Tier 6—Steady Eddie’s
40. Rich Harden, TEX (200)—Dear Rich, brilliant move for you to raise your market value for next year by going to a pitcher’s park like Arlington. Sincerely, Seattle Fan :p (Yes, Harden could be one of the very best pitchers in baseball at any given moment. It should be super interesting to see who throws more innings and K’s this year—Harden or Feliz).
41. Mark Buehrle, CWS (232)—Steady. You generally know what you’ll get from him sans ERA, which is totally defensive dependent for a guy like Buehrle. He’s not sexy at all, but you could do a lot worse.
42. Tim Hudson, ATL (199)—It’s interesting that both he and Derek Lowe are on the same team considering how similar they are at this point in style of attack. Much like with my account of Lowe, I have to downgrade Hudson a bit due to Atlanta’s poor infield defense. I think his FIP will probably be good, but his ERA might be in the low 4’s with a WHIP in the mid 1.3’s or possibly even higher. The big problem with having a crappy infield defense for a groundball hurler is that there are tons of singles given up. This drives up the BABIP and it also drives up the WHIP. Not good news for fantasy owners.
43. Aaron Harang, CIN (288)—I’m buying. He’s still got very solid peripherals, and if he could ever get out of homer haven Cincinnati, he’d be a fun pitcher all-around. If the Reds manage to deal him, bump him up a notch. If they don’t, just enjoy his K’s and WHIP and be annoyed by his inflated ERA.
44. Gavin Floyd, CWS (178)—I don’t care what you say, Gavin Floyd is a sham. Wait? What? He was good last year? Seriously? I am so bad at this pitcher projection thing, Jesus. I quit. (By the way, his curveball last year was pretty ridiculous. It’s crazy it took him five years to figure out how to throw it in the big leagues like all the scouts said he could so many years ago in the minors.)
45. A.J. Burnett, NYY (129)—Many overlooked him after his awful April last year, but Burnett actually improved after his initial break-in period at new Yankee Stadium. Surprisingly, his home splits were much better than his road splits. Still, he’s always had trouble with walks, and he’s unlikely to do anything other than hurt you in WHIP. So if the strikeouts are really worth it to the make-up of your team, he’s not a horrible risk, and he’ll net you some Wins. But I don’t like the Yanks’ defense and I don’t like that park for right-handers.
46. Max Scherzer, DET (145)—So Arizona didn’t think he could last as a starter, huh. We shall see. His peripherals were tasty last year, and despite going to the AL, he should still be pretty good. I think his BABIP takes a big dive this year with the Tigers’ good infield defense behind him. Generally, this is the type of pitcher I would not want to bet against.
47. Francisco Liriano, MIN (217)—How much do you trust the Dominican League? Because if you trust their radar guns and the competition level, Liriano looked like he was up to his vintage tricks in January. I think it gets talked about less than it should, so I’ll bring it up for the third year in a row—Tommy John surgery isn’t always successful. Still, it would be a fantastic story if this guy could somehow navigate his career back to being one of the best pitchers in baseball. Also, it shows just how amazing he was in 2006 that we’re all still ranking him based on almost that alone.
48. Hiroki Kuroda, LAD (255)—Yes, have some. He may be an innings risk, but I think he’s above average in all categories (even K’s) when he’s on the mound.
49. Edwin Jackson, ARI (166)—I like him in the NL. It’s weird, this whole backlash that gets attached to a player who is obviously over-performing. Jackson was in over his head ERA-wise, but he still had some solid peripherals till he tired down the stretch. I like his chances in the much weaker NL. If he slips because of the overrated backlash, snag him up.
50. Scott Kazmir, LAA (174)—I’m not sure I see a return to his glory days, but a low 4’s ERA with good strikeout numbers and a not horrible WHIP is within his grasp. Still, I don’t like that Angel outfield, and Kaz is a pretty big flyball guy nowadays. Just be careful you don’t overbid.
51. Kevin Slowey, MIN (211)—Scott Baker v2.0. Or maybe version 0.9. Do the Twins have a factory for these guys or what?
52. Ben Sheets, OAK (222)—I think Sheets is more talented than some of the other guys in this Tier, but you know the deal with him—he’s injury prone. I think he’s an interesting gamble for the A’s, though, and I like him this year.
