2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Debate: Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke

TheFantasyFix.comAnalyst IMarch 4, 2011

GreinkeChristian Petersen/Getty Images

In our newest debate we compare 2009 stud Zack Greinke (ranked 7 in our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Kit) vs the Los Angeles strikeout machine Clayton Kershaw (ranked 12).

The case for drafting Greinke

In 2010 Zack Greinke hit a speed bump on his rise as one of the top pitchers in the game.  A new park, new league, and run support will all add up to fantasy fortune.  Look for Greinke to regain his composure this season and get back on track with his Cy Young capabilities.

When analyzing Greinke’s 2010 season you can see he suffered partially from his own mistakes.  However, the majority of his misfortune stems from poor defense, and poor run support.  

Last year, Greinke’s DIPS (Defense Independent ERA) was 3.45, a large drop from his ERA of 4.17.  By judging him based on his DIPS, taking into account his poor defensive supporting cast, Greinke would rank seventh overall, yet he ranked 28th.  

Greinke’s change of scenery this season won’t move him to the best fielding team in the league, but it will move him to a team ranked ten spots higher than the 25th ranked Kansas City defense.  This is a good jump but doesn’t come close to the offensive threat that will be on his side for a change.

Last season Greinke was given average runs per game in RS (Runs Support) by the anemic Royals offense.  Those numbers were bad enough to rank fifth lowest per start in the league.  Greinke’s horrible run support has nowhere to go but up when he has batters like Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Richie Weeks supporting him.

Making a decision between Greinke and Clayton Kershaw could at first seem like splitting hairs.  However, there are a few caveats that should be noted when considering picking Kershaw.  

First, Kerhsaw has a history of a high walk-rate and low innings-per start rate.  Throughout his career he has averaged 4.2 BB per 9 innings and a paltry 5.9 innings per game started.  

Kershaw can put up good numbers but one of his weaknesses is his inefficiency in pitch count.  For his career he averages 99 pitches per started games, in other words 99 pitches per 5.9 innings.  This puts him at a disadvantage for wins and for Quality Starts if your league measures that statistic.  

Clayton also got somewhat lucky last year, maintaining a substantially low .279 BABIP for the season. 

When it comes down to it, either pitcher is worthy of playing on my fantasy team.  Both pitchers on my team would be a dream come true honestly.  Nevertheless, if it’s time to make a decision with a minute on the clock, knowing this might be the difference between fantasy gold and bust.

Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by James Bryce


The case for drafting Kershaw

In the past three seasons, Clayton Kershaw went from stud prospect to ace quicker than anyone in recent memory.  Last season Kershaw really seemed to figure out pitching in the big leagues. Kershaw added a slider to his arsenal, to complement his powerful fastball and his monster curve that has been given the marquee “Public Enemy Number One” by Hall of Fame Dodger announcer Vin Scully. The results were impressive with 13 wins and 212 strikeouts. 

Kershaw is still young and in today’s Major League Baseball that means limitations for young pitchers. An encouraging sign for Kershaw has been his increase in workload over his young career. 

In his first season in Chavez Ravine he only pitched 107.2 innings but tallied an impressive 8.4 K/9. His second season in the show generated even better numbers with Kershaw logging 171 innings pitched with a 9.7 K/9. Last season was Kershaw’s first as the ace of the Dodgers and he stepped up by pitching 204.1 innings with a 9.3 K/9.  

Many fantasy baseball pitchers are selected solely based on strikeouts, and wins. Fantasy owners tend to forget the less sexy but all important WHIP category. 

Kershaw has been an axe man chopping his WHIP bit by bit each season. In his first season in Dodger blue Kershaw’s WHIP was a respectable 1.495. In his second season Kershaw saw his BB/9 jump from 4.3 in 2008 to 4.8 in 2009. This would seem like bad news for a young pitchers WHIP. however, it actually decreased to 1.228.  

In 2010 Kershaw set career highs in wins, strikeouts, games started, innings pitched, and WHIP. His 1.179 WHIP was good enough for 24th in MLB. Kershaw was one of three pitchers under 24 to be in the top 25 in WHIP in the league. The others are Oakland’s Trevor Cahill and San Diego’s Mat Latos.  

The Dodger flamethrower will be all of 23 years of age this season, his fourth in the big leagues. Clayton is coming in the clear ace of the Dodger rotation and pitching his home games in a pitcher friendly ballpark makes him a safe bet to improve the numbers on the back of his baseball card. Fantasy owners will be happy taking a pitcher of Kershaw’s caliber. 

Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by JJ Omar

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