Originally written on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 11/12/11
Rangers_vs_royals_66ba

Key Stats: Up until last season, Joakim Soria was ranked in the top 110 by Yahoo for four consecutive seasons. He blew a career high seven saves last year which contributed to him being ranked significantly lower last year. There's no reason to panic though. Soria had a much lower xFIP than his ERA and also got bit by a few more home runs than he should have (his HR:FB% was a career worst last year). Soria had a terrific September and remains a relatively safe bet at the riskiest position in the game. 

Skeptics Say: Every year the trade rumors come out of Kansas City, but according to Spotrac Soria won't be a free agent until 2015. That means it's unlikely he would be moved, but as we saw with Ubaldo Jimenez this past season, the number of years remaining a contract can also act as a catalyst for a deal. Given the amount of money the Phillies just paid Jonathan Papelbon, Soria's contract looks like a bargain. If the Royals got the right offer, Soria could be moved and who knows what his role would become for his new team. 

Peer Comparison: Cockcroft ranks Jordan Walden ahead of Soria in his rankings. Walden was the better player last year, but the upside with Soria is much greater. Walden was ranked 133rd last year which is worse than any of Soria's rankings from 2007 through 2010. Walden's xFIP was 3.33 and Soria's was 3.38 last season (the highest it has been in three seasons). Obviously Cockcroft is weighing last year's numbers more than anything else, but given the consistency of Soria and the relative uncertainty of Walden I'd rather have Soria. 

Team Outlook: Josh Shepardson wrote about the Royals starting pitchers potential to improve next season. The Royals lowered their team ERA by more than half a run last season, and indeed they hope that number gets lower if Jonathan Sanchez can rediscover the consistency he had in 2010. I've always said and still believe that a closer shouldn't be picked based on what team he's on, but i wouldn't hurt Soria if the Royals could increase their win total. Certainly things appear heading in that direction. One issue that is a minor concern is the finish that Aaron Crow had (8.53 in August, 5.79 in September).  

What They’re Saying:CBS Sportsline: #9 Relief Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #14 Relief Pitcher & #159 Overall; RotoChamp: #113 Overall 

Projection: Soria has never had a strikeouts to walk rate worse than 3.47. The AL average last season in the best for pitchers since the early 1990s was 2.27. 
32 saves 4 wins 2.52 ERA 1.09 WHIP 67 K in 65 innings

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