For most of us, draft day is rapidly approaching. And while we all have spent months reading numerous different articles and opinions regarding player projections and rankings, the time has come to begin assembling our 10 best options at each position. The Starting Pitcher’s position is one that is always in high debate, but in spite of all the various pitchers one can choose in the draft, getting an idea on whom to target early goes a long way towards providing your team with safe, reliable, and dependable arms. As we did last year, our target will be focusing on the 10 best in both the National League, as well as the American League, while finishing up with the 10 best “dark horse” pitchers for the 2010 fantasy baseball season. To start, the National League has quite a number of pitchers that have huge potential for great fantasy production, but not quite as much youth as its American League counterpart. Still, the National League does have a tremendous amount of rising talent; talent that is good enough to rival even the most experienced pitcher. Let’s take a look at the National League’s 10 best.
10. Wandy Rodriguez – Astros: Rodriguez is coming off of his best season after going 14-12 with a 3.04 ERA, 193K’s, in 205.2 IP. So while his one year deal will sort of act like a showcase for the 31 year old, there is little doubt he won’t build on his 2009 performance. His K/9 should hover right around 9 this year.
9. Brandon Webb – Diamondbacks: Webb may be viewed as a huge risk considering he missed nearly all of last year, and that is precisely what makes him a great value pick. Webb is on track to make a highly anticipated return in 2010, and let’s not forget what he did in 2008: 22-7, 3.30 ERA, 183 K, 226.2 IP, 7.3 K/9.
8. Chris Carpenter – Cardinals: One of the biggest points to remember about Chris Carpenter is what he did last year. How many guys go 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA and a 7 K/9 rate at 34 after returning from Tommy John surgery? That’s right none. And as if that isn’t enough, the Cardinals are a stacked team that knows how to win, and preserve the pitcher’s win…he is a solid top ten pitcher!
7. Carlos Zambrano – Cubs: Although Big Z doesn’t want you to know, he has dropped a ton of weight, and plans to shed himself the notion of being washed up after his lack luster 2009 season. Last year, Big Z went 9-7 with a 3.44 ERA, 152 K, in only 169.1 IP, and you can be certain that with his passion and desire to win and be the best—not to mention his talent level—Big Z will be back on top affording fantasy owners a very nice season.
6. Adam Wainwright – Cardinals: See, I told you the Cardinals were stacked! Wainwright had a very nice season in 2009 going 19-8 with an impressive 2.68 ERA, alongside 212K’s. The guy is 30-11 over the past two years and is another solid, reliable arm offered by the Cardinals who also boasts an 8 K/9 rate that should get better in 2010.
5. Cole Hamels – Phillies: Before you balk at Hamels’ 10-11 record in 2009, before you scoff at his bloated 4.32 ERA, or divulge the popular speculation of is commitment, let’s remember a couple of things shall we? The guy got hit by a bunch of hits resulting in being pulled in some games; something that negatively affects a stat line. He had a baby, and was just simply out of gas in 2009. So 2010 will surely be a big time redemption year for the young ace.
4. Johan Santana – Mets: Johan isn’t quite what he once was, but he is still a top ten pitcher in the National League. Last year, Santana managed a 13-9 season with a 3.13 ERA, with 146 K’s in 166.2 IP which equates to an 8 K/9 rate. The Mets did upgrade a bit in their hitting, which should have a tremendous effect on the pitching staff; a staff that all starts with, and relies on, the success of Santana.
3. Roy Oswalt – Astros: For a team that can’t seem to win the right amount of games to afford them a post season berth, they sure do have a ton of great talent in their pitching and Oswalt is the leader of that group. In 2008,, despite dealing with some back issues, Oswalt still went a respectable 17-10 with a 165/47 strikeout to ball ratio in 208.2 IP; something one should remember when thinking about Oswalt. Oswalt feels as healthy as ever, which means nothing but fantasy goodness.
2. Roy Halladay – Phillies: One of the most versatile pitchers in all of baseball. A guy who had nine complete games under his belt last year alone, in case no-one knows, this hard working brick house is 17-8 with a 3.02 lifetime ERA against the National League…and Philadelphia now owns him. Maybe it’s time you do to.
1. Tim Lincecum – Giants: Well aside from being a no brainer here, Lincecum is rapidly building what will eventually become a legacy for the ages. Two time Cy-Young Award winner, 40-17 with a 2.90 ERA in his first 90 major league starts, and a guy who averaged a stellar 10.4 K/9 rate in 2009. Last year’s 15-7, 261 K performance is just a touch of what’s to come in 2010. Interested in the American League rankings? Click here to check them out.
I also wrote 2010 fantasy baseball rankings top 10 outfielders