Fantasy Nomad

In between looking up stats, watching, & traveling to games, I host the Fantasy Nomad Show for RotoInfo.com covering all things Fantasy Sports Related. FSWA member.

Starting Pitcher Rankings with a Twist!

You will not find Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, or even
my favorite player CY (Clayton) Kershaw in this ranking of starting
pitchers. If you listen to the RotoInfo.com Fantasy Nomad Show, which
I obviously encourage, you have heard me preach on and on that you
should wait to draft starting pitching. One reason I proclaim you wait
on starting pitching is because pitchers, according to an American
Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s study, “are 34 percent
more likely to be injured than fielders.” The study also found that “77
percent of all injuries to pitchers happen before the All-Star Game.”
So, before the season even starts, a pitcher is a third more likely
to end up on the disabled list. You may win the starting pitcher bet
two out of three times, but if you lose, you lose big, as most pitching
injuries happen in the first half of the season.
Another reason I advocate avoiding drafting a pitcher in the first four
or so rounds is that around half of the pitchers originally ranked in
most preseason Top 10’s fail to finish as a Top 10 pitcher, by season’s
end. To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at last season’s pre- and
post-season Starting Pitcher Rankings, according to Yahoo!
Pre-season 2011 SP Rankings Post-Seson

Pre-season 2011 SP Rankings Post-Seson
1 Roy Halladay 3
2 Felix Hernandez 20
3 Adam Wainwright DL
4 Jon Lester 29
5 CC Sabathia 10
6 Josh Johnson DL
7 Tim Lincecum 15
8 Ubaldo Jimenez 90
9 Francisco Liriano 153
10 Clayton Kershaw 2
11 David Price 18

For all those who hit on Roy Halladay there were many more who
missed, and missed badly, if they took Felix Hernandez, Adam
Wainwright (depending when your draft was), Jon Lester, Josh
Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and/or Francisco Liriano. What may have
seemed like a sure bet going into the 2011 season, was anything
but a lock for success. This trend of failure is one that bears it’s head
almost year in and year out. You can heed this warning or you can roll
the dice, just don’t be like those poker players who complain about all
their bad beats, when in reality most of them could have prevented, or
limited their loses, by making wiser, more educated decisions.
So, unlike most starting pitcher rankings, my ranking comes with a
couple twists. First, the pitcher in my rankings must have an ADP of
50 or higher, since I am targeting drafting a pitcher in the fifth round
or later. Secondly, I am ranking the following pitchers in terms of
who will have a higher rate of return come the end of the season. For
example, Jordan Zimmerman may finish the season ranked below
Jon Lester, but by the end of the year it is my belief that Jordan
Zimmerman will provide a much higher rate of return, and thus should
be targeted more so then say Jon Lester or Gio Gonzalez (although
I recommend you target each of these pitchers around their current
ADP). The idea is that I rather target these pitchers, who I feel will
provide solid value, but should they miss it doesn’t cost our team as
much as if you had missed in the earlier rounds.
My 2012 SP Rankings ADP (SP Rank) according to MDC

My Rank 2012 SP Rankings w/ a Twist 2012 SP Rank ADP (SP Rank)
1 Madison Bumgarner 75 (20)
2 Adam Wainwright 105 (30)
3 Gio Gonzalez 69 (18)
4 Jordan Zimmerman 117 (35)
5 Jon Lester 51 (14)
6 Brandon Beachy 114 (33)
7 Edwin Jackson 277 (79)
8 Yu Darvis 115 (34)
9 Anibal Sanchez 129 (38)
10 Ian Kennedy 104 (29)

1. Madison Bumgarner finished the season with an ERA of 3.21, (an
ERA that was slightly higher then his xFIP), an ERA that should regress
as Bumgarner had the fifth highest BABIP among qualified pitchers.
Other positives that lead me to believe that Madison Bumgarner will
be one of the best pitcher in 2012 are that he pitches in a favorable
park, had the sixth lowest HR/9 rate amongst qualified pitchers, and
he won’t be 23 until the first of August, so their is most likely even
more potential to be tapped into this season.
2. Adam Wainwright is number two on this list because his ADP is so
low right now, compared to his past successes and reports coming
out of St. Louis that he is more then ready to go. (For more insight on
Wainwright’s progress listen to Ep. 14 of the RotoInfo.com Fantasy
Nomad Show on iTunes).
3. Gio Gonzalez-with the move to the NL Gio should finally reach, or
exceed, 200 strikeouts, in large part because pitchers who bat strike
out 15% more often then designated hitters do. The key will be can
Gio take another, larger, step forward in lowering his BB%.
4. Jordan Zimmermann is one more year removed from Tommy John
surgery and appears primed to put it all together this season. Here is
a little food for thought:

