Dynasty rankings: Top 25 fantasy players, age 25 or younger, 2012

Dynasty leagues are among the most enigmatic in the entire land of fantasy sports, and I’m of the mind that they represent the game in its true form most successfully.

You must build from the bottom up, target depth and roster balance, and sell high and buy low when necessary. Most importantly, you must think years ahead, and make rebuilding projects and keenly timed all-ins at your own risk. An injury or physical or mental setback that sinks your top prospect in Double-A will hurt you much in the same way it would the Pittsburgh Pirates. No one knows how your minor league talent will shake up, and what steals you might find in your supplemental minor league draft. Welcome to the world of dynasty league baseball. It’s a ruthless, enticing, and incredibly time-consuming—and did I mention awesome?— form of the simplistic game we’ve all come to know and love.

Thus, Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett and I have put together our lists of the top 25 of players under the age of 25 at the present date (all players born on Jan. 6, 1986 or later are eligible). The parameters for last year’s rankings are the same in 2012. A refresher, from Josh Shepardson’s 2011 presentation of these rankings:

The league scoring we used as a guideline was a 5×5 roto league that includes two catchers, one corner infielder, one middle infielder one utility player, five outfielders, nine pitchers of any type (with a 1,250 innings pitched cap) and the other standard positions.

Because of the age limitations in these rankings, don’t be surprised when you don’t see Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, David Price or Adam Jones, to name a few (the first three graduated from this list in 2011). I think I speak for many of my fellow rankers when I say that the aforementioned four are all excellent dynasty league players, and Longoria in particular is among the top of the crop, even at age 26.

With that said, please do scrutinize, argue, react, agree/disagree, and question our rankings in the comments below (or at our respective e-mail addresses). We encourage all reactions, as always.

The e-mail addresses of the authors of these rankings:

Josh Shepardson:

Ben Pritchett:

Nick Fleder:

Rk     Ben Pritchett          Josh Shepardson            Nick Fleder

1      Stephen Strasburg      Justin Upton               Stephen Strasburg
2      Clayton Kershaw        Stephen Strasburg          Brett Lawrie
3      Carlos Santana         Clayton Kershaw            Justin Upton
4      Justin Upton           Felix Hernandez            Clayton Kershaw
5      Felix Hernandez        Mike Stanton               Desmond Jennings
6      Brett Lawrie           Bryce Harper               Starlin Castro
7      Andrew McCutchen       Mike Trout                 Mike Stanton
8      Mike Stanton           Brett Lawrie               Matt Moore
9      Mike Trout             Carlos Santana             Felix Hernandez
10     Jason Heyward          Eric Hosmer                Carlos Santana
11     Yu Darvish             Andrew McCutchen           Jesus Montero
12     Eric Hosmer            Desmond Jennings           Andrew McCutchen
13     Bryce Harper           Jay Bruce                  Eric Hosmer
14     Matt Moore             Matt Moore                 Bryce Harper
15     Jay Bruce              Madison Bumgarner          Mike Trout
16     Tommy Hanson           Buster Posey               Madison Bumgarner
17     Pablo Sandoval         Starlin Castro             Pablo Sandoval
18     Dustin Ackley          Matt Wieters               Jay Bruce
19     Mat Latos              Pablo Sandoval             Paul Goldschmidt
20     Buster Posey           Jesus Montero              Jason Heyward
21     Starlin Castro         Elvis Andrus               Michael Pineda
22     Jesus Montero          Jason Heyward              Buster Posey
23     Mike Moustakas         Dustin Ackley              Matt Weiters
24     Michael Pineda         Michael Pineda             Elvis Andrus
25     Desmond Jennings       Yovani Gallardo            Dee Gordon

       Next Five:             Next Five:                 Next Five:
26     Alex Avila             Mat Latos                  Craig Kimbrel
27     Madison Bumgarner      Brandon Beachy             Yovani Gallardo
28     Neftali Feliz          Jason Kipnis               Dustin Ackley
29     Cameron Maybin         Freddie Freeman            Mat Latos
30     Elvis Andrus           Dee Gordon                 Brandon Belt

       Five More:             Five More:                 Five More:
31     Paul Goldschmidt       Alex Avila                 Cameron Maybin
32     Brandon Belt           Tommy Hanson               Julio Teheran
33     Travis Snider          Yu Darvish                 Yu Darvish
34     Dayan Viciedo          Cameron Maybin             Daniel Hudson
35     Devin Mesoraco         Mike Moustakas             Jason Kipnis
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Comments

  1. Josh Shepardson said...

    I’ll address all of the posts in greater depth later, but in short, my ranking of Jason Heyward has less to do in belief of his skill set, and more to do with concerns of his durability.  The first thing I saw when checking his FanGraphs page was a note of him having an MRI on his back to determine if there was any damage in there that could explain his shoulder soreness.  That’s a huge red flag for me.  Keith Law pointed out how the shoulder soreness completely destroyed his swing mechanics this year, and the proof is in the pudding.

  2. Andrew said...

    Clayton Kershaw is literally the top pitcher in fantasy baseball. He’s going #1 among SPs in NFBC drafts!

    Yes, Strasburg has #1 SP upside, and his peripherals have been otherworldly when healthy. But why take the potential best pitcher in fantasy baseball when you can already have the best pitcher in fantasy baseball?

    In short, to rank Strasburg before him makes absolutely no sense. I would love to be in a dynasty league in which someone made this colossal mistake.

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    Colossal is a…colossal…overstatement. Your argument has merit, but the difference between Strasburg and Kershaw – regardless of which is better – is quite small. You’d have to be colossally averse to health risk in order to see any noticeable difference in future value.

    And if you’re that risk averse, you’d be taking a position player.

  4. Nick Fleder said...

    Andrew, while I respect your opinion, you don’t pay for the past but rather the future. Next 5 years, I’ll take Strasburg. New elbow, better peripherals (small sample size is backed by unbelievable scouting accolades, incredible stuff. No debate: Kershaw is incredible, but Strasburg can be better, and I think will be in the next five years.

  5. Andrew said...

    This is a different Andrew from the last one but the same as comment #3.

    Scouting Accolades all rave about the stuff and the poise of Strausberg, I will give you that.  What you’re neglecting to mention is the Flaws in his mechanics everyone points to leading to elbow and shoulder issues down the road.  Work Ethic and Durability also concerns.

    So for the next five years you’d prefer to have a guy with mechanical and work ethic flaws that could lead to further injuries. Or a guy with back to back 200 inning seasons with improved metrics every time?  All of this for a slightly higher K% and a slightly lower WHIP?

    No thanks.

    Sign me up for Kershaw all day.

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    Where have you seen complaints about his work ethic?  From what I’ve heard he has an excellent work ethic.

  7. BleacherGM said...

    Hi Guys, I thought it’d be cool to average out the 3 rankings;
    1   Strasburgh
    2   Upton
    3   Kershaw
    4   Lawrie
    5   Felix
    6   Stanton
    7   Santana
    8   McCutchen
    9   Trout
    10   Harper
    11   Hosmer
    12   Moore
    13   Jennings
    14   Castro
    15   Bruce
    16   Heyward
    17   Montero
    18   Sandoval
    19   Bumgarner
    20   Posey
    21   Gallardo
    22   Pineda
    23   Ackley
    24   Latos
    25   Andrus
    26   Darvish
    27   Wieters
    28   Hanson
    29   Goldschmidt
    30   D Gordon
    31   Maybin
    32   Moustakas
    33   Avila
    34   Belt
    35   Kipnis
    36   Beachy
    37   Feliz
    38   Freeman
    39   Kimbrel
    40   Mesoraco
    41   Teheran
    42   Snider
    43   Viciedo
    44   Hudson

    and then I did my own top 35;
    My Rank   Player
    1   Upton
    2   Kershaw
    3   Felix
    4   Stanton
    5   Strasburgh
    6   Lawrie
    7   Santana
    8   McCutchen
    9   Hosmer
    10   Jennings
    11   Harper
    12   Trout
    13   Moore
    14   Bruce
    15   Castro
    16   Heyward
    17   Pineda
    18   Darvish
    19   Sandoval
    20   Montero
    21   Moustakas
    22   Bumgarner
    23   Posey
    24   Gallardo
    25   Wieters
    26   Kipnis
    27   Hanson
    28   Feliz
    29   Ackley
    30   Latos
    31   Andrus
    32   Goldschmidt
    33   D Gordon
    34   Teheran
    35   Maybin

    sorry its a long comment, but pretty cool to see the average – Nice Work Guys!!

  8. Ben Pritchett said...

    I started thinking about the Strasburg vs. Kershaw debate, and I realized that if I was drafting a team this year I’d probably take Kershaw over Strasburg in a beginning keeper league but I’d rather have Strasburg on a redraft team if that makes any sense I love the potential and I will always give the benefit of the doubt to a guy with just one huge injury. You can’t automatically label him an injury risk because of one injury albeit Tommy John surgery.

    Also in regards to that nickname “Fatsberg”, he picke that up at SD State well before he was ever the prospect he is now. He worked his butt off to get in the shape he is now and ive heard nothing but rave reviews about all his intangibles.

    And to address concerns about Strasburg’s mechanics, they were saying before he got drafted that he had ideal mechanics and only since he’s gotten hurt have I heard this whole I-told-you-so argument. So, I take much of that with a grain of salt. They say the same stuff about several other pitchers that have never had injusy problems I.e. Tim Lincecum. Maybe I’m just that much of a risk-taker, but Strasburg is still special.

  9. Matt Veasey said...

    Fun fact: 6 years from now, when we’re looking ahead to a new “Roaring Twenties” and no matter what this year’s elections hold, Obama will be yesterday’s news? Bryce Harper will STILL make this list, still be under 26 years old. As an owner of his in my longtime Dynasty League, it puts a smile on this 50-year old face smile

  10. Andrew said...

    OK, colossal was a strong word choice. I guess I’m just too risk-averse by nature to even consider taking Strasburg over Kershaw. At any rate, love the post.

    Also, for what it’s worth, here’s Keith Law’s Top 50 Players 25 or Under from a real baseball perspective…

    01. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
    02. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
    03. Mike Stanton, Marlins
    04. Buster Posey, Giants
    05. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
    06. Starlin Castro, Cubs
    07. Eric Hosmer, Royals
    08. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
    09. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
    10. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
    11. Mike Trout, Angels
    12. Jason Heyward, Braves
    13. Cameron Maybin, Padres
    14. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
    15. Desmond Jennings, Rays
    16. Logan Morrison, Marlins
    17. Brett Anderson, A’s
    18. Alex Avila, Tigers
    19. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
    20. Michael Pineda, Mariners
    21. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
    22. Jay Bruce, Reds
    23. Brandon Belt, Giants
    24. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals
    25. Mat Latos, Padres
    26. Neftali Feliz, Rangers
    27. Wilson Ramos, Nationals
    28. Trevor Cahill, A’s
    29. Freddie Freeman, Braves
    30. Derek Holland, Rangers
    31. Zach Britton, Orioles
    32. Austin Jackson, Tigers
    33. Aroldis Chapman, Reds
    34. Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
    35. Justin Smoak, Mariners
    36. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
    37. Rick Porcello, Tigers
    38. Peter Bourjos, Angels
    39. Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
    40. Tommy Hanson, Braves
    41. Hank Conger, Angels
    42. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
    43. Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
    44. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
    45. Jemile Weeks, A’s
    46. Ivan Nova, Yankees
    47. Brandon Beachy, Braves
    48. Mike Leake, Reds
    49. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
    50. Mike Minor, Braves

  11. Josh Shepardson said...

    Kershaw/Strasburg:

    I think we can all agree, both starters are incredibly desirable in keeper/dynasty formats.  In general, I tend to slant toward hitters in these formats over pitchers, and in submitting my rankings to Nick, mentioned that it physically pained me to include three pitchers in the top 4.  That said, those pitchers are tremendous.

    With that in mind, if I’m going to start a dynasty league roster with a pitcher, I’m shooting the moon.  Someone addressed Strasburg’s conditioning above, and that is an issue of the past, as another reader was quick to point out.  As far as mechanics go, I’m beginning to believe mechanics experts may not know their… from a a hole in the ground.  Obviously, it is probably better for a pitcher to have a low effort delivery than a high effort one.  Beyond that, I’m starting to lean in the direction of some pitchers being built to pile up innings, and other not.  So far, Kershaw has shown the skill and good fortune of remaining healthy to rack up innings pitched, and Strasburg has not.  But, I don’t think that means there is no risk of Kershaw breaking down.  Pitching is inherently bad for the shoulder/arm/elbow. 

    When both pitchers are healthy, there is no argument that Strasburg has been the better pitcher.  Yes, he has just 7 starts under his belt, but in those seven starts he has been better in all three facets of controllable pitcher skills. His K/9 is nearly two full batters higher than Kershaw’s in his career, and more impressively, his K% is 6.6% better.  Kershaw has made strides in both marks, but still lags behind Strasburg.  Kershaw also trails Strasburg in walk rate, and ground ball rate.  Kershaw had his best walk rate by a wide margin this year, but it was also his first year below 3.50 BB/9.  Maybe he’ll sustain that, but maybe he won’t.  Comparatively, Strasburg’s walk rate in his healthy rookie debut was 2.25 BB/9, and was better post Tommy John surgery at 0.75 BB/9 (which is not sustainable). 

