Fantasy Football

2011 Fantasy Baseball, THE RUBBER Week 14: Top 50 Pitcher Rankings


David Price (see credits below)

When I was kid, my parents had me at church on Wednesday night and twice on Sundays.  Sermons, music, bible studies, small groups, plenty of hypocrisy, and these things we called accountability partners.  Your accountability partner was someone you were paired up with who would call you out for using four letter words, who would make sure you were doing your assigned daily devotionals, and who would give you the uber-evangelical come-to-Jesus talk if they felt it was warranted.  And you would return the “favor” for them.

If you can’t tell, I don’t remember the accountability partner system fondly.  It just seemed so judgmental and holier-than-thou.

But as someone who expresses his opinions in a public forum and presents those opinions as advice, I feel like I should be held accountable by you, the reader.  As a result, I’m going to admit some things I’ve just been dead wrong about this year.  You are going to be my accountability partner.

Of course, you won’t see names like Jair Jurrjens on that list because the regression-jury is still out on him.  And I’m also going to take the time to point out a few of my finer calls because my narcissism only allows for so much admission of error.  But, I was wrong about….

David Price (Tampa Bay Rays, 100% owned)

In my preseason Matthew Berry-style love/hate type column, I essentially stated that I wasn’t comfortable with Price being taken as the 19th starting pitcher off the board.  I cited an innings increase and some regression indicators as my reasons for not thinking Price was going to be a top 20 pitcher.

I was wrong.

To this point, Price has been the 13th best starting pitcher according to ESPN’s player rater and the 8th best pitcher by WAR as calculated by Fangrpahs.  And to make it worse, Price has pitched better than his roto numbers would suggest.  He has a positive ERA-FIP differential of 83 points, a sterling K/BB of 5.30, and a BABIP and strand rate very much in line with the mean.

In other words, not only was I wrong about Price, but by season’s end my preseason prediction could end up being even further from what actually happened.

I was also wrong about
Francisco Liriano (Minnesota Twins, 87.9% owned).

While I’m certainly not alone in making the mistake of trusting Liriano, I must admit that I was very comfortable with drafting Liriano as a top end #2 fantasy starter (i.e. a definite top 15 pitcher).  In fact, my podcast partner, Corey Herron, and I were damn near giddy to take him #112 overall in an “expert” league draft we did together.

But now that I think about, we deserve a 4.76 ERA and 1.32 WHIP for trusting a guy who has only managed to put up one good, full season in his career (3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.44 K/9 in 2009).  After lighting up the bigs in his first real run in 2006, Liriano had Tommy John surgery which cut his year short and then caused him to miss all of 2007.  He missed additional time in 2008 and 2010 and never quite lit up the box scores like he did in ’06.

I guess I treated Liriano a little like the super crazy but super hot girl who is all kinds of bad for you but who just looks so good next to you in your Facebook profile picture.  Not to mention some of her other skills.  I mean Liriano had some sexy peripheral numbers in 2010.  A positive ERA-FIP differential of a full run, a .331 BABIP, and damn near bikini-clad 9.44 K/9 were all very attractive.  But only if you ignored all the warning signs like the control issues and the 5.80 ERA in 2009.

You live and you learn and sometimes Francisco Liriano has to break your heart for you to learn a lesson.

OK, enough accountability.  Boy was I right about…

Clay Buchholz (Boston Red Sox, 97.3% owned)

Buchholz made his last start on June 16 and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.  Not only that but whenever he does return he is due for some regression.  He has a negative ERA-FIP differential of 79 points, a strand rate 7 points from the mean, a slightly depressed BABIP, and a K/BB under 2.00, just as his career average is.

And don’t forget about
Alexi Ogando (Texas Rangers, 95.8% owned). 

All season long I’ve been preaching regression for Ogando, and it has finally happened.

Ogando’s last seven starts: 4.62 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

Ogando’s last four starts: 6.61 ERA, 1.71 WHIP

After his start tonight against Baltimore, the Rangers are holding his next start off until July 18.  They can say his recent struggles are due to arm fatigue all they want.  And maybe to some extent they are.  But mainly it’s just the regression-reaper collecting what he’s owed.

The Top 50
Roy Halladay | Philadelphia Phillies | 100% owned | Last week:  1
Cliff Lee | Philadelphia Phillies | 100% owned | Last week:  2
Tim Lincecum | San Francisco Giants | 100% owned | Last week:  3
Cole Hamels | Philadelphia Phillies | 100% owned | Last week:  4
Felix Hernandez | Seattle Mariners | 100% owned | Last week:  6
Jered Weaver | Los Angeles Angels | 100% owned | Last week:  5
Justin Verlander | Detroit Tigers | 100% owned | Last week: 7
Dan Haren | Los Angeles Angels | 100% owned | Last week:  8

Verlander and Haren squared off last night and delivered this combined line:

16.2 IP, 1 R, 9 H, 2 BB, 17 K.

Needless to say it was easily the pitcher’s duel of the evening.

