Holland even though the latter looks like the better bet on paper. That said, you might as well play the odds. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)




This one is pretty close statistically, so I’m guessing that Boyer’s argument is going to center around Holland having a better team. More team wins provide more save opportunities and all of that jazz. But look at the American League saves leaders over the past two seasons: in 2014 it was Fernando Rodney of the third-place Seattle Mariners and in 2013 it was Jim Johnson of the third-place Baltimore Orioles. Both teams missed the playoffs. Now, to somewhat unfairly swing this debate back around to my guy, look at the National League saves leaders over the past four seasons: Kimbrel, Kimbrel, Kimbrel, Kimbrel. The hard-throwing Braves stopper owns a dazzling 1.43 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 14.8 K/9 in 289 innings since breaking into the major leagues in 2010 and he doesn’t turn 27 years old until late May. Holland, who turned 29 years old this winter, has a good-but-not-as-great 2.19 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 12.5 K/9 in 275 career major league frames. I think the Royals will be better than the Braves this season. I also think that doesn't really matter. Save opportunities come in close games, and I’m better on Kimbrel to convert more of the chances he gets with better accompanying stats. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)



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