By Norman Homers
Starting Pitching is my favorite position to draft. The depth this year is unreal. And, with the economy the way that it is, I'm thinking about selling all my worldly belongings and moving to Alaska and just drafting starting pitchers for a living.
Not to toot my own horn but I have a pretty decent track record for drafting elite pitchers, the year they become elite. In the past few years I’ve drafted Adam Wainwright, Tim Lincecum, Zach Greinke, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Clayton Kershaw right before they take the leap into superstardom (so...hoot! hoot!). I consider the ability to draft a pitcher on the cusp of greatness the most IMPORTANT aspect of a successful fantasy baseball manager.
The starting pitcher crop for 2011 has plenty of talent to go around. I’m talking Charlie Sheen crazy size talent. Aside from the top 3 lights-out-no-brainer studs who will go in the first few rounds, in my opinion, there are around 15 more quality #1 arms up for grabs. So my strategy for 2011 is to try and get 2 of those top 18 starters in the first 9-10 rounds of the draft and then fill in my remaining spots with high upside/sleeper candidates. Its a good strategy if like me, “You’re addicted to winning.”
Analyzing The Fantasy Man's 2011 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers SP Rankings
1. Roy Halladay
2. Tim Lincecum
3. Cliff Lee
4. Felix Hernandez
Norman Notes: Thats the best of the best. The everyday aces. To me, King Felix reigns. This guy is too good. I'd take him as the #2 pitcher of the board in any league that counts quality starts. However playing for the Mariners' sure doesn’t help his win potential.
5. Jon Lester
6. Adam Wainwright (HURT)
Norman Notes: Breaking news is that Wainwright will miss the season with Tommy John surgery. Cross him off your draft board NOW!
7. C.C. Sabathia
Norman Notes: How could you not like CC at 7? He cut out his daily box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. That’s got to be good for another 2-3 wins. Can we please start calling him Cap’n?
8. Justin Verlander
Norman Notes: This is the bottom edge of the top tier. I'd like to try and get one of those eight guys, but if I miss then I dont mid taking 2 from the next crop. Would anybody be surprised if pitchers 9-23 finished in the top 5? I wouldn't, and that's why you can wait on pitching this year.
9. Clayton Kershaw
Norman Notes: I’m a little concerned with Kershaw this high. He still has contril issues and the Dodgers could limit his innings. On the cusp of superstar, but I think he needs a few more hours in the oven.
10. Francisco Liriano
11. Ubaldo Jimenez
Norman Notes: Ublado had a 1st half for the ages, and a mediocre 2nd half. Was last year his best? I dont think so. I like Ubaldo to finish closer to 5.
12. Josh Johnson
Norman Notes: Johnson is an injury risk. I think he’s worth the gamble but be aware.
13. Mat Latos
Norman Notes: I love, love, ...LOVE Matt Latos. If he can avoid the Verducci rule (significant bump in innings pitched) then he has the potential to be special. #1 target for 2011. Spelling Bee: “Spell Cy Yong.” “Please use it in a sentence.” “Matt Latos will win the Cy Young Award in 2011.”
14. David Price
Norman Notes: Finished 3rd in the CY and hes 14? I think he should be higher but this just proves why pitching is soooooooo deep this year.
15. Yovani Gallardo
Norman Notes: I’m not high on Yo-Go. Hes got some red flags. He’s never pitched more than 185 innings, and you really need 200 as your #1 SP. Plus you can’t be happy with a 1.3 whip and close to a 4 W/9.
16. Jered Weaver
17. Zack Greinke
Norman Notes: AL to NL bump? I’m not mad with Zach as my #1 pitcher.
18. Tommy Hanson
Norman Notes: This is my money man. Besides Matt Latos, he my favorite candidate to take the jump from the mid tier to the top tier. You wont find him this low in the future. Could dominate as your #2.
19. Cole Hamels
20. Chris Carpenter
Norman Notes: Injury risk = check. Getting older = check. Declining skill set = check Norman bust stamp = triple check
21. Matt Cain
22. Jonathan Sanchez
Norman Notes: A K machine. I love the upside.
23. Dan Haren
Norman Notes: A 1st half wonder. Draft him for the 1st half and trade him. I like him this low but he’ll be drafted much earlier. I’m in the Fantasy Man’s camp with him at 23.
24. Roy Oswalt
25. Clay Buchholz
26. Brett Anderson
Norman Notes: Another injury risk with upside.
27. Shaun Marcum
Norman Notes: Love the AL to NL switch. I think Milwaukee could make a pennant run and Marcum could help your fantasy team in the process.
28. Ted Lilly
29. Ryan Dempster
30. Phil Hughes
Norman Notes: 3rd year SP with serious win potential in NY. I like Hughes here and this he also had major upside.
31. Josh Beckett
Norman Notes: An established ace. He could bounce back, but I’d rather take the younger pitchers with upside at this spot.
32. Max Scherzer
33. Ricky Romero
34. Wandy Rodriguez
Norman Notes: I’d wager the Fantasy Man didnt know Wa-Rod had arguably the best second half in baseball last season.
119.2 IP, 8-2 record, 2.11 ERA, 126 Ks, 34 BB. Thats top 5 numbers at 34. Will the real Wandy please step up. I’d like to see him about 10 spots higher.
35. Chad Billingsley
Norman Notes: The Buzz Saw is back and ready to strike.
36. Gio Gonzalez
37. Trevor Cahill
38. Madison Bumgarner
Norman Notes: Between Gonzalez, Cahill, and Bumgarner; we could see those 3 collectively jump 20 spots next season. I like all 3 to have solid years and be great as #3 pitchers on your fantasy staff.
39. Brandon Morrow
Norman Notes: Huge upside with a monster K/9. Man-crush thermometer is overheating. Morrow has the potential to destroy this 39 rankings, but also has major risk in being in the minor leagues if he doesn't get his control issues managed.
40. John Danks
41. Gavin Floyd
Norman Notes: Not getting much love, but had a solid year last season. 3 years of an era around 4 with 150 K’s. Has a shot at finally putting it all together.
42. Ricky Nolasco
43. Javier Vazquez
Norman Notes: Couldn't handle the AL east....can he do it again in the NL? I doubt it.
44. Tim Hudson
45. Carlos Zambrano
46. Matt Garza
Norman Notes: 46? Ohhhh momma! I love me some Matt Garza on the Cubs.
47. Jaime Garcia
Norman Notes: Hi-may, dont call me Jamie. With Wainwright going down, and Carpenter being made of glass, Garcia has a real shot to break through as the Cardinals Ace. Garcia finished 3rd in ROY voting behind an astronomical rookie class of Buster Posey and Jason Heyward. This forgotten man sports a 7.3 k/9 and a 2.70 era. I love him at 47 and I’ll be targeting him in all leagues.
48. Jeremy Hellickson
Norman Notes: Someone will reach for Hellickson here. He’s just so young I don’t want to rely on him as my 3-4th SP. Let someone else gamble.
49. Ian Kennedy
50. John Lackey
Norman Notes: Major bust last year but still has the ability to be a rock as your #3-4 starter.
Norman, the city of Arizona, and the city of Chicago all wonder why Daniel Hudson doesn’t crack the top 50?
Since being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, his monster 2nd half numbers were as follows: 11GS, 7-1 average finish in the 7th inning, with a 1.69 era, a 0.841 whip, and 7.9 k/9. I’d take Hudson in the early 30’s of pitchers; be ok with him as my #2 and love him as my #3.
Next up is reviewing the Fantasy Man’s Relief Pitcher Rankings