Tag Archives: Wade Davis

Season Previews in Review: American League East


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’ll be going a division at a time, starting with the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles

Predicted Record: 70-92            Actual Record: 66-96

It was a tale of two seasons for the Orioles, as they spent the first half of the season clearly as the worst team in all of baseball. Nothing seemed to go right for the team, and it ended up costing manager Dave Trembley his job before too long. This left interim skipper Juan Samuel to try and right the ship, while the Orioles also continued to look for his (and Trembley’s) replacement. By the August 31st trade deadline, the team had managed to ship just one of its movable pieces for prospects with Miguel Tejada being traded to the Padres. But they had also hired Buck Showalter to manage the team, and the team has already seen a drastic improvement. This record would have actually been much further off if not for the late-season turnaround.

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The AL Willie Mays Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we will be voting over the coming weeks on our award winners for the regular season. Last week I posted my votes for the AL and NL Connie Mack awards, given to our managers of the year. I’ll be continuing on today with my choice for the American League’s top rookie, the Willie Mays award recipient.

I wrote about the overall rookie of the class over the weekend, and it occurred to me that the group from the American League is pretty clearly a lot weaker than the Senior Circuit’s group, but there are still some solid rookies worthy of consideration. These are in order from east to west (approximately), and I will have my final vote at the bottom.

Wade Davis (TAM)

Davis was slotted into the Rays’ starting rotation out of spring training, and performed solidly as the #4 starter for the team. He threw 168 innings, striking out 113 and walking 65 batters while posting a 12-10 record and a 4.07 ERA. Some of his secondary numbers show a bit of luck (4.79 FIP). His strikeout rate did drop however from his career rates in the minors to this point, so he could see some improvement in the coming seasons.

Brian Matusz (BAL)

Matusz was my original choice back in the preseason as the most likely person to win the award, but he was let down to some extent by his team. Matusz threw 175 2/3 innings, posting a 4.30 ERA and a 10-12 record. His 143 strikeouts and 63 walks weren’t stunningly good, but he also appears to be a bit unlucky (4.05 FIP, .304 BABIP). Clearly, his run support wasn’t amazing (2.68 per start), and as a result of the win total should improve going into next season if all other numbers hold steady.

Austin Jackson (DET)

Jackson was the main acquisition of the Tigers in the Curtis Granderson trade during last offseason, and was slotted into as the starting center fielder for the Tigers. He got off to an extremely hot start, hitting .364/.422/.495 with 20 runs scored and 5 stolen bases in the month of April. He cooled off some as time progressed, and finished the season with a .293/.345/.400 line, 103 runs scored, and 27 stolen bases. He also played excellent defense for the Tigers in center field all season long.

Danny Valencia (MIN)

Valencia was brought up in early June to play 3B for the Twins, and simply never gave the job back. In just 85 games, he hit .311 with 7 home runs, 40 runs batted in, and played solid defense for the Twins down the stretch.

Neftali Feliz (TEX)

Feliz barely fell under the rookie requirements for last season, and remained eligible for the award again in 2010. He started the season by being put into the bullpen as a setup man, and took over as the closer after only 1 week of games. He clearly took the job and ran with it, finishing with 40 saves, striking out 71 batters to just 18 walks. He also posted a 0.880 WHIP and a 2.73 ERA, and helped to lead the team to the playoffs this season.

My Vote

  1. Neftali Feliz (TEX)
  2. Austin Jackson (DET)
  3. Wade Davis (TAM)

When I looked at all the players that were eligible, Feliz stood out as the clear winner to me. While I generally would be more inclined to give the vote to a position player as they have a larger impact on a day to day basis on the team, Feliz helped to solidify the team’s bullpen and the team really started to take off once they had moved him to the back of the bullpen. While the rest of the players had solid seasons, Feliz clearly had the largest impact as a rookie on his team, and set a record for the most saves ever by a rookie. He’s my vote for the AL Willie Mays award.

The Season’s Top Stories: The Rookie Class of 2010


Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. One of the biggest stories of the 2010 regular season has to be the rookie class that emerged throughout the season. This group of rookies could very well be a once in a generation group of players.

Starting Pitchers

The most hyped player to come into the Majors in a long time clearly was Stephen Strasburg, the top pick from the 2009 draft. The hype continued to build as the season progressed and it became clear that he would make his debut during the season. June 8th was the night, against the Pirates: 14 strikeouts, 0 earned runs. Strasburg nearly lived up to the hype, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in just 68 innings pitched. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely due to an elbow injury, and ended up needing Tommy John surgery. Strasburg will miss the 2011 season as well.

