When it comes to the chinstrapninjas.com composite rankings list, we saved the best for last.
After composite rankings at catcher, first base, shortstop, second base, designated hitter , outfield and closer. we will be closing the series with our top 50 compsite starting pitchers per aggregate rankings from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, CBS Sportsline and FOX Sports.
1. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (6 composite points): People can argue all they want about Lincecum’s unorthodox delivery or his incredibly small stature in comparison to other elite pitchers. Forget judging the book by its cover. Look at the track record over the past two seasons, and you can quickly see from a statistical standpoint that Lincecum is something special.
2. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (14): Ranked as high as second and as low as fourth overall on starting pitcher lists. Few players in baseball have Halladay’s staying power in the majors, and to this point, he did it for a punchless Blue Jays squad.
3. Zack Greinke, Kansas City (16): Finally, Royals fans have something to cheer about in Greinke. His stats were almost unbelieveable at points last season, registering sub-human ERA totals and an impressive 242 strikeouts by season’s end.
4. Felix Hernandez, Seattle (21): King Felix has been hyped for quite some time as a potential top fantasy pitcher and he finally broke through in 2009 with a 2.49 ERA and 217 strikeouts. Only 23, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with for quite some time. A ranking of eighth among all starting pitchers by cnnsi.com kept Hernandez from finishing higher on this list.
5. C.C. Sabathia, NY Yankees (24): Hard to argue against the best pitcher on the best team in baseball. He has a stacked lineup behind him and dominating stuff across the board.
6. Dan Haren, Arizona (35): Notice the larger dropoff in composite score here. This would indicate a good spot for dropping to the second tier of hurlers. It isn’t that Haren isn’t immensely talented, just that there is some concern about how much his stats dropped off from the first half of 2009 to the second half, including a ERA increase from 2.01 to 4.62. Just saying.
7. Justin Verlander, Detroit (36): Who led all pitchers in strikeouts in 2009? Yep, Verlander. Ranking 10th on ESPN’s starting pitcher boards was the only thing holding Verlander back from jumping up this list. While the pitchers higher are nice, Verlander is the first pitcher I see myself taking on a consistent basis in drafts this spring based on his average draft position thus far and his sick stats and overall potential.
8. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis (39): Adam was a force in the NL in 2009, leading the league in innings and wins, while finishing fourth in the NL in strikeouts and ERA. He’s becoming a fairly reliable option to lead off your fantasy rotatation.
9. Jon Lester, Boston (43): Don’t just look at Lester’s season-ending stats in 2009 and figure he’s a run-of-the-mill option here. He endured a statistically horrific April and May before putting it all together and skyrocketing his way through the rest of the season. He’s gambling he’ll continue that tear into 2010.
10. Johan Santana, NY Mets (57): Once upon a time, Santana was the first pitcher on lists such as these. Of course, once upon a time, he pitched for the Minnesota Twins. The Mets seem to find ways to flub away talent, and while Santana should be able to rebound from a disappointing 2009, he’ll be doing it on someone else’s fantasy roster.
11. Cliff Lee, Seattle (59): The last time we saw Lee, he was pitching quite well for the Phillies. Now he’ll be holding down the No. 2 rotation spot on a Mariners squad that is vastly improved from its 2009 self.
12. Josh Johnson, Florida (63): Who would have thought that Johnson would be this good after enduring Tommy John surgery. One has to wonder, at least a little, about Johnson’s large increase in innings pitched and how it will translate into stats or lack thereof in the future, but for now, ride the hot hand with Johnson.
13. Josh Beckett, Boston (72): Sure Beckett is a little inconsistent from start to start, but he improved his wins, ERA and strikeouts in 2009 over the season before, and finds himself falling a few spots in fantasy rankings from a year ago today. A little weird.
14. Javier Vazquez, NY Yankees (76): While Vazquez didn’t fare too well in his last campaign with the Yankees, he still has plenty of sick skill and ability and is backed up by the best offense in baseball. Methinks he’ll do well this time in tbe Bronx and he’ll find himself on a number of my fantasy teams this spring if the draft positioning is right.
15. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis (78): A poster child for why I like composite rankings, Carpenter was ranked eighth among starting pitchers in 2010 by CBS Sportsline, but 34th by cnnsi.com. Whoa. Fantasy experts are concerned about Carpenter’s durability over a full season, even though he was able to pitch 192.2 innings in 2009 while compiling his best-ever ERA and WHIP. Just don’t expect him to buoy your team in strikeouts.
16. Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee (80): If Gallardo can solve his walks problem (third highest among starting pitchers in 2009), he’ll be able to leapfrog his way higher on this list. Love his run support, by the way.
17. Tommy Hanson, Atlanta (86): A very young, very hyped pitching prospect in 2009, Hanson was lights-out for much of the season. His 2.89 ERA in 127.2 innings pitched should only get better over time.
18. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado (95): Who would have thunk that a Rockies pitcher would find himself inside the top 20 fantasy pitchers, but Ubaldo belongs here. Just 25, he saw three-year bests in every major category in 2009.
T19. Matt Cain, San Francisco (97): Although he saw a decline in strikeouts in 2009, Cain took a dramatic leap in the right direction in ERA in exactly the same number of innings pitched.
T19. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia (97): His situation on a loaded team and pitching out of the No. 2 spot could be enough to allow Hamels to bonce back from a disappointing 2009 campaign that saw significant increases in ERA and WHIP.
21. Clayton Kershaw, San Diego (203).
22. Jake Peavy, Chicago WS (111)
23. Wandy Rodriguez, Houston (112)
24. Ricky Nolasco, Florida (122)
25. Chad Billingsly, LA Dodgers (133) … notice the bigger leaps around this spot and moving forward in overall composite score).
26. John Lackey, Boston (135).
27. Jered Weaver, LA Angels (142)
28. James Shields, Tampa (147)
29. Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta (148)
30. Matt Garza, Tampa Bay (156).
T31. Scott Baker, Minnesota (162)
T31. Roy Oswalt, Houston (162)
33. AJ Burnett, NY Yankees (163)
34. Brandon Webb, Arizona (166)
35. Brett Anderson, Oakland (181) … the most undervalued on this list in my opinion.
36. John Danks, Chicago WS (189)
37. Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs (190)
38. Scott Kazmir, LA Angels (199)
39. Matt Scherzer, Detroit (205)
40. Edwin Jackson, Arizona (211)
41. David Price, Tampa Bay (213)
42. Gavin Floyd, Chicago WS (215)
T43. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs (217)
T43. Kevin Slowey, Minnesota (217)
45. Clay Bucholz, Boston (218)
46. Rich Harden, Texas (223)
T47. Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado (226)
T47. Tim Hudson, Atlanta (226)
49. Randy Wolf, Milwaukee (238)
50. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston (241).
Who are your starting pitchers to watch for this season? Let us know in the comments below.