By Andrew Bilbo
When you're watching your favorite baseball team, what do you like to see most during a game? If you're like most, you love raw power. You like to see that three run bomb into the upper deck. You also like to see your team's starting pitcher strikeout the side and run off the field like a madman with a fist pump. In fantasy baseball, things are more complicated. In a standard 5x5 roto league, a strikeout is only directly felt in 1 out of 10 categories. That's it. If that pitcher can't keep his ERA down or win many games he loses a ton of value.
2010 Zach Greinke: 10/181/4.17/1.25
Although Greinke had 242 strikeouts in 2009, he hasn't done anything like that at any other point in his career. I realize that he is only 27 years old, but he has been in the league since 2004. I think the sample size is large enough to start pinning down where to expect his numbers to land at season's end. My gut tells me he is most likely to finish the year between 185-195 strikeouts. Once a player shows an ability to do something I believe they always have the capacity to do it again, but that doesn't make it probable. In a standard roto league I would love to own Greinke. He should have no problem winning more games in Milwaukee than he did in KC, and his ERA should at least come back down to the mid 3's if not lower.
2010 Cole Hamels: 12/211/3.06/1.18
Hamels definitely had the better year last year, but has had just as many career swings as Greinke. Both seem to go from an average season one year to a great one the next. Then just when you expect them to string along 2 great seasons in a row...they lay an egg. Hamels has had the luxury of being surrounded by a better team than Greinke which has to have helped with his confidence and mental toughness. But now Greinke gets to pitch for a team with a chance to go somewhere too. These new surroundings and expectations should raise his game to a new level. Saying all of this I believe Greinke is going to be the better pick in these standard 4 categories this upcoming season.
Zach Greinke: 10/181/4.17/1.25/55/7.40
Cole Hamels: 12/211/3.06/1.18/61/9.10
Now for those of you who love strikeouts here is some good news. H2H leagues place extra value on strikeout pitchers. One of these reasons is simply because H2H leagues usually count K/9 as a category. If you are in 6x6 or 7x7 H2H league that counts K/9 and BB then I would advise taking Cole Hamels instead. If you throw out 2009, Hamels has been on a steady incline to his 211 strikeouts of 2010. He progressed year after year until he suffered a poor season in all statistical categories in 2009, which I believe can be blamed on his innings increases catching up to him and affecting his velocity that season.
So how are they being valued in mock drafts up to this point? Currently Mock Draft Central has Greinke's ADP listed at 48.63 while Hamels' is listed at 63.24, so if you are playing H2H with K/9 go get Hamels at the better value. Barring anything catastrophic, it will be worth it.