Other Top Performers:

  • Jaime Garcia will most likely finish near the top of the Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 13-8 record with a 2.70 ERA in 28 starts for the Cardinals.
  • Mike Leake of the Reds came up and made an instant impact despite never pitching in the minor leagues. He started off hot, but trailed off a bit at the end and finished with an 8-4 record with a 4.23 ERA in 24 appearances (22 starts).
  • His teammate Travis Wood came up on July 1st, and pitched well down the stretch for the Reds. He finished with a 5-4 record with a 3.51 ERA in just over 100 innings on the season.
  • Madison Bumgarner was called upon about halfway through the season to take the #5 spot in the Giants’ rotation, and ran with it from there. He went 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 starts for the NL West champs.
  • Wade Davis of the Rays threw 168 innings of effective ball, posting a 12-10 record with a 4.07 ERA and 113 strikeouts.
  • Brian Matusz of the Orioles had been my preseason choice for the AL Rookie of the Year award, but unfortunately didn’t really pitch well enough to earn that award. Part of that was his team, as he went 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 175 plus innings. His numbers should improve next season as the team matures under its new manager.

Relief Pitchers

Neftali Feliz didn’t make the starting rotation out of spring training for the Rangers, and it really looks like that could have been the best thing for both him and the team. Feliz was given the closer’s job on April 12th after Frank Francisco struggled in the first week, and never gave the job back. He finished the season with a 2.73 ERA and 40 saves along with a strikeout per inning of work.

Other Top Performers:

  • Jonny Venters helped to bring some stability to the back end of the Braves’ bullpen, appearing in 79 games and striking out 93 in just 83 innings. He looks like he could be a future closer in waiting for the Braves.
  • John Axford was called upon to fill in for a struggling future Hall of Famer in Trevor Hoffman, and never really gave the job back. He went 8-2 with 24 saves and a 2.48 ERA and 76 strikeouts in just 58 innings pitched for the Brewers.

Catchers

There was concern whether or not it might cost the Giants a chance at the playoffs by their decision to not call up Buster Posey until late May.  The top prospect played well enough to really make that decision look questionable, hitting .305/.357/.505 with 18 homeruns and 67 runs batted in. The team made the playoffs, and even traded their Opening Day catcher to make sure he played every day.

Other Top Performers:

  • Carlos Santana came up on June 11th, and proceeded to show why he was considered a top prospect overall. In just 46 games this season, he hit .260/.401/.467 with 6 homeruns and 22 runs batted in. His season ended on August 2nd when he broke his leg blocking the plate, but should return next season and become one of the top catchers in the league.
  • John Jaso remains one of the more unusual catchers in the league, as the Rays consistently hit him leadoff. His .372 OBP probably helped that a lot, and he split time with Kelly Shoppach during the season.

Corner Infielders

It was originally thought at the beginning of the season that 1B Justin Smoak of the Rangers would establish himself as the next great hitter to start in Arlington. He struggled mightily during the season, earning himself a demotion back to AAA and eventually his inclusion in the trade to the Mariners for Cliff Lee. Smoak ended up finishing the season with just a .218 batting average but 13 home runs. He should do better next season as well, and will likely be the given the starting 1B job by the Mariners.

Other Top Performers:

  • Ike Davis was surprisingly called up in mid April, and continued to hold the 1B job throughout the season for the Mets. He finished the year with a .264/.351/.440 line with 19 homeruns and 71 runs batted in.
  • Chris Johnson of the Astros was given the starting 3B job after Pedro Feliz struggled, and finished the year with a .308 batting average and 11 homeruns. He should go into 2011 as the prohibitive starter at the position.
  • Danny Valencia was called up at the start of June to play 3B, and never gave the job back. He hit .311 with 7 homeruns, and has provided solid defense for the Twins as well.
  • Pedro Alvarez was called up in mid June to replace the struggling Andy LaRoche, and gave glimpses into what his future holds. He hit .256, but did hit 16 home runs and drove in 64 in just 95 games.

Middle Infielders

Starlin Castro may well have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. He started the season with the Cubs’ AA affiliate, hitting very well and was called up by the Major League team on May 7th to try and inject some more energy and offense into the lineup. Despite being just 20 years old, he hit .300 with 10 stolen bases on the season, and should continue to improve next season.