53. Carlos Zambrano, CHC (167)—He looked awful at the end of the year with his fastball having zero zip and Zambrano looking like he didn’t really care. I hope he can get back to being the greatly overrated yet still useful pitcher he’s always been, but we’ll see. I don’t anticipate much better than 4.0 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
54. David Price, TB (171)—Price is disappointing on two fronts—both control as well as strikeout ability. If just one or the other were not so great, I’d be more apt to be excited about him. But when both of those categories are struggling, it’s hard to give a heavy endorsement on a guy. Do I like Price’s stuff? Sure. Would I look for improvement in one of the two categories in 2010 (probably strikeout rate)? Absolutely. But do I think Price can put it all together this year? Not really. The odds of him harnessing both of those cats is pretty low, and he’s also got the innings pitched problem to consider (he’s unlikely to go over 180).
55. Joe Blanton, PHI (275)—Let me get this straight. The Phils could have kept Cliff Lee for this season and dealt Blanton, but they dealt Lee and signed Blanton to an extension? I think Cupcake v1.0 is as good a 3rd/4th starter as any in baseball, but really? Really?! Anyway, rant over. So Blanton’s not a bad pitcher at all. He won’t really hurt you in any category in all likelihood, and if he can keep his strikeout rate up above 7, that’d be pretty swell. But I don’t expect him to do that. I’d calculate numbers like 4ish ERA, 1.3ish WHIP, and 145 K’s and be happy with it. (On ADP: Not too many believers around the drafting world, so I think there’s real value to be found here.)
Tier 7—The Best of the Rest
Guys who are probable to earn positive value
56. Andy Pettitte, NYY (201)—He who crawled through a river of roid-smelling foulness and came out clean on the other side. But you’ll always be ugly, Andy. Always.
57. Jeff Niemann, TB (212)—It was nice to see him succeed at the big league level after watching him pitch for a couple years in Durham. Still, he’s due for some regression as he was really lucky in terms of homers given up last year. I think he can improve a little in the strikeout department, but it won’t offset the likely uptick in homers coming his way. In other words, don’t expect quite as good of a sophomore season.
58. Derek Lowe, ATL (303)—You can probably bank on a near 4ish ERA, but the Braves don’t have a good infield defense, and that’s kindof a death knell for the likes of the groundball dominant Lowe. There’s some upside here to last year’s disaster, but he’s getting old and I’m not sure Frank Wren is smart enough to know how to surround a guy like Lowe. I am intrigued to see who wears out the infield defense first—Lowe or Hudson.
59. Ervin Santana, LAA (227)—The best example of why you can’t be too sure that a velocity spike will be sustainable from one year to the next. I like him for strikeouts, but I think anyone expecting a return to 2008 levels will probably be disappointed.
60. Jorge de la Rosa, COL (183)—Jesus Hairy Christ, when did the Rockies get so many interesting pitchers?! Why are they making me go against my No Coor’s Never rule? It was such a simple rule, and I do like my simple pleasures. De la Rosa is almost the pitching equivalent of a slugger who hits .240. Sure, you want the HR’s/K’s, but can you handle the sink in AVG/WHIP?
61. Joba Chamberlain, NYY (195)—Who knows. Can he up the velo now that he’s used to the rotation? Or will the Yankees just jerk him around at this point? Your guess is as good as mine (and maybe better). In my opinion, I believe he’s probably better suited to start than Hughes at this point. So if you have to pick between them on draft day, I’d probably lean towards Joba.
62. Jonathan Sanchez, SF (225)—He’s shown sustained skills for a few years now, so even if he doesn’t have the big breakout, he’s a useful pitcher in almost any format just for those K’s and 4ish ERA. But if he can figure things out for a full year like he did for most of the last two months of ’09… you’re gonna see some serious sh*t.
63. Johnny Cueto, CIN (218)—Cueto simply wasn’t the same pitcher in ’09 as he was in his rookie campaign. His fastball wasn’t quite as electric. His slider didn’t quite bite as hard. And upon notice of Satan to Pitchers in the dugout, I have concerns about Cueto’s frame and durability (and his hopefully Baker-proof insurance plan including mental health coverage, too). A part of me can already see Baker’s influence, and I want to run away. But a part of me remembers the arm I saw in 2009, and I just can’t let it go. Buy at your own Baker-risk threshold.