9. Clayton Kershaw | Los Angeles Dodgers | 100% owned | Last week:  9
David Price | Tampa Bay Rays | 100% owned | Last week:  10
CC Sabathia | New York Yankees | 100% owned | Last week: 11
Zack Greinke | Milwaukee Brewers | 100% owned | Last week:  13
James Shields | Tampa Bay Rays | 100% owned | Last week:  17
Tommy Hanson | Atlanta Braves | 100% owned | Last week:  15
Matt Cain | San Francisco Giants | 100% owned | Last week:  16
Anibal Sanchez | Florida Marlins |100% owned |Last week: 18
Matt Garza | Chicago Cubs | 95.7% owned | Last week:  20
C.J. Wilson | Texas Rangers | 100% owned | Last week:  23
Jaime Garcia | St. Louis Cardinals | 100% owned | Last week:  14

Home ERA: 0.88

Road ERA: 5.67

While Garcia’s ugly, eleven earned run outing at Colorado in late May is a big reason that road ERA is so high, I have to point out that Garcia hasn’t allowed more than 2 earned runs in a home start.  However, he has done so five times on the road, not counting his Colorado start.

It all averages out to a respectable 3.33 ERA (2.88 FIP), but I felt like I had to drop Garcia a little bit because I’ll have to think twice about starting him the next time he pitches on the road.

20. Shaun Marcum | Milwaukee Brewers | 100% owned | Last week:  12
Daniel Hudson | Arizona Diamondbacks | 100% owned | Last week:  19
Jon Lester | Boston Red Sox | 100% owned | Last week:  21

Lester was bucking for a move back up the rankings with five quality starts in a row heading into his outing against Toronto last night.  And he was on pace to record more than just a quality start last night (four hitless innings) before he was pulled with a lat strain.

He claims it’s nothing serious, but there has been some speculation it could cost him a couple of weeks.  Until the situation becomes a little clearer, I’m going to have to wait to give Lester the promotion he probably deserves.

23. Chris Carpenter | St. Louis Cardinals | 100% owned | Last week:  30
Yovani Gallardo | Milwaukee Brewers | 100% owned | Last week:  24
Chad Billingsley | Los Angeles Dodgers | 98.7% owned | Last week:  22
Ubaldo Jimenez | Colorado Rockies | 100% owned | Last week:  26
Michael Pineda | Seattle Mariners | 100% owned | Last week: 27
Jordan Zimmerman | Washington Nationals | 100% owned | Last week: 28
Josh Beckett | Boston Red Sox | 100% owned| Last week:  32
Ricky Romero | Toronto Blue Jays | 100% owned | Last week:  29
Tim Hudson | Atlanta Braves | 100% owned | Last week:  31
Ricky Nolasco | Florida Marlins |78.4% owned | Last week:  25
Ian Kennedy | Arizona Diamondbacks | 100% owned | Last week: 33
Mat Latos | San Diego Padres | 98.3% owned | Last week:  34
Wandy Rodriguez | Houston Astros | 98.2% owned | Last week:  35
Max Scherzer | Detroit Tigers | 98.1% owned | Last week:  36
Scott Baker | Minnesota Twins | 90.6% owned | Last week: 37

Baker has been cruising up my list and would have continued that climb had he not left an excellent outing (five scoreless innings) after just 62 pitches due to an elbow strain.  Like Lester, Baker is staying where he is until we know the extent of his injury.

38. Gio Gonzalez | Oakland Athletics | 100% owned | Last week:  42
Tim Stauffer | San Diego Padres | 71.1% owned | Last week: 39
Bud Norris |Houston Astros | 69.7% owned | Last week: 38
Trevor Cahill | Oakland Athletics | 100% owned | Last week:  43
Ryan Dempster | Chicago Cubs | 41.9% owned | Last week: 48
Justin Masterson | Cleveland Indians | 65.2% owned | Last week: 47
Hiroki Kuroda | Los Angeles Dodgers | 100% owned | Last week:  41
Jhoulys Chacin | Colorado Rockies | 100% owned | Last week:  44
Brandon Morrow | Toronto Blue Jays | 88.8% owned | Last week: 45
Brandon Beachy | Atlanta Braves | 96.4% owned | Last week: 46
Jair Jurrjens | Atlanta Braves | 100% owned | Last week: 49
Madison Bumgarner | San Francisco Giants | 88.1% owned | Last week: 50
Edwin Jackson | Chicago White Sox | 15.2% owned| Last week: NR

I don’t feel great about it, but there seem to be some reasons to like Jackson going forward.  His 3.13 FIP is over a full run lower than his ERA, and his 1.45 WHIP looks to be a result of a high BABIP (.341) rather than control issues (BB/9 under 3.00).  He’s only owned in 15.2% of leagues, so he’s a guy you can most likely add if you’re looking for a little help at the back end of your rotation.

Out this week:  Erik Bedard

All ownership percentages from 

Written by Brett Talley exclusively for  Brett is a law student in Dallas who hopes his high school youth minister doesn’t read this article.  You can follow him and/or ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @therealTAL.

(July 3, 2011 – Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America)

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Tags: The Fantasy Fix,  2011 Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Baseball Advice, 2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, 2011 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings, Brett Talley, Pitching Profile, The Rubber
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