Other Top Performers:

  • Neil Walker was widely viewed as a bit of a lost prospect, stuck behind current starter Andy LaRoche and future starter Pedro Alvarez at 3B. The team instead asked him to try playing 2B, and his bat took off. He hit .296/.349/.462 with 12 homeruns and 66 runs batted in for the Pirates in just 110 games.
  • Ian Desmond was given the starting shortstop job for the Nationals out of Spring Training, and while he had his struggles with the glove (34 errors), his bat was solid with a .269 batting average, 10 homeruns, and 17 stolen bases.

Outfielders

The top prospect in the game coming into the season was widely viewed as Braves’ OF Jason Heyward, and he did not disappoint. He made the team out of Spring Training, which was unexpected, and proceeded to hit well across the season. He finished the year with a .277/.393/.456 line with 18 home runs, 72 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases. The Braves are going to be extremely happy with Heyward’s production for years to come.

Other Top Performers:

  • Austin Jackson is likely going to win the AL Rookie of the Year award after hitting .293 with 27 stolen bases and playing good defense in centerfield for the Tigers all season long. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next year, as his full season numbers were propped up a bit by a huge start of the season this year.
  • Jose Tabata was a prospect that the Pirates received as a part of the Xavier Nady trade, and showed why he was so highly thought of. He played in 102 games, hitting .299 with 19 stolen bases and 61 runs scored.

In many seasons, nearly all of these rookies would have been Rookie of the Year awards recipients, but with so many top players this year some may not even get votes in the awards proceedings. I’ll be posting my votes for the AL and NL Willie Mays awards (Rookie’s of the Year) in the next few days as well.

Original Draft Series: #7 – Tampa Bay Rays


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

Team #7: Tampa Bay Rays

General Managers(since 1998)

Chuck LaMar (1998-2005): 518-775
Andrew Friedman (2006-Current): 308-340

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 1 1 1 0 1 1 9

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C John Jaso 2003 – 12th Rd 7 91 gm, .280/.390/.398, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB Currently with Org.
1B Jorge Cantu Int’l FA – 1998 9 332 gm, .272/.308/.448, 44 HR, 200 RBI Traded to CIN – 7/28/07
2B Akinori Iwamura
Int’l FA – 2007 3 344 gm, .281/.354/.393, 14 HR, 104 RBI, 29 SB Traded to PIT – 11/3/09
3B Evan Longoria 2006 – 1st Rd (3) 4 3 All-Star Appearances, 2008 Rookie of the Year, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
406 gm, .282/.359/.523, 79 HR, 284 RBI, 31 SB
Currently with Org.
SS Reid Brignac 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 126 gm, .254/.298/.385, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB Currently with Org.
LF Josh Hamilton 1999 – 1st Rd (1) 8 No Major League Appearances with Org. Selected by CHC – 12/7/06
CF B.J. Upton 2002 – 1st Rd (2) 8 634 gm, .261/.347/.411, 61 HR, 271 RBI, 160 SB Currently with Org.
RF Carl Crawford
1999 – 2nd Rd 11 4 All Star Appearances
1202 gm, .295/.336/.441, 99 HR, 570 RBI, 403 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Aubrey Huff 1998 – 5th Rd 8 799 gm, .287/.343/.477, 128 HR, 449 RBI, 20 SB Traded to HOU – 7/12/06
SP David Price 2007 – 1st Rd (1) 3 1 All-Star Appearance
25-13, 3.55 ERA, 307 IP, 268 K, 123 BB, 1.283 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP James Shields
2000 – 16th Rd 10 55-47, 4.14 ERA, 939 IP, 768 K, 207 BB Currently with Org.
SP Jeff Niemann 2004 – 1st Rd (4) 6 25-12, 3.88 ERA, 341.1 IP, 243 K, 114 BB, 1.307 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Wade Davis
2004 – 3rd Rd 6 12-11, 4.25 ERA, 163 IP, 118 K, 64 BB Currently with Org.
SP Jeremy Hellickson
2005 – 4th Rd 5 3-0, 2.05 ERA, 26.1 IP, 25 K, 4 BB, 0.759 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jason Hammel 2002 – 10th Rd 6 7-15, 5.90 ERA, 207.1 IP, 140 K, 96 BB Traded to COL – 4/5/09
RP Brian Stokes Amateur FA – 1998 9 3-7, 6.46 ERA, 86.1 IP, 50 K, 34 BB Purchased by NYM – 11/28/07
RP Andy Sonnanstine 2004 – 13th Rd 6 28-29, 5.23 ERA, 492 IP, 326 K, 120 BB Currently with Org.
RP Chad Gaudin 2001 – 34th Rd 3 3-2, 4.25 ERA, 82.2 IP, 53 K, 32 BB Traded to TOR – 12/12/04
RP Josh Butler 2006 – 2nd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MIL – 4/22/08
CL Dan Wheeler 1996 – 34th Rd 5+1 13-22, 4.30 ERA, 18 SV, 228 K, 82 BB Currently with Org.
BN Delmon Young
2003 – 1st Rd (1) 4 192 gm, .293/.319/.419, 16 HR, 103 RBI, 12 SB Traded to MIN – 11/28/07
BN Matt Diaz 1999 – 17th Rd 5 14 gm, .167/.265/.367, HR, 3 RBI Selected by BAL – 2/22/05
BN Jonny Gomes 2001 – 18th Rd 6 415 gm, .235/.329/.455, 66 HR, 184 RBI, 30 SB Left via Free Agency – 12/12/08
BN Paul Hoover 1997 – 23rd Rd 5 8 gm, .190/.190/.190, 2 RBI Left via Free Agency – 10/14/02
BN Rhyne Hughes
2004 – 8th Rd 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to BAL – 8/15/09