    The potentially bigger gap could come in groundball rate.  Prior to his injury, Strasburg sported a 47.8 percent groudball rate.  Post surgery he had a flyball centric approach, so there are questions about where he’ll land on that spectrum.  At this point in Kershaw’s career, though, it looks like his groundball rate is safe to project in the low-40 percent range (was up to 43.2 percent in 2011, a mark that was better than those in 2009 and 2010). 

    All-in-all, the total package favors Strasburg.  To neglect to acknowledge there is a health risk attached to him would be wrong, but just how much greater is that risk that Kershaw?  I’m not sure that can be quantified, plenty of pitchers have returned from TJ and not had further health issues.  The biggest question for me was answered when he got back to the big leagues this past season.

  12. MH said...

    Thanks for the kind words Ben!

    In regard to your point about Dee, I’m not sure the Bonifacio comparison completely holds up.  Gordon has more raw speed than Bonifacio for one.  He probably also has more job security.  More likely the Marlins find someone better for their outfield than the Dodgers do at SS.  Also, Dee Gordon likely leads off for the Dodgers, meaning he could get 700+ PAs.  Jose Reyes in his first full year is a good example of what can happen with a player with elite speed getting 700 PAs despite a poor OBP—his OBP was .300 even and still stole 60 bases that year.  As long as Dee is leading off for the Dodgers, I have a hard time seeing him get less than 50 SBs unless he has, like, a sub-.280 OBP.  He may never drive the ball like Reyes, but that shouldn’t effect his SBs projection (if anything it might help, since he’ll be reaching first more often than second or third).

    Really, I just am not a fan of Andrus, which you seem to agree with.  I have no doubt he’s the better IRL player right now, but for fantasy purposes, I don’t see a whole lot of difference with Dee.  Andrus may score more runs and have an extra homer or two, but I actually think Dee could steal 10+ more bases which makes up a lot of that difference.  I’d probably have them both in the 25-30 range. 

    As for the Strasburg debate, its not necessarily that his conditioning in particular (as opposed to any other pitcher) is an issue, its just that we’re making a huge assumption that throwing 200 innings isn’t going to in some way adversely affect his numbers—not necessarily significantly, but to assume it will have 0 impact seems foolish to me.  He’s never thrown more than 125 innings in any professional season (meaning any season where he’s pitching every fifth day).  If he could throw 100 innings per year, I have little doubt he could maintain his other-worldly peripherals, but that’s only slightly more than a reliever workload.  After he gets up over the 180+ mark, whose to say his numbers don’t go from completely immortal to simply Demi-God like?  That’s basically where Kershaw is already at, and we have little indication that he can’t keep it up for quite a while longer.  Can Strasburg keep his velocity up over that kind of workload, or will his average fastball go from an unbelievable (for an SP) 96 down to a simply excellent 94?  What about that 92 mph slider?  I can’t think of any SP who could maintain that, and the only one I can think of who even compared was Kerry Wood, which isn’t exactly a promising example.  Might batters start to get a better read on it if it dips down to 88 mph?  What about when Strasburg has to pitch in cold weather?  Is he going to lose some feel for his changeup or curve?  Is he going to have to compensate for that by throwing his slider (putting more stress on his arm) or fastball (making him more hittable) more often?  How might that effect him later in the season?  These are all significant questions that bring up some substantial doubts and we have no real information to use in answering them. 

    Again, if I had to bet on which pitcher was going to have multiple 250 K, sub-1.00 WHIP seasons, it’d be Strasburg, but the chance of either pitcher doing that for a few years in a row pretty slim.  If I had to bet on who was going to have multiple 205 K, 1.10 WHIP seasons, it’d be Kershaw by quite a bit, and that’s not to say Strasburg is an awful bet to do that, just that there’s quite a bit more chance he falls short of that threshhold at some point in the next few years, or even that he gets hurt and misses significant time again. 

    Strasburg is unique because its so rare that there’s a pitcher who has such insane upside while also carrying so much risk.  Almost always, pitchers who have the potential to be the #1 pitcher in fantasy have some kind of established floor.  Not so with Strasburg, at least not in the same sense.  I need to see him hold up for at least one 180+ season and continue to perform better than Kershaw across the board before I’d start to think about ranking him higher.

  13. Brad Johnson said...

    Let’s play with some numbers. Let’s say Strasburg has X% chance of being 10% better than Kershaw, Y% of being equally as valuable, Z% of being 10% worse, and N% of suffering career changing injury. Kershaw has M% chance of career changing injury.

    What do X, Y, Z, N, and M equal to you? I’m asking anyone.

  14. Nick Fleder said...

    @SIDA

    Once again, these lists are for future value (under 25, lest you forget), not past performance. Yes, I can see the point in regards to Kershaw vs. Strasburg, the former of whom has several years of excellent service time to his name, but the fact is Hellickson’s ROY win was pretty much smoke and mirrors, and everyone on this list has more upside and has a better shot to be a better pitcher than Hellickson over the next five years (or position player for that matter).

    Your argument is based entirely on the fact that rookies who haven’t logged much service time should be behind players that haven’t; that’s patently false, though I respect your opinion and clear passion for this game. If this is Mat Latos’ ceiling (in Great American, his 2010 is no doubt his ceiling, and I’m of the mind that he will never reach those numbers again in his new home park), and if Matt Moore has the potential to be a Kershaw-esque pitcher—I’m sorry, but I’m ranking Moore considerably ahead of Latos. Bumgarner is superb—a #1 fantasy pitcher in re-draft leagues—but he had injury concerns in the minors, and velocity concerns in the minors, and I question his K upside, as sparkly as the ERA will be.

    If we want to focus on Hellickson, I’ll simply cite his FIP and xFIP (4.44 and 4.72). He had a 1.4 WAR. He’s a below average pitcher at this point. You’d have to, in fact, rank at least 30-40 pitchers, in my mind, ahead of him—and that number is totally arbitrary. There might be 50 pitchers I take above Jeremy Hellickson next year. He might take a step forward, but I think these 35 guys have a better chance to do so.

  15. Ben Pritchett said...

    @SIDA!- First of all “SIDA” means “AIDS” in Spanish. You might want to come up with another tag. I don’t know if that was intentional.

    I’m going to leave the debate of Strasburg vs. Kershaw alone. That topic is growing tired. I think all writers’ POVs are displayed throughout the comments section on this topic.

    I am, however, going to address Jeremy Hellickson’s absence from this list. Now SIDA, if you want a list with Hellickson in it, you are on the wrong site. Go to ESPN or CBS or something. The Hardball Times prides itself on being a site dedicated to advanced metrics, and a guy like Hellickson doesn’t appeal to us. What’s amazing is, I’m probably the least stringent on my Sabremetric criteria when evaluating for fantasy purposes than the other guys, but Hellickson’s lack of decent sabr-stats is too evident to ignore.

    Who led the Majors in BABIP against? Hellickson. Who was 2nd in the Majors at strand rate (LOB%)? Hellickson. Who are the top five in worst xFIP? Wade Davis, Brad Penny, JEREMY HELLICKSON, Jason Hammel, and Mike Pelfrey. His 9.3% walk rate and miniscule 1.4 WAR are “atrocious”. He’s lucky and that luck made up for some bad pitching. I would say he was the luckiest pitcher in baseball.

    The trends go on and on. If you want somebody to salivate over Hellickson, you’re not going to find them here. I could argue a better argument for Mike Leake or Jhoulys Chacin than Hellickson. I would also grant that there should be a case made against me for not including NL ROY Craig Kimbrel, but I have trouble ranking a closer in dynasty rankings. Also Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino could get some consideration but the list is only 35 players long. I feel like dynasty rankings should be predominantly hitters since I feel like that with pitchers it’s easier to find fillers.

    I am the one that ranked Travis Snider. The other two guys did not. My ranking of Snider is more of a feeling that it’s time for him to come into his own. His struggles in 2011 can’t be ignored, but Snider is also a guy that has dominated these lists in years past. If not for a wrist injury that ended his comeback campaign, we might have him much higher on this list.  He’s still 23 and doesn’t turn 24 until February. If he struggles in 2012, he can officially be dropped off this list for 2013. However, I think he wins the starting LF job over Eric Thames in the Spring and has a much better season. His 30/20 .300 talent is still too exciting to give up on yet.

    Since, we seem to be talking bets, I’ll bet that Hellickson doesn’t outperform any pitcher on my list in 2012.

  16. MH said...

    @Brad

    I’d say (if we’re totaling these up to 100% so assuming you mean “at least 10%” more/less valuable for X and Z and “within 10% of value” for Y) its something like X=25%, Y=45%, Z=30%.  What I think is important to remember is that most cases that fall under X, though, include primarily outcomes where Strasburg is 10-15% better than Kershaw, while Z includes a larger variety of outcomes, although in many of the X outcomes Strasburg’s performance is also off the charts good while Kershaw’s performance is pretty stable among the outcomes in all three groups. 

    As for the other two, I’m not sure what the exact rate of pitchers who suffer career altering injuries is, but let’s say its 15%.  Then I’d say N=~17% while M=~12%.  My reasoning is this—Strasburg may not be more likely than the average pitcher to suffer any particular injury at this point, BUT, he is now at risk for Tommy John #2, which has a much higher career-mortality rate than Tommy John #1.  Even if Kershaw got hit with the Tommy John stick, he’d still have a great chance at recovery, while there’s quite a bit more risk of a less-than-full recovery if such a thing befell Strasburg, and even in a Dynasty format owners would have a very difficult decision of how to handle him.  This is a VERY IMPORTANT part of this discussion.  Right now, the severity of Tommy John for Strasburg is MUCH higher than non-TJS survivors, and I think this issue is, though not huge in terms of probability, is getting overlooked.

    I also think Kershaw is probably slightly less likely than the average young pitcher to get hurt—he’s never been particularly overworked, he was built up under efficient, controlled conditions, and he has the profile of a guy who has positive health prospects.  Obviously, the 12% number suggests I think this only has minimal impact, but not meaningless.

    With those numbers in mind, I think its pretty clear that long term, I go Kershaw>Strasburg.  That could change by next year, but given what we know now, that’s how I’d go. 

    Onto the Hellickson issue—I think there’s something to be said for considering Hellickson for this list, and although presented a bit…rudely…@SIDA has some valid points.  Hellickson is an interesting case in that there are very few pitchers who have his above average SwStrike% and a below average K/9.  There are a few implications here I think:

    1.  His low BABIP means his K/9 is a bit depressed compared to his K%.  Under normal BABIP conditions, it likely would have been closer to 6.0.  Roto fantasy is one of the few situations where we actually are more interested in K/9 than K% because of the innings limit, but K% is still a better predictor of future K/9 than past K/9 is. 

    2.  It means he has much more upside in Ks than the average Low-K pitcher.

    3.  A lot of that upside is going to be related to Called Strike% and F-Strike%, which were both sub-par for Hellickson but were strengths in the minors.  These are both (in particular the latter) important elements of BB% as well, so an increase in Ks might bring with it a decrease in BBs.  This means his upside projection is less linear and a bit more exponential than a lot of other pitchers. 

    4.  His minor league track record his quite strong—there are a lot of pitchers on this list who seem to (and probably do) have more upside, but I think the fantasy community in particular may have soured on Hellboy in particular because they perceive him as overvalued in redraft leagues. 

    All that said, I’d still have a tough time ranking him.  He wouldn’t be in my top 25 I don’t think, and I’m not sure if I’d even get him in the 25-35 range.  Like you guys, I would probably have more high-risk guys who have less major league exposure.  But, at the same time, I would expect him to wind up higher on this list when we’re looking at it in hindsight in a few years and a few of those high risk guys completely flop.  Its just that right now we have no way of identifying who that will be, so its difficult to project Hellickson ahead of them given the risk of regression he carries with him as well. 

    Also, I think Andrew had a good catch with Wilson Ramos, who is getting criminally overlooked across the board this year.  I think I’d also have him around ~30 too.  I understand the temptation to rank him behind Mesoraco, but I think I’d take Ramos.  There’s limited supply on catchers who project for regular playing time, and Ramos is one of the few catchers who is both young and should play in around 120 games for quite a few years.  Not sure that’s clear with Mesoraco (I’d hope he does, but, well, Dusty Baker and small sample sizes can be a bad mix, and I’m not sure that’s just a 2012 problem either).  Additionally, while Mesoraco’s numbers in the minors may be better, Ramos showed some really temendous improvements this year in terms of zone control, and they have similar power potential.

  17. Zeus said...

    I love these lists and GREAT job. 
    How is LoMo not on all 3 list (16 on Laws) never mind completely off all three?  He has shown power (wrist injury slowed it) and great plat discipline skills.  He has 25+hr/290ave with more upside.

  18. Sal said...

    I traded for Heyward last year (gave up quite a bit) and rode him through the whole season.

    I’m in a 7 keeper 10 team league with other quality options to keep. At this point I should just let go and hope I can redraft him…correct?

