The following list is taken from the 2009 Fanball Annual Guide that was on newsstands prior to the start of the 2009 season. This list represents my top-10 starting pitchers heading into the ’09 campaign. Let this list be reason number 1,976 as to why it makes little sense to draft a starting pitcher early as they are just so volatile. What do I mean? Take a look at the list. The top guy made his fewest starts since 2002. The #5 guy was a huge disappointment. #6? He made all of one start, and #7 pitched his fewest innings since his rookie year in 2002. And it’s not like I chose crazy hurlers for my list. Of the nine Fanball employees who ranked the top-10′s at each position, here is the total of how many times each of those injured pitchers were mentioned.
Johan Santana – nine
Brandon Webb – nine
Jake Peavy – eight
Just goes to show you that taking hitters early in drafts is likely the safer play. Now on to a review of my list.
To read previous positional reviews click on the following link:
1. Johan Santana
2. Tim Lincecum
3. CC Sabathia
4. Roy Halladay
5. Cole Hamels
6. Brandon Webb
7. Jake Peavy
8. Dan Haren
9. James Shields
10. Felix Hernandez
Santana won 13 games with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP though he did toss only 166.2 innings his lowest total since becoming a full-time starter in 2003. Reports are that his arm should be 100 percent by opening day 2010.
Lincecum actually improved in his second full season winning his second straight Cy Young. He lowered his ERA by 0.14 down to 2.48, his WHIP by 0.12 (down to 1.05), and held batters to an anemic .206 BAA, .015 points below his ’08 mark. The best thing going – end of story.
Sabathia had a terrific first season in pinstripes giving the Yankees exactly what they paid for. He won 19 games, struck out 197, posted a 3.37 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while eating up 230 innings. A free agent signing who delivered handsomely.
Halladay continues to be a throwback to years gone by. He tossed nine complete games, produced four shutouts, twirled 239 innings and along the way won 17 games for a poor team. He also posted a sub 2.80 ERA for a second straight year, an unheard of occurrence in the AL in this age of offense.
Hamels was terrible if you look only at the results (10-11, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP). However, a deeper look at the numbers says that he was extremely unlucky (a .325 BABIP can be blamed – it was .289 and .270 the previous two years), and therefore he should rebound in 2010.
Webb made that one start and his year was over with a wonky shoulder that required surgery. He is back in the desert on an option year deal with the D’backs in his attempt to reassert himself as a top flight option after 5-straight years over 200-innings.
Peavy finally was moved from San Diego to the White Sox, but his year was marred by an ankle injury and later some issues with his elbow that limited him to a mere 16 starts. He posted 110 Ks and a 1.12 WHIP in 101.2 innings but will likely find success harder to come by in a hitters’ yard in Chicago.
Haren was spectacular at the start of the year (9-5, 2.01 ERA, 0.81 WHIP prior to the All-Star game) before pulling his now annual second half fade (5-5, 4.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP). Still, no one in the game was disappointed with his final numbers: 14-10, 3.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 223 Ks in 229.1 innings.
Shields had his worst season in three years seeing his sub four ERA rise to 4.14 while having his WHIP rise to 1.32 (it had been under 1.16 the previous two seasons). Still, he lasted more than 215 innings for a third straight year though he’ll need to reign in the free passes a bit to return to his previous levels.
Hernandez, in retrospect, should have been higher on my list, though I can’t give myself too much grief as I was the only one of the nine staffers who had him ranked in the top-10. All he did was go 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA, 217 Ks and a 1.14 WHIP. Not a bad season for a guy who doesn’t turn 24 until April 2010.
By Ray Flowers