Here is Part 1 of my two part starting pitchers rankings. I decided to rank my Top 24 starting pitchers, rather than Top 12 as I have done with the position players as starting pitchers are hard to rank. Someone in the Top 10 will certainly flop this year, while someone not even on my Top 24 will have a breakout season. I will write a seperate article on breakout hitters and pitchers in 2011 at a later date.
Here are my 2011 starting pitcher rankings. I will skip including the 2010 stat and just include my thoughts.
1. Felix Hernandex, 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. Now that's impressive. If he pitches like this in 2011, and gets a bit more run support, he easily could win 20 games. Maybe more.
2. Roy Halladay, PHI-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. Could 2011 be the season he breaks down? I doubt it.
3. Tim Lincecum, SFG-Lincecum's September and October performance made many forget the lost velocity and horrible month he had in August. He will have a typical Lincecum season in 2011.
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.
5. Jon Lester, BOS-Lester won 19 games in the tough AL East, with an excellent ERA and solid K rate that touches 10 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, it will be more of the same in 2011.
6. Josh Johnson, FLA- I could easily drop Johnson down about 5-6 spots and not have too many issues with that. If he is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball, who will give you 7+ innings every outing. His late season injury is concerning, but he is one of the best.
7. Clayton Kershaw, LAD-here's a guy who, to me, grew immensely in 2010. He lowered his walks in the second half and he went 7 or more innings in 15 of his 32 starts. Some will have him several spots lower, but I saw the growth in 2010, and am confident he will become an ace. Many question whether he is an ace or not. I think he is. And he turns 23 in March.
8. Adam Wainwright, STL-Wainwright has been absolutely studly the last two seasons, and I may have to move him up this list. He's thrown 230+ innings two years in a row, with a mid-2 ERA and a K rate above 8.
9. 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.
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.
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 easily could be moved up a few spots in my rankings by draft day, as his 37 wins the last two seasons are solid, solid totals.
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? And now there are rumors about whether he will opt out of his contract at the end of the 2011 season. Some think he will, and who can blame him. The Yankees can't afford to lose another starting pitcher.
Here are the rest of my 2011 position rankings: