Here is Part 2 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 separate 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.
13. Cole Hamels, PHI-are Hamels and Kershaw two of the unluckiest pitchers when looking at wins? Their peripheral stats say they should be winning more games. Hamels had a very nice K/BB rate of 3.46 last year and it was his lowest in 4 years. He had an extreme strand rate of 82% last year which will temper some ERA projections.
14. Zack Greinke, MIL-Greinke had a down year in 2010, and I am wondering if his Cy Young award season was his peak. His move to the National League will definitely help him and I really like the Brewers in the NL Central in 2011. I think an ERA in the mid-3's is what we can expect from him this year.
15. Chad Billingsley, LAD-ok, maybe he is a bit too high on this list, but he is another Dodgers starter who grew up in 2010. His K rate has dropped the last few years, but so has his BB rate, and his ground ball rate increased to 50%. ZiPS projects 16 wins and a low 3 ERA this year.
16. Yovani Gallardo, MIL-Gallardo is another who appeared to grow up in 2010. He maintained his high K rate and lowered his BB rate by almost a walk per game. Some think he can break out in 2011 and I wouldn't put it past him.
More after the jump:
17. Matt Cain, SFG-Cain had a great season in 2010, but I was surprised to see his 2009 ERA was better than his ERA in 2010. His BABIP the last two years have been under .270-that is impressive. I am sure I was saying he was lucky in 2009, but he did it again last year. HIs LOB%, or strand rates, are unusually high as well, but he has maintained that for 3 years going.
18. Francisco Liriano, MIN-Liriano returned for TJS and posted a mid-3s ERA last year. With a huge jump in his GB rate-to 54%, and a K rate that approaches 10, he could improve upon his 2010 stats in 2011.
19. Max Scherzer, DET-Scherzer was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Tigers last offseason and Kevin Towers is still shaking his head as to why. Scherzer gave up 2 runs or less in 14 of his last 19 starts in '10, and is fast becoming the second ace in Detroit.
20. Roy Oswalt, PHI-who saw Oswalt's 2010 season coming? I didn't. Oswalt was tremendous in 2010, posting a sub-3 ERA and a low 1.00 WHIP. He'll be the best 3rd or 4th starter in baseball, but I don't see another sub-3 ERA this year.
21. Mat Latos,SD-I traded for Latos in the UBA league last year not knowing too much about him. He was in the NL Cy Young talk at the end of August, but fell apart in September. He held opponents to 2 runs or less in 22 of his 31 starts last year, and looks to benefit from that wonderful pitchers park in San Diego again in 2011.
22. Dan Haren, LAA-Haren had his worst year since 2006 but still makes the top 24 for me. He was hurt by a horrific Arizona bullpen early in 2010, and moved to a more pitcher-friendly park in Anaheim, so he won't be hurt as much by the HR in 2011. He gave up 25 of his 31 HRs while pitching for the DBacks, and only 6 in the two months with the Angels.
23. David Price, TB-Price had a breakout season in 2010, and I am sure some will ask why he is rated so low in the top 24. I just don't see him duplicating his performance this year. His innings increased by almost 100 in 2010, and he benefitted from an extreme strand rate, but he did increase his K rate and lowered his BB rate last year.
24. Clay Buchholz, BOS-Buchholz also benefitted from an extremely high strand rate last year while winning 17 games. His 2.33 ERA will not be duplicated in my opinion, and I am curious what happened to the strikeout pitcher we saw in the minors. I may move him down in my rankings before spring training.
Here are the rest of my 2011 position rankings: