Tag Archives: Clayton Kershaw

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL West


Finishing up with a trip around the NL West, here’s the last of the face of the franchise posts…

  • Arizona – Right now, I’d have to imagine that Justin Upton is very high on the list. The team has had a lot of turnover in the past year or so, and Upton has become one of the longer tenured members of the team.
  • Colorado – I would say that the previous face, Todd Helton, has been eclipsed at this point, with Troy Tulowitzki taking the helm instead. And with Tulo under contract through 2020 at this point, he’s not going anywhere for a while.
  • Los Angeles – I would imagine that the most identifyable player at this point would either be Matt Kemp, or possibly Andre Ethier. I think it’s only another year or two until Clayton Kershaw could overpower the other players on the team for this, as he is still very young.
  • San Diego – I’m not sure that they have one currently, as they traded Adrian Gonzalez away to Boston during the offseason. It will be interesting to see who establishes themselves as Spring Training and the season progresses. The first candidate that popped into my head was Mat Latos, and I think he may be able to do that as well.
  • San Francisco – Right now, it has to be the 2-time Cy Young award winning Tim Lincecum. Buster Posey will likely eclipse Lincecum at some point in the not so-distant future, but for a team built around its pitching, the best pitcher on the team fits that role very nicely.

Upcoming in the next couple of weeks will be my look at how I think each of the divisions will shake out, along with my predictions for the season.

Fantasy Rankings in Review – Starting Pitchers


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. You can find my preseason rankings here and here. Next up is the review of my SP rankings.

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 25)

1.     Roy Halladay
2.     Adam Wainwright
3.     Felix Hernandez
4.     Roy Oswalt
5.     Ubaldo Jimenez
6.     Jered Weaver
7.     David Price
8.     Josh Johnson
9.     Cliff Lee
10.  Mat Latos
11.  C.C. Sabathia
12.  Jon Lester
13.  Justin Verlander
14.  Matt Cain
15.  Tim Hudson
16.  Clayton Kershaw
17.  Trevor Cahill
18.  Clay Buchholz
19.  Cole Hamels
20.  Chris Carpenter
21.  Jonathan Sanchez
22.  Tim Lincecum
23.  Brett Myers
24.  Johan Santana
25.  Ted Lilly

Continue reading

Season Previews in Review: National League West


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ve reviewed the rest of the divisions, and now it’s onto the last division, the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Predicted Record: 74-88
Actual Record: 65-97

What a mess. The team wasn’t really expected to be good, and they weren’t. But I don’t think anyone was expecting Dan Haren not to be on the team at the end of the season, or Josh Byrnes would be employed anywhere but in the desert. The team did get some solid production from first baseman Adam LaRoche and second baseman Kelly Johnson, and made a very nice trade to acquire Daniel Hudson from the White Sox for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. There are better days ahead with new general manager Kevin Towers at the helm, but I don’t know if they will be in 2011.

Colorado Rockies

Predicated Record: 85-77
Actual Record: 83-79

Every season, the Rockies seem to just be hanging out until around early August, at which point they turn it on and really make a push for the playoffs. They were in the race until about 2 weeks left, carried by the amazing pitching performance of Ubaldo Jimenez and MVP candidates Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The team really did well on the Matt Holliday trade, as Gonzalez looks like he will be one of the top players in the National League for years to come.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Predicted Record: 92-70
Actual Record: 80-82

I really liked the Dodgers coming into the season. They looked poised for a division title with all the offense they appeared to have, and with the division not looking that strong, seemed almost like a lock. They did get great seasons from Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda, but ended up moving outfielder Manny Ramirez, and not really ending up being important to the NL West race at all. The team has already resigned free agent starter Ted Lilly, but the thing that concerns me about this team is that there are really only two positions where they can make upgrades: catcher, and left field.

San Diego Padres

Predicted Record: 65-97
Actual Record: 90-72

Talk about a huge surprise. The Padres were widely expected to be a terrible team, and not perform well at all. They were carried by some solid pitching from Mat Latos and the rest of the starters, and managed to get enough offense to get 90 wins despite only having Adrian Gonzalez provide a consistent amount of offense. The team was in the race until 2 days left in the season, but wasn’t able to hold onto their division lead against the Giants. Bud Black and GM Jed Hoyer still have their work cut out for them, as the team still is unlikely to spend a lot of money on payroll, but they do have some solid prospects in their system.

San Francisco Giants

Predicted Record: 76-86
Actual Record: 92-70

The Giants really were a tale of two seasons: pre-Buster Posey, and post-Buster Posey. The team really started to take off once they inserted Posey into the lineup full time, and never looked back. They were expected to be led by their pitching, and while Tim Lincecum struggled at points during the season, him, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner really helped carry the team. Astute pickups of Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez, and Ramon Ramirez also helped the team to their first World Series championship in over 50 years.

The NL Walter Johnson Award


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), and the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever). Now we’re starting to get down to the big boys, as I take a look at my vote for the National League’s top pitcher, the Walter Johnson award recipient.

As good as the pitching was in the American League, the sheer quantity and quality of the candidates in the National League may be even better. So many excellent season out of the league’s top pitchers lead me to believe that there had definitely been a shift of the balance towards pitchers in the National League.  Before going into the candidates themselves, let’s go over a bit of what I think the top pitcher should represent:

Wins, Losses, and Run Support

The top pitcher doesn’t necessarily need to lead the league in wins, as they are pretty clearly not a great indicator of how a pitcher actually fared. That said, they aren’t worthless either, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the goal of the game is to win. But with the shift to specialists out of the bullpen, I think that a pitcher has less control than he has ever had over wins. While we as baseball analysts try to find a way to establish what a pitcher is truly responsible for and what he is not, it is impossible to ignore that run support given to a pitcher also plays a key piece of wins. A pitcher could throw a perfect game, but if the team doesn’t score any runs for him in the game, he won’t necessarily still earn himself a win.

ERA, WHIP, FIP, SIERA, and WAR

I’ve discussed before why ERA is a deceiving statistic, and I think it will definitely show itself to be true as we review the cases for the top pitchers. But coupled with advanced statistics like FIP, SIERA, and WAR, I think we start to get an idea of whether or not a pitcher was truly dominant, a bit lucky, or somewhere in between. They provide value to look at, but can’t be the end all of statistics to look at. WHIP falls a bit in the same category for me as well.

Strikeouts, Walks, and Innings Pitched

Strikeouts and walks are really two of the few things that a pitcher can really exert control over. More strikeouts generally are a good thing, and less walks are always a good thing. They are also taken into the picture by me and are given weight along with the other statistics. Innings pitched to me represent not only the trust that the manager of their team places in their ability to get out of jams, but also their ability to get outs.

Intangibles

There’s always a little bit of the human element to pitching, and I think it’s important to look at some of the things that aren’t necessarily measurable. These can include, but are definitely not limited to: whether the pitcher is in the playoff race, what kind of stories are occurring around the team, and even the role that the pitcher is being asked to fill.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the NL Walter Johnson award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 5 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Continue reading

Original Draft Series: #8 – Los Angeles Dodgers


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #8: Los Angeles Dodgers

General Managers(since 1994)

Fred Claire (1994-1998): 397-347
Kevin Malone (1999-2001): 249-237
Dan Evans (2002-2003): 177-147
Paul DePodesta (2004-2005): 164-160
Ned Coletti (2006-Current): 349-299

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 7 6 4 4 2 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Russell Martin 2002 – 17th Rd 8 2 All Star Appearances, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
667 gm, .272/.365/.396, 54 HR, 300 RBI, 66 SB
Currently with Org.
1B Paul Konerko 1994 – 1st Rd (13) 4 55 gm, .212/.271/.298, 4 HR, 16 RBI Traded to CIN – 7/4/98
2B Blake DeWitt
2004 – 1st Rd (28) 6 230 gm, .262/.340/.379, 12 HR, 86 RBI, 5 SB Traded to CHC – 7/31/10
3B Adrian Beltre Int’l FA – 1994 10 1 Silver Slugger
966 gm, .274/.332/.463, 147 HR, 510 RBI, 62 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/28/04
SS Juan Castro Int’l FA – 1991 8+1+1 270 gm, .205/.258/.271, 3 HR, 32 RBI, SB Traded to CIN – 4/1/00
LF Shane Victorino 1999 – 6th Rd 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Selection of PHI – 12/13/04
CF Franklin Gutierrez Int’l FA – 2000 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 4/3/04
RF Matt Kemp
2003 – 6th Rd 7 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
588 gm, .289/.338/.472, 81 HR, 310 RBI, 101 SB
Currently with Org.
DH James Loney 2002 – 1st Rd (19) 8 586 gm, .292/.350/.442, 53 HR, 337 RBI, 24 SB Currently with Org.
SP Ted Lilly 1996 – 23rd Rd 2+1 4-0, 1.29 ERA, 28 IP, 26 K, 4 BB Traded to MON – 7/31/98
SP Edwin Jackson
2001 – 6th Rd 4 6-4, 5.50 ERA, 75.1 IP, 48 K, 39 BB, 1.566 WHIP Traded to TAM – 1/14/06
SP Clayton Kershaw 2006 – 1st Rd (7) 4 24-20, 3.24 ERA, 436 IP, 448 K, 210 BB, 1.298 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Hiroki Kuroda
Int’l FA – 2007 3 25-28, 3.66 ERA, 448 IP, 321 K, 104 BB, 1.203 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Chad Billingsley 2003 – 1st Rd (24) 7 1 All Star Appearance
57-37, 3.58 ERA, 780 IP, 703 K, 338 BB, 1.365 WHIP
Currently with Org,
RP Hong-Chih Kuo Int’l FA – 1999 11 1 All Star Appearance
12-15, 3.34 ERA, 5 SV, 250.1 IP, 290 K, 101 BB, 1.194 WHIP
Currently with Org.
RP Joel Hanrahan 2000 – 2nd Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Left via Free Agency – 10/15/06
RP Dennys Reyes Int’l FA – 1993 5 2-7, 4.16 ERA, 75.2 IP, 69 K, 38 BB, 1.533 WHIP Traded to CIN – 7/4/98
RP Takashi Saito Int’l FA – 2006 3 1 All Star Appearance
12-7, 1.95 ERA, 81 SV, 189.2 IP, 245 K, 52 BB, 0.912 WHIP
Left via Free Agency – 12/12/08
RP Jonathan Broxton 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 2 All Star Appearances
23-16, 2.96 ERA, 77 SV, 367.1 IP, 483 K, 144 BB, 1.171 WHIP
Currently with Org.
CL Joakim Soria Int’l FA – 2001 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 10/12/04
BN Andy LaRoche
2003 – 39th Rd 5 62 gm, .217/.348/.316, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB Traded to PIT – 7/31/08
BN Delwyn Young 2002 – 4th Rd 6 110 gm, .267/.331/.394, 3 HR, 10 RBI, SB Traded to PIT – 7/31/08
BN Xavier Paul 2003 – 4th Rd 7 55 gm, .230/.281/.333, HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
BN Miguel Cairo Int’l FA – 1990 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SEA – 11/29/95
BN A.J. Ellis
2003 – 18th Rd 7 38 gm, .159/.213/.183, 10 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Dodgers have done really well of late, getting a lot of their first round picks to the Majors in short order. Their current pitching staff relies on both Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, who were both first round picks in the past 8 seasons. Blake DeWitt, recently traded to reacquire Ted Lilly, was also a first round pick, but he has not been quite the performer they expected yet. James Loney was also a first round selection, and has become a solid Major League regular. The team has also done well with other rounds, getting All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton (2nd), Gold Glove outfielder Matt Kemp (6th), and Delwyn Young (4th), who was used to help acquire Manny Ramirez during the 2008 season. Even some of the later round picks have been productive, with catcher Russell Martin being the best of the later round picks. There even have been some excellent players who didn’t really play much with the team, with both Paul Konerko and Shane Victorino becoming All-Star caliber players with different organizations.

International Free Agency

The Dodgers have always been considered to be one of the leaders in looking for new talent markets, and international free agency has done well for them as well. While they have had more success with some of the professional free agents they have signed (Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda), they have also seen some success with signing young players out of both the Latin American countries as well as the Asian markets. Adrian Beltre had probably the best single season of any of the IFAs, earning himself a huge free agent contract after a 48 homerun seasonin 2004. They have also had some players who kind of got away who have turned into solid Major Leaguers, with Franklin Gutierrez and Joakim Soria the highest profile ones.

Overall Grade

A-. The Dodgers, who generally have a lot more money to play with than a lot of organizations, still do very well to build their team from the inside, and add pieces as needed. They have had their few players who were essentially given up on (Victorino, Soria), but they generally haven’t missed on too many of their high level prospects. The team has also had quite a few homegrown All-Stars, with Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Takashi Saito all representing the Dodger Blue. They also have a lot of high end prospects on their way in the minors, led by Dee Gordon, Chris Withrow, Ethan Martin and Jerry Sands, and should continue to be competitive in the NL West.

The Week in Review – April 12-April 18


It’s been a pretty busy week, what with a 20 inning game, a no-hitter, and some really excellent performances.

If the Playoffs Started Today (Which Clearly, They Don’t)

Tampa Bay (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. New York (E)

St. Louis (C) vs. Philadelphia (E)
Florida (WC) vs. San Francisco (W)

Last Week’s Top Performers

Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – .579/.680/1.211, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Jose Guillen (KC) – .462/.500/.885, 3 HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7 R
Brett Gardner (NYY) – .385/.529/.385, 5 R, RBI, 4 SB
Denard Span (MIN) – .381/.552/.524, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Ty Wigginton (BAL) – .348/.385/.913, 6 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI
Derek Jeter (NYY) – .500/.500/.955, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Ivan Rodriguez (WAS) – .476/.500/.714, 7 R, 7 RBI, SB
Dan Uggla (FLA) – .464/.484/.821, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Chase Utley (PHI) – .333/.481/1.048, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI
Matt Kemp (LAD) – .333/.414/.875, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, SB
Andre Ethier (LAD) – ..423/.464/.769, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI

Adam Wainwright (STL) – 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 2 W, 16 K
Matt Garza (TAM) – 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2 W, 10 K
Ricky Romero (TOR) – 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, W, 18 K
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – 12 1/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, W, 16 K
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, W, 7 K (no-hitter)
Felipe Lopez (STL) – 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP

Roster Movement and Job Changes

The biggest changes involved all the disabled list movement:

  • Chris Getz of the Royals was placed on the disabled list, and Alex Gordon was activated to take his spot on the roster.
  • Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies was placed on the disabled list, with Juan Castro replacing him in the lineup. Rollins should be out a few weeks.
  • Esmailin Caridad of the Cubs was placed on the disabled list
  • Aaron Rowand of the Giants was placed on the disabled list.
  • Brian Roberts and Felix Pie of the Orioles were both placed on the disabled list. It sounds like Roberts may be out for an extended period of time.
  • Kelly Shoppach of the Rays.
  • Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays
  • Brian Fuentes of the Angels was placed on the disabled list, and Fernando Rodney immediately filled the closer’s role for him.

Also of some note last week was that 2nd year pitcher Brett Anderson signed a contract extension that could take him through the next 6 seasons. Risk on both sides, but I think that the A’s have probably locked up an ace for these next 6 seasons at minimal cost.

Top Rookie Performers

Jason Heyward continues to be the story, as he is now hitting .302/.423/.581 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in just the first two weeks of the season. He finished up last week with a 3-rbi day yesterday, including a walk-off 2 run single. At this rate, I would be shocked if anyone was able to keep up with him for the Rookie of the Year. Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a good outing as well, throwing 7 shutout innings during Saturday’s 20 inning matchup.

In the American League, Austin Jackson of the Tigers has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .340/.389/.500 with 9 runs and 5 rbi. Of some concern is the fact that he has struck out 15 times to only 4 walks so far, but he is producing well at the top of the lineup to this point.

Top Stories and This Week’s Links

  • The biggest story of the week was the first no-hitter of the season, thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies on Saturday. He did this in spite of walking 6 batters throughout the game. And apparently on Sunday he went for a 6 mile jog to help clear his mind for his next start.
  • The Cardinals and Mets put on a clinic in poor lineup and bench management on Saturday. Their game went 20 innings, during which time the Mets ran out of players, warmed up their closer nearly every inning from the 8th onward, and had the starter from 2 days’ prior come on to get the save. However, the Cardinals won the award for the worst performance, as they ran out of pitchers after the 17th inning. So come the top of the 18th inning, 3B Felipe Lopez was called on to pitch, and managed to get through the inning without allowing a run. So in the 19th, they moved Lopez back to 3B and put the new 3B Joe Mather in for the next 2 innings, where he gave up 2 runs and ended up taking the loss.
  • Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports has a really good article about what a simulated game is. It’s a really interesting read for anyone who has heard the term but wasn’t sure what it meant exactly.
  • Vin Scully marked his 60th year with the Dodgers. He is retiring at the end of this season, and even though I’m not a Dodger fan, it is truly remarkable that Scully has continued to work with the Dodgers for all these years.

    Team Preview – Los Angeles Dodgers


    Roster Makeup
    Lineup Pitching Staff
    Pos Name Role Name
    C Russell Martin SP 1 Vicente Padilla
    1B James Loney SP 2 Clayton Kershaw
    2B Blake DeWitt SP 3 Hiroki Kuroda
    3B Casey Blake SP 4 Chad Billingsley
    SS Rafael Furcal SP 5 Charlie Haegar
    LF Manny Ramirez Bullpen
    CF Matt Kemp CL Jonathan Broxton
    RF Andre Ethier RP George Sherrill
    Bench RP Hong-Chih Kuo
    IF Jamey Carroll RP Ramon Troncoso
    IF Ronnie Belliard RP Eric Stults

    Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

    Off-Season Transactions
    Key Additions Key Losses
    Pos Name How Pos Name How
    SP Vicente Padilla Resigned 2B Orlando Hudson Free Agency
    F Jamey Carroll Free Agency SP Randy Wolf Free Agency
    IF Ronnie Belliard Free Agency SP Jon Garland Free Agency

    Top Prospects: Chris Withrow (P), Devaris Gordon (SS), Ethan Martin (P)

    2009 Review

    The Dodgers were coming off a trip to the NLCS in 2008, and were looking to improve on that finish in 2009.  The biggest story of the offseason coming into 2009 was when or if Manny Ramirez was ever going to sign with the Dodgers. He did finally on March 4th, and the Dodgers came into camp with high expectations. They also added 2B Orlando Hudson in Spring Training, and went in as the prohibitive favorite for the NL West division. They got off to a fast start, until Manny Ramirez was suspended in early May for a 2nd failed drug test. The team kind of leveled off until Ramirez returned in early July. They did put it back together though, and were able to win their division with a 95-67 record, finishing 3 games ahead of the Wild Card Rockies. They swept the NL Central champion Cardinals, but were dispatched by the Phillies in 5 games.

    The team was led on offense by CF Matt Kemp (.297, 26 HR, 101 RBI, 34 SB), RF Andre Ethier (31 HR, 106 RBI), and the shortened season of Manny Ramirez (.290, 19 HR, 63 RBI). The pitching staff was somewhat of a mixed bag, although they did get some excellent performances. 2nd year pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitched well, posting a 2.79 era, but averaging barely over 5 innings pitched. SP Randy Wolf pitched excellent (11-7, 3.23 ERA), and Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.76 ERA) also helped to move the Dodgers forward. Midseason acquisition Vicente Padilla made 7 solid starts, finishing 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA.

    Team Outlook for 2010

    The Dodgers have brought back Vicente Padilla, and will look to him to replace the production of free agent departee Randy Wolf. They will also look for OF Manny Ramirez to provide a full season of production as well. They have slotted in IF Blake Dewitt to be the starter at 2B, and will hope to get production out of their 5th starter spot from either Charlie Haegar, Russ Ortiz, or Ramon Ortiz. The lineup is stacked otherwise, and the top 4 starting pitchers are all solid as well. Someone who they are hoping to see a return to form will be C Russell Martin, after a season where he posted a .250 batting average with only 7 HR and 11 SB.

    The story that seems to be dominating the headlines involving the Dodgers unfortunately, is the divorce of owner Frank McCourt. It remains to be seen what effect this will cause on the team and their spending, but it does seem odd to me that with some marquis free agents on the market, they didn’t spend for even one semi-big name. Although this can be explained by the fact that so many of their young players will be heading into arbitration in the coming seasons, and could be very costly in terms of payroll.

    Fantasy Outlook for 2010

    The Dodgers have probably the 2nd best fantasy outfielder in all of baseball, with CF Matt Kemp. RF Andre Ethier, LF Manny Ramirez, and SP Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley are all ownable in all formats. For a deep sleeper, I like Blake Dewitt, as he could provide some value for leagues which require a MI. Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla are both starting pitchers who can also provide value in deep leagues as well.

    Prediction for 2010

    The Dodgers are the class of the NL West, and will compete for the NL Championship.

    92-70, 1st in the NL West

    Fantasy Preview – Starting Pitchers Part 1


    A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

    Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

    My top 25 Starting Pitchers

    1. Tim Lincecum – SF
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 2.48 225.1 261 1.047
    Lincecum is coming off back-to-back Cy Young Awards, and is still extremely young. The unorthodox delivery will always be of some concern, but he has had success with it to this point, and in staying healthy while using it. He really should have won more than 15 games last season, but you’re not really looking for wins specifically at this point. To me, Lincecum is far and away the best starting pitcher at the start of the season, and could very well end up with a repeat of his 2009 season again in 2010.


    2. Roy Halladay – PHI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 2.79 239 208 1.126
    After all the speculation that Halladay would be moved during the 2009 season, it was a small surprise to see him actually moved during the offseason. But I really like what this does for his value for 2010. His lineup is going to provide him with a ton of runs, and Halladay also gets the bonus of getting to face the Nationals and the rest of the National League as opposed to having to face the juggernauts in New York and Boston a half-dozen times. I think he could actually improve on these numbers, and I think he’s going to give Lincecum a run for the money for the Cy Young Award this season.


    3. Felix Hernandez – SEA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 2.49 238.2 217 1.135
    Hernandez really put it all together last season, finishing 2nd in the AL Cy Young voting to Greinke. The Mariners have made a concerted effort to improve the defense behind their pitching staff for 2010, adding Casey Kotchman at 1B and Chone Figgins at 3B. I think that Hernandez can actually see slight improvements in his numbers this season. My only concern for King Felix would be that he may not necessarily get as many wins, but you really shouldn’t be chasing wins to begin with.


    4. C.C. Sabathia – NYY
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 3.37 230 197 1.148
    Sabathia is simply a true pitcher. He’s going to be out there for as long as they will allow him, throwing as many pitches as he needs to get through a start. I actually think that the win total could also have the potential to be even higher this season, and the strikeouts higher as well. He’s always going to have a pretty good amount of run support, and his ERA and WHIP should stay in a similar range to last year.


    5. Zack Greinke – KC
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    16 2.16 229.1 242 1.073
    Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award last season, edging out Hernandez and Sabathia both. I think he’s going to see a slight regression, as the ERA and WHIP were amazingly low. But we’re still talking about a pitcher who will end up with a sub-3 ERA and a WHIP around 1.15 or less. Oh, and the strikeout per inning is always a good thing too. Greinke really appears to have conquered his demons regarding the spotlight, and seems like a pretty safe bet to have another great season.


    6. Dan Haren – ARI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.14 229.1 223 1.003
    Haren really seems to be a tale of two pitchers: He always has a very good first half, and a not-as-great second half. Just keep that thought in the back of your mind when drafting him. The fact that despite poorer performance in the second half, these were the numbers he posted, tells you how good the numbers were in the first half. Haren is also about as steady as it comes also, having posted excellent performances overall for each of the last 4 seasons.


    7. Adam Wainwright – STL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 2.63 233 212 1.210
    Wainwright posted an excellent season last year, narrowly losing out on the NL Cy Young award last season. His peripheral numbers (.309 BABIP, 0.66 HR/9) indicate to me that there’s a very good chance he’ll repeat these numbers again in 2010.


    8. Justin Verlander – DET
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 3.45 240 269 1.175
    Verlander definitely announced his presence again in 2009, and my only question about him is this: Will he be able to repeat what he did in 2009, or will he regress back to the 2008 version? I think he’s a lot more likely to stay at the 2009 level, and could end up as a top-5 pitcher potentially.


    9. Jon Lester – BOS
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.41 203.1 225 1.230
    Lester’s personal story is a very good one, but the fantasy implications of his 2009 season are much more interesting for my purposes. I think that there is a reasonable chance he will actually improve on his numbers, both the ERA and WHIP. The Red Sox have done a very good job of improving their defense, and have managed to keep their offense in solid shape as well. Even his health concerns from the beginning of the 2009 season have been put to rest, and he should help lead the Red Sox for many years to come.


    10. Chris Carpenter – STL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 2.24 192.2 144 1.007
    The only concern I have with Carpenter is the same one that he has nearly every season: health. Carpenter only pitched 192 innings last season, and I think it is unlikely he will get much past 200 IP this season as well. The strikeout rate seems to have dropped some, but his ERA and WHIP have been low enough that the fact that he’s “only” struck out around 7 per 9 innings is not really that relevant to me. But do remember that Carpenter is not without risk.


    11. Josh Johnson – FLA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.23 209 191 1.158
    With a freshly signed contract extension, Johnson knows he’s going to be pitching in Florida’s spacious stadium until they move to the new one. 2009 was the first season really able to stay healthy for the full season. The value is definitely there with Johnson, as even when he was not healthy, his numbers were in line with what he accomplished last season. But he’s another pitcher that I would say has a slightly more than average risk for injury.


    12. Matt Cain – SF
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 2.89 217.2 171 1.181
    Cain, very quietly, had a very good season last year. And even though he didn’t show it in the win totals for a second straight season, his components indicate that he’s definitely for real. He may see some regression with regard to his ERA, but he should still be around 3.50 or so.


    13. Johan Santana – NYM
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 3.13 166.2 146 1.212
    Santana was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise very poor Mets team in 2009. I think that there is a very distinct possibility that Santana pitches a full season this year, and vaults back into the top-10 of starting pitchers. The only number I don’t think improves is his win total, but that is more to do with what I think of the Mets than anything.


    14. Javier Vazquez – NYY
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 2.87 219.1 238 1.026
    So Vazquez is back in New York, and I think that this is going to adversely affect the numbers he will provide for fantasy owners. He’s still likely to strikeout around a batter per inning, but it concerns me that he’s not going to be able to face the Nats and the other National League lineups. I think he still posts an ERA around 3.50 and a WHIP around 1.2, which will both be excellent. But don’t let yourself get caught bidding on Vazquez on the assumption that he’s going to duplicated 2009, because I just don’t see that happening.


    15. Josh Beckett – BOS
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 3.86 212.1 199 1.192
    Beckett seems poised to repeat the success he had in 2009, and should provide you with some solid value in all categories. I don’t think there is a lot of upside from the numbers he posted last year though, and even a chance of some regression in WHIP as well.


    16. Wandy Rodriguez – HOU
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.02 205.2 193 1.240
    The numbers appear to be, for the most part, real. The ERA could possibly go up from last year, but the WHIP and strikeouts appear legit. The other thing that I was thinking with Wandy was the fact that it seems unlikely he will win more than the 14 games he did last season. The Astros don’t look particularly good, and that will affect his final numbers slightly.


    17. Ubaldo Jimenez – COL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.47 218 198 1.229
    Jimenez’s 2009 season was an improvement on 2008, mostly due to him cutting down his walk rate from 4.67 per 9 to 3.51 per 9 innings in 2009. If he can continue that lower walk rate, I don’t see any reason why he can’t perform to the same level in 2010.


    18. Cliff Lee – SEA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.22 231.2 181 1.243
    Lee has had a whirlwind couple of seasons, having now been traded twice in the span of 5 months. His numbers could see some improvement by moving from Philadelphia to Seattle (mostly due to improved defense and ballpark), but the fact that he will be facing AL lineups again drops him from being a top-10 pitcher in my opinion. He’s still going to be an excellent pitcher, and he’s still going to provide solid numbers across the board. But I think I would rather have some other pitchers first.


    19. Jake Peavy – CHW
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    9 3.45 101.2 110 1.121
    Peavy came back late in the season from his injuries and pitched extremely well. He is another pitcher who could very well end up as a top-10 pitcher if he pitches a full season in 2010. But the fact that it took a majority of 2009 to recover from these injuries concerns me, as well as his adaption to pitching outside of Petco. I believe that he’s going to be solid as long as he’s healthy, and potentially elite also. He is not a product of Petco Park, but the place certainly didn’t hurt him as a pitcher.


    20. Clayton Kershaw – LAD
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    8 2.79 171 185 1.228
    Kershaw put it all together last season, and still has a lot of room for growth. He’s only going to be 22 years old this season, and should hopefully see him top 200 innings this year. The win total should improve as well, as he pitched a lot better than only getting 8 wins. My only real concern with Kershaw is how he will adjust to trying to throw that many innings. The potential dropoff is still well worth the risk in my opinion, as the upside for Kershaw remains huge.


    21. Yovani Gallardo – MIL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 3.73 185.2 204 1.314
    Gallardo pitched the majority of the season last year for the first time, and posted some excellent numbers as a result. I think that he can approach 200 innings this season, but could potentially see a slight regression in ERA and WHIP due to a slightly lower BABIP (.288). The strikeouts are legit, and I could see the wins potentially improving as well. Gallardo is the unquestioned ace of the Brewers staff at this point.


    22. Ricky Nolasco – FLA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 5.06 185 195 1.254
    Nolasco’s ERA really appears to be an outlier. Both his BABIP (.336) and FIP (3.35) indicate that the ERA was extremely unlucky. You’re looking at a pitcher who will approach 200 innings, and post excellent numbers in strikeouts, WHIP, and ERA this time around.


    23. Matt Garza – TAM
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    8 3.95 203 189 1.261
    Garza appears extremely unlucky in terms of wins. He did post a career high in strikeouts, which was more in-line with his minor league stats. His ERA may be a bit higher this year, but I think he still is right around 4.00.


    24. Tommy Hanson – ATL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    11 2.89 127.2 116 1.185
    The only thing that is keeping me from ranking Hanson higher is the fact that he has not yet done it over a full season. But he’s going to be really good, and will probably post an ERA closer to 3.75 than the 2.89 he posted last season. A lot of upside here though to be sure.


    25. Brandon Webb – ARI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    0 13.5 4 2 2.00
    Talk about a lost season. Webb pitched 4 innings in his first start, and never made it back to the team during the season. But the upside of Webb is a definite top 10 pitcher who could post 200 IP with a sub 3.50 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, and 175 strikeouts. The risk of injury is the only thing keeping him from being higher up.

    Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the American League West this week, starting with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.