We are finally up to the pitchers in my ongoing "Player I Like/Hate More Than You." Since I always choose to wait to draft starters due to their massive abundance, the very top guys are excluded since they won't end up on my roster.
Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers I Like More Than You
1. Cole Hamels-I will make one exception to the last line of the intro as I have had a very long love affair with one Mr. Hamels that will never go away. Up until 2012, Hamels was that cheaper than he should be ace starter who always landed on my team until the rest of the fantasy baseball community got wind. Still this is the only guy I would make an exception for in round 4 if he drops that far in the draft. Otherwise my first starters won't come until round 5.
2. Zack Greinke-This is old news. Greinke has been on my roster for five years now and the results have been staggeringly good (Cy Young) to mostly very good (last three years). While prone to the occasional 8-ER blowup, Grienke is about the cheapest priced fantasy baseball pure ace that there is. The fact he now goes from a hitter's park in Milwaukee to one of the best pitcher's parks in Los Angeles is huge and this is already a guy who puts up some of the highest K rates in the game. Love him.
3. Madison Bumgarner-I think I can get one more moderately priced year out of this young ace before his price goes to King Felix territory. This kid is mature beyond his years and was headed for possible Cy Young consideration last season (after I screamed at you all to draft him last spring) before a rough September that was likely due to some fatigue. Sky is the limit.
4. Kris Medlen-So I picked up this Medlen guy when he went into the Braves rotation last summer and two Experts League titles later I will kiss his feet if I saw him in person. While he obviously won't pitch to such extreme numbers as a whole this season, Medlen has ridiculously good stuff who can make a run at 200 K's. Durability is the only concern.
5. Roy Halladay-I think too many people are writing off Halladay as he comes off a terrible 2012 season. Yes he is 35 years old but I think the crafty vet can pull himself together and supply another very good season. While his days of striking out 200 are over, the fact he may slide down so far makes him a guy who could actually be a solid value.
6. James Shields: Shields is quite possibly the most underappreciated starter in the game as he has out up tremendous strikeout numbers the last two years while also pitching to very solid ERA's in the AL East. He now goes to a much easier division in the AL Central and his 220-K stuff comes along for the ride.
7. Adam Wainwright-I am going to be very aggressive in drafting Wainwright who looked like his old ace-like self for good chunks of 2012. His strikeout stuff seemed to return intact and he held up well throughout the season off TJ surgery. With another year of strength under his belt, a return to his 2010 numbers is realistic.
8. Max Scherzer: The hype machine is in overdrive when it comes to Scherzer this season so his draft price might get too out of whack for me to make an investment. However he is in line to challenge for the league lead in K's and his phenomenal second half of 2012 was the stuff of fantasy baseball aces.
9. Jeff Samardzjia-No one will stand in my way during the draft this spring when it comes to drafting this fireballer. The former Notre Dame wide receiver made giant strides last season in curbing his walks and striking out guys by the dozen. Looks like the classic ace-in-the-making.
10. Brett Anderson-Very good value play here. There is never a question about Anderson's stuff and hos numbers. He only has to stay healthy. Was a nice difference-maker in his return down the stretch last season and he supplies some great draft value as many have turned away from him for good.
11. Marco Estrada-What do you get when you combine 143 strikeouts in only 138 innings with good control? A potential big time breakout candidate. We now present to you Marco Estrada.
12. Dan Haren-To channel my inner Brokeback Mountain, when it comes to Dan Haren I keep saying to myself "I just can't quit you." I was all prepared to move on from my former boy toy for good after his complete abomination 2012 with the Angels when a sagging K rate and back issues ruined his numbers but than he goes out and signs with the Washington Nationals and their Grand Canyon ballpark located in the National League. The K's have nowhere to go but up and a solid bounceback is possible given the setup. (sigh)
Fantasy Baseball Pitchers I Hate More Than You
1. Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, David Price: It is not that I don't appreciate how awesome these guys are but the first or second round picks it requires to land them are a waste given the crazy good depth at the starting pitcher spot.
2. Stephen Strasburg: Strasburg could be lumped in with the above group but he gets his own category due to the fact he is a Verducci Rules violator in 2012 and whose wonky delivery makes evaluators cringe. Flat out he is an injury waiting to happen and his second round price tag is way too high a cost to invest in that risk.
3. C.C. Sabbathia: Have always respected the massive workloads of Sabbathia but he started to finally pay the price for all those 240-inning seasons in 2012 when elbow woes flared up that required two DL stints. The wheels eventually come off for everyone and I won't be around to see when it happens.
4. Chris Sale: Verducci Rules violator number 2. Sale was incredible in his first season as a starter in 2012 but keep in mind he dealt with some elbow issues in the middle of the season that made the team briefly switch him back to the bullpen. The White Sox were also maddening in his usage, allowing Sale to throw into the eighth inning in blowout games. Major injury risk to say the least.
5. Gio Gonzalez: Would have had him on the 'Like" list until his name was linked to a PED center. A possible 50-game ban clouds his immediate outlook.
6. R.A. Dickey: Draft price will be inflated off his Cy Young but he now has to go to the worst ballpark in the majors in home run-haven Toronto and pitch in the AL East all season. Yikes.
7. Yu Darvish: We all love his strikeouts but Darvish's awful walk rate can do some serious damage to your WHIP. Also the history of Japanese pitchers is that they get WORSE after their rookie seasons (see Nomo, Hideo, Matsuzaka, Daisuke).
8. Yovani Gallardo: Basically another Darvish in that he can't control the strike zone which leads to very ugly WHIP's. Overrated.
9. Johnny Cueto: Cueto has posted some terrific ERA's and WHIP's the last two seasons but he is a bit lacking in strikeouts. Yes it may seem nitpicky but in innings capped leagues that is a big deal.
10. Jered Weaver: Strange stuff going on here as Weaver's K rate is sinking quicker than the Titanic and he was one of the luckiest pitchers in all of baseball in 2012 with his BABIP as his XFIP was over 4.00. Going the wrong way.
There you have it. As always we want to hear your thoughts on this.