Pictured: Clayton Kershaw and someone who represents the rest of MLB pitchers.
Photo Credit: Vinscullyismyhomeboy.com
It's that time. Starbonell urged me to name this Aching for Clayton, but his (obsessive) feelings for all things American Idol will not affect my writing. We're ranking the top 20 Starting Pitchers for the 2012 fantasy baseball season. You can find SP 21-40 here [link], SP 41-60 here [link] and SP 61-80+ here [link]. And go.
Note: the following rankings are for standard, roto, Y! leagues (cap on Innings Pitched). The rankings were based on my projections, concern for injury or innings cap and potential ceiling/floor.
Rankings 1 through 20 If you look closely you'll see there is no runner up. The incline from the pack to Clayton Kershaw is too steep for any one person to gain a foot hold. No Pitcher was allowed the No. 2 ranking. The only argument against Kershaw is that his improvement in control was too good to be true (BB/9 dropped from 3.57 in '10 to 2.08 in '11). One would continue to argue that Kerhsaw will regress in '12. I, on the other hand, see the similar improvement from the year before (BB/9 dropped from 4.79 in '09 to 3.57 in '10) and the consistency last season (BB/9: 1.99 in May, 1.91 in June, 2.02 in July, 1.94 in August and 1.04 in September). Not to mention the uptick in first pitch strikes (F-Strike%: 55% in '09, 60% in '10, 64% in '11). Rather than worry about regression, I'm more curious to know if that 1.04 BB/9 from September is a sign of things to come. Clayton will be 24 years old in less than two months, and he's already the best Pitcher in fantasy baseball. Justin Verlander, however, is an obvious candidate for regression. He's still pretty good though. We discussed that here. The usual list of names fills out the top ten SP. The C.J. Wilson projection may surprise some, but he was the 14th best SP last season (Y! ranking) and he's leaving a hitters haven for a pitchers park. Wilson made huge strides in the control department as he consistently suppressed free passes and threw more first pitch strikes. He's one of few pitchers who induces a lot of ground balls and doesn't have troubles with his HR/FB%, meaning he gives up very few Home Runs. He doesn't have the track record of many of the pitchers ranked behind him and his ADP is outside the top 20 SP so you can bump him down a handful of spots if it eases your worries. Madison Bumgarner had a 8.42 K/9 against a 2.02 BB/9 last season. That's pretty freakin' good. The scary part is his numbers were even better after he started throwing his Slider more often at the expense of his Fastball. After April/May: 9.28 K/9 vs 1.54 BB/9. The one thing to remember with MadBum is that he does surrender more than his fair share of base hits (high BABIP numbers). Feel free to rank him ahead of C.J. Wilson, I want to... and would eventually. I still like Mat Latos even though he moved from one extreme to another. At least he'll finally get some run support and the matchups against all five divisional teams should be cake. Matt Moore should be on your radar. The potential for 200+ strikeouts is obvious and he's going in the 10th round at MockDraftCentral.com. This projection could propel him up the list a few spots, but it'd be almost too aggressive to rank him ahead of Jered Weaver and Jon Lester. Stephen Strasburg would be a top five pitcher if it weren't for the IP cap (150-160 IP).
Do you think I need to keep it in my pants when it comes to C.J. Wilson? Did I confirm your suspicions? Do you want more? Along with these numbers I have projections for Total Batters Faced (yep), K/9, BB/9, IBB, HBP, Fly Balls, HR/FB% and BABIP. We can get hot and heavy, the comment section is all yours.
Looks like the Pineda selection at #18 may be over optimistic. NY (NY Post)announced today that the # 4 slot is going to Freddie Garcia leaving Pineda to fight it out with Nova for # 5. Lots of reports have Pineda starting out in the minors making the # 18 rating more than a little over-blown. Then when Pettitte arrives on the scene in May, will Nova and Garcia have already self-destructed leaving the #5 spot open for Pineda? He'd better get his heater juice back up quickly to 97 to avoid descending into relative fantasy irrelevance.
Looking for a little advice on what to do in my Roto keeper league. I'm leaning 2 ways.
1.) Bautista Rd6, Sandoval Rd9, Granderson Rd10, Lawrie Rd11
2.) Bautista Rd6, Granderson Rd9, Matt Moore Rd10, Lawrie Rd11
Which way would you guys go?
Nice catch. I forgot to include the names of Pitchers that I wanted to see in Spring Training games before I try to put numbers on their strikeouts/walks/batted balls. That list includes Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Tommy Hanson, Francisco Liriano, Johan Santana, Brett Anderson, Joe Blanton and a few others. Any numbers I projected back in January for these players wouldn't have much relevance when we have more information later on. Wainwright would be my pick for best of the bunch. Liriano would be the $1 flyer.
Kershaw does/has everything you could ask for. He's in a pitcher parks, inside a weak division, inside the NL. He strikes out more than one batter per inning, walks close to 2.00 per nine, limits line drives and babip (base hits) and doesn't give up many home runs. We could ask for more ground balls, but the fly balls aren't hurting us (they're actually helping keep the BABIP down). Cliff Lee has somewhat comparable K-BB numbers, but he gives up more damage to opposing bats. Same story with Greinke, but Zack actually has problems with BABIP. I'm betting on his BABIP to be .310 [which is about 11 base hits added to an average BABIP (.291)]. Kershaw has a BABIP near .270 (which is about 12 base hits prevented compared to the league average BABIP). Those base hits do affect ERA, but xFIP and FIP ignore this fact.
Lester needs to get back to walking less batters. He had two seasons of 2.80-ish BB/9 numbers, but the last two seasons are pushing past 3.50. All the other pitchers (minus Ubaldo, Morrow, Moore) have BB/9 numbers well below 3.00.
Aaron: I never pay for pitching. I'll spend $20 on my ace and fill out the rest with semi-sleepers between rounds 8-13 while snagging Closers.
@andrewakamds That's my usual strategy as well, get one ace and then fill in as necessary. We'll see how the draft goes but I'm considering switching things up a bit and grabbing that second ace. If that happens I'm pretty sure that Greinke at the end of the fourth is more valuable than Kershaw at the end of the second, assuming both are still available. Sorry for all the snake draft bullshit, know it makes your head hurt.
@andrewakamds Great info, thanks dude!
Is Kershaw *that much* better than everyone else? I don't think he is, although he's definitely really good. But it seems like you're saying he's the best ever and no one is close. Not hating on you at all, I love this site. Also, Greinke is too high and Lester too low? Other than that looks pretty good to me.
In a 14 team snake draft should I target Kershaw at the end of the 2nd round or Greinke at the end of the 4th round? I'm looking for that one-two punch to go with my Strasburg keeper in the 9th. If I play it cute and miss both guys I'm fine with building around Stras.