June Amateur Draft

The Rays have done extremely well in the draft, and it is especially good to see that they have done well with their picks since they had so many in the top 10 in the first few years of their organization. This also seems like one of the teams that has retained the most of their prospects as well, as 12 of the 25 players listed above are still with the organization. Clearly, having the top pick 3 times and a top-4 pick 3 more times in the last 11 seasons is going to bring a lot of talent into the system. The team is finally seeing the fruits of their system, with a World Series appearance in 2008 and a team that is in contention here in 2010. The problem for them remains the same, in that they will become constrained by payroll soon enough. But the system remains extremely flush with high end prospects, and should allow the team to remain in contention even as free agents leave for greener pastures.

International Free Agency

The Rays have not done a whole lot in the international markets, as they generally are not big spenders in any market. But they have found a couple of nice players in Jorge Cantu and Aki Iwamura who both provided some decent value to the team while there. Iwamura probably has become more valuable as a trade piece, as he was moved to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez, who was part of the trade to acquire current closer Rafael Soriano. Other than that though, they really haven’t done much, and with the production they’ve received from the draft, there really hasn’t been as much of a need to work this market.

Overall Grade

A-. The Rays have done extremely well to acquire not only high end talent, but also a lot of it. Through the draft, they have done extremely well, and their success on the field has finally come to the Tampa market. It would be nice to see them do more in the international markets, but if they can continue to draft with this level of success, they really won’t need to improve much there. And with prospects like Desmond Jennings, Matt Moore, and Alex Torres down in the system ready to be called upon as well, they are set for the future about as well as can be expected.

Week in Review – August 9 to August 15


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (71-46) vs. Texas Rangers (67-49)
Minnesota Twins (68-50) vs. New York Yankees (72-45)

San Francisco Giants (67-52) vs. Atlanta Braves (68-49)
Cincinnati Reds (67-51) vs. San Diego Padres (69-47)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .362
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 86
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 36
Runs Batted In – Alex Rodriguez (NYY) 97
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 45

Wins – Adam Wainwright (STL) and Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 17
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) 35
ERA – Adam Wainwright (STL) 1.99
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 182
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.93

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Cristian Guzman, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chipper Jones, Adam Rosales, Jason LaRue, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Geovany Soto, Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria, LaTroy Hawkins, Rich Harden

Return from the Disabled List:  Mark Teahen, Carlos Guillen, Stephen Strasburg, Kyle Lohse, Homer Bailey, Travis Hafner

To the Minors: Jess Todd, Dayan Viciedo, Brad Mills, Jeremy Hermida, Travis Wood, Will Rhymes, Ramon Troncoso

Called Up: Michael Bowden, Eric Young Jr, Chris Carter, Jeff Larish, Mark Melancon, Jeremy Hellickson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mark Rzepczynski