  19. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Sal

    That really depends on a number of things.  Is the league a standard 5×5 format?  Is there any cost associated with each keeper, or a limit on how long they can be kept?  What are the starting lineup positions (i.e. is it a 5 OF league, are the outfield spots specifically broken down LF/CF/RF)?  Where do you select in the draft?  Who are the other keeper options?  In a vacuum, I don’t believe Heyward will be a top-70 player in 5×5 formats in 2012.  That said, he has the talent that he certainly could be, and as soon as 2013 we could be talking about a top-25 talent if everything comes together. 

    My biggest concern with Heyward has nothing to do with his development or talent level, and everything to do with his health.  This is the note on his FanGraphs page that concerned me (per Rotowire):10/10/2011: Heyward underwent a series of MRIs in the cervical spine area, to see if there was a structural problem causing pain in his shoulder. Those MRI’s were negative, the Braves’ official site reports.

    The fact the MRI’s were negative is good, but the fact they were taken because he had shoulder pain is no bueno.  If you’d like to e-mail me specifics, I’d be happy to give you as thoughtful a follow up response as I can, otherwise, I hope this helped.

  20. Nick Fleder said...

    Heyward’s injury concerns certainly had him lower in these rankings than he was last year, but I also don’t love his upside. Sure, he’s a superb glove and has all the tools to succeed and be a superstar, but he strikes me as a better real-life player than fantasy-player. He plays in the deepest position, unless you go LF/CF/RF (I don’t generally), he probably won’t top 20 stolen bases in his peak, and I question how consistently he’ll hit for a high average; after all, his .277 rookie showing was aided by a .335 BABIP, and he consistently put up high average only aided by ridiculously high BABIPs in the minors.

    So again, he strikes me as someone who will be a perennial All-Star, but probably because he’ll be playing a wicked left field, running the bases extremely well, and playing above average offense. But I don’t think his fantasy upside is immense.

  21. SIDA! said...

    These lists are atrocious. I am not even sure where to begin, but since I have to start somewhere….let’s start with the absence of Jeremy Hellickson.

    You know, the kid that just won the AL ROY by posting a sub 3.00 ERA, a fantastic WHIP and doin’ it in the hardest division in baseball. An ERA that was good for EIGHTH place in the rankins in the AL and would have been good for NINTH in the NL.

    Let me guess…you are going to dock him because “he was statistically lucky” or his strikeouts weren’t there? I laugh when fantasty geeks place a premium on “potential” and on guys that have never stepped foot on a MLB diamond over guys that actually have produced.  Hellickson posted more than 1k per IP during his entire minor league career.  Not just at one level…but every stop along the way. What were Verlander’s strike-out ratios? It took him basically 600 MLB innings to get to his current K rate.

    Strasburg over Kershaw is laughable. One of the other posters had it right.  Whatever you think his “higher upside” is relative to Kershaw…which is up for debate…it does not offer up enough to compensate for the risk.

    How much more upside does Strasburg have? Is he going to post a sub 2.00 era for his career?  Kershaw has the lowest batting average amongst all active pitchers since he has been in the league.  Over his ENTIRE career he is the hardest pitcher to get a hit against.

    The absurdities go on and on. Where is the logic?  On one hand, guys who haven’t played one game in the majors are ranked higher than actual producers, and solid producers at that.  And then you rank “elite” prospects that have been underwhelming over other guys that have actually produced. 

    Shut it down already!

  22. SIDA! said...

    @Nick

    Coming off of 2009, was David Price an average pitcher at best?

    FIP 4.59
    xFIP 4.43
    WAR 1.3
    BB/9 3.79

    Or do those stats only count for Hellickson?

  23. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ SIDA!

    I always wondered who thought Bartolo Colon was deserving of the Cy Young in 2005, and now I know.  I mean the guy won 21 games!  Seriously though, I wasn’t aware there were leagues that awarded fantasy points based on hardware.  I remember when Eric Hinske won a ROY award.  He’s been a fantasy stud ever since. 

    Could you please enlighten me to how well ERA predicts future performance when stacked up against FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA and any other number of advanced metrics?  I also find it curious that you are trolling a fantasy article and referring to the authors as fantasy geeks. 

    It’s pretty easy to see you are the poker player that gets all his chips in the middle pre-flop with K/Q and brags to his buddies how he outplayed A’s when he somehow backdoors a win.  I’ll never get upset with that guy, because in the long run, I make money off him.

    Spinning this away from feeding the troll, I will point out that there are some positives to draw from Hellickson (beyond his shiny surface stats).  His change-up is a legit out pitch (18.7 percent whiff rate), and his curveball isn’t a bad second strikeout offering (12.7 percent whiff rate).  His fastball, however, is not a swing and miss pitch (4.6 percent whiff rate on his four-seamer, 3.6 percent whiff rate on his two-seamer).  As he becomes more familiar with major league hitters, and perhaps further refines his pitch sequencing, I expect his strikeout rate to jump.  That said, throwing a fastball that hitters know won’t get empties swings may prevent him from reaching the lofty bar he set in the minors.

  24. Nick Fleder said...

    Touchè. I mean, he was an average pitcher at best coming off of his 09 season, but I was being too closed minded about his future prospects.

    This doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re being incredibly closed-minded about service time requirements and past performance dictating future success. Yes, Hellickson may be a top notch pitcher at one point, but his 2011 success—which you cited as reason enough for him to deserve an appearance on this list—was largely smoke and mirrors. I can’t find a legit argument for his Cy Young worthiness, and in purely fantasy terms, he possesses very little upside to drool over. The fact is, though, that the names above (on all three lists), particularly the pitchers, were considered carefully and decided to have considerable more upside than Hellboy in the next five years or so.

    Sure, maybe it’ll be a glaring omission when we look back next year, but you lobbying for his inclusion is much like us betting on upside plays without ML service time. You’re betting JH will take a step forward like David Price, just like we are with Darvish, Teheran, and Moore. I’ll take any of my three any day, thank you.

  25. SIDA! said...

    @Ben

    FWIW, I agree with you that young closers should be devalued (all closers should be devalued…way too much volatility). So, I don’t have any qualms with that.

    I do find it amusing that you take a swipe at ESPN and CBS rankings while professing to be a more astute analyst of the fantasy game because you actually look at the really important stats. You proceed to regale me with a litany of reasons why Hellickson isn’t even on your list and then nonchalantly decide to drop the “I like Travis Snider because I feel it is his time” argument.

    Seriously?

    Verlander didn’t go sub 4.00 on FIP or xFIP until 2009, his fourth full season in the league. Did Hellickson show higher than normal walk rates last year? Absolutely.  It was his first full year in the majors…I mean…guys get to have some growing pains…like…er…Travis Snider, right?

    However, Hellickson had superior control throughout his minor league career and he wasn’t exactly terrible in the walks department last year anyway. David Price posted a 3.79 and a 3.41 coming into 2011.

    Your suggestion that I take a bet that Hellickson will not outperform any of the pitchers on the list is ridiculous.  Why are you just limiting it to pitchers…and not the entire list?  You guys didn’t rank pitchers and hitters separately.

    More to the point…how the hell could I possibly beat any of you guys with such a subjective bet.  It is a moving target over here.  You make a list of players and rank them for a 5×5 roto league…except that apparently 3 of those 10 categories don’t count (ERA, WHIP and AVG).

    Let’s be concrete and specific. All three of you have Yu Darvish ahead of Hellickson and Matt Moore ahead of Mat Latos.

    I will bet all three of you a $100 each on the following:

    Yu Darvish does not post a sub-2.95 ERA (Hellickson’s first year number)
    Yu Darvish does not post a sub-1.15 WHIP (Hellickson’s first year number)

    Matt Moore does not post a sub-2.93 ERA (Latos’ first year number)
    Matt Moore does not post a sub-1.09 WHIP (Latos’ first year number)

    Both pitchers have to pitch more than 150 innings.  If they fail to do so, you lose the bet.

    That is $100 per each category, per person.  $1,200 risk for me and $400 for each of you.

    And I would love to make a Travis Snider bet.

    Yu Darvish has been playing against the best that Japan has to offer for years and you guys think he is vastly superior to a lucky and mediocre pitcher like Hellickson.  And Matt Moore is the Second Coming of Kershaw.  Thankfully, he isn’t the Second Coming of Strasburg…or else there is no way I would have made this bet.

    FWIW, if you guys publicly agree to this prop bet I will look into finding an escrow company to hold my money.

  26. SIDA! said...

    I am a fantasy geek, that is why I am on here.  I was referring to the propensity of other fantasy geeks to blow their wad all over guys that have never even played at the MLB level or have a small sample set.

    And I never said that just because a guy wins hardware that that equates to legitimate bonifides being handed out to that player. I don’t believe wins is a measure of a pitcher’s talent.

    Hellickson was an elite prospect with an excellent pedigree that had produced exceptionally well at EVERY level he has played in.  Then he produces at the highest level in the best division.  What was his swing:miss rate in the minors?  What was Verlander’s when he was coming up?  Again, I am not saying that he will be Verlander-esque.

    But you guys are going to seriously say that Travis Snider has more long term value than Hellickson?  Really?!

    What is Yu Darvish’s MLB statline….crickets.

    Making an argument and presenting facts to support those arguments is not trollish behavior.  Get over yourself.

  27. Nick Fleder said...

    I’m shocked that Matt Moore ahead of Mat Latos brings up debate, but I will repeat this one more time that *past performance does not dictate future success*, and this is list is NOT ranking past performance but where we think the players will lie, value wise, over the next ~5 years. Mat Latos’ rookie numbers are completely irrelevant. Relevant, however, is the fact that he pitched in PETCO for his entire career and now shifts to Great American. He has a career 3.57 ERA away from PETCO, and while I like him as a pitcher and concede that I may have him a bit low on this list (for the record, we’ll all submit updates and explanations over the next week or so), I will defend vigorously placing Matt Moore ahead of him.

    Moore has never posted below an 11.52 K/9 at any substantial stay at any level; he blew people away a la Strasburg instantly in the majors, and in the playoffs, and I would argue that his WHIP upside is greater than Latos’. He strikes out a ton more guys, lets fewer balls in play, and was on the low side of the BABIP mean line (~.300) throughout his minor league career. Three above average pitches; regular appearances on top prospect lists;  a friendly home park. There is nothing to balk at there, in my evaluation. Latos has an unfriendly home park—if you want to chalk it down to that alone, do it—but he also has less upside in my mind.

  28. MH said...

    @SIDA

    I think there’s some creedence to that argument, but Price is a bit different.  He had a considerably better strikeout rate, he gets some points for raw “stuff,” being a #1 overall pick, being a lefty, and having a more neutral batted ball profile (as opposed to Hellickson who is an extreme fly ball guy).  Even if I think the sabermetric and hardcore fantasy communities may be overlooking Hellickson a bit (as opposed to the more average redraft fantasy community where he’s being overvalued), he doesn’t have Price’s ceiling, and he’s much harder to project.  I wouldn’t expect much more than a 7.0-8.0 K/9 this year, a mid-high 3.00s ERA, and a 1.2-1.3 WHIP, and there’s lots of room for him to be quite a bit worse than that.  There’s fantasy value in a pitcher like that, but that’s about as optimistic a projection as you can realistically give him without making assumptions that there isn’t strong evidence for yet, and its well below the ceilings/values of all the pitchers on these lists.  You can maybe make an argument that its better than some of the position players, but even that’s close, and there are other pitchers I’d take before Hellickson anyway.  I’m pretty sure I’d wind up siding with the guys here that when in doubt, go with the hitters, especially given the way the major league run environment has been trending.  Pitchers like that are much less scarce than they were a few years ago, so there’s a premium on ceiling when talking about pitchers in dynasty formats, especially deeper into the rankings.  I couldn’t put him ahead of guys like Hanson, Hudson, Teheran, Darvish, etc., who are the guys you see in the 30-35 ranges above, and there are quite a few prospects/young guys I’d take first.  Off the top of my head: Shelby Miller, Derek Holland, and Mike Minor for sure, then probably Jon Niese (who is basically Hellickson’s inverse—a guy with excellent peripherals but mediocre results) and Robbie Erlin (now that he’s in SD), and that’s about where Hellickson starts to enter the conversation.

  29. Nick Fleder said...

    @Zeus

    I can’t speak for the other writers, but I considered LoMo. He clocked in around ~40 if we expanded the list. Couple of concerns with him: outfield is incredibly deep, so I’d prefer a pitcher or position player in the infield above an outfielder always; that is, unless the outfielder has incredible power upside or the much-desirable five-tooled label. That said, I can see an argument for LoMo over, say, Maybin, and I’ll consider that strongly in my revisions.

    Back to LoMo, though: his HR/FB is a huge red flag—it’s a stat that jumps all over the place, but not typically such a jump as ~3% to ~18%. (http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2011_4469&type=hitter) A quick look at that link, though, will support many of his home runs as being of the “No Doubt” or “Plenty” variety. He found a way to tap his power; whether he changed his swing to do so, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain, otherwise, his all-over-the-place BABIP.

    And his 2010 batting average was highly aided by a .351 BABIP—and still managed to be a less-than-impressive .283. Though his 2011 batting average was hurt considerably by bad luck on balls in play, it looks to me like the .260 range is where his average will stand.

    All told, he definitely does have .290 – 25+ upside if he can put it all together at once and capitalize on his minor league numbers, an his attitude might help him get out of Miami (which would be helpful… the new dimensions are not more friendly to power hitters by any means). I think he’ll see an appearance on my revision.

  30. SIDA! said...

    @Brad:

    He has a 3-5% chance at being 10% or more better than Kershaw and I would say a 25-30% chance (if that) of being as good as Kershaw.

    You and others may think that is crazy, but let me explain.

    What percent chance does Mike Stanton have of hitting 10% more homers in a season than Barry Bonds monster season? What percent chance does Stanton have of hitting 10% more homers than McGwire’s 70? 

    A 10% improvement upon elite numbers is a herculean task. 

    Kershaw just won the triple crown of pitching and is elite in just about every measure save for walks per 9.

    How realistic is it for Kershaw himself to be 10% better than what he did last year?

  31. Nick Fleder said...

    @MH

    Incredibly well-said. “Pitchers like that are much less scarce than they were a few years ago, so there’s a premium on ceiling when talking about pitchers in dynasty formats, especially deeper into the rankings,” is something that I’ve totally ignored in my comments, but of course factored in. Pitching is incredibly deep; yes, in any given draft, that could mean you skip the elite boys and snag a superb staff in the later rounds, but in dynasty leagues, you’re looking for incredible return on value and upside. High-ceiling guys are obviously the ones to deliver. Ask yourself who has a chance to perform like a Kershaw, like a Halladay, like a Wainwright, and I’d wager Moore, and Bumgarner over the Hellicksons anyday.

  32. MH said...

    @Nick

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with your assessment that past performance is irrelevant.  After all, future projection is largely based on past performance. I agree that we’re obviously not attempting to rank past performance, but it is certainly part of the discussion.  I also agree that I’d take Matt Moore over Latos, but I wouldn’t knock Latos too far back.  His HR rate should rise playing half his games in Great American, but he’s also been a low BABIP guy in a park that would seem (I don’t have figures) to possibly inflate BABIP (big park, moderate-warm dry air), and he isn’t such a pronounced fly ball pitcher that the HR will destroy his ERA.  He also does work two fastballs, and although his two-seamer was less effective in 2011 than 2010, it was more effective in 2010 than is four-seamer.  Using that pitch more, along with his changeup, could help adjust for the ballpark change.

  33. Zeus said...

    LoMo has great Bb/k rates in the past and the power loss was due to the wrist. He still hit a lot of doubles in 2010
    I think SP is deeper and higher risk than OFers. Look how many top SP prospects vs OF prospects.
    Have you seen he tweets…. He is a crazy dude. #nohomojustlomo

  34. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ SIDA!

    “You know, the kid that just won the AL ROY.”  I didn’t write that, you did.  Asking where logic is, and suggesting that these lists were put together without thought is trollish behavior.  Presenting that a player had a good ERA in 2011 does little but suggest you can read a leader board.  I’d be willing to bet the bank on the 2012 ERA leader board not being a mirror image of that in 2011. 

    To suggest that a player can’t succeed at the major league level because they haven’t had a chance is silly (i.e. Yu Darvish).  As for Hellickson, he wasn’t initially an elite prospect and actually lacks pedigree.  He became an elite prospect by befuddling minor league hitters.  His first prospect ranking in Baseball America was 9th in the Tampa Bay organization in 2007 following a tremendous NY-Penn League season.  He didn’t crack the Rays top-10 prospects until 2010, when he ranked 2nd.  He opened this year as their top prospect. 

    I like Hellickson, and think he can be a very good pitcher, but he’s never going to sniff his 2011 production again unless he makes advancements in control and strikeout rate.  There is something to be said about a bulldog mentality and going after hitters.  At the same time, Livan Hernandez has a gamer mentality and I’m not going to be snapping him up in fantasy leagues. 

    Your response to Brad is reasonable.  Taking shots at the lists using words like laughable, calling people geeks, and using hyperbole is childish behavior.  There shouldn’t be room for that on any message board, and thankfully it isn’t common place here at THT.  Just keep it respectful, no one minds debate and disagreement, that’s half the fun of these rankings!

  35. Nick Fleder said...

    @MH

    I don’t mean to knock on Latos so much. He’s a superb pitcher, but I think it’d be silly to imply he has the same upside as Matt Moore. And I didn’t mean to say past performance is irrelevant, but rather, that past performance does not dictate future success. Really, all I was trying to argue, in regards to SIDA, was that the argument “Hellickson shouldn’t be ranked *because* he’s played a year while Yu Darvish has no service time” is silly. Take out the specific names—which can be argued—and that assessment is wrong in my mind.

    @Zeus

    No argument on the crazy dude point. The tweeting may get him in trouble at one point, but for now, they’re entertaining as hell. I do like his skill set—the BB% over 10 is always a plus—and would like him more if someone places him at his natural 1B. His LF is atrocious, and the Marlins might trade him because of that, or trade him because of his attitude. Remains to be seen. But yeah, look for him in the ~30 range in my update.

  36. Nick Fleder said...

    In my “Hellickson shouldn’t be ranked *because* he’s played a year while Yu Darvish has no service time,” quote, change shouldn’t to SHOULD. My bad for the confusion.

  37. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Zeus- I also considered LoMo in my rankings. I think he was more of a casualty of the numbers than actually deserving of being left off this list. As is obviously debatable, 30-45 in a dynasty format rankings can almost be interchangable. It’s relative to personal preference, risk tolerance, and strategy. He’d definitely be in my top 45.

    @MH- Wilson Ramos’ upside isn’t that great. He’s little more than an NL Only backstop, and I don’t think he sees much higher of ceiling than what we saw last year. Look at the 15 HRs. He’s never shown that kind of power previously. I must say I am a fan and have rostered him last year on both my NL Only leagues. I just don’t think his upside merits a top 35 spot on this list. I mean there’s guys like Mesoraco, Wilin Rosario, and Ryan Lavarnway all in the same range of ranking the under-25 catcher position in my opinion.

  38. SIDA! said...

    @MH

    Price had exactly a 1.0 K/IP ratio in the minors. Hellickson had a 1.09 over a far greater sample set of innings.

    As Price has matured in the majors…he has shown he can get the K at the major league level.  He very well may end up being an all around more dominant pitcher than Hellickson.

    But it is very difficult to hit these moving targets.  Depending on who I talk to here, Hellickson better minor league stats don’t count over Price.  His major league stats don’t count because a sabermetric says his “real” numbers were “flukey”.  When I show his “flukey” numbers were just as “flukey” as other guys that are ranked higher or are bonifide studs, it doesn’t count.

    @Nick

    Your dynasty philosophy is why I would beat you hands down.  You don’t take players based on their upside alone.  You take guys based on their upside ceiling and the probability of them making it there in addition to assessing what their likely performance will be and the probability of that happening.  Guys like you in leagues all across America place far to great a premium on potential/ceiling.

    Your Lambo in the garage looks really nice and sexy.  Fortunately, my Audi S8 actually has a full tank of gas. If you want, I can call AAA for you.

  39. SIDA! said...

    @Nick

    Once again, my statements are being twisted to create straw man arguments.  I did not say that Yu Darvish should not be ranked simply because he hasn’t played in the majors or that Hellickson should be ranked simply because he has played in the majors.

    What I articulated was that Hellickson should be ranked because he has played in the majors…and actually performed and posted great numbers…great numbers in categories we actually count in fantasy baseball leagues.

    I have no qualms with ranking players who have never played over players how have played in the majors..but it is relative.  You cannot discount or ignore the performances of those performing at the major league level when you are assessing the prospects of players at the major league level.  It is ridiculous.

    There is always going to be subjectivity and nuance to rankings.  With that said, you have to assess the probability of the expected outcomes and to a man each of you place way to high a probability on these guys that have never played actually outperforming those who played and played well.

    In the twisted and illogical world you guys are operating in, you sell short actual MLB performances because they weren’t up to some exemplary standard in favor of the possibility that someone might be lights out.

    I am pretty much done here. I suspect none of you will take me up on the bet I have offered.  Is that correct?

  40. Ben Pritchett said...

    @SIDA!- First smart thing you’ve said is pointing out my unsubstantiated love for Travis Snider. That’s the beauty of lists. I can like Travis Snider’s potential for a dynasty leagues and not like Hellickson’s future. That’s why we have opinions. My opinion of Hellickson is stat driven. My opinion of Snider is talent driven. Snider’s success has been limited because of his head not his skills. I can live with that.

    Hellickson has been a fine pitcher, but you really need to stop comparing him to Verlander. They don’t even pitch the same. Verlander is a power pitcher that can hit 100MPH in the 9th. Hellickson couldn’t hit 100 if he attached a rocket to the back of the ball as it left his hand. He doesn’t have the TALENT of Verlander. We give Verlander a longer leash because of that potential. I will grant you that Hellickson is nice fly ball pitcher that has potential to find some gains in strikeouts. He does a good job of mixing his changeup in with his 91MPH fastball. But you are fooling yourself if you don’t see the same potential of inflated ERA and WHIP in future years.

    In dynasty formats you want to focus your analysis on both past and future statistics. I think you are too obsessed with arbitrary stats like ERA, WHIP, and W. I may be too obsessed with projecting the future. But I’d rather miss on a great future that I have less knowledge about then project a future I know could be rough like Hellicksons.

    Pertaining to the bets, you know we can’t do bets like that. But I did say that my pitchers on my list would outperform Hellickson in 2012. Something you obviously missed in the prop bets you offered. It’s easy to take lucky past stats and use them as a reference point. Naturally as “fantasy geeks” we project for the future. It’s not what have you done for me; it’s what are you going to do for me. If you think Hellickson is going to do more from 2012 and beyond than the rest of these pitchers on our lists, more power to you. I think you’re wrong. You think I’m wrong. I’ll be right, and we’ll never hear from you again. It’s just like when I said the Marlins would finish last in the NL East last year, and I caught serious hell. None of those guys email me and apologize. So we’re used to it, SIDA!.

    I do, however, love the participation and passion. That’s why we do what we do and why you come here for our accessability. It’s easy to put out lists and not have any accountability. I will look for you in future articles.

    We should have writer’s positional rankings coming out soon. Those will be fun to debate I’m sure.

  41. MH said...

    @Nick

    Absolutely, can’t disagree with that at all.  I have some trepidation about Darvish, but he’s young and shown consistent improvement over numbers that were already flat out dominant.  If you were to ignore what other Japanese pitchers wound up doing in the majors and simply ranked them based on projections at the time they came over, Darvish would pretty easily come out on top.  I think you and Josh are dead on with him, while Nick is being more aggressive with him than I would. 

    I’m a little surprised you left Hanson off though. He’s tough to rank, for sure, but I don’t think I’d have him outside of the Top 35.  Definitely behind Gallardo and Latos, but aside from Moore I don’t think I’d have anyone who still has their rookie eligibility intact I’d put ahead of him.

    Out of curiousity, where would you put Danny Duffy?  I can’t see him as top 35 but he’s definitely interesting.  I’d probably put him around and possibly above Hellickson too. The he reminds me of a bit is Jon Lester, and Duffy’s numbers to this point are actually a touch better than Lester’s were.  I actually have him as a mid-deep sleeper in redraft leagues for this year, and there’s a part of me that really wants to draft him as one of my last pick in most leagues, but in all the mock’s I’ve done pitching is just so deep that I wind up with other guys that are slightly safer and have similar upside when I actually get to that point though.

  42. Ben Pritchett said...

    @MH- What! No love for my Yu Darvish ranking? Darvish has been the one guy I’ve staked my “expert” flag on this year. I think people that compare him to past Japanese/Asian pitchers will find out they are wrong. He doesn’t have a herky-jerky delivery. He’s calm, borderline cocky. He throws mid90s with stellar off-speed pitches. He wants the ball. I think he’s as close to an American pitcher as Nolan Ryan is as to a Texan. My only worry about him is his innings load, but most say that he doesn’t pitch with the frequency and extremism of Daisuke or other Asian pitchers.

    I will be drafting Darvish on all teams if possible as my number 3-4 starting pitcher. He’s worthy of a number 2-3 in AL Only leagues.

  43. SIDA! said...

    LOL @Ben the psychiatrist and the statistician.

    Why would I take you on your bet when you have an entire list of players and yet you instead pick from just the pitchers you ranked?  How about I make a bet that Hellickson is more valuable to the Rays this year than Snider is to his team this year?  Will that make you happy? Afterall, Snider is on your list.

    I find it amusing that you want to denigrate Hellickson’s numbers as being lucky and praise the ceiling of Moore and Darvish…but yet you don’t think they can even match Hellickson this year.  I’ll leave it to the readers to decide.

    I put my money and my team roster (owner of Latos and Hellickson since they were in the minors) where my mouth is and you want to wimp out on the bet.  How about this…since you are so enamored with Darvish and Moore, why don’t you tell all your fantasy readers what their ERA and WHIPs will be this year…you know…just to help those of us who play in leagues that count ERA and WHIP amongst the 5 picthing categories.

    You don’t need an email from me apologizing. You will have my money safe and locked away in an escrow account.  And even if you take my money by winning the bet, I will even be gracious enough to come back here with a mea culpa.

    You can post all the lists that you want and say all the things that you want to say, but the number one way to cut through all the bullshit is to put money on the line.  I have put forth the opportunity to put your money where your words are and used the first season bench mark of two players to be measured against the first season bench mark of two players whose “ceiling/potential” you love.

    Hell, I will let you use Hellickson’s numbers against both Darvsh’s and Moore’s numbers. 

    I’ll let your readers enjoy the inanity of your Travis Snider musings and your views on talent.  I am sure Greg Maddux would be shocked to learn he managed to put together a Hall of Fame career with such little talent…

  44. SIDA! said...

    I pointed out the ROY followed by…his ERA and WHIP, both of which were near the top in the AL (8th and 13th, respectively). He didn’t win ROY because he won popularity contest.  All of these awards generally speaking have their flaws, but let’s not pretend Hellickson stole it from some other more deserving player.

    He also had the second best batting average against in the AL. Only Verlander was harder to hit. Or was that luck, too?  But luck only showed up when he pitched and not any other TB pitcher? On his own team he bested Price in ERA and matched him in WHIP.  And he nearly equaled Shields in ERA.

    Finishing in the top 15 in ERA and WHIP in your league can’t just be dismissed as inconsequential or irrelevant because you feel his fastball doesn’t get the misses it should (in his first full season no less).

    For seemingly the last three years I have been reading about how Ricky Nolasco is undervalued or a sleeper or someone to target because such and such stat is the true barometer of his skill set.  How has that worked out?

    And not to pick on you for the Travis Snider ranking…since I have latched on to that…but can you or anyone else tell me what mystical mysterious saber-rattlin-statistics and derivatives we are looking at to rank Snider above Hellickson?  Apparently, ERA and WHIP don’t count for jack for Hellboy and obviously batting average doesn’t count for much for Snider.

    I never said that never having played a game at the MLB level means one can’t succeed.  You are creating a straw man argument. 

    Logically it is impossible to make that argument because if it were true there wouldn’t be any MLB players.

    Yu Darvish might very well succeed in the states but how can any of you honestly rank him above Hellickson at this point in time? If anything, the dismal track record of Asian players being able to transfer their skill set to the States should produce a “believe when I see it” level of skepticism.

    What I did articulate was the ridiculousness of these rankings placing an inordinate value on potential and possiblities over guys that have actually done it.  There is a long list of players that were supposedly can’t miss and yet, they missed.  I am not saying that Hellickson will outperform every single guy on that list nor am I saying that Strasburg will not eclipse Kershaw.  You must factor in the probabilities of such and frankly, owners in fantasy leagues overwhelmingly slobber over the theoretical potential of players.

    You say you like Hellickson but that he is never going to sniff 2011 again.  Okay…and?  Maybe guys on your list should actually post a stat line comparable to Hellickson’s 2011 before you place them above him. Actual performance at the level we are grading their respective values at should count for something. 

    Oddly, it seems readily apparent that for the most part you guys think that if a guy is good in his first year he sucks, but if he has never played or sucked early in his career he is the Second Coming.

    Matt Moore looks awesome. I love the kid. But there is no rational justification for placing him ahead of Felix Hernandez and why is he ahead of Bumgarner and Latos on all lists? Bumgarner and Latos come in and are either dominant or above average their first two full seasons in the bigs and has a studly 9 innings it carries more weight than 300-400+ innings?

    You say you play poker and would love to take my money.  Good god…someone devise a way for us to make some bets so we can put some long term props on the line.  I’ll wager some money on some of these.  I am sure we could find an escrow account to keep the money safe.

  45. Ben Pritchett said...

    @SIDA!- Enjoyed the post until the reference to Greg Maddux. I know you didn’t compare Hellickson to Greg Maddux. If you did you just lost all the credibility you have manage to muster in all this.

    “Why would I take you on your bet when you have an entire list of players and yet you instead pick from just the pitchers you ranked?  How about I make a bet that Hellickson is more valuable to the Rays this year than Snider is to his team this year?  Will that make you happy? Afterall, Snider is on your list.”

    What does this have to do with dynasty, fantasy baseball? Furthermore, where do you say that Hellickson will outperform the other pitchers on this list that you say he should be ranked with? I’m having trouble sifting though the I-want-to-bet stuff and getting to what you are really saying. I know now why you have so much love for Hellickson/Latos, but if I’m you in your dynasty league, I would be looking to move them quickly while profit is high. There won’t be any better time than now. I can guarantee that.

    Good luck thouh in all seriousness. Debate is what really helps make this list so fascinating, but we really need to move on to other players.

  46. SIDA! said...

    @Ben

    Where did I say anything about Hellickson being the next Maddux? You are the talent scout around here telling us that “throwing hard” or batting near the Mendoza Line equates to talent. You are the one that suggested hitting 100 on the gun equals talent and that softies like Hellickson can’t cut it. Yet, inexplicably I didn’t see Aroldis Chapman on the list. Maybe he is over 25. I can’t check now. 

    My comment that Hellickson will be more valuable than Snider to their respective teams was a general comment and I also mean that Hellickson will be more valuable to fantasy owners than Snider.

    And please don’t try to minimize my arguments in support of Hellickson and Latos on the grounds I own them. I’m not the one who is citing “feelings” as substantiation for Snider.

    My comments in this thread have been clearly articulated.  It is clear that you three want to argue that Darvish and Moore are better than Hell/Latos and yet none of you apparently feel that either can match them in the first year’s performance. Do you guys think that Darvish or Moore will be better in their second years than Hell/Latos were in their first? Do you guys ever anticipate Darvish or Moore putting up better than a 2.95 ERA or a 1.15 WHIP?

    Clearly, you guys are afraid of putting money on the table. Maybe I will get lucky and at least get a projection out of each of you.

    Since I probably won’t even get a projection and you guys understandably want to change the subject…maybe someone can explain to me why Cueto isn’t on the list and Gallardo is?

  47. Ben Pritchett said...

    @SIDA!- Cueto was honestly an oversight. I forget how young he is, and he barely made the cut-off on a 1986 birthday. That’s a good catch. I’d actually have him just behind Latos but behind Gallardo. You won’t find any more Cueto lovers in the writer’s staff. I don’t know Fleder’s position, but I was the only one that liked Cueto and CJ Wilson entering the 2011 season. They aren’t sabrmetric darlings. They were also cheap, something I don’t think can be said about Hellickson. That plays a role in my like/dislike as well.

  48. MH said...

    @Ben re: Ramos

    I half agree.  I don’t think he has tremendous upside in any single category, but what he does offer is a solid production floor and a nice amount of upside in every category (aside from SB of course).  I’m not sure where the power knock comes from.  He hit 39 HR in 1600 minor league PAs through age 22 and had a .146 ISO.  That’s about 11 HR per 435 PAs, so the idea that he evolved into a guy that could hit 15 HR over that span really isn’t that far fetched.  His HR/FB was probably a bit inflated, but I would also expect his GB% to decrease as he continues to develop. Considering the drastic increase in walk rate that went along with his slight power surge and respectable contact rate, I think there’s reason to believe he’s made some substantial improvements. 

    I have him as a fringe starter in single catcher, 12-team mixed leagues with potential for a bit better.  He lacks Mesoraco’s ultimate upside, but not by as much as you might think, and catching is so scarce that taking a chance on a guy like Mesoraco—who has more risk in both production and playing time—over Ramos isn’t as useful as doing something comparable with the much deeper SP class.  The fact that he can give you a solid power and AVG and plays for a suddenly respectable offense and has no real threat to his playing time alone makes him useful, and I’d have him pretty safely ahead of Mesoraco. 

    @SIDA

    “In the twisted and illogical world you guys are operating in, you sell short actual MLB performances because they weren’t up to some exemplary standard in favor of the possibility that someone might be lights out.”

    This isn’t really necessary, I’ve actually tried to agree with you on some issues while offering up my own opinions where I differ with you.  No need for insults. 

    I’m well aware of Hellickson’s minor league track record, but the point is that there were some pretty glaring red flags in his major league season that portend general regression.  Do some pitchers overcome that an improve?  Of course, David Price is a fine example.  And I think Hellickson will to some degree as well.  The other issue is that minor league stats only provide so much indication of upside.  The scouting info is also important here, and clearly favored price after his more modest rookie season. 

    What’s you’re projection for Hellickson, if I may ask?  Doesn’t have to be exact or scientific, but what do you expect his numbers to be in the four standard roto categories that apply to SP. 

    “I suspect none of you will take me up on the bet I have offered.”

    No, I would not take those bets.  There are maybe 2 or 3 pitchers in all of baseball that I would consider betting on having an ERA below 2.93 and a WHIP below 1.09 (FWIW, Matt Latos is not one of them).  The following bet I would certainly consider:

    Matt Moore will have more fantasy value than Matt Latos over the next three seasons.

    That’s what’s at issue here.  Would you take that bet?

  49. SIDA! said...

    RE: Cueto

    This is the stuff that kills me. Every year he has shown progression in ERA/WHIP (don’t have access to secondary stats at the moment) and he has outperformed Gallardo, yet Gallardo still gets more love.

    You guys are inconsistent in your application of criteria. 

    And here Cueto is doing it in Cinci….and at thesame time you guys dock Latos because he is going to Cincy. I mean, there is seemingly no rhyme or reason to what you guys use to rank these guys and when it is convenient you try to point to some saber stat or more advanced metric.

  50. Nick Fleder said...

    I’ll concede, I really do like the fact that Cueto added a curveball that was league average in value. He found some value in his fastball, in his slider, and the GB% is incredible. That says, you have to assume some BABIP bad luck, some more fly balls leaving the park. He might make an appearance near the bottom of my list next time around.

    A projection for Moore: 11 K/9, 2.75 ERA, 14 wins, ~1.10 WHIP. Watch it come back to hurt me, but I think he has the talent to put together that season right away.

  51. MH said...

    They’ve been pretty consistent about how they apply the advanced metrics….The guys they favor all perform well according to FIP/xFIP/SIERA and the guys they don’t…well…don’t.

  52. SIDA! said...

    @MH

    I’ll make a projection but I believe the onus is on the three writers to put forth their projections for Latos, Hellickson, Darvish and Moore first.

    I find it incredible that you say Mat Latos can’t put those numbers up…he already did!  Those are the guys numbers.

    I’m not saying that Matt Moore will not be better than Latos. He very well may end up being better than Kershaw. That is not the point. The point is not whether someone can be better than another but whether or not they willbe better and in order to derive an answer to assign value you have to engage in the assignments of probability.

    And these guys overestimate the probability of the expected outcomes for players who haven’t played or have very small inning/AB samples.

    If you are gonna ask me to make an even money bet on Latos vs Moore, I’m gonna take Latos.

    Last year one of these authors had Jason Heyward ranked number 1 on this list! Over guys like Cargo, Longoria, Justin Upton, etc.

    Not to put you in the role of defending Heyward, but if Hellickson showed red flags last year…Heyward must have been the Titanic!

    And ill give you an example of how the philosophies of these writers play out real life. In my deep keeper,not a dynasty, I traded Heyward for Lincecum.

    Before you laugh and say that that is an apples and oranges comparison, is it? Where was Longoria ranked last year or Cargo or Upton.

    But Goddamn! That owner loved Heyward’s ceiling. His potential was so glorious…

  53. SIDA! said...

    @Nick

    Please let me take your money. I will bet you $1, $100, $1000 or $10,000 or any number in between that Moore doesn’t post those numbers.

    Seriously. Let’s get this done.

  54. MH said...

    “I find it incredible that you say Mat Latos can’t put those numbers up…he already did!  Those are the guys numbers.”

    Perhaps I misunderstood.  I was operating under the assumption that you were proposing, as you put it, an “even money bet.”  For me to take such a bet, I would have to believe there was greater than 50% chance that Latos would put up those numbers.  Are you saying you’d be willing to lay significant odds in my favor for betting Moore might outproduce those numbers?  You’re the one talking about assigning probabilities, so surely you didn’t think I was saying I wouldn’t make that bet even if I had, say, 100 to 1 odds in my favor, did you?

  55. Nick Fleder said...

    @SIDA!

    First off: Mat Latos doesn’t have a 51% GB rate, he has a *fine (at best)* ERA Away from PETCO in his career (if you want to use ERA… 3.57), and now he’s moving to GAB.

    Cueto has played there for four years, and has improved his stuff, changed his repertoire, and learned how to pitch to contact as well as he can. He’ll see some regression to the mean in terms of balls in play, but he’s a good player.

    The task is hard, I admit. Rank guys over the next five years or so, include top prospects, question how much to weigh past vs. future performance. Mat Latos can put up those numbers—he did. You are correct. That’s not, for the hundredth time, the question we’re asking. Will he do it again? Matt Moore, on the other hand—we want to know if he can put up those numbers. So understand that before you throw that into a comparison.

    And to be fair, I didn’t make these rankings last year. Here they are, in case you were wondering :http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/dynasty-ranking-top-25-players-age-25-or-younger-/

    I’m not going to bet you money, but jeez, you are agressive.

