2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 37: Why Marlins' Josh Johnson Is An Elite Pitcher

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIFebruary 10, 2011

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 13:  National League All-Star Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins throws a pitch during the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 13, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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.

Last June, I made an audacious statement that attracted some criticism: Josh Johnson had been (and would continue to be) better than Ubaldo Jimenez.

At that point in the season, both Johnson and Jimenez boasted sub-2.00 ERAs, but Johnson trumped Jimenez in FIP, xFIP, K/9, BB/9, WHIP, O-Swing rate, contact rate, first-strike rate and swinging strike rate.

From that point on, Jimenez posted a 3.98 ERA, while Johnson totaled a 2.98 ERA. To be fair, Johnson was shut down in early September with shoulder inflammation and back tightness (though he has since worked with a chiropractor and former World’s Strongest Man competitor in an attempt to stay healthy in 2011).

By season’s end, Johnson ranked among baseball’s elite in several pitching categories:

  • ERA: 2.30 (2nd)
  • FIP: 2.41 (1st)
  • xFIP: 3.15 (4th)
  • HR/9: 0.34 (1st)
  • K/9: 9.11 (9th)
  • Contact Rate: 74.9 percent (3rd)
  • First Pitch Strike Rate: 64.7 percent (7th)
  • Swinging Strike Rate: 11.8 percent (3rd)

Since 2005 (Johnson’s MLB debut), only five starters (Carpenter, Halladay, Santana, Wainwright and Lincecum; min. 600 innings) have an ERA lower than Johnson’s mark of 3.10.

Further, Johnson was one of only three pitchers in 2010 (Hernandez and Wainwright) to own one pitch valued at 20 runs above average, and another pitch that checked in 10 runs above average. He also had the third-highest average fastball velocity last season, at 94.9 MPH.

Simply put: Johnson is downright nasty.

Now four years removed from Tommy John surgery, you’d think injuries would no longer be a concern. Having only one 200-plus inning campaign under his belt at age 27, however, raises a reg flag.

ESPN’s Stephania Bell thinks Johnson’s back injury is cause for concern, but until we hear something tangible, Johnson will remain the sixth-ranked pitcher on our 2011 big board.

2010 stats183.2119.112.352.301.11
3-year average160118.512.492.941.17
2011 FBI Forecast205158.902.402.901.13



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