Other Roster Moves:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Some extremely strange news out of New York during the week with Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez being arrested for allegedly assaulting his father in law. He returned to the team on Saturday and has stated that he will seek out anger management counseling after the incident. Let’s hope he can put this behind him, and soon.
  • Chipper Jones‘ career may be over after tearing his ACL on an excellent play he made during Tuesday’s game. He had surgery on the injury on Saturday, and is hoping to make a comeback in 2011.
  • The Wild-Card leading Rays took a pair of hits to their rotation this week with both Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann going on the disabled list on the same day this week. However, they are one of the few teams that can handle this loss to some extent, as Jeremy Hellickson and Andy Sonnanstine were both moved into the rotation in their place.
  • Stephen Strasburg returned from the disabled list on Tuesday, and proceeded to get shelled. He did pitch better in his start on Sunday though, and I’m wondering at this point when he gets shut down for the year.
  • Further proof of the volatility of prospects as Oakland’s top international signee from a couple of years ago, Michael Ynoa, will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2011 season. To date, he’s thrown 9 innings in his professional career.
  • Jonathan Broxton was removed from the closer’s role by the Dodgers on Friday, as he continues to struggle in his appearances. Hong-Chih Kuo will get the majority of opportunities for now, and I have to imagine that at some point Broxton will return to the role this season.
  • Brandon Phillips really made some noise in the critical series between the Reds and Cardinals at the beginning of the week, and unfortunately most of it was not good for his team. Between the comments he made and the bat tap on the shin guards of Yadier Molina which lead to the brawl in Tuesday’s game, it didn’t really go all that well for Phillips. Oh, and he had a poor performance as well, which really didn’t help things.
  • Apparently the Orioles should have hired Buck Showalter a lot sooner, as the team has gone on a hot streak since he was installed in the manager’s job. Since being hired, the O’s are now 9-3 since Showalter took over the team, after winning only 32 of their first 107 games.
  • Ricky Romero received a 5 year, $30.1 million contract extension from the Blue Jays, and I really like this deal for the team. They’ve locked in a really good young pitcher at a reasonable price. You know, unless something happens that doesn’t allow him to finish as well as he’s started.

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

From Wezen-Ball: Larry Granillo posted a presentation that he made at SABR 40 about the statistics of the baseball played by Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. It’s actually really interesting, which surprised me a bit.

From Thunder Baseball: Mike Ashmore posted a great article about the minors and the effects it has on players. It’s an extremely interesting read and I highly recommend it.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: With the signing deadline for amateur draft picks coming on Monday, I’ll be doing a brief writeup of the notable signings and the few who didn’t sign.

Wednesday: I’ll be continuing on with the Original Draft Series, posting team #10.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Dan Haren being traded to the Diamondbacks. We actually have a better idea of how this trade will look for the Diamondbacks after having already been traded by them to the Angels this season. That will finish up the final trade of the series involving the A’s as well.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ’Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

The 2010 Rookie Class


Every year we see some solid rookie players come to the Majors and have a major impact, and this year is no exception. Already we’ve seen at least half a dozen players who could legitimately win their Rookie of the Year award, along with a lot of impact players as well. Each of these players is still eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award, according to ESPN.com’s stats page. All these stats are through Sunday’s games, and the players are in order of what I believe their likelihood to win their respective Rookie of the Year awards.

American League

1. Austin Jackson (DET) – .328/.379/.444, 33 runs, 1 home run, 13 runs batted in, 7 stolen bases

Jackson was the centerpiece of the Curtis Granderson trade for the Tigers, and he’s been pretty much everything it was hoped he would, and more. I wrote in December that I thought the Tigers would end up winning this trade, and Jackson is going to be the lynchpin to whether or not that happens. The batting average has been extremely lucky to this point, as he is currently sporting a .458 BABIP. That said, he still should hit around .270-.280 and could end up scoring around 90 runs for the Tigers.

2. Neftali Feliz (TEX) – 1-1, 13 saves, 2 holds, 2.96 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, 5 walks, 24 1/3 IP

Since being installed as the closer for the Rangers, Feliz has pitched very well overall. His stuff really suits the closer’s role, as his fastball is dominant at right around 100 mph on a consistent basis. I think that Feliz could end up winning the Rookie of the Year if Jackson falls off precipitously or if the Rangers end up making the playoffs and Feliz stays as the closer all season long. Long term, it will be interesting to see if they ever convert him back to a starting pitcher, as his value is probably better there.

3. Mitch Talbot (CLE) – 6-4, 3.78 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 27 strikeouts, 24 walks, 66 2/3 IP

Talbot has been a very nice surprise for the Indians, as he was acquired in the Kelly Shoppach trade this past offseason. Plugged into the starting rotation, Talbot is finally getting a chance to show how good of a pitcher he can be. He may see some regression, as his FIP is over 5 and his BABIP is only at .251. Either way, the Indians did well here, and he could conceivably win 12-15 games in spite of how bad the Indians’ offense is. The walks are definitely a major concern though, as they are barely less than his strikeouts.

