Monday, January 23, 2012

Top Ten Starting Pitchers

This is a picture of new Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish last week when he arrived in Dallas. Notice the shirt he's wearing, it has a pot leaf on it. Darvish claimed he didn't know what it was, and below is a link to the story. It seems to work for Tim Lincecum, so maybe it will for Darvish too. Remember, Lincecum won 2 games against the Rangers in the 2010 World Series. Not sure what team president Nolan Ryan thought about it, but he once was teammates with Tug McGraw. McGraw once answered a reporter's question if he preferred natural grass or artificial turf? McGraw replied "I've never smoked artificial turf".

Darvish dominated the Japanese league, going 76-28 with a 1.72 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in 5 seasons. For comparison's sake Daisuke Matsuzaka was 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA in 8 seasons in Japan. I'm not sure how good Darvish will be in the majors, but its possible he could be pretty good. Certainly better than Dice-K. The Rockies have also invited 49 year old left hander Jamie Moyer to spring training. I wouldn't think he has anything left, but we'll see. Below are my starting pitching rankings.

Honorable Mention(Just Missed)

Stephen Strasburg, Nats   Fully healthy from Tommy John surgery, first full year in 2012
Jon Lester, Red Sox         Even with chicken and beer, Lester went 15-9, 3.47 ERA
Tim Hudson, Braves          Had another good year, and has 181 career wins now
Dan Haren, Angels            Former Cardinal has won 101 games since Mulder trade
James Shields, Rays           Posted a 2.82 ERA in 2011 after a 5.18 ERA in 2010
Ian Kennedy, DBacks        Tied for the NL lead with 21 wins in 2011
David Price, Rays               Made his second straight All Star team last year
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals  Led the NL in innings last year, now is 9-2 lifetime in postseason play
Josh Johnson, Marlins        Only thing keeping him from elite status is health
Matt Cain, Giants               Scoreless in 21.1 career postseason innings pitched

10) Cole Hamels, Phillies

This was a toss up between him and Matt Cain for the last spot. Hamels had a slightly better year going 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in 216 innings pitched. Hamels won both the NLCS and World Series MVP in 2008 and is 7-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 career postseason starts.

9) Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

Missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. Prior to that Wainwright was one of the majors best pitchers winning 39 games in 2 seasons. He was second in CYA voting in 2010 and third in 2009. Has the best curveball in the league, and should be ready for opening day in 2012.

8) Felix Hernandez, Mariners

King Felix wasn't as sharp last year as he was during his Cy Young Award winning 2010 or in 2009 when he won 19 games. Seattle had a historically bad offense last year, and he finished 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 222 strikeouts in 237.1 innings pitched.

7) CC Sabathia, Yankees

Sabathia is one of the majors most durable pitchers and has thrown over 230 innings the last 5 seasons. Last year CC went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and struck out 230 batters in 237.1 innings. He also finished in the top five in CYA voting for the fifth time, and did win the 2007 award.

6) Jered Weaver, Angels

In other seasons, Weaver might of won the Cy Young last year but Justin Verlander had a unbelievable season in 2011. Still, Weaver went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and had 198 strikeouts in 235.2 innings pitched. Weaver made his second straight All Star team in 2011.

5) Tim Lincecum, Giants

Two time Cy Young Award winner Lincecum had another good year in 2011. The Giants didn't give him much run support and he had a 13-14 record, but had a 2.74 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched. Lincecum has 1127 career strikeouts in 1028 innings pitched.

4) Cliff Lee, Phillies

Lee finished 3rd in the Cy Young Award voting last year, going 17-8 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 232.2 innings pitched. Had his best season since his 2008 Cy Young winning season when he won 22 games. Lee has gone 65-33 since the start of the 2008 season and has a 7-3 postseason record.

3) Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The fourth year pitcher has followed the footsteps Dodger lefty greats Fernando Valenzeula and Sandy Koufax by winning the Cy Young Award last year. Kershaw won the NL pitching triple crown finishing with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA, and 248 strikeouts. He also led the NL in WHIP with 0.98 and was third in innings pitched with 233.1.

2) Roy Halladay, Phillies

Doc had another All Star year last year making his 8th All Star team and finishing 2nd in CYA voting. Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 233.2 innings in 2011. He has finished in the top five in Cy Young Award voting the past 6 seasons and is 12 wins away from 200 career wins.

1) Justin Verlander, Tigers

Verlander has always had great stuff, but he took it another level in 2011. Verlander had a dominant season last year, winning the Cy Young Award and AL MVP. He won the pitching Triple Crown with a 2.40 ERA, 24 wins, and 250 strikeouts and led the AL with a 0.92 WHIP and 251 innings pitched. Verlander has won over 18 games four times in his career and 107 total.

Justin Verlander Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the New York Yankees  at Comerica Park on May 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.

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