The top 20 starters are typically pretty straight forward. Established, don't have a lot of questions or debate about them. Maybe the question is whether Sabathia is #1 or Lincecum. Or if Oswalt is ranked #11 or #19. They also don't win leagues for you. They can LOSE a league for you, if they get hurt and you wasted a top draft pick on you, but rarely are they huge difference makers because everyone knows what they are going to produce.
It's the middle guys that really win leagues. In a 12 team league, it's the #2-#4 starters that will determine who has a great staff, and whose is laughable.
So here are my (current) ranked 21-40 starting pitchers.
21 Nolasco,Ricky - Last year was no fluke. If you look at his minor league stats and peripherals, it's for real. He's got a pretty poor team which should hurt his win totals, but then I thought the same thing about Lincecum last year.
22 Sheets,Ben - Yeah, everyone's worried about him as an injury concern, but he did pitch almost 200 innings last year. His Ks (and velocity) were a bit down, which is certainly a concern. As is the fact that he isn't signed yet so we don't know if he's going to a winner (I think he will after years of frustration in Milwaukee). Fact is, Sheets is still one of the best pitchers in baseball when he's healthy. He gets dinged for being injury prone and the drop in Ks last year. But he's still a solid #2 SP.
23 Lester,Jon - Everyone has Lester has a breakout, and I agree. His second half he really showed a lot of refinement - improving both his K/9 and BB/9. He also had a sub 3 ERA and a 1.2 whip in the AL East. I would not be at all surprised if Lester turns out to be the Red Sox best pitcher next year (like he was last year). The offense is still great, he's still only 25, and it looks like he could make a huge leap.
24 Myers,Brett - He'll be cheap going into this year since his awful '08 start deflated his season numbers and I think you could probably wait on him a little later than picking him this year, but I'm doing this based on projection as opposed to trying to time when they'll get drafted. He was one of the best SPs in the second half after he came back from his demotion. He's always been a bit homer prone, but in his hot stretch last year, he was able to avoid it. The nit against him was that he was. really only good for about 6-8 weeks and was awful the rest of the year. However, the bulk of his career makes me think the greatness was the real deal, and I thin he makes the leap into a top 10-20 starter this year.
25 Cain,Matt - Worst luck ever. He's got 15 wins over his last 66 starts. Lincecum had 18 last year. The fact he didn't get any wins will make him sliip 2-3 rounds in every draft. But wins are arbitrary for the most part. Sure, the Giants have a putrid offense, so wins are going to be touch to come by, but runs can come in bunches. The only thing that's holding Cain back is his control. He's got great stuff he just can't throw it over the plate. He rarely gives up homers, so that helps keep his ERA down. He was always the big sexy "ohhh, he could break out this year", but now that he's been in the league for a while (though he's still only 25), the sheen has worn off and he's no longer a shiny new toy, so I think he'll be under drafted.
26 Liriano,Francisco - Big unknown second year off surgery. His stats weren't great last year as his walks and Ks were worse than prior years. His peripherals in September were more in line, which is a great sign, but he also was a big homer-prone (though it's a small sample size). He's got some concerns, as does everyone in the 20-40 range that has upside. The other concerns is that the reason he got hurt in the first place was his violent delivery and his nasty slider's pressure on his elbow. If he goes back to the way things were, his stats may be great, but he may have another blow-out. He just seems like a headache this year.
27 Bedard,Erik - Coming off injury, and on a putrid team, but he's got massive upside. He had a shot at 300ks two years ago, and the AL West is going to be pretty weak. If he can stay healthy, there's no reason to think he'll be a boon to your Ks and ratios. He'll also probably be a bit cheaper than this going into the draft due to injury concerns
28 Volquez,Edinson - monster K numbers, but he does walk too many people (nearly 100 last year) and he also got consistently worse every month. Bad ballpark and an even worse offense than last year when the Reds were 12th in the NL. He's a solid starter and given his age, it's likely he refines his approach and cuts down on the BBs, but I think he'll be a bit overrated going into this year.