64. Stephen Strasburg, WAS (260)—If there’s one pitcher you want to pay top dollar for, it’s Tim Lincecum. Not Stephen Strasburg. But I can’t wait to see him pitch, and based on all the scouting reports, he’s going to be very very good. I’m just not sure you want a guy like this in Year 1 when you’re going to have to overpay from the get-go despite having no clue when he’ll be up or what exactly he will offer this year.
65. Clay Buchholz, BOS (192)—Upside in almost every peripheral category and one of the best defenses in baseball behind him… hrm, let’s just say I’d go the extra buck on Buchholz. I’m still a big believer. Even if he doesn’t become an ace, he’s still got very solid #2/#3 starter potential.
66. Wade Davis, TB (290)—Yes, he’s good. Yes, I’m surprised. I missed him every time I went to Durham to see the Bulls play, and I wasn’t very impressed with his minors stats. So when I finally got to watch him in Tampa, he definitely shocked me a bit.
67. Kyle Lohse, STL (ND)—Another low upside but low risk guy. He and Guthrie have a lot of similarities in what they bring to the table. If that’s the type of pitcher your roster needs near the end, don’t hesitate.
68. Phil Hughes, NYY (307)—It’s amazing how sexy awesome a pitcher can look in a bullpen role. And then we all expect them to be nearly the same as a starter (even the smartest of us), and we’re almost always wrong. It goes to show how crazy different Johan Santana really was from the rest of the crowd. I like both Hughes and Chamberlain, but despite Hughes looking better in his given role last year, I think he’s probably the weaker play in 2010. Whoever wins the final spot obviously has the higher chance of performing up to the rankings in the Tiers.
69. Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS (184)—Things just keep spiraling downward for Matsuzaka. His injury cascades are getting out of control at this point, and I don’t think he’s capable of putting up more than 150 innings at this point. Still, being in Boston affords him enough wins and he strikes out enough guys to be worthy of a cautious investment. UPDATE: Yeah, more news of injuries. Down down down goes Daisuke.
70. Kevin Correia, SD (263)—Anyone remember the, ahem, plump fairy from Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past who always upgrades your weapons and gives you magic potion for free when you toss your things into her fountain? Yeah, that’s Petco Park.
71. Jon Garland, SD (402)—I want to hate this guy, but in Petco, it’s hard to abhor any pitcher.
72. Jeremy Guthrie, BAL (347)—A solid if unspectacular low-dollar investment in most league formats.
73. Rick Porcello, DET (197)—See what I mean about him not throwing K’s? When are the strikeouts going to come? Right now, he’s like Aaron Cook, except with a sexy mask on so you don’t notice until the end of the season when Scooby Doo pulls it back to reveal Old Man Cook who’s been out to destroy your fantasy budget all along!
74. Joel Pineiro, LAA (259)—I can’t wait till he faces the Mariners and shuts us out for 8 innings. But he’s still not someone I’d recommend too highly on draft day because 1) he doesn’t throw strikeouts at all anymore, 2) the M’s offense is meager, and 3) Pineiro did not pack Dave Duncan in his suitcase like his agent recommended.
75. J.A. Happ, PHI (228)—A flyball pitcher in Philly who outperformed his FIP by nearly a run and a half? And somehow he’s the talk of the town? I just don’t buy it. He needs to do a lot more to really be a solid investment, and I don’t see him making that kind of leap this season. He’s going to cost way way more than he will probably deliver, in my opinion.
76. Brian Matusz, BAL (294)—I want to hate young pitchers, because they’re very unpredictable. But Matusz looked awfully poised out there in his late 2009 stint. Temper expectations due to his flyball tendencies, but I think he could be a pretty solid help to AL Only teams. A low 4 ERA and a WHIP nearing 1.35 aren’t really out of the question.
77. Mat Latos, SD (324)—I was really enamored with him during his short stint with the big club last year. His stuff and mound poise were both better than most reports I had read. I think he was rushed a bit, and I hope he gets a chance to start in Triple-A this year. But he should be back soon, and I’m optimistic he can be an asset in deeper leagues almost immediately. I’m buying.
78. Gil Meche, KC (266)—The Royals are run by people who have the mental acuity of a retarded T-Rex. They took a knowingly fragile pitcher and essentially told him to man-up. Good plan, guys! I like Meche, but I don’t trust the organization. Like at all.
79. Ryan Rowland-Smith, SEA (385)—I think Seattle fans are too high on him. Still, there’s a potential profit to be found here for non-Mariner leagues if you’re just looking for Wins, a 4ish ERA, and a WHIP that won’t hurt you too badly. As a southpaw in Safeco with a superb defense behind him, he’s worth a small investment for sure.
80. Justin Duchscherer, OAK (313)—Depressed or not, I want this guy on my team for cheap.
81. Madison Bumgarner, SF (297)—I know he was supposed to be an awesome pitching prospect, but if what we saw at the end of last year in Triple-A as well as in the big leagues is indicative of his true talent level, I’m going on record right now as saying he’s vastly overrated. This is one of those situations where you’re probably not going to listen to me because you’ve already fallen in love with the pre-’09 scouting reports, but I’d caution you to take a good long look at Bumgarner’s stats and velocity from the upper levels last year. If that’s where his stuff is from here on out, there’s a good chance the big leaguers are going to figure that funky delivery out quickly and start hammering away. There’s plenty of time for a bounceback, but just use some common sense in the here and now on Bumgarner.
82. Brett Myers, HOU (331)—After all these years, Myers has simply never figured out how to keep the ball in the park. His career HR/FB rate is an astronomical 15.5% (!!!) and versus righties it’s 16.8% (!!%&*!!). He’s moving to a park that isn’t so massively conducive to HR/FB, so that’s a perk. But it’s pretty apparent that he’s never going to be what most of us statheads would call “normal” in this area (10%, generally). Still, if your team make-up can handle the 4.5ish ERA and high 1.3’s WHIP, his K’s may be worth it, though.
83. Chris Young, SD (327)—He’s a gargantuan presence on the mound, and his deception of delivery is wicked. It’s too bad it looks like he’s never going to be healthy again. Still, I’d spend a buck (or more if it’s a really deep league) to see if he’s still got 150 innings in him. Young was born for Petco, so I hope he can get healthy and go back to pitching well there.
84. Barry Zito, SF (296)—I can’t imagine him being worth too awful much in a mixed league (okay, maybe a few bucks), but he’s back to being not totally sucky in NL leagues at this point. I wonder if Brian Sabean ever lets it get to him that he’s paying Barry Zito $19 million per year to be his 5th starter.
85. Bronson Arroyo, CIN (316)—His BABIP was crazy lucky last year. I think he’ll give more strikeouts to his owner this year, but it’s going to be at a cost of an ERA closer to 4.5 than the 3.8 Arroyo ran last season. I also don’t think he sniffs the 1.2’s in WHIP. In other words, regress regress regress.
86. Erik Bedard, SEA (216)—Seattle’s a perfect place for him to play stats-wise. It’s just too bad nobody has any idea if he’ll come back remotely resembling the Bedard of old. I wouldn’t expect much more than 80 innings out of him due to his injury recovery (they’re saying June now, and it may be longer), although there’s a chance those 80 innings may be better than anybody else available to you in that span. Keep an eye on him.
87. Brad Penny, STL (352)—He’ll be a groundball pitcher in no time with Dave Duncan’s tutelage. And he’ll probably be worth a small investment in NL leagues. Small as in not much.
88. John Maine, NYM (383)—There is no end to the joke that is the New York Mets medical staff. I think Maine could probably have some use in him given the right pitching coach and medical staff. But the Mets don’t instill enough confidence in me to recommend anything other than a good therapist if you own Maine.
89. Marc Rzepczynski, TOR (356)—I’m a fan. Keep him under consideration for cheap in almost all formats.
90. Homer Bailey, CIN (280)—I’m not as high on him as most, but I think there’s some upside here. I liked the velocity spike last year as he finally started throwing as hard as all the scouting reports said he did way back when. But again, keep your arms at Dusty Baker length with a young Reds pitcher.
91. John Lannan, WAS (ND)—You could do worse in deep leagues. He’ll get some Wins and have a 4ish ERA. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Rueter.
92. Luke Hochevar, KC (ND)—My first rule with Kansas City players, especially developing ones, is avoid. Almost exclusively. But I’m so tempted by repeatable skills like improving strikeout rates and walk rates, a solid groundball rate, and a flukey LOB% that I am beside myself in again recommending Luke Hochevar. I’d definitely risk a buck in deeper leagues to see if he can figure out how to put everything together.
93. Kenshin Kawakami, ATL (425)—He had some control issues at the outset, but I liked what I saw of him in the 2nd half enough to say he warrants a small bid.
94. Kevin Millwood, BAL (406)—Have fun in the AL East, Kev!