In my original starting pitcher rankings, I ranked Adam Wainwright as the #8 starting pitcher for 2011, but his Tommy John Surgery drops him out of the Top 24 rankings. Not much change in the Top 12, other than moving Josh Johnson down a spot behind Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
Here are my updated 2011 starting pitcher rankings.
1. Felix Hernandez, SEA- Felix won his first Cy Young award in 2010, even though his record was barely over .500. That tells you how well he pitched in 2010. He had 25 starts where he went 7 innings and gave up 3 ERs or less. If he pitches like this in 2011, and gets a bit more run support, he easily could win 20 games. Maybe more. He is the one of the few starting pitchers in baseball who could win multiple Cy Young awards before he is done.
2. Roy Halladay, PHI-Halladay has been the most expensive starting pitchers drafted in the recent LABR and Tout Wars experts leagues. One of these years he will break down, but I don't know when that will be. He threw 250+ innings during the regular season and added another 22 innings in the playoffs last year. Could 2011 be the season he breaks down? I doubt it. I won't project 20 wins, because the Phillies lineup will have trouble scoring runs this year until they can find someone to protect Ryan Howard.
3. Tim Lincecum, SFG-Lincecum was drafted at $28 in the NL-only Tout Wars draft this weekend, behind only Roy Halladay. Lincecum's performance in September and October made many forget the lost velocity and horrible month he had in August. I think he will have a typical Lincecum season in 2011, and could lead the majors in strikeouts. I own him in one of my NL-only leagues at $28. Am I crazy to think about not keeping him?
4. Cliff Lee, PHI-Some will rank Lee a bit lower, but I think he will dominate in the NL in 2011, especially with the Mets in a bit of a rebuild program, the Nationals getting better, but still rebuilding, and the Marlins could drop off a bit as well. Lee's 2010 K/BB rate was unreal. Like Halladay, wins may be a little tougher to come by without Jayson Werth and most like Chase Utley in 2011.
5. Jon Lester, BOS-Lester won 19 games in the tough AL East, with an excellent ERA and solid K rate that touches 10.00 Ks/9. He has thrown 200+ innings three years in a row now, but his walks increased in 2010. Even still, his GB rate increased to 53%, so with a K rate around 10.00, it will be more of the same in 2011. He could unseat Felix as the AL Cy Young award winner this year.
6. Clayton Kershaw, LAD-Kershaw showed tremendous growth last year as he lowered his walks in the second half and went 7 or more innings in 15 of his 32 starts. Some will have him several spots lower, but I saw the real growth in 2010, and am confident he will become an ace. He is another guy who could step up this year and challenge for the NL Cy Young award.
7. Josh Johnson, FLA- Johnson appears healthy in spring training, but I am still worried that his shoulder injury from 2010 could pop up again. If healthy, he is one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball. He had quality starts in 23 of 28 starts in 2010.
8. Ubaldo Jimenez, COL-Ubaldo had an unbelievable first half in 2010 which will be hard to duplicate, but he has made major strides the last two seasons. He will give you 7 innings almost every time out, and has the fastball to lead the league in Ks. He had quallity starts in 25 of his 33 starts last year, and has an deep bullpen behind him this year.
10. Jered Weaver, LAA- notice what's common amongst the top 10 pitchers? All have solid K rates. Weaver's was a notch above 9 K/9, but his ground ball rate is very low. He is an extreme flyball pitcher, but keeps runs off the board by keeping the HRs to a minimum. and striking out guys. He went for $22 in the AL-only Tout Wars draft this weekend, $2 ahead of teammate Dan Haren, and was the fourth most expensive starting pitcher drafted behind Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.
11. Justin Verlander, DET- Verlander has established himself as an ace as well. He went 7 or more innings in 21 of his 33 starts, and his FIP has been under 3.00 in each of the last two seasons. He is another pitcher who win the Cy Young award in the AL. He went for $25 in the AL-only Tout Wars draft and deservedly so.
12. CC Sabathia, NYY-CC went 7 or more innings in 23 of his 34 starts, winning 21 games in 2010, and 40 games in the last two seasons. His innings pitched the last 4 years look like this-241, 253, 230, 237; and his K/9 look like this-7.80, 8.93, 7.71, and 7.46, and his BB/9-1.38, 2.10, 2.62 and 2.80. Do you see what I see? If he doesn't pitch well in 2011, the Yankees could be a 3rd place team.
Here are the rest of my updated 2011 position rankings: