Philadelphia Phillies

2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 33: Why Cliff Lee's Move To the NL Isn't a Factor

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 2, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 8-6.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Nick KappelAnalyst IIIFebruary 8, 2011

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Less than four years ago, Cliff Lee was sent down to Single-A in an attempt to resurrect his career. In three seasons since, the crafty southpaw has averaged 222 innings, 16 wins, 7.23 K/9, 1.28 BB/9, 2.98 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP per season with four different MLB teams.

In 2010, Lee posted a minuscule walk rate of 0.76, the lowest since Carlos Silva (0.43 BB/9) in 2005. Lee also led the league in first-pitch strike rate last year, firing the first pitch across the plate 69.8 percent of the time (MLB average 58.8 percent).

His contact rate (84.1 percent in 2010, 83.5 percent career, 80.7 percent MLB average) has always been high and his strikeout totals aren’t overwhelming. Luckily, Lee doesn’t have to have dominant stuff given the Phillies’ defense.

Although Lee’s shift back to the N.L. might appear beneficial, his N.L./A.L. splits since 2008 are very similar:

  • N.L.: 181.1 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 7.50 K/9, 1.29 BB/9
  • A.L.: 486 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.13 K/9, 1.35 BB/9

It is important to note, however, that Lee has fared very well in limited action at Citizens Bank Park:

  • 35.2 IP, 2.52 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.11 K/9, 1.26 BB/9

Given a fourth-consecutive season of 210-plus innings, there’s every reason to believe Lee will perform as a top-five fantasy pitcher. Draft the 32-year-old with confidence.

2010 stats212.1127.840.763.181.00
3-year average222.1167.231.282.981.12
2011 FBI Forecast224177.201.303.201.12



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