  56. MH said...

    @Nick

    I wouldn’t bet strongly against any of those marks aside from the 11 K/9 (I’d question the ERA too, but not by nearly as much).  Betting on any starting pitcher to do that in the major leagues over a full season is silly.  Matt Moore had sick minor league numbers, but he’s not such an extreme outlier that we should be expecting him to do something that’s only been done 18 times in the history of the game. 

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/strikeouts_per_nine_season.shtml

  57. Nick Fleder said...

    @SIDA!

    I would love to see a top 35 from you when you get a chance.

    Early Projections (next year, think of them as highly bullish):
    Matt Moore: 10 K/9, 2.75 ERA, 14 wins, ~1.10 WHIP
    Yovani Gallardo: 9.5 K/9, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 15 wins
    Jeremy Hellickson: ~6.5 K/9, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 15 wins
    Mat Latos: ~9 K/9, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 15 wins

    I’ll admit that I got carried away with the K’s projection for Moore at first, but I think 10 is do-able.

  58. MH said...

    I still think that Moore projection is pretty tough.  Its not unattainable, but I would never project it.  Even at 10 K/9 its only happened 58 times in the history of the game, so just a bit more than once every other year on average.  Its happened that pitchers like Moore have done it (some worse, ahem, Ollie Perez), so its certainly possible, but its extremely bullish to project.

    I also think giving Latos a 9 K/9 and a 3.50 ERA might either be generous on the Ks or or overestimating the park-factor difference a touch, but that might be nit picking.  Even in hitters parks its just unusual for pitchers with good command to strike out a batter per inning and have an ERA that high.

  59. Nick Fleder said...

    Bullish, I’ll admit, but to be fair, the fine fans at FanGraphs are predicting 10.27 K/9 (23 ballots submitted). http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1890&position=P

    Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more likely, but maybe it’ll be industry standard come spring time.

    I picked 3.50 because his xFIP was 3.52 last year and is 3.51 over his career. I could see a league average HR/FB rate coming over from PETCO. He also found more success with the changeup than he did the curveball (2010: 10.1% and 7.1% use, 3.3 and 0.1 value) (2011: 6.6% and 13.2% use, 1.0 value and -1.6 value). So my gut tells me he throws more changeups, and finds a couple more whiffs.

  60. MH said...

    Right, I suppose part of it is if you expect his BB/9 to move back towards 2010 or not.  If it doesn’t, I suppose a 3.50 ERA is possible with a normal HR/FB and 9 K/9, but it seems just a touch high to me.  FWIW, I’d probably give him an 8.75 or so K/9 and 3.40 ERA or so raspberry

  61. Josh Shepardson said...

    Well, I’ve been at work all day, and I see nothing has changed in CIDA’s approach.  It’s wishy-washy at best.  It starts with using Hellickson’s ROY award as validation for his argument, and retracting when it is pointed out that hardware won isn’t a fantasy category.  It meanders on to arguing that a player without major league experience shouldn’t be ranked ahead of one with experience.  And then it heads down the road of Jeremy Hellickson had a shiny ERA, WHIP, and be dammed with his 5.57 K/9 (strikeouts are a fantasy category) that was 1.56 K/9 below LEAGUE AVERAGE, and his 3.43 BB/9 which was 0.30 BB/9 above LEAGUE AVERAGE. His strikeout rate is going to sky rocket because Hellickson had minor league success striking out hitters (which of course flies in the face of the argument Moore’s, and others, minor league stats should mean nothing).  The next order of business on his agenda is to mock sabermetric stats because they are geeky, got it.  That is followed by stating that they don’t count in standard 5×5 leagues, because none of the rest of us have competed in standard leagues and, thus, we need that pointed out.

    I’ve got it so far, correct?  Or am I making a straw man argument paraphrasing what you said?  Then we move on to his all-in shove, almost quite literally, setting parameters for an assanine bet.  The bet that is laid out is that none of the prospects on this list will outperform the ERA and WHIP Hellickson himself had some good fortune in compiling.  I’m a bit confused here, though, isn’t your vehement argument that Hellickson is so clearly better than the others because of his established major league base line?  Shouldn’t the bet be that as a rookie, learning his way, that a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP are his healthy floor?  I mean, clearly, Hellickson has ALREADY DONE THAT IN THE MAJORS (this is the crux of your argument).  Thus, using your logic, he’s bound to improve on those numbers.  It might not be a gigantic improvement, but he should be at least a safe bet to get his ERA in the 2.80-2.85 range, and that WHIP should drop to the 1.08-1.11 range because he’s still improving. 

    The funny thing is, you weren’t looking to wager on Hellickson improving, you were looking to deflect away from that and prospect/ceiling bash.  Of course floor has to play into rankings, but you’ve neglected to point out Hellickson’s floor.  So what is it?  His 2011 season?  Floor did play into the rankings, if it didn’t, and ceiling were the only factor used to determine value, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper would be near the top of all of these lists.  The fact I ranked them higher than Ben and Nick probably speaks to the fact I’m willing to gamble on upside a bit more, even if there is a significantly greater amount of risk attached.  The fact that Justin Upton tops my list speaks to the fact I didn’t dismiss established levels of success and floor in ranking.  I didn’t just “shoot my wad on upside,” in ranking.  I also didn’t dismiss upside as some mythical thing as you have continually done in your arguments. 

    What has yet to be brought up, and seems to be completely forgotten is that this is a Top-35, and doesn’t entirely reflect how any of us would construct a team.  The fact is, if I were to be in a position to gamble on a player like Harper in a “from scratch,” dynasty league, I’m probably going to hedge to a certain extent with some of my upcoming picks and sacrifice ceiling if it comes with a safer base level of talent. 

    Does Hellickson have the talent necessary to improve as a pitcher?  Absolutely, I’ve pointed that out before. I like his change-up and curveball as weapons to help him improve his strikeout rate.  He was near the cut list for me, in spite of his underwhelming peripherals, because I believe he has more talent than was on display in 2011.  The question is, what happens when his strikeout rate improves to, let’s say, 7.8-8.0 K/9 (which would be a huge leap, but possible IMO), and his walk rate drops to 2.80-3.00 BB/9, but his ERA jumps to 3.50, and his WHIP falls in line with his 2011 mark of 1.15?  Is he suddenly a less talented pitcher because his ERA and WHIP aren’t amongst the best in the league?  I don’t think so, but if those are the only stats that should be used to judge a pitcher, I guess I’ll be in the wrong.

  62. LoMo said...

    Completely agree on LoMo. I think the front office thing is over blown. Plenty of player, manny, produce fine with little love w the front office. 
    I just don’t see a maybin, snider, etc being as good. 
    Again.  Great list and love insights.  Just surprised he was 0-3 on list when I felt he was a clear top 25 at worst

  63. Josh Shepardson said...

    Johnny Cueto’s exclusion from my list is a testament to the depth of quality pitching, and not an indictment of his skill level.  On the positive side of the ledger, his GB rate sky rocketed last year, which is HUGE for him pitching in a launching pad.  He also repeated his big control gain that he made in 2010.

    Unfortunately, it was the third consecutive season in which his strikeout rate dropped.  That change is probably the result of a conscious decision to induce ground balls. I make that assumption based on his change in fastball useage.  In 2009 he threw 60.9 percent four-seam fastballs, and 0.8 percent two-seam fastballs.  Fast forward to 2011, and he’s now throwing 40.4 percent two-seam fastballs and 22.8 percent four-seam fastballs.  I’m not saying the decision was bad, as it is probably in his best interests to sacrifice some strikeouts for the huge leap in groundball percentage he enjoyed.  What I am saying is that dreaming on him returning to a guy who posts better than an 8 K/9 while keeping his new found worm burning ways is probably unwise.  I’m thinking his ERA in 2012 settles in around 3.40-3.60 (remember, this was his first season with an ERA below 3.50).  His low walk rate is good news for his WHIP, but some BABIP correction will probably bring that up to the 1.24-1.28 range (still solid).  How many innings pitched are you going to get from him, though?  In four seasons, he has failed to eclipse 190.  Will this be the year?  I think it could be, but for those that need to see it to believe it, he should probably be docked some fantasy value for his inability to do so to date. 

    Gallardo is a no doubt cut above guy to me.  His career worst ERA in a single season is 3.84, and his 3.63 ERA is supported by other measures such as FIP, xFIP, tERA, and SIERA.  His WHIP has been historically hurt by shaky control, but that control has gone from shaky to a plus (4.56 BB/9 in 2009, 3.65 BB/9 in 2010, 2.56 BB/9 in 2011).  The sick thing is, while his control has gotten better, he has upped his groundball rate, and has had to sacrifice very little in his strikeout rate which left him striking out almost exactly a batter an inning this year (8.99 K/9).  That’s an elite trio of skills.  His strikeout rate, and ability to take the mound with regularity has helped him best 200 strikeouts the last three years.  The more I write about him, the more I think I was a bit conservative in my ranking of him at 25.  That said, it is once again a case where pitching is deep, which puts a bit of a premium on elite hitting.

  64. Josh Shepardson said...

    @LoMo

    Yup, players can without question perform with distractions, I just think it’s worth remembering.  Morrison and Maybin are pretty close to a toss up for me.  Both are the same age, but the big difference for me is that Maybin has a chance to be elite in one category (stolen bases) and Morrison is unlikely to be.  It’s also easy to forget that with a full season of at-bats Maybin is probably capable of hitting double digit round-trippers, where as Morrison is unlikely to steal double digit bases.  Don’t forget, PETCO is mostly hell on left-handed power, not nearly as crippling to righties.

  65. SIDA! said...

    @Josh

    Why are you being disingenuous with my statements and twisting them around to suggest that I said something that I did not say?

    First of all, I never said that the ROY in and of itself validated anything or that it was the be all, end all.  What I did say was that I agree with you and others that “hardware” is not the be all, end all when it comes to assessing player talent.  I also said that you simply cannot dismiss the ROY award as if it was awarded to the worst rookie in the league.  Your suggestion that I went back and forth between ROY, meandered over to major league experience and then back to Hellickson’s ERA and WHIP is either an outright attempt to manipulate the conversation or a clear sign that your reading comprehension is worse than your fantasy baseball analysis.

    What I did do was reference the ROY in the same breath as his ERA and WHIP stats.  To which the retort was…yeah, but his FIP and xFIP were in the 4.5 range.  I then countered with a couple of other players you guys all love that had a similar FIP and xFIP.

    Additionally, I never said that you cannot rank guys without MLB experience over guys with MLB experience.  I can give you a list of dozens of names I would take over Travis Snider that have never played or played just a few innings/games in the majors. And I never mocked sabermetrics.  I look at sabermetrics and feel they have merit.  I just don’t believe they are the Holy Grail and sacrosanct.  If presenting other players with comparable sabermetrics on the same stats you used to malign Hellickson and ask you to explain your inconsistency in its application of use than you are grasping at straws.  You should really retract this absurd attempt to malign my arguments.

    What I have said and will repeat, is that greater weight needs to be given to players that have actually performed at the MLB level and that you guys significantly overweight/value potential and ceiling of prospects.

    Someone once said:

    “I think we all simply weren’t comfortable projecting a guy , even with his crazy high ceiling, ahead of guys who have either played very well in the bigs, or demolished the high minors and gotten some big league PT.”

    Does that sound familiar?  It was you who said that last year when you presented a list with Jason Heyward #1 (over Longoria, Cargo, King Felix, Kershaw, etc.).  You also had Pedro Alvarez ranked ahead of Gallardo, Sandoval, David Price, etc.

    Strasburg pitches 24 innings and now he goes from 25 to #2?

    Nick gave some projections.  Are you going to actually give some projections?  Is anyone going to provide a Darvish projection?  Do you feel Moore or Darvish will ever top Latos or Hellickson’s first year numbers? 

    I really love how Hellickson and Latos are dismissed as being lucky or a fluke and that neither of them will ever get better than their first year.  And yet you won’t even project Darvish or Moore to do better in their first year than those two. 

    I love how you guys all play in money leagues (I am assuming) and then you act like you couldnt possibly agree to a money bet.  As if that is unsavory or beneath you guys. 

    If you aren’t going to put your money where your mouth is, let me know when you guys form a league so I can take your money.  Or at the very least, give me some projections for the record for the above players we have discussed so I can mock you all relentlessly when Matt Moore and Darvish don’t even sniff the first year performances of Latos and Hellickson.

  66. SIDA! said...

    @MH

    We’re definitely not on the same page.  You made a statement about Matt Moore being worth more than Latos 3 years from now or something to that effect. I was simply making the statement that I would bet that Latos would be worth more but that it is entirely possible that Moore will in fact be worth Moore. 

    But, I am going to take the guy with 400+ innings of solid performance over a guy with 10 innings of MLB performance. It is the smart money play.  Doesn’t mean I will win that bet every time, but over time…I will ring the register.

    I would have bet Josh last year that Heyward would not be more valuable than Longoria or Cargo or Kershaw or Upton, etc.  Same goes for Pedro Alvarez. 

    Hell, I would of said the same thing about Strasburg before he made his first pitch and guess what…he blew his arm out and did not add value to his owners, etc.

    If you think Matt Moore is going to post something comparable to what 2.75 ERA or a 1.10 WHIP, I will make a bet with you as well.  I can spend your money just as easily as these three contributors. wink

  67. MH said...

    The bet I would consider making regarding Moore is that over the next three seasons, he will produce more fantasy value than Mat Latos. No specific number, one pitcher vs. The other.

    I would also be willing to bet that Mat Latos will not match his first-season numbers in 2011. As you are so quick to point out with other pitchers, I’m not saying he CAN’T put up those numbers, but I would be willing to make an even money bet that he, or nearly any pitcher not named Halladay, Verlander, Lee, Kershaw, Hernandez, Hamels, or Lincecum, for that matter, won’t put up better than a 2.93 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. If we made that bet on 5 different pitchers—say, for instance, Latos, Beckett, Cueto, Weaver, and Cain—all guys who have done so in the last two seasons—you might win on one or two, but I’m pretty confident I’d win at least three.

  68. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ SIDA

    You’re going to question my reading comprehension?  Really? The guy who can’t understand the fact that this is an exercise in projecting future performance, and circles back to Darvish/Moore needing to match Latos/Hellickson’s rookie seasons in order for them to be more valuable IN THE FUTURE, is questioning this?  Hahahaha this is too funny. 

    “You know, the kid that just won the AL ROY by posting a sub 3.00 ERA, a fantastic WHIP and doin’ it in the hardest division in baseball.” 

    That’s what you said above.  You used the AL ROY as a form of validating your argument that it was laughable to not include him on the list.  You didn’t say it was laughable because he had a nice ERA, and nice WHIP, you said it was laughable because he was “the kid that just won the AL ROY…”  Your words not mine, no word twisting.  It was used to prop your argument.  Revisiting that quote, I’ll point out that it’s not beneficial to pitch in, “the hardest division in baseball,” unless you are award RPI points for difficulty of schedule.  Otherwise, most people tend to lean toward players with weaker
    competition.

    “Let me guess…you are going to dock him because “he was statistically lucky” or his strikeouts weren’t there?”

    Bingo, he gets docked for finishing second in the league in strand rate, and leading the league in BABIP against amongst qualifying pitchers.  He especially gets docked because he doesn’t have a strikeout rate that suggests he can strand base runners by striking batters out, and he doesn’t have a groundball rate that suggests he can coax a double play ball to help him beat the league average.  And of course he gets docked for not striking guys out, because while you play in a league that apparently only counts ERA and WHIP, I play in leagues that count both of those stats and strikeouts.  So I ask, why shouldn’t he be docked for failing to strike hitters out?

    “On one hand, guys who haven’t played one game in the majors are ranked higher than actual producers, and solid producers at that.”

    Hey look at this, another quote!  No word twisting, you said it, not me.  Yup, we’ve ranked guys who haven’t even played one game in the majors over actual producers.  It’s called projection, it’s a crazy thing.  Just because Lucas Duda produced a .292/.370/.482 slash with 10 HR’s and 50 RBIs at the major league level, it doesn’t mean I’d rather own him over Bryce Harper in a dynasty league.  Crazy, I know, why would I pass up proven production?  It must be some non-sense backwards logic I’m applying in this whole projecting thing.  Oh and here is further proof of your disdain for players without major league experience:

    “I was referring to the propensity of other fantasy geeks to blow their wad all over guys that have never even played at the MLB level or have a small sample set.”

    It must be nice playing in a league where owners are so willing to deal players after they’ve established they are stars.  In a league like that, you don’t have to gamble on ceiling at all, because when a player gets there, all you have to give up is a few “actual producers, solid ones at that.”

    “What I have said and will repeat, is that greater weight needs to be given to players that have actually performed at the MLB level and that you guys significantly overweight/value potential and ceiling of prospects.”

    No, this is NOW what you are saying, after it is pointed out that your initial statements were foolish.  I’m pretty sure when you continue to modify what you said, that’s meandering.

    “And I never mocked sabermetrics.  I look at sabermetrics and feel they have merit.  I just don’t believe they are the Holy Grail and sacrosanct.”

    “For seemingly the last three years I have been reading about how Ricky Nolasco is undervalued or a sleeper or someone to target because such and such stat is the true barometer of his skill set.  How has that worked out?”

    No, clearly you didn’t mock sabermetrics at all, I mean that second quote isn’t word for word how you attempted to denounce sabermetrics as bunk because Nolasco didn’t pan out as a sleeper.

    “If presenting other players with comparable sabermetrics on the same stats you used to malign Hellickson and ask you to explain your inconsistency in its application of use than you are grasping at straws.”

    I’ve never been asked to explain inconsistencies, and have never been presented inconsistencies.  Who is fabricating things again?  I thought it was me, oh wait, no, you fabricated that. 

    As far as using sabermetrics as some kind of be-all-end-all, I’ve done anything but.  I’ve presented them as reasons why I chose not to include Hellickson.  I also followed that up with non-saber talk looking at his prospect pedigree (as in going back and pointing out his Baseball America rankings) and presented valid points as to how he may improve (better useage of his change-up and curveball which have solid whiff rates). 

    “What I have said and will repeat, is that greater weight needs to be given to players that have actually performed at the MLB level and that you guys significantly overweight/value potential and ceiling of prospects.”

    Nope, once again this is what you are NOW saying.  If you had said THIS initially, instead of ridiculing, name calling and mocking the lists, you’d have gotten much less hostile responses.  This is a weak attempt to paint your previous arguments in a positive and forward thinking way. 

    “‘I think we all simply weren’t comfortable projecting a guy , even with his crazy high ceiling, ahead of guys who have either played very well in the bigs, or demolished the high minors and gotten some big league PT.’

    Does that sound familiar?  It was you who said that last year when you presented a list with Jason Heyward #1 (over Longoria, Cargo, King Felix, Kershaw, etc.).  You also had Pedro Alvarez ranked ahead of Gallardo, Sandoval, David Price, etc.”

    Yup, that does sound familiar.  Unlike you, I will stand behind what I said.  You fail to point out that Heyward was coming off a historically notable debut for a 20 year old at the major league level. Damn right I was buying in.  20 year olds don’t post .849 OPS marks at the major league level all that often.  He’d rank higher on this list if he was just coming off a down year, but concerns about his health drive him down.  He’s also just 22 years old, and this is one year later.  Unless dynasty league is code for re-draft and I’m out of the loop, he still has time to turn things around. Alvarez was a whiff, but Santana, Stanton look good in the top-10, ahead of other proven commodities, Bumgarner had a pretty nice season who I ranked 14th, Desmond Jennings burst onto the scene after a cup of coffee and I placed him 19th, and Wieters/Sandoval look pretty good at 23/24. 

    “Strasburg pitches 24 innings and now he goes from 25 to #2?”

    Yup, because my biggest concern was him returning to the mound without setbacks.  Toss in that on top of returning healthy, that hew as lights out, and yes, I’d say that’s a justified move. 

    “Do you feel Moore or Darvish will ever top Latos or Hellickson’s first year numbers?”

    Maybe, but I fail to see what this has to do with their future fantasy value when compared to one another.  Do I believe Latos and Hellickson will ever top their own first year numbers?  Maybe, but I feel like it’s less likely that Moore or Darvish will, and that’s why I rank them ahead of Hellickson, and in the case of Moore, Latos as well. 

    “I really love how Hellickson and Latos are dismissed as being lucky or a fluke and that neither of them will ever get better than their first year.  And yet you won’t even project Darvish or Moore to do better in their first year than those two.”

    I actually never dismissed Latos as a fluke, but you continue to lump him in there.  His performance was mostly backed up by his peripherals, he ranks lower than his numbers would dictate for other reasons, which I highlighted above.  If the Rays are able to deal Niemann or Davis, and they don’t manipulate Moore’s service time by opening him in Triple-A, then yes, as a rookie I do believe he’ll outperform Hellickson who is in his sophomore season.  Darvish is murkier, but I’m expecting that he’ll perform at a comparable level if he initially struggles with adjusting to pitching in the states, and more importantly, I think he’ll outperform him in the majority of the following years (2013 and beyond).  I also said I do expect Hellickson to improve, namely in his K/9 and BB/9, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll ever best his ERA and WHIP of his rookie season, but you chose to ignore that. I actually said this:

    “He was near the cut list for me, in spite of his underwhelming peripherals, because I believe he has more talent than was on display in 2011.”

    I’d say that’s pretty cut and dry.  I think Hellickson will improve.  You and I differ in what improving means though.

    “I love how you guys all play in money leagues (I am assuming) and then you act like you couldnt possibly agree to a money bet.  As if that is unsavory or beneath you guys.”

    Hey look, you are making things up again!  You’re really good at that.  I never acted as if betting is unsavory, or beneath me.  I love gambling, and even referenced playing poker.  I declined a stupid bet, that only a sucker would take, and that doesn’t in any way relate to who’s future is brighter in fantasy baseball.  I didn’t see you address any of my questions.  You are so confident that Hellickson will be better this year, and by your definition of better, that means ERA and WHIP only, but you failed to provide a bet on such.  Doesn’t seem like putting one’s money where their mouth is to me.  In fact, seems like deflection, and the opposite. 

    What are your projections arm chair quarterback? 

    “Or at the very least, give me some projections for the record for the above players we have discussed so I can mock you all relentlessly when Matt Moore and Darvish don’t even sniff the first year performances of Latos and Hellickson.”

    I feel bad for this poor dead horse.  No one ever claimed that the pitchers they ranked above Latos and Hellickson would best their rookie year performances.  You created that argument, and continue to trumpet it as one created by us.

    For giggles, here are my 2012 projections (not projecting wins as they are mostly a team dependent stat):

    Jeremy Hellickson: 200 IP, 7.40 K/9, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

    Mat Latos: 205 IP, 8.70 K/9, 3.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

    Matt Moore: 185 IP, 9.70 K/9, 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

    Yu Darvish:  200 IP, 8.75 K/9, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

  69. Josh Shepardson said...

    “Hell, I would of said the same thing about Strasburg before he made his first pitch and guess what…he blew his arm out and did not add value to his owners, etc.”

    I would have told you headed into September that both the Red Sox and Braves would have historic collapses this past year! Ha, beat that.

    Hindsight, crazy thing.

  70. SIDA! said...

    Except that you wouldnt have said that and I would have actually traded Strasburg for an established player that was already performing. 

    I am going to trade an elite prospect or guys with tons of “upside” all day long for guys who are actually producing and ranking in the top 50 players each year.  And I guarantee you that I will come out ahead in the end.

    Thank you for actually posting your projections. Hopefully I can get the other two to give projections for all these guys as well.

    I enjoy reading in black and white that the two players you rank ahead of Latos and Hellickson will not even sniff their first season numbers and that your project Yu Darvish and Hellickson to be essentially a push in 2012 after all this back and forth. 

    You do realize that you have projected over the course of a season a 2 run, 10 walks and hits and 30K differential between Darvish and Hellickson, right?

    You are going to take all that risk on a Japanese import just to gain 2 runs, 10 hits and walks on the WHIP and 30Ks even after you have discounted Hellickson’s 2011 performance?  And yet, Hellickson can’t even sniff your rankings and is way down on your list? 

    Nevermind, don’t even answer. I think our discussion has run its course and all our arguments have been presented.  Let the readers takeaway what they want from the discussion. 

    My parting message to your readers would be to make sure you are not overvaluing the probability of realizing the “potential” of prospects and make sure you properly quantify the value of those who actually perform. Don’t be the sucker always looking for the next great thing. It is sheer lunacy to rank and value guys that haven’t done significantly more than guys who have done it and more often than not the guys with the track record should be preferred.

  71. SIDA! said...

    *the last sentence got a little jumbled there.

    I meant, sheer lunacy to rank and value guys that haven’t dont it at the MLB level significantly more than those who have done it.

    P.S. If Darvish is trotting out a 3.65 ERA and Hellickson is trotting out a 3.75 ERA…what would you estimate their FIP/xFIPs?

  72. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ SIDA!

    “And yet, Hellickson can’t even sniff your rankings and is way down on your list?”

    Ummm…

    “Does Hellickson have the talent necessary to improve as a pitcher?  Absolutely, I’ve pointed that out before. I like his change-up and curveball as weapons to help him improve his strikeout rate.  He was near the cut list for me, in spite of his underwhelming peripherals, because I believe he has more talent than was on display in 2011.”

    This is what I said, not sure how that equates to didn’t sniff my lists.

    I’m done arguing with someone who continues to dodge, duck and deflect my questions and twist my words while failing to provide their own projections when demanding them from others. 

    Best of luck using ERA and WHIP as the be-all-end-all for predicting future success.  I mean someone has to love Jair Jurrjens.

  73. SIDA! said...

    LOL at the Jair Jurrjens blast.  I am not going to carry his water, but you mean the guy that has a career ERA less than what you project for Yu Darvish and about equal to what you projected for Matt Moore?

    Oh yeah…I forgot.  ERA is overrated…

  74. SIDA! said...

    About the sniffing your list… I apologize. I misspoke and confused you with either Nick or Ben.  It is hard to keep straight which arguments the three of you are making at times.  I stand corrected.