4. Wade Davis (TAM) – 5-4, 4.04 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 36 strikeouts, 29 walks, 55 2/3 IP

Another vaunted rookie from the Rays’ farm system, Davis has come in and pitched effectively in a tough AL East division. However, his secondary numbers (FIP of 5+, 82% strand rate) indicate that he’s likely to see a fairly stiff regression in the coming months. I think he’s going to finish the season as an effective, if not amazing pitcher. But he definitely appears to have a very bright future ahead of him, and I think that for this year he could end up winning 15 games on the strength of the Rays’ lineup.

5. Brennan Boesch (DET) – .330/.357/.585, 9 runs, 4 homeruns, 22 runs batted in, 1 stolen base

At the beginning of the season, it was thought that there would be a rookie from the Tigers in this race. Brennan Boesch was not the one everyone thought though. Boesch has come up and just hit and hit and hit as the replacement for the oft-injured Carlos Guillen. He’s hit so well to this point that Guillen, who recently returned from the disabled list, is being moved to 2B (where they had hoped rookie Scott Sizemore would play well) to allow Boesch to stay in the lineup everyday. His BABIP is high (.373), so there could be some regression, but he looks like he’s going to be a solid everyday player with the potential for double-digit power.

Other AL Candidates: Brian Matusz (BAL), Carlos Santana (CLE), John Jaso (TAM), Justin Smoak (TEX), Scott Sizemore (DET)

Each of these candidates, to me, has some warts that will keep them from winning this award unless something drastically changes. For Sizemore and Santana, the fact that they are still in AAA leads me to believe that they would have to ridiculously outperform the others to catch up for lost time. Smoak and Matusz, at least for the moment, are simply not performing up to the standard of the other candidates, and are unlikely at this point to catch them.

National League

1. Jason Heyward (ATL) – .292/.410/.578, 29 runs, 10 home runs, 38 runs batted in, 3 stolen bases

What else is there to be said about Heyward that hasn’t been said? I wrote about him as a prospect back in January, and predicted that he would hit .280/.370/.470 with 6 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 80 games. Even doubling that prediction to get him to around 160 games, that’s 12 homeruns and 20 stolen bases. While he’s not running as much as I thought, the power appears to be legitimate and the Braves are going to be extremely happy with him for a very long time. I don’t really see too much out there that would cause him to not win this award.

2. Jaime Garcia (STL) – 4-2, 1.39 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 48 strikeouts, 26 walks, 58 1/3 IP

Garcia made the rotation out of spring training, and has never looked back. Clearly the ERA is going to go up at some point during the season, but the rest of the numbers really look legitimate to me. He’s pitching in St. Louis, and I’ve learned to never bet against the coaching staff there either.

3. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – Will make ML debut June 8th.

The hype is real. Strasburg will not make his debut until June 8th, giving the rest of the rookies in this class a full two months of time to get ahead. That said, and even with the 100 inning limit that he is likely to be on, he could very well come up and post a sub-3 ERA and a strikeout per inning he pitches. He has looked that good.

4. David Freese (STL) -.314/.383/.453, 21 runs, 4 home runs, 31 runs batted in, 1 stolen base

It’s hard to put another position player this far down the list, but realistically all 5 of the top rookies in the NL would probably win the award in the American League this season. Freese won the 3B job out of spring training, but it really appeared that no one was particularly confident that he would be able to make it stick. But he’s been a very bright spot in the Cardinals lineup, and has played at least reasonable defense to this point.

5. Mike Leake (CIN) – 4-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 45 strikeouts, 25 walks, 66 IP

I was extremely surprised when Leake made the rotation out of spring training, but it really looks like the Reds knew what they were doing here (shocking, I know). Leake isn’t necessarily going to be a fantasy darling, as he probably isn’t going to strike out enough hitters to make him very valuable for that. But he has shown to this point that he is definitely a good Major League pitcher.

Other NL Candidates: Starlin Castro (CHC), Buster Posey (SF), Ian Desmond (WAS), Ike Davis (NYM), Gaby Sanchez (FLA), Jhoulys Chacin (COL)

Only Desmond and Sanchez made their respective teams out of Spring Training, and while they are both having good rookie seasons, their seasons do not compare to the 5 players discussed previously. Castro, Posey, and Davis have all added much needed energy to their teams, in addition to some offense, but unfortunately they will run into the same problem as Desmond and Sanchez, in that it is a very good rookie class this year.

