It is about that time in the year where I start craving baseball. I did some research and assembled my own personal top 10 list that I will use going into draft day. There are some changes from normal lists and even though I have some players on the list there are some I would try to stay away from more than others. I list my top 10, the pitchers who just missed the cut and pitchers to look out for in 2009.
Before reading, note that in my opinion, Fantasy Baseball pitchers are a tad less important than in the real game. So don't go drafting Cliff Lee third overall.
I am gonna start from 10 to keep readers intrigued to scroll down to No. 1. Feel free to disagree as I am looking for arguments/viewpoints for my research.
10. Carlos Zambrano
This is a safe pick in my opinion, barring how early you are in the draft. A consistent pitcher for a good team. Carlos has had winning seasons in the last six years and will likely do it again next year. High strikeouts, decent E.R.A, and good W-L.
9. Cliff Lee
This pitcher is number nine on my list which means he will probably not land on my squad. Can he put up the same season as last year? Sure. Will he? Probably not. I try to stay away from players with tremendous expectations who have only had 1 stellar year.
8. Jon Lester
This is a pitcher who I may pick earlier, as I think he is becoming a star in this league. The Red Sox will be good again. After a solid 16-6 season with a solid A.L ERA this is a guy I want on my team. Unlike Lee, I think Lester can be obtained later than a very early round and will provide stats similar to last years.
7. Jake Peavy
This is a controversial pick. Of course, where he stands on this order could change if he swaps uniforms. If he stays in San Diego there is the Padre plus side and the Padre down side. The up side is that it is certainly a pitchers park (Not to mention Petco is beautiful) and the downside is that the Padres do not win often so his W-L could be worse than that of other top-caliber pitchers.
6. Dan Haren
First of two Diamondbacks on this list. I really like Haren's stuff. Perhaps the best No. 2 pitcher in baseball. He has had solid years for the most part of his career and seems to be in or entering his prime. He will be mainly pitching in a weak division (Weak, improving, but still weak) and should provide a decent W-L and a very good ERA. I like him just as much as a guy like Sabathia, who will go much earlier.
5. CC Sabathia
Tough call here. I put him at five meaning he will not end up on my roster. Just signed a big contract and had a hell of a second half. Lot of pressure in New York and he did have a bad first half in the American League before the trade. Good pitcher but I think if he is going in the mid or late second round to pass, take a solid hitter and wait.
4. Tim Lincecum
Stock is high, but he is pretty amazing. Putting up those numbers on the Giants is a good feat. He will be picked high in the draft and is worthy of taking a risk on. I think he is solid, young and going to improve if possible. Most of his stats show why he is an early guy to draft.
3. Cole Hamels
Coming off an impressive post season Cole established himself as a premier pitcher. The southpaw will be a good value I am assuming. I expect a similar ERA and a better record than his 14-10 of last year. Another guy I think is a great estimated risk.
2. Brandon Webb
If you are going to try to snag a pitcher early, I think either of the top two are very safe picks. Webb will fall behind many picks because of his bad end of the year which ultimately cost him the Cy Young, but he is still an ace who will do fine. His numbers speak for themselves 22-7 1.20 Whip 3.30 ERA. He is a VERY Consistent pitcher and I predict about a 19-9 3.50 ERA season out of Mr. Webb.
1. Johan Santana
Some will go for CC but if Johan stays healthy he is the number one pitcher in the game. His stats last year are a bit skewed. He pitched awesome and had many potential wins blown by a beleaguered Met bullpen. This year with Putz and K-Rod, the pressure is off Johan to go nine and he will throw his typical seven innings 2 Run game. I think this is a safe pick, although early, and my predicted Johan Stats are 22-6 2.80 ERA.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Pitchers who were very close to making this list for me were Josh Beckett, Roy Halladay, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden and Dice-K. All of these pitchers are solid. Halladay is usually around for a great value pick in about the 8th round.
Drastic Improvement Predictions: I predict some sleeper picks here could be Derek Lowe, Mike Pelfrey, and Aaron Harang. Lowe will fit fine in Atlanta and is out to prove that he is worth the large amount of money he was paid. Pelfrey pitched better than his stats show and I think he will pitch even better in 2009. Harang had an awful 2008 but I predict a bounce back year for him.
Final Note: This is my list, feel free to bash or agree. One piece of advice I have for other drafters is to draft with value. Be careful to waste early rounds on guys who had just ONE good year in there career.
Not everyone follows what they did in the previous season. Also, don't draft too many pitchers to early. Early rounds are for hitting and then middle rounds are for building a solid staff. However, if some of your high value pitchers are in a good spot early, take them. All I am saying is be cautious.
I wish everyone luck in their drafts and seasons besides the nine or so that will be playing against me.