Player BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% K%
Cliff Lee 1.62 0.7 0.291 81.40% 25.90%
Jordan Zimmermann 1.73 0.67 0.291 74.20% 18.00%

Note: Zimmermann had an avg K% of 20.85 from May till they shut
him down in August.
5. Jon Lester came into the 2011 season Lester was considered to be
a top contender for the 2011 CY Young award. The talent is still there
and it seems his dedication has returned as he has already arrived at
the spring training facility and has been working out in preparation to
rebound from last season’s less then stellar performance, on and off
the field. Lester’s poor performance has caused him to fall outside the
top 10 of SP’s, providing you an opportunity to draft a Top 10 pitcher
after the fourth round.
6. Brandon Beachy is still being undervalued in most drafts, which is
surprising for a guy who was Top 15 in K/BB, Top 10 in xFIP, and had
the best K/9 rate amongst pitchers who threw 140 or more innings.
7. Edwin Jackson seems like the foster child of starting pitchers. One
of Jackson’s biggest problems seems to be consistency, and part
of that may have to do with the fact that he has bounced around so
much. For a detailed outline of why you should target Edwin Jackson
this season go take a look at a short, previous Fantasy Nomad blog post. Be sure to subscribe
to it, it is free  http://ht.ly/94mDH
8. Yu Darvish has many things working in his favor including the fact
that he will be pitching for one of the most potent offenses in MLB,
so he should at least get solid run support. And, although Darvish will
pitch in a hitter friendly park he has shown to be an extreme ground
ball pitcher. ( Darvish had a 57% ground ball rate last year in Japan).
Darvish also has a diverse arsenal of pitches, which should make it
very difficult for hitters to have success, especially the first few times
they face him.
9. Anibal Sanchez is what I have referred to as Michael Pineda’s
statistical doppelganger.

Player IP K/9 BB/9 SwStrk%
Anibal Sanchez 196 9.26 2.93 11.00%
Michael Pineda 171 9.11 2.89 11.80%

Mock Draft Central has Anibal Sanchez ranked as the 38th
starting pitcher, whereas Michael Pineda is ranked 26th, despite
the many statistical similarities between the two pitchers. There is
some concern that Sanchez’s K rate may decline, but even if it does,
you would still be getting a pitcher, in Sanchez, who is statistically
comparable to a top 20 ranked pitcher three or more rounds later in
the draft.
10. Ian Kennedy-would be a little higher on my list, as I liken him to
Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is a little younger, but Kennedy didn’t
get his break until two years ago. In the two years, Kennedy has been
successful, has showed growth, especially in K% and BB%, and
despite finishing the 2011 season as a Top 10 SP he is only ranked
18th going into 2012, so there is value to be had, but monitor his ADP,
because there is a good chance it may rise as he seems to be going
a little earlier then his ADP suggests including in the Fantasy Fix’s
Annual Industry Mock where he was the 18th starting pitcher taken.
As much as it may be tempting to draft a starting pitcher in the first
few rounds, remember, pitchers are more likely to get hurt than
fielders and there is plenty of solid starting pitchers, as illustrated
above, who should be available in the middle to later rounds that are
safer bets. Pitchers who will actually have a better chance of bringing
you more value in the end. I liken waiting on pitching to buying a
bond, but with it having an interest rate capability of a stock. Simply
put you are risking less by waiting on pitching, yet you have about
the same, if not better chance of netting a larger return on your
investment. Lower risk, with high reward potential, with that kind of
commonsense investing possibility Suzanne Orman or Jim Cramer
might just start playing Fantasy Baseball.
Written by Michael Pichan
Follow him on Twitter (@FantasyNomad)                                                                                                                                                                                        Sign up for Daily Joust here and get great bonuses  http://ht.ly/96FiX                                                                                                                      Starting Pitcher Rankings with a Twist was just part of The Fantasy Fix’s 2012 Outstanding Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit  http://bit.ly/2012TFFguide

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2 comments on “Starting Pitcher Rankings with a Twist!

  1. Ken Graham
    March 10, 2012

    Love the ” with a twist” rankings as I have fallen victim to stocking up on pitching early with very little return.

    • Fantasy Nomad
      March 10, 2012

      Thanks, Ken, and this is just the tip of the ice berg on pitchers you can get in mid to late rounds. These are just the ones I feel could finish in the top ten by the end of 2012.

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