Fantasy Preview – Starting Pitchers Part 2


Last Sunday, I ranked my top 25 starting pitchers, and will finish up my rankings of the next 50 today. Not as many stats this time, but still some notes regarding the pitchers.

26. Cole Hamels (PHI) – I wrote about Hamels over at Fake Teams, and think that he’s going to rebound quite nicely this season. I think he can post around 200 strikeouts along with a 3.50 ERA and a sub 1.25 WHIP. I think that he also could be the victim of some sleeper hype as a result of the poor season last year.

27. Chad Billingsley (LAD) – Billingsley should recover nicely from the perceived poor season he had. His ERA should rebound, and his WHIP and strikeouts were both solid last year. Pitching half your starts at Dodgers Stadium will always help also.

28. Brett Anderson (OAK) – Anderson has been getting a lot of hype this offseason, and with reason. From July onward: 98 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP, 3.02 ERA in 101 IP. While I think that he could see some downturn due to the jump in innings from last season, I think he could very well post those types of numbers for a full season.

29. Jered Weaver (LAA) – Weaver will be asked to lead the Angels pitching staff now, and should be able to fill that role pretty well. He has posted a strikeout rate over 7 per 9 in each of the last 2 seasons, and could approach 200 strikeouts again this season.

30. John Lackey (BOS) – Lackey goes to a new ballpark, with a new team. I’m not sure that either of those facts are particularly relevant to his ability to pitch effectively as a fantasy starter. He seems likely to post similar numbers whether he remained in Anaheim or not. He should post an ERA around 3.75 with a strikeout rate around 7.5 per 9 innings. If he gets to 200 innings I could see 160+ strikeouts potentially.

31. A.J. Burnett (NYY) – Burnett is going to strike out a lot of batters, as he’s been right around 200 in each of the last 3 seasons. However, his walk rate actually increased last season, getting up to 4.22 per 9 innings. He’s likely to get more win opportunities than a pitcher on another team due to the excellent Yankees lineup. However, I think he’s just as likely to post an ERA of 4.50 or higher as he is to post one under 4.00. Caveat emptor on this one.

32. Ryan Dempster (CHC) – Dempster posted a second straight solid season in the rotation, and posted another 200 inning season as well. To me, Dempster is a solid starting pitcher, and very consistent as well. He’s going to strikeout at least 160, and should post a WHIP around 1.30. Not the flashiest pitcher you could get, nor does he possess any particular upside, but you need pitchers like this too.

33. Randy Wolf (MIL) – Wolf appears to have been really helped by Dodger Stadium, but I’m not inclined to believe it was that much. His ERA was almost a half run lower than his FIP, but the rest of his numbers could be a solid value for your fantasy team. I can see him posting a 1.25 WHIP and a sub-4 ERA to go along with 160 strikeouts. A very solid #3 starter.

34. Jorge de la Rosa (COL) – The strikeouts are wonderful. He’s likely to strikeout more than a batter per inning. The walk rate, not so much. I think that he could conceivably improve on the walk rate, but the ERA and WHIP are probably going to suffer slightly even still. I had originally thought he could be a top-30 pitcher, but unless he can show that he can lower that walk rate, he’s going to remain lower in the rankings.

35. Scott Baker (MIN) – Baker had a better season than his ERA tells us. His ERA seems like it should come around, based on his sub 1.20 WHIPs in each of the last 2 seasons. Strikes out a little more than 7 per 9 innings, and there’s a lot to like here from Baker. I think this could be the year that he vaults into the top 20 of starting pitching.

36. James Shields (TAM) – I think Shields could see some improvement in his ERA from last season. He should strike out over 150 and post a solid WHIP in over 200 innings pitched. Probably the definition of a lower-risk, lower-upside pitcher. He’s not likely to strikeout 200 hitters, but if he can do repeat hist 2009 season, he will be a solid #2 or #3 starting pitcher.

37. Roy Oswalt (HOU) – Oswalt used to be considered a top-tier starting pitcher. He looks like he may have been a little bit unlucky last season, but his strikeout rate is down which concerns me. The fact that he pitches for the Astros and their anemic offense does nothing to make me feel better. I think that if he returns to 200 IP, he can strikeout about 150-170 or so, with a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP

38. Scott Kazmir (LAA) – Kazmir should post a high strikeout rate, but his WHIP is still a concern. I think he’s probably going to be above 1.30 in that category, and could very well end up causing him to have an ERA above 4. There’s a lot of upside here, but I think this is about where I’d be willing to draft him.

