We all remember Johan Santana in his old form. The question is, can he return? The New York Mets will most likely ease the finally healthy Santana into a solid work load—forcing fantasy baseball managers to be patient—but benefiting Santana.
Santana was making very good progress within the minor leagues throughout 2011. Ultimately, the Mets decided to hold off on using him until he was fully recovered from arm troubles. That time has come.
Johan Santana will lack power, but his impeccable control will have him winning 10 or more games for the New York. Because of this, he will wind up ranking above his average draft position of 232. I consider him a great value for a final pick of the draft.
Now I will tell you five other pitchers will also outperform their ADP and give you top value in your league's draft.
The most interesting statistic about Hiroki Kuroda is that he suffered 16 losses last year. This is interesting because he also posted a 3.07 ERA. This screams poor run support. On top of a good ERA, Hiroki also struck out 161 batters in 202 innings.
The lack of run support will no longer be an issue for Kuroda as he will be pitching alongside one of the best offenses in Major League Baseball. Look for an ERA right around his career average of 3.45 and at minimum 13 wins for the Yankees. With an ADP of 171, expect Hiroki Kuroda to surprise a lot of people.
Current ADP: 171
Matthew Berry Rank: 142
At first, Bud Norris' stats do not look at all appealing. He was improved in 2011, posting an ERA of 3.77 and had a K/9 ratio of 8.52. I see no reason to doubt more improvement.
What makes Norris valuable is his ridiculously low ADP. In fact, his ADP leaves him undrafted in most leagues. He should win at least 10 games and strike out close to 200 batters this year—giving you exactly what you would like to see from the final pick of your draft.
Current ADP: 258
Matthew Berry Rank: 215
Henderson Alvarez is another player that may not be drafted in most leagues. It would be considered a reach to tell you to draft him, but I think he is going to finish the season ranked far better than his ADP.
Last year Alvarez had a modest eight wins, 4.17 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 22 games. Throughout his final 10 starts of the season, though, he had an ERA of 3.53 and a WHIP of 1.13. Look for similar numbers during the 2012 season along with 10 wins. He will not dazzle you with strikeouts, but his WHIP will help your staff.
Current ADP: 343
Matthew Berry Rank: Not ranked
Most of you have read about Chris Sale last year. Although he somewhat disappointed, he still has all the talent to make him an effective pitcher. Sale currently is a relief pitcher, but he will transition to a starting role.
In 2011, Sale struck out more than a batter an inning while posting a 2.79 ERA. What makes Sale worth his relatively late draft pick are the strike outs. At his current rate, you should be looking at 200-plus in the K department from Sale. What else is there to say? He will be a steal in your draft.
Current ADP: 257
Matthew Berry's Rank: 211
Unlike the pitchers I wrote of earlier, Luebke is expected to be very good. I expect him to be great—top-10 pitcher great.
In 2011 Luebke had impressive stats with an ERA of 3.29, WHIP of 1.07 and 154 K in 139 IP. In 2012, Cory will only be better. With the possibility of a sub-3 ERA and over 200 strikeouts, look for Cory Luebke to earn his spot in fantasy baseball's top 10. He should also receive more run support, giving him at least 12 wins.
Current ADP: 135
Matthew Berry's Rank: 116