Predicting wins is a crapshoot. You’re rolling dice if you’re drafting pitchers just because someone somewhere said they’ll get you 18 or 20 Ws.
However, it doesn’t hurt to know which players are most likely to get Ws, especially when you’re splitting hairs between two equally matched pitchers.
Like in the previous posts in this series, three different sets of early projections were reviewed and three-year averages were taken into account where necessary. The number in parentheses next to the names are average draft position.
Roy Halladay, Phillies (32.03) — If you wanted to call Halladay the best pitcher in baseball, nobody would argue with you. His decimals are dirty, he’s prone to striking out plenty of opponents and he always, always gets Ws. The move to Philadelphia’s park could hurt him some, but it’ll probably be a push because he’ll be striking out pitchers a couple times each game.
CC Sabathia, Yankees (29.24) — If you pitch for the Yankees and you keep your WHIP around 1.15 like Sabathia has over the last three years, the wins will pour in.
Tim Lincecum, Giants (12.39) — Relying on an awful Giants lineup to provide run support, you could be scared about his chances of winning 20 games. However, he won 33 games in the last two seasons.
Jon Lester, Red Sox (59.10) — He’s an absolute ace at Fenway and has 31 wins in the last two years.
Josh Beckett, Red Sox (85.40) — An inning-eating machine relying on the same lineup that’s keeping both him and Lester swimming in Ws.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners (28.66) — Surprised to see Hernandez ranked as low as he was in a couple lists. It’s probably because nobody expects him to win 19 games again for the M’s. But he could easily get you 15.
Justin Verlander, Tigers (43.79) — Baseball’s newest $80 million man should probably be higher on this list. He won 19 games last season, and there are some who figure the Tigers will be better in 2010. Value here.
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (58.12) — Completes our trio of back-to-back-to-back 19-game winners from 2009. He’s a lock for 15, but could easily approach the 20-wins plateau again.
Cliff Lee, Mariners (52.70) — So, in that three-team trade that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, the Mariners got a great pitcher, too. Lee will probably never match that career year he had in 2008, but he’s only 31 and proved how great he is by shutting down the Yankees effectively in the series. Put him in any lineup and he’ll get you 15 Ws.
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (38.80)– Anybody who knows Haren knows that you can expect him to win 12-15 games before the All-Star break then stumble to the finish line. It’s what he does.
Javier Vazquez, Yankees (61.96) — He gets to double-digit wins every year, got 15 for the Braves last year and will have the Yankees lineup backing him up in 2010.
Jair Jurrjens, Braves (128.52) — A Chinstrap Ninjas favorite, Jurrjens showed he’s more than just a spot-start pitcher last season. He still plays for the Braves, but 15 is well within reach.
Cole Hamels, Phillies (99.75) — Halladay and Hamels is a pretty formidable 1-2 punch. If we get the Hamels from 2008. A mediocre Hamels in 2009 won just 10 games, a bounce-back puts him in the 15-17 range.
Jered Weaver, Angels (134.82) — Like a lot of the players on this list, Weaver benefits from being part of a talented organization. If he gets 200 innings, he’ll easily get you 15 wins.
As in the previous lists, there are a few players who finished just out of the running but who could easily get you 15+ Ws.
Zack Grienke‘s getting the do-it-for-more-than-one-year treatment from the experts, but he’s still getting drafted in the third round. Johan Santana, while not as dominant as the Johan of old, still won 13 games on a poor Mets team in 2009. Chris Carpenter is old (35) but returned to Cy Young form last year. Ubaldo Jimenez (25), Yovani Gallardo (24) and Chad Billingsley (26) are young and on the verge of great things. Don’t be surprised if one of these three players finishes in the Top-10 starting pitchers by the time 2010 closes.
So, 19 players are likely to get 15 or more wins in 2010. For comparison, you might ask, how many pitchers reached that plateau in 2009? 22. No pitcher won 20 games, but four won 19:
Hernandez, Wainwright, Sabathia and Verlander
Carpenter; Halladay; Beckett and Scott Feldman, Rangers
Grienke; Weaver; Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies; Joe Saunders, Angels; Lincecum; Vazquez; Josh Johnson, Marlins; Lester; Jimenez; Joel Pineiro, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Jason Marquis, Rockies; Scott Baker, Twins; Derek Lowe, Braves.
Another notable statistic: The projections point to 19 likely candidates for 15 wins in 2010, and that number fits perfectly with a trend in declining 15 game winners since the majors saw 30 pitchers reach the mark in 2006. Only 27 made it in 2007, 25 made it in 2008 and 22 in 2009.
UPDATE: In my sleep-addled 4:30 a.m. writing stupor, I failed to check all of my facts and told you that Cliff Lee was a Blue Jay. He’s actually a Mariner. Thanks to reader, and regular commenter, Ryder for catching the misfire .