39. Rich Harden (TEX) – There’s a lot of upside here. A LOT. He struck out almost 11 per 9 innings last year when he was healthy. But this “health” thing remains Harden’s issue. I don’t think that the move to Arlington will affect him particularly. Look for another season of 140 or so excellent innings, and anything else from him would be a bonus in my opinion.

40. Gavin Floyd (CHW) – Floyd only posted 11 wins last season, but I think he can improve on that this season.  Of some concern to me is the fact that his strikeout rate jumped last season by a full strikeout per 9 innings. He’s likely to provide a 1.25 WHIP, and I can see him adding 150 strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00 to that WHIP.

41. Edwin Jackson (ARI) – Pitcher moving from the AL to the NL: generally a good thing. Jackson really put together a great season last year, his first truly solid season from start to finish. I think that he should be helped a lot by being around Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, along with pitching in the pitcher friendly NL West.

42. Jair Jurrjens (ATL) – Jurrjens is a pitcher who appears to have posted a very lucky ERA (2.60), but even looking at his FIP for last season (3.68), he still posted a very solid season if that had been his ERA instead. He’s going to give you a lot of innings, and a solid strikeout number as well.

43. Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz will hopefully get a full season of starts this year, as he could conceivably post a sub-4 ERA with 175+ strikeouts and a solid WHIP as well. You’ll have to watch how this shakes out during the spring, but there’s a lot of upside with Clay.

44. Carlos Zambrano (CHC) – Big Z is a tease. He struck out 152 in 169 innings last season. And walked 78 in that same workload. Take the strikeouts knowing that he’s probably going to hurt your WHIP.  He should improve slightly on his WHIP from last year, but should still be around 1.30. There’s some upside here, but I probably won’t be the one that will be taking the chance.

45. Joe Blanton (PHI) – The numbers aren’t sexy. The fact that he gets them are also not. But he’s going to give you a lot of innings, and solid ratios and strikeouts for those innings. Another one of those solid starters that your team will need to back up some of your upside plays.

46. J.A. Happ (PHI) – There’s been a lot of talk that Happ was extremely lucky last season, and his strikeout and walk rates both point to that as well. I think that he can be a very solid starting pitcher though, and there’s some upside here to me. He should post a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP, along with a solid if not amazing strikeout rate.

47. Max Scherzer (DET) – I think that Scherzer isn’t going to be affected too adversely by his move to the American League, as he was a dominant strikeout pitcher last season. That said, the missed time is of some concern, and the fact that the D’Backs were willing to give him up so easily also worries me. But there’s a lot of upside with him as well.

48. Tim Hudson (ATL) – Hudson came back at the end of last season, and had 7 solid starts. I think that if he can get to 200 innings pitched, he will strikeout 140 and post solid ratios as well. But there’s that injury risk still floating over Hudson, and that’s why he’s not likely to be higher on my rankings.

49. Ben Sheets (OAK) – Coming back from a lost season, Sheets is definitely high-risk. But the upside involved with Sheets is a top-10 starting pitcher. If he pitches well and the A’s fall out of the race, he will most likely be moved to a contending team as well.

50. Wade Davis (TAM) –  Davis struck out more than a batter per inning last year in his brief time with the Rays, and I am very interested to see how he will do in a full season at the Majors. The AL East is probably going to eat a lot of starters up and spit them out, but I think that Davis is one who will hold his own.

At this point, you’re looking for either high-upside or pitchers who are extremely consistent. I have a lot of these pitchers right around the same value as each other, so the specific rankings aren’t necessarily as important. At this point you should be taking a look at what your starters are currently providing, and draft accordingly. My next 25 starters:

51. Jonathan Sanchez (SF)
52. Ted Lilly (CHC)
53. John Danks (CHW)
54. Erik Bedard (SEA)
55. Colby Lewis (TEX)
56. Brian Matusz (BAL)
57. Randy Wells (CHC)
58. Mat Latos (SD)
59. Jeff Niemann (TAM)
60. David Price (TAM)
61. Ervin Santana (LAA)
62. Scott Feldman (TEX)
63. Mark Buehrle (CHW)
64. John Maine (NYM)
65. Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
66. Rick Porcello (DET)
67. Hiroki Kuroda (LAD)
68. Aaron Harang (CIN)
69. Kevin Slowey (MIN)
70. Derek Lowe (ATL)
71. Clayton Richard (SD)
72. Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
73. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS)
74. Ricky Romero (TOR)
75. Johnny Cueto (CIN)

Tomorrow’s post: Fantasy Relief Pitcher Rankings