Fantasy Baseball SP Preview Part 1: Roy Halladay a Perfect Choice
Roy Halladay‘s first year in the National League could not have gone better – a perfect game, only the second postseason no-hitter ever, and a unanimous choice for NL Cy Young. In the American League, Felix Hernandez had such a good year that he won the Cy Young with only 13 wins. Doc and King Felix top the rankings.
Closer Preview: Fear the Beard – and the Oblique
Starting Pitcher Preview Pt. 2: Breakouts and Comebacks
Outfield Preview Pt. 2: Gardner Party?
Outfield Preview Pt. 1: CarGo Carries the Load
Catcher Preview: More Than Mauer
Third Base Preview: Longoria Leads Long List
Shortstop Preview: Shortstop Coming Up Short
Second Base Preview: Robinson Cano, Don’t You Know
First Base Preview: Miguel Cabrera’s DUI Arrest Adds to Uncertainty
Unanimous Cy Young winner Roy Halladay had career bests in ERA (2.44) and Ks (219) and second-best numbers in wins (21) , WHIP (1.04) and IP (250.2). How consistent is Halladay? 2010 was his fifth-straight top five Cy Young finish.
Felix Hernandez has two straight years of top-2 Cy Young finishes, winning the AL Cy last year with a 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 232 K. While Hernandez won 19 in 2009, Seattle’s offense was much weaker last year and he only won 13. Hernandez has made at least 30 starts five straight seasons, improving his ERA each year: 4.52, 3.92, 3.45, 2.49, 2.27. Hernandez turns 25 in April.
After two straight Cy Youngs, Tim Lincecum tailed off to a 3.43 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, though he did fan at least 230 for the third straight year, leading the league in K/9 all three seasons. For four straight months starting in May, Lincecum failed to have an ERA below 3. His WHIP during that time: 1.54, 1.41, 1.32, 1.82. But after bottoming out with a 7.82 ERA in August, Lincecum had a 1.94 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in September, then sailed through the postseason, going 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 43 K in 37 IP. Lincecum turns 27 in June.
Cliff Lee led the league in 2008 with a 1.4 BB/9. In 2010, Lee slashed that already small number almost in half, finishing with a .763 BB/9. To give you an idea of how impressive that is, the third-place finisher, Carl Pavano, had a number almost twice as high -1.507. (New teammate Roy Halladay was second at 1.077). Lee’s BB rate helped him lead MLB in WHIP at 1.00. Despite playing with four different teams in the last two years, Lee finished with similar ERAs – 3.22 in 2009 and 3.18 in ’10. In his first stint in Philadelphia, Lee had a 3.39 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 12 starts. He got off to a great start 2.00 – ERA and 0.94 WHIP in August 2009 and had a great postseason, but faltered in September with a 5.59 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
Jon Lester has won at least 15 each of the last three seasons with an ERA between 3.21 and 3.41 and a WHIP between 1.20 and 1.27. He has struck out 225 each of the last two years. Lester is 27.
CC Sabathia has put up similar ace numbers in both seasons as a Yankee:
2009: 19 W, 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 197 K
2010: 21 W, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 197 K
Sabathia underwent knee surgery in the offseason, but he also lost 25 pounds. In ten seasons, Sabathia has failed to make 30 starts only once, in 2006 when he made 28. Sabathia turns 31 in July.
In four of the last five seasons, Justin Verlander has won at least 17 games with an ERA under 3.70. In the last two seasons, he’s had WHIPs of 1.18 and 1.16. Verlander’s Ks dropped from a league-leading 269 in 2009 to a still-high 219. Verlander has made at least 30 starts the last five years and has at least 200 IP the last four years. He just turned 28.
In his first two full seasons, Clayton Kershaw followed a .291 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 185 K in 2009 with a .279 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 212 K in 2010. Kershaw only won eight games in 30 starts in ’09 despite those numbers, but that total rose to 13 in ’10. Kershaw turns 23 later this month.
After a lackluster 2009, Cole Hamels rebounded with a 3.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 211 K, numbers similar to ’08′s 3.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 196 K. Hamels has a career 162-game average of 14 wins, 3.53 ERA, 205 K and 1.18 WHIP. He’s 27 and was the 2008 MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series.
Who would have predicted that notorious first-half pitcher Dan Haren would do much better in the second half – after being traded to the American League? Yet Haren, after struggling through 21 starts with Arizona with a 4.60 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, improved those numbers to 2.87 and 1.16 with the Angels. Haren’s overall 3.91 ERA and 1.27 WHIP were still off from his previous three seasons, when he had ERAs between 3.07 and 3.33 and WHIPs between 1.00 and 1.20. But he really enjoyed pitching in Angel Stadium, with a 2.08 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in nine starts compared to a 4.32 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in five road starts.
First part: Great promise, but limited track record of big success:
Tommy Hanson‘s final numbers – 10-11 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 173 K – did not live up to expectations stemming from his great debut in 2009, but in the second half, he had a 2.51 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Poor run support held Hanson to a 2-6 mark, and his K/9 fell to 6.2 from a first-half 9.1. Hanson is 24.
