Monday, 26 March 2007

Fantasy Baseball Ranking: Starting Pitchers

We finish our fantasy baseball roundup with a look at the top 10 starting pitchers.

(1) Johan Santana - This is a no brainer... really, there's nothing I should even have to say here.

(2) Chris Carpenter - Carpenter has been a durable pitcher over the last 3 years, averaging over 210 IP over that span. He's also maintained a good ERA, and excellent WHIP in the low 1s. But he'd up at #2 because of the high number of strikeouts while maintaining a good K/BB ratio, whil allowing only about 21 HR per year. As an added bonus Carpenter has 12 CG and 7 SHO over the past 2 seasons. The peripherals look good, the actual numbers look good, and that's why Carpenter is in the #2 spot.

(3) Roy Oswalt - I have Carpenter as 2, but I think a case could certainly be made for Oswalt there as well. He's been just as durable (perhaps even more so) as Carpenter. Basically the differences are this... Oswalt's ERA has been lower (thanks in large part to allowing less HR than Carpenter), while Carpenter strikes out a few more batters and has a lower WHIP. It's close, but Oswalt falls in at 3.

(4) Jake Peavy - For the casual baseball fan, they might look at his 11-14 record and 4.09 ERA last year and think this 4 spot is a joke. Lucky for you you're smarter than the average bear and can recognize the goodness of Peavy. For one, that 4.09 ERA was fluky last year... yes, he gave up a few more HR and walked about 10 more batters than the previous year, but he allowed 25 more hits in 2006 than in 2005. That tends to be a stat that doesn't carry over too much from year to year. So I think the ERA will be down some this year. The good thing about Peavy his K/9 is over 9, and as long as the hits total comes down a little the WHIP should settle in at around 1.15. Not bad.

(5) Brandon Webb - Webb was really solid last year. Not spectacular, but solid. He does not post big strikeout numbers like the guys above him (not that his strikeout total is bad), but everything else is nice. The ERA was in the low 3s, the WHIP was low. In his 3 full years he has pitched at least 208 innings in each season. His number of hits allowed was a little low compared to previous years, but not outlandishly so. The key with Webb is that over the past 2 years his BB total has dramatically decreased... as long as he keeps that up, he's really good.

(6) Roy Halladay - Almost across the board, Halladay's numbers match up well with any other pitcher in the MLB... the reason's he's at #6, though, is that his strikeout totals have been pretty low compared to other top pitchers. His BB totals are great, so the ERA and WHIP is low, but the low K totals put him at #6.

(7) Carlos Zambrano - Like Halladay, the numbers are really good except for one category... that category was strikeouts for Halladay, but for Zambrano the problem is that his BB total is too high. He averaged nearly 5 BB/9 innings pitched, which isn't very good. On a positive note, he's been very durable, he strikes out a good number of batters, and he has kept the ERA low because he doesn't give up too many HRs.

(8) Felix Hernandez - Admittedly, this is a bit of a hunch. The peripherals are very good for someone his age, I'm just betting he's going to make the leap sooner rather than later. The Mariners don't really let him use his slider much (probably a good decision), but his K rates are still solid and his control is not bad. He gave up a few too many HRs, but he's still learning how to pitch. With his stuff, I think he'll have a great year at age 22, which is what he turns in early April. If the Mariners let him use his slider more, he'll be even better.

(9) John Lackey - I think Lackey always gets overlooked some, but he is usually among the best pitchers in the AL, and his past 2 seasons have been excellent. He strikes out nearly 1 batter per inning, his BB rates are pretty solid, and he just doesn't give up many HRs at all. There's a lot to like.

(10) John Smoltz - Smoltz will turn 40 in May, but he is still the ace of the Braves staff after a very good 2006 season. His transition back to the rotation from the pen is complete, and his K rate actually increased in 2006 from 2005, which is certainly positive considering his age. He's got great control, and has shown no durability concerns after spending 4 years in the bullpen... he's pitched around 230 innings each of the last 2 seasons.

What changes would you make?