Fantasy Baseball 2012: CC Sabathia and 8 Pitchers to Take in the First 3 Rounds
The 2012 fantasy baseball season is fast approaching.
Although the first few rounds are usually spent drafting offensive powerhouse players, there are a few gems on the mount worth spending a high draft pick on.
From Cy Young winners to MVPs, this small list is all you need to know when thinking of drafting a starting pitcher early in your fantasy draft.
Let's get into it:
Nick Laham/Getty Images
2011 stats: 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 237.1 IP, 230 SO
ESPN Ranking: 10
As the ace and workhorse of the New York Yankees' pitching staff, CC Sabathia struck out the most batters and posted the lowest ERA of his career in 2011 since his dominant 2008 campaign with the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Sabathia finished fourth in the Cy Young voting last season, ranking No. 4 in the MLB in terms of strikeouts.
Fantasy owners should be pleased with his strikeout numbers from 2011, as they were an upgrade from his back-to-back 197 K seasons from 2009-2010.
He also ranked within the top-15 pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9), posting an 8.72 mark.
Sabathia has never started less than 33 games in pinstripes, so fantasy owners and Yankees' fans alike can consistently expect to see No. 52 on the mound every fifth start.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
2011 stats: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 233.2 IP, 220 SO
ESPN Ranking: 1
2010 NL Cy Young Winner and 2011 runner-up Roy Halladay is fantasy baseball's most sought-after starting pitcher entering the 2012 season.
2011 saw Halladay record the most strikeouts of his career and allow the least amount of home runs when appearing in 32 games or more (10).
Halladay has been exceptional since joining Philadelphia, posting back-to-back seasons of at least 233 IP, 219 Ks and a 1.04 WHIP.
If you're going to spend a high draft pick on a starting pitcher, this is your guy.
Leon Halip/Getty Images
2011 stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 251.0 IP, 250 SO
ESPN Ranking: 2
Nobody on the planet had a better year on the mound last season than AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander.
In addition to winning the Cy Young, Verlander also became the first pitcher in 25 years to win the AL MVP Award.
No one logged more innings pitched, struck out more batters, earned more wins and posted a lower WHIP than Verlander did in 2011.
With the addition of Prince Fielder to an already hefty Detroit Tigers' lineup, fantasy owners have to be excited about the performance of both Verlander and the Tigers in 2012.
Kent Horner/Getty Images
2011 stats: 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 233.1 IP, 248 SO
ESPN Ranking: 3
2011 saw Los Angeles Dodgers' hurler Clayton Kershaw become the first Dodgers' pitcher to win the Cy Young since Orel Hershiser did it in 1988.
He led the entire MLB in lowest ERA and led the National League in wins and strikeouts.
In three complete seasons, Kershaw has never posted an ERA above 2.91 or a WHIP above 1.23, which has to excite fantasy owners.
Kershaw started 33 games in 2011, including five complete games and two shutouts, proving his durability and worth on the mound.
He finished ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies' duo of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in Cy Young voting, and at just 23, Kershaw appears poised for an impressive career in the MLB.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
2011 stats: 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 217.0 IP, 220 SO
ESPN Ranking: 7
Tim Lincecum's 2011 record doesn't do his season justice.
He finished the 2011 season tied for third in strikeouts in the NL with Roy Halladay and fifth in ERA and K/9 (9.12).
We're talking about a guy who won back-to-back NL Cy Young awards in '08 and '09, when he put together two consecutive seasons of 260-plus strikeouts in an average of 226 innings.
"The Freak" has proved his worth in both the MLB and fantasy during his five-year career and there's no reason to think otherwise heading into this season.
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
2011 stats: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 232.2 IP, 238 SO
ESPN Ranking: 4
The counterpart to Roy Halladay, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee impressed in his second term with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Lee posted by far his highest career strikeout mark in 2011 (238 to 185) and finished only behind the NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in terms of strikeouts in the NL.
He posted a lower ERA and WHIP last season than he did the season when he won the Cy Young, and led the NL by far in shutouts with six (the next closest were four players tied with two).
He started 32 times in 2011 and logged more than 232 innings, making him a reliable start in anyone's fantasy rotation.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
2011 stats: 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 235.2 IP, 198 SO
ESPN Ranking: 6
Jered Weaver was the runner-up to the AL Cy Young award last season, and rightly so.
He finished just one point shy of tying AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in ERA, also finishing second to Verlander in WHIP.
The six-year veteran posted career-best numbers in 2011, in categories like wins, ERA, WHIP and innings pitched.
Weaver has now logged more than 200 innings pitched in three consecutive seasons, and is reportedly working on a cutter via Dan Haren to add to his already deadly repertoire.
He's just hitting his prime and is a must-draft in the top rounds.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
2011 stats: 14-14, 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 233.2 IP, 222 SO
ESPN Ranking: 5
"King" Felix is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.
Unfortunately for him, he plays for the Seattle Mariners, which will result in low win totals for his owners.
The Mariners finished 67-95 in 2011 and ranked dead last in the MLB in most hitting categories, including runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
King Felix has logged 200-plus innings in four consecutive seasons now, and has averaged 211.5 strikeouts per season during that time.
With Michael Pineda gone, Hernandez will once again be the one and only All-Star-caliber pitcher for the Mariners.