In his first full season, David Price lived up to the hype of a number one overall pick and getting a four-out save against the Red Sox in 2008 at age 23 to get Tampa into the World Series, going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 188 K. His only blemish was a 3.4 BB/9.
Ubaldo Jimenez had an 0.79 ERA in April and an 0.78 ERA in May. He was 14-1 at the end of June. But Jimenez also had an ERA over 4 and a WHIP over 1.38 in three of the last four months of the season. Jimenez has good 162-game averages of 15 wins, 191 K, 3.52 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, but don’t draft him based on that sensational start to 2010.
In his first full season, Mat Latos finished eighth in Cy Young voting, going 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 189 K in 184.2 IP. Latos faltered in September, going 1-4 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Latos is 23.
Zack Greinke’s 4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 7.4 K/9 reflected his career 162-game averages of 3.82 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 a lot more closely than 2009’s 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 9.5 K/9, numbers he has not approached in any other season. Greinke should be helped by his move to the National League, but it certainly doesn’t help that he could miss his first three starts with a fractured rib suffered playing basketball.
Jered Weaver enjoyed a breakout season with a 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and league-leading 233 K. Over his other three full seasons, his best marks were 3.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 174, all in 2009. His K/9 jumped from a previous high of 7.7 to 9.3. Weaver’s home/road split was even larger than usual – 1.86 ERA at home vs. 4.14 on the road. Weaver is 28.
Max Scherzer had a 7.29 ERA in eight starts when he was sent to the minors in mid-may He returned a couple of weeks later and struck out 14 in 5 2/3. In the second half, Scherzer had a 2.47 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He had the same 8.5 K/9 rate in both halves, which was actually down from 2009’s 9.0. Scherzer turns 27 in July.
Second part: Injury concerns:
Josh Johnson followed a solid 2009 – 3.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 – with a top 5 Cy Young 2010 – 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.1 K/9. He made at least 28 starts both years and is only 27. But Johnson’s injury history – he had Tommy John surgery and has only one other season with that many starts, and was shut down a month early last year with back issues – gives him a red flag.
Chris Carpenter made 35 starts, the fifth time in seven years he has made at least 28 starts. In those five seasons, he has won at least 15 games each year. His highest ERA was 3.46 and his highest WHIP was 1.18. But in 2007 and 2008, Carpenter made a total of four starts. This spring, Carpenter has already had a hamstring issue, but appears to be OK. But Carpenter remains an injury risk, particularly since he turns 36 in April.
Francisco Liriano had a 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 in 121 IP while going 12-3 in 2006. But then he underwent Tommy John surgery and was not productive until last year, when Liriano fanned 201 in 191 (9.4 K/9). 2 IP. But Liriano’s 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, while solid, did not match his 2006. Liriano also took advantage of Target Field, where he had a 3.11 ERA and 1.16 WHIP compared to 4.25/1.39 on the road, something to bear in mind if he gets traded. Liriano has had more injury issues this spring – he has already had an MRI on his shoulder.
Matt Cain followed up a strong year (3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) with a phenomenal postseason, allowing zero runs in 21.1 IP. Cain’s ERA/WHIP in 2009 was 2.89/1.18 and his career marks are 3.45/1.22. His K/9 has been 7.1 each of the last two years. Cain has been healthy and durable throughout his career, with over 30 starts each of the last five years, but keep an eye on the elbow inflammation he has suffered this spring. As of now, it does not appear to be a big concern.
A year ago, Roy Oswalt was coming off the worst ERA of his career (4.12) and had a bulging disc in his back. Then Oswalt put up some good numbers in 20 starts for the Astros (3.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) before getting traded to Philadelphia, where he regained his ace form for the first time in years, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Oswalt’s K/9 dipped to 7.9. Oswalt turns 34 in August and still has the bad disc, though it’s not bothering him at this point.
Yovani Gallardo made the All-Star team with a 2.58 ERA and 1.26 WHIP at the break, but faded to a 5.77/1.53 in the second half. He has a great K rate – 9.7 last year, high in both halves, and a 9.4 career mark. Gallardo walks too many, but did lower his BB/9 from 4.6 in 2009 to 3.6 last year. But while Gallardo projects as a future ace, his career marks so far in ERA and WHIP are 3.67 and 1.32.
Clay Buchholz had a breakout year, going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. But his 1.20 WHIP was high for such a low ERA and his 6.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 suggests that ERA won’t be easily repeated. But Buchholz had a 10.2 K/9 in his minor league career, so there’s hope that the 26-year-old will eventually pick up more Ks so Bucholz can move up the fantasy rankings.
Brett Anderson’s potential breakout year was cut short by elbow issues. In 19 starts, Anderson had a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, though his K/9 fell from 7.7 to 6.0. Anderson made only six starts in the first half, but was able to return to the rotation for good on July 30. So far this spring, Anderson is healthy and, in early results, striking out more hitters.
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