Here’s the first look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ Starting Pitcher Rankings.
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw is 51-23 over the past three years with a 2.21 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He has averaged 236.3 strikeouts per season over that stretch. He’s the best pitcher in the game. Period.
2. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and a league-leading 277 strikeouts. He’s the real deal.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
King Felix went 12-10 with a 3.04 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 216 strikeouts. Over the past five seasons, he’s 71-50 with a 2.85 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP while averaging 222 strikeouts. The Mariners’ offense should be more potent with Robinson Cano, which could lead to a few more victories for Hernandez.
4. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 219 strikeouts. Yep, he’s all the way back after his Tommy John surgery.
5. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg went 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 191 strikeouts in 183 innings. He’s still a bit of an injury risk, but he certainly has the goods if he can stay healthy.
6. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
After going 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and 217 strikeouts, which was easily his worst performance since 2008, Justin Verlander could actually come at a discount this year. Look for Detroit’s true ace to reclaim his title.
7. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 240 strikeouts. Look for a regression because he set the bar so high, but he should still be one of the game’s top pitchers.
8. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Madison Bumgarner has gone 42-33 over the past three years with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 193.7 strikeouts per season. I expect him to take the next step this year in the elite class.
9. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee is just 37-25 over the past three years with Philadelphia, but he has a 2.80 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 222.3 strikeouts per year.
10. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Jose Fernandez went 12-6 as a rookie with a 2.19 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172.2 innings. He has worked hard on conditioning to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
11. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels had a rough season going 8-14 but still managed to post a 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 202 strikeouts. Over the past four seasons, he’s 51-40 with a 3.13 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 205.8 strikeouts per season.
12. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale is 28-22 over the past two seasons with a 3.06 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 418 strikeouts in 406.1 innings.
13. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
David Price went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 186.2 innings. Over the past four years, he’s 61-32 with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 190.5 strikeouts per season.
14. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
Zack Greinke went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 148 strikeouts in 177.2 innings. Over the past three years, he’s 46-15 with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 183 strikeouts per season.
15. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
Gio Gonzalez shook off the Biogenesis allegation, avoided suspension and posted a 11-8 record with a 3.36 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and 192 strikeouts in 195.2 innings. Over the past three years he’s 48-28 with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 198.7 strikeouts per season.
16. Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals
Jordan Zimmermann has averaged just 146 strikeouts over the past three seasons, but he’s 39-28 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
17. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers
Anibal Sanchez went 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings. He has also had the stuff, but this is the first time he put it all together. He’s a bit of a regression risk based on how much better he did than his career averages (3.55 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).
18. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
A down year (8-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 158 strikeouts) for Cain is still a solid season, aside from the win total. Cain has a lifetime ERA of 3.35 and WHIP of 1.17. He should rebound.
19. James Shields, Kansas City Royals
James Shields went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 196 strikeouts. Over the past three years he’s 44-31 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 214.7 strikeouts per season.
20. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Homer Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 199 strikeouts. He went 6-4 in his final 13 starts with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.
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