Pitchers and catchers reported today, signaling a brand new, fresh baseball season. So while pitchers toe the slab and work on PFPs, it's time for you to start preparing for the fantasy baseball season.
Today, I'll be comparing and contrasting starting pitchers Matt Harvey and Ryan Vogelsong. Most of you will think this is a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by who I choose.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants
2012 stats—189.2 IP, 14 W, 3.37 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.50 K/9
Vogelsong pitched very well in 2012. He broke career-bests in innings pitched, wins, WHIP and strikeouts. He also had a terrific postseason. He went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and registered a 21:10 K:BB ratio.
His success last season is being rewarded in the draft room so far. According to Mock Draft Central, he is being drafted 163rd overall and the 37th starting pitcher. That number is way up from his 229th ADP from last year's drafts.
Vogelsong is receiving much more attention this year, and rightfully so. But, how will he pitch in the 2013 season? That's unclear. While the finished product was solid for Vogelsong last year, it wasn't smooth the entire way.
I pointed out his numbers in October, but did you forget his numbers at the end of the regular season? If you did, this is what they looked like.
August—6.32 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .295 BAA
September—6.46 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, .313 BAA
His ERA was at 2.22 on July 29, and he finished with a 3.37 ERA two months later. It's one of the most disappointing 3.37-ERA-seasons you can imagine. In seven of his final 12 starts, Vogelsong gave up four or more runs while pitching in six innings or fewer.
On top of all that, Vogelsong's FIP sat at 3.70 last year, nearly a half-run higher than his ERA.
Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
2012 stats—59.1 IP, 3 W, 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.62 K/9
Harvey started 2012 in Triple-A and put up very good numbers. He logged 110 innings and notched seven wins with a 3.68 ERA and 9.16 K/9.
Then he was dazzling when he got the call. He struck out 11 Diamondback hitters and yielded zero runs in his MLB debut on July 26. He never looked back from there.
In his 10 MLB starts last year, he had just one lousy outing (he gave up five earned in five innings to the Padres). Other than that, he pitched at least five innings while giving up two earned runs or fewer eight times.
It's easy to see that he has electric stuff. The young pitcher averaged 94.6 mph on his fastball and topped out at 99.2 mph last season. He also possesses a deadly slider and changeup. Batters hit just .083 against the slider and .172 against the changeup (stats courtesy of Fangraphs).
While Harvey was sensational in his brief stint with the Mets, I do expect a regression from him in 2013. While his ERA stood at 2.73, he posted a 3.30 FIP. I also expect that high strikeout rate to drop under 10.0, seeing he hasn't been above 9.65 since his High-A days.
Vogelsong—11 W, 3.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.45 K/9
Harvey—10 W, 3.75 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 9.20 K/9
I'm taking Harvey. He'll be just 24 years old in a month-and-a-half, and he owns an incredible repertoire. Vogelsong, on the other hand, is 35 years old, and he saw his fastball average dip from 91.6 mph in 2011 to 90.7 mph last season.
You can see I expect the two to have pretty similar seasons, but my decision is going off the ADPs from Mock Draft Central. On average, Vogelsong is going 45 spots before Harvey.
One of the most important aspects in fantasy baseball is getting value. If you can get the same production 45 spots or three-to-four rounds later, why wouldn't you wait?
I would take Harvey over Voglesong straight up just because of the strikeouts, but it's an even better deal that you can steal Harvey later in the draft.