29 Chamberlain,Joba - If he were absolutely going to be a starter, I'd have him moved up a bit. If he hadn't been hurt each of the last couple years, I'd have him moved up a bit. If both of these occurred, he'd absolutely be a top 20 starter. He has massive massive upside. But I'd be concerned if he was my #2 starter given his health risks and uncertainty about his job. It's highly likely that he begins the season as a starter, but given the issues he's had as a starter, it's highly possible they move him back to bullpen (where the Yankees are actually very thin) and go with Hughes and Kennedy as their #s4 and 5 (plus, Pettite could still sign)
30 Verlander,Justin - No idea what happened to him last year. His Ks dropped a bit, and his walks too a big leap, but his BABIP and HR/FB were pretty consistent with the previous year. I have nothing tangible to point to, but I say it was a fluke (similar to Aaron Harang). He's a really good SP, though his team isn't as good as it was a couple years ago when he put up those big Win numbers.
31 Weaver,Jered - I see a breakout for Weaver. Though admittedly, he does have stupid hair. He wasn't great last year, but his peripherals were better than his numbers. Plus, he's still pretty young, his K rate took a big leap last year, and he put up some amazing stats in the minors.
32 Dempster,Ryan - Sure, there's a regression coming, we get it. It's guys like this that make people think the "contract year phenomenon" is a real thing. He was great last year, and he was always a good pitcher, but he just walked too many people. I think I'm probably more negative on him than most other people, so I probably won't be drafting him because he'll be gone by the time I'm willing to. He still scares me.
33 Wainwright,Adam - Wainwright is like Derek Lowe and Chien-Ming Wang. He keeps his ratios low by being a groundball pitcher, but doesn't get many Ks. He keeps his team in games, and gets some wins, but doesn't have the monster k numbers that fantasy players crave. He doesn't have much upside, but he's valuable. Probably a little more valuable than Lowe given his age, and more valuable than Wang who doesn't strike ANYONE out.
34 Harang,Aaron - Big fluke last year. Had historically been one of the most reliable consistent SPs in baseball. Tons of Ks, good ratios. Expect a bounceback season.
35 Matsuzaka,Daisuke - Just don't draft him, seriously. He's torture to own. He refuses to throw strikes and the only reason he had suck good numbers last year was because an unsustainable 80%+ strand rate. He's not going to have a sub 3 ERA so long as he walks a guy every other inning. People are going to be drafting him way too early. One caveat. He had a BB/9 over 5 last year. But it was only 3.5 the year before that. And it was 1.6 (!) his last year in Japan, so if he ever decides to throw a damn strike, he'll be unstoppable. He gets so much movement, that people don't make contact. But owning him last year was just too tense of a situation, I can't recommend it again. For those who think I'm foolish to rank him this low, make his ERA 4 (which is what it should have been given his peripherals), which would have probably make him about 15-10 instead of 18-3 and you'll see why I've knocked him down so much.
36 Vazquez,Javier - He's the exception that proves sabermetrics. His ERA always underperforms his peripherals. He does everything you want, but somehow he always ends up with a 4.50 ERA. Moving to the NL again should help him, however. But he is getting up there in age.
37 Johnson,Josh - Monster breakout coming. Although, not really a breakout. He's 24 and has a career 3.54 ERA in 45 starts with a K/9 over 8, so it's not really a breakout. He just doesn't get much credit for it since he had surgery right in the middle. I think he'll end the year as a top 25 starter
38 Gallardo,Yovani - Injury concern, but I lolve him. Groundball pitcher (few homers) who strikes out a lot of people and doesn't walk many is a great combination. I could see myself moving him up this list closer to the start of the season
39 Wang,Chien-Ming - So totally not a sexy pick. But the Yankees will win lots of games, and he's good for the ratios. Also, it's a small bit of help, but his K rates have increased each of his three seasons. I could see him striking out 125 next year in a full season
40 Lowe,Derek - He has always been a guy you can draft late and get help with the ratios, but he's 36, and it's possible that he's not going to be pitching in Dodgers Stadium anymore.
Don't have David Price included because I don't know what his role will be.
Just missing: Garza, Scherzer, Greinke, RJ, Cueto, Jonathan Sanchez, Lilly (probably in that order)
Last edited by Curtis Pride on Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.