2012 Positional Review – Starting Pitchers: Hits
Now that the 2012 season is over, it’s time to review how my predictions went for each position in fantasy baseball. To that end, I will review my top-10 at each position and give a brief rundown on how each of the ten performed. I’ll also list which player was a “Hit” (someone who lived up to expectations) as well as a “Miss” (the player who simply failed to impress).
Note: All of these rankings are taken from the 2012 BASEBALLGUYS DRAFT GUIDE
For more on the Draft Guide you can click on the link.
For an update on what you missed in the Draft Guide, click on the link.
Things will work a little differently for the pitchers. Instead of a review of the top-10 I'll detail a series of “Hits” and “Misses” for starters and relievers
Brandon Morrow (#21): He was exactly the pitcher I expected him to be this year with impressive ratios (2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), an a solid K-rate (7.80, though that was about two batters below what I also expected, so it wasn't a 100 percent hit). The only issue was lack of health as he was able to make only 21 starts.
Gio Gonzalez (#27): Led the majors in wins (21), had his first sub three ERA (2.89), a career best WHIP (1.13) and his first 200 K season (207). Was the second best left hander in the NL behind Clayton Kershaw and seems like a lock to end the year as a top-5 performer in NL Cy Young voting.
Max Scherzer (#28): A frustrating own at times due to his up and down performance from start to start, Scherzer ended up having one hell of a season. Not only did he win 16 games but he also posted a solid 3.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. However, his claim to fame was the punchout. Scherzer had the second most strikeouts in baseball with 231 (eight behind teammate Justin Verlander), and his K/9 mark of 11.08 was the 19th best single season mark in the history of the game (min. 162 IP). Only Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Kerry Wood, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Hideo Nomo and Curt Schilling ever bettered the K/9 mark.
James McDonald (#66): He always had the arm but never the consistency. While you can still make that argument after his epic second half collapse (7.52 ERA, 1.79 WHIP over his last 13 outings), he was so good in the first half (9-3, 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 100 Ks in 110 IP), and was so cheap on draft day (he likely wasn't drafted until the 25th round or later in mixed leagues), that his overall effort was still solid (12 wins, 1.26 WHIP, 151 Ks in 171 IP).
Jonathon Niese (#62): Niese won a career best 11 games, had a career best 3.40 ERA, an after 3-years with a WHIP in the 1.40's he dropped that number down to 1.17. Two years running now he has also posted a K/BB ratio of better than 3:1. He's not likely to improve upon his 2012 numbers, but he doesn't need to in order to be a solid depth arm in mixed leagues.
Chris Capuano (#72): Some will see the three victories and 4.76 ERA over his last 15 starts. That is being shortsighted. What should be seen is his overall effort, his best since 2005. Finishing just five outs short of his first 200-inning season since 2006, Capuano won 12 games with a 3.72 ERA and 1.22 WHIP (both ratios are career bests). Like Niese, he's now posted a K/BB ratio of 3:1 in each of the last two years.
Chris Sale (#73): Sale tossed 33.2 innings in 2010, 71 in 2011, and then a whopping 192 in '12. There were issues most of the year with his arm – he was moved to the bullpen at one point and was given extra rest between starts when the White Sox could – but in the end the effort was a truly dominating one for the young lefty as Sale won 17 games, posted 192 Ks in 192 innings, and had two sparkling ratio numbers (3.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP). The massive IP increase is a concern, but this is one dynamic skill set.
Bronson Arroyo (#89): For the 8th straight year Arroyo threw at least 199 innings, and for the 4th time in five seasons he won at least 12 games. He also posted a 3.74 ERA, his best mark in six years, while his WHIP of 1.21 was just the second time that mark has been under 1.25 since 2007. He doesn't strike anyone out, his 5.75 K/9 mark is bad, but he's a solid innings eater who won't kill your ratios in mixed leagues.
Ivan Nova (#103): From my Player Profile on Nova before the year started. “... pitchers can have a ton of extended success with a skill set like this, but that doesn’t mean they should be guys you target in the fantasy game... Keep expectations in check with Nova, and that means realizing Nova is a 4/5 starter in mixed leagues and nothing more.” The good – Nova won 12 games and had 153 Ks displaying a yet unforeseen ability to strike batters out (his K/9 mark hadn't hit 5.60 in his first two seasons but somehow rose to 8.08 in 2012). The bad? He allowed a ton of homers (1.48 per nine), saw his ERA skyrocket (5.02), and that WHIP was a career worst as well (1.47). He was exactly what I thought he would be, despite so many other fantasy folks pushing him as a better option than I thought he would be.
Jeff Samardzija (#108): One of the keys to my NL LABR team's success (I purchased him for a mere dollar at auction), JS had a sensational first season as a starter for the Cubs. For more on Samardzija see my September 13th Mailbag column.
Tom Milone (#112): A strong end game grab who came into the year with just 26 innings of big league experience. He struck out a few more batters than expected (a 6.49 K/9) and he simply didn't beat himself (1.71 walks per nine) leading to an impressive 3.81 K/BB ratio. The rookie lefty won 13 games, had a 3.74 ERA an a 1.28 WHIP for the cost of peanuts on draft day.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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