  75. Josh Shepardson said...

    @Zeus,

    I like LoMo quite a bit.  He got consideration starting around 28 on this list (where I ranked Jason Kipnis).  I love his patient approach, and his raw power.  I believe it was his prospect write-up in the 2009 Baseball America Handbook (but I may have the year wrong) where it was noted that he put on batting practice displays that rivaled those of Mike Stanton.  Batting practice home runs don’t count in fantasy games, or real game for that matter, but they do at least suggest that his 23 HR outburst this past season wasn’t out of nowhere.  Recognizing he has huge raw power alleviates most concerns that I might otherwise have about his big jump in HR/FB. 

    My bigger concern, however, is that he is from the Billy Butler school of hitting truck loads of groundballs.  Another concern I have is his rocky relationship with the Marlins front office.  These are humans, and it’s possible it could impact his play on the field.  With good health, and no team imposed suspensions, a .275 average with 20-25 HRs seems attainable.  That’s pretty damn good, but I’m not sure what to project for counting stats, because I’m unsure where Ozzie Guillen will slot him in the lineup.  If he makes a conscious decision to alter his approach and tap into his raw power, he could be a better fantasy option than quite a few players listed on here.

  76. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ MH

    Thanks for the thoughtful contributions to the commentary.  I like Latos, and he has been a tremendous pitcher (hence his ranking on this list).  A couple concerns I have with Latos that go beyond his change of home ballparks.  His velocity has declined the last two years on his fastball (94.2 mph in 2009, 93.7 mph in 2010, 92.8 mph in 2011).  That’s certainly not the end of the world, but it could help explain a trend that could be damming for him, and that’s declining fastball useage (66.5 percent in 2009, 59.8 percent in 2010, 55.8 percent in 2011).  In addition to throwing his fastball less, he is also throwing his change-up less (11.8 percent in 2009, 10.1 percent in 2010, 6.6 percent in 2011).  What that adds up to is an increased reliance on his curveball and slider.

    I mentioned above that to a certain extent, I believe some guys are built to hold up to the rigors of a starting pitching load, and some aren’t, and I stand behind that.  However, I also believe that an over useage of breaking balls is less than ideal for a pitcher’s elbow/shoulder (even if there isn’t firm quantitative analysis to my knowledge confirming that suspicion).  Latos has already missed time with shoulder soreness (DL stint to begin 2011), and I think that, when taken in context with my other concerns, is reason to rank him a bit lower than his strong play to date probably warrants. 

    If you’re interested, I actually took a bit of a look at him here: http://fantasybaseball365.com/2011-articles/december/reds-and-padres-agree-to-a-blockbuster.html after he was dealt to the Reds.

  77. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ MH

    I forgot to address Wilson Ramos.  I’m a fan, namely in two catcher formats, but he’s the type of player that is hurt by emerging talent at the catcher position (Santana/Posey/Wieters/Avila not to mention prospects like Mesoraco/d’Arnaud/LaVarnway/Grandal/Rosario and Jesus Montero for now) and established talent in place (McCann/V-Mart in 2012/Mauer/Napoli/Miguel Montero).  In Ramos’ defense, there is a great deal of value in getting every day at-bats and having the ability to hit for mid-to-upper teens power with a passable batting average at catcher.

  78. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Good job with the list, guys.

    Interesting stuff. I don’t have a ton to add, except to emphasize that the nature of this kind of list is to prioritize picks/players that can possibly be home runs.

    If player A is 22 and posts WARs (as a stand-in for actual fantasy stats) of 2.8, 3.1, 3.3, and 3.5 for the next four years, and player B puts up something like 0.8, 1.4, 4.8, 5.7 – those players are producing the same overall WAR value, but player B “wins” on this kind of list because what you are really going for is value above replacement.

    Phrased another way, if Jeremy Hellickson puts up 3 of out the 3 next seasons where he ranks between the 25 – 35th best (fantasy) pitcher, that’s great. He has a legit value and he is very good. But, if Yu Darvish, for example, has 1 top 10 season (certainly nothing remotely approaching a guarantee) then he “wins” even if he’s barely fantasy-relevant in any other season. …A player like that presents his own challenges (you have to get him on your team in the right season), but that’s a second discussion.

    Identifying these kinds of players is an exercise not in judging the overall career value of players, or even guessing who is most likely to have a good major league career. What you’re trying to do here is identify players with game changing potential and hope you hit on some. This is not where you acquire complimentary players to fill out your roster and contribute their share, this is where you try to hit home runs. …At least, that’s how I perceive the nature of these lists.

    And, it’s that issue that causes some of the debate. I too think many of us experts are too gaga about players who have proven little or nothing yet at the highest level. Therefore, I’m probably on Kershaw side in the Kershaw/Strasburg argument issue, but if a player (like Hellickson) has only established an ability to be fantasy relevant, but not reliably elite, that doesn’t mean a whole ton to me in this kind of discussion because a player’s fantasy value lies in being markedly better than that. And, every sliver of value above replacement is basically exponentially more valuable than the production below it.

    In the case of Kershaw/Strasburg, I’d probably take the bird in hand against the two in the bush. But, in a situation like Helickson, I’m rolling the dice on somebody like Darvish bringing a second bird to the party.

  79. MH said...

    @Derek

    Completely agree.  I always tend to assume that general, in most formats, as the cost of a player decreases, the marginal value of “upside” increases and the marginal value of safety decreases.  Thus I’ll be more inclined to take a safer bet on Kershaw over Strasburg’s upside, assuming cost is similar, while when you get to lower cost guys like Hellickson and Darvish, my strategy goes the other way.  The issue is how replaceable almost all of the outcomes for Hellickson are, including may of the best possible ones.  There’s a nice quantity of pitchers at that level, so in theory, the replacement cost is low, while the replacement cost of high value assets is extremely—even prohibitively—high.  Its almost impossible to acquire guys who you can safely expect to produce high value without hurting your team elsewhere, so hitting on some lower cost guys who had a small chance of producing big has tremendous value.

  80. matt said...

    Fun list and I know I’m incredibly late to the party, but… I wouldn’t put too much weight on Strasburg’s numbers from last season. We’re only talking about 5 MLB starts and none of them went past the 6th inning. Strasburg didn’t face a single team that had an above average offense. Every opponent was well out of the race except for Atlanta, who was in a free fall. He didn’t pitch great against Atlanta.

    The best argument for Strasburg over Kershaw has to be based on a traditional scouting assessment. I’d be hesitant to make that case. There’s lots of evidence that Kershaw is an true ace. Strasburg doesn’t have much room for error if he is going to pass Kershaw.

  81. Ben Pritchett said...

    I want to also add that I will have Chris Sale in my revision Dynasty rankings that should be out next week or the week after.

    We’ll see what other changes I will have in store. But let the Strasburg vs. Kershaw debate live on.

  82. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Ben Pritchett

    Chris Sale is a good name.  I’d say he’ll miss the cut for me, but not by much.  Not thinking I’m going to do a ton of tweaking, maybe a bit of shuffling.  I view Sale much in the same light as Darvish.  Lots of upside, but comes with questions.  His questions are different, but include: How will his stuff play as a starter? How will he do working through a lineup multiple times?  How will he do with the increase in workload? 

    He has the repertoire to get batters of each handedness out.  He started in college, so it’s not as if he’s completely new to starting.  I like the pedigree, and like that he has had success against major league hitters, albeit, out of the bullpen.

  83. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Aaron,

    You’re mixing up my commentary with Jeff’s from last year.  I dug, because I didn’t remember making the comparison, and saw Jeff did.

  84. SIDA! said...

    Just wanted to try one more time to get some projections from all of you.

    Josh supplied projections for all four:

    Jeremy Hellickson: 200 IP, 7.40 K/9, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

    Mat Latos: 205 IP, 8.70 K/9, 3.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

    Matt Moore: 185 IP, 9.70 K/9, 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

    Yu Darvish:  200 IP, 8.75 K/9, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

    Nick put forth:

    Jeremy Hellickson: ~6.5 K/9, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 15 wins

    Mat Latos: ~9 K/9, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 15 wins

    Matt Moore: 10 K/9, 2.75 ERA, 14 wins, ~1.10 WHIP

    Nick, do you care to put forth a projection for Yu Darvish?

    Ben, do you care to put forth projections for all four?

    Thanks

  85. Ben Pritchett said...

    I didn’t know we were still commenting on this thread. Here ya go SIDA…

    Jeremy Hellickson: 6.5K/9, 3.67 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 11 Wins

    Mat Latos: 8.33 K/9, 3.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 15 wins

    Yu Darvish: 8.1 K/9, 3.12 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 16 wins (This year, but look for much better next year. These are dynasty rankings ya know)

    Matt Moore: 9.5 K/9, 3.21 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 18 wins
    (Cy Young winner within the next five)

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  87. Ben Pritchett said...

    Where are the Jeremy Hellickson lovers at? They are starting to call him “Shellickson”(@jasoncollette). He’s looked as bad as any pitcher in baseball this Spring. For those that didn’t listen, it’s time to sell before it’s too late.

  88. SIDA! said...

    Just checking in to let you all know im still around and prepared to eat my crow should things not go my way.

    I’m very happy with hellickson and annoyed with latos. However, he has outperformed gallardo and moore to date. Darvish looks to be the real deal.

    Still way too early to brag or throw in the towel.

  89. SIDA! said...

    Well, we are entering the back stretch now. Here are the current numbers.

    Hellickson: 3.43 era and 1.31 whip
    Darvish: 4.57 era and 1.46 whip

    Latos: 3.94 era and 1.23 whip
    Moore: 3.84 era and 1.39 whip

    Cueto: 2.52 era and 1.21 whip
    Gallardo: 3.79 era and 1.31 whip

    Ben Pritchett wrote somewhere in this thread that he would be right and i would be wrong…and that you all would never hear from me again.

    We ain’t at the finish line, yet…but it is quite clear you guys are getting smoked so far. Maybe, you all should offer me a writing gig on this site.

    P.S. Travis Snider is making huge contributions for his patient fantasy owners.

  90. Ben Pritchett said...

    Welcome back!

    Hellickson/Darvish: Stupid argument. Hellickson has been bad this year. Sure his ERA isn’t that bad, but he’s realistically been a glorified middle reliever. At least a good MR has a better WHIP, ERA, and should be comparable in Ks. Five relievers have 70+ Ks. Hellickson has 76. Darvish, on the other hand, has 154 which ranks 6 IN ALL OF BASEBALL. His inflated ERA is due to his last three bad starts. Before that, he was sub-4. C’mon, nobody in their right mind would rather have Hellickson over Darvish in a dynasty and that’s why we ranked Darvish over Hellickson. And that’s why we will continue to do so.

    Latos/Moore. Moore has been a disappointment, but like you show they are very comparable to each other even in wins and Ks. Moore’s age, left-handedness, and composure are what is so enticing and still make him a better dynasty play than Latos. But I think we can all agree that Matt Moore will slide a bit in next year’s rankings.

    Cueto/Gallardo- I admitted that I thought Cueto was ineligible for these rankings (turned 26 in FEB) and he would have been in my top 30. That was an oversight by me. Notice that Gallardo is not in my top 30 nor would I have ever put him there. So we agree on this one.

    I don’t know if the Travis Snider comment was tongue-in-cheek or not. I did rank Snider in my top 30, and I think we’ll see him find a lot of success in Pit.

    Glad you came back though.

  91. SIDA! said...

    Hellickson has been bad? A glorified middle reliever?

    That is nonsense.

    In 17 of his 20 starts, he has given up three or fewer runs. Darvish has given up 4 or more runs in 8 of his 21 starts. Granted, darvish gets his k’s, no denying that. But k’s aren’t the be all end all. Maybe ollie perez is still on your leagues waiver wire.

    Darvish is averaging 6.1 innings per start.
    Hellickson is averaging over 5.2 innings per start.

    Hellickson would have to give up 22 er in his next 14 innings to match darvish’s era. Further, darvish’s era was already higher than hellickson’s before those starts you conveniently want to throw out.

  92. Brad Johnson said...

    I actually own Ollie Perez in a linear weights league. Prior to a recent bad outing he had been very helpful.

    smile

    Both pitchers have been unimpressive and aren’t worth hoarding by any means. I see few dynasty/keeper formats where they could be viewed as strategic assets. Both possess a degree of upside though. Darvish more than Hellickson.

    In any event, this argument doesn’t need to be happening. Everything is basically as expected within a normal variance.

  93. Ben Pritchett said...

    I wonder if that SIDA guy still wishes he had Hellickson over Darvish. Darvish has been outstanding as @bchad50 (Josh Shepardson) pointed on his twitter: In Darvish’s last seven starts: 50.2 IP, 2.49 BB/9, 10.66 K/9 (4.29 K/BB), 26 hits allowed, 2.13 ERA, 0.79 WHIP. #AceMaterial #Rangers

    His season WAR is up to 4.9 which is only behind Verlander, King Felix, and Gio for tops in baseball. He has 214 Ks on pace for 220+. He has 16 Ws, double that of Hellickson. His FIP and xFIP are on the opposite end of the spectrum to Hellickson. I’m done with this debate.

    I’d also like to point out that I think our Strasburg ranking ahead of Kershaw seems like a decent call heading into future years. For all the flack we should have gotten, these two calls were actually solid.

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