Archive for ‘2012 Fantasy Guide’

Thursday: 01.10.2013

2012 Starting Pitcher Guide Review

Here is a (by no means comprehensive) report card for the 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide. I did the same last winter reviewing the 2011 guide and folks seemed to enjoy that so I figured let’s do it again. Who doesn’t like a little accountability? I’m always going to have hits and misses. Obviously the goal is to have many more of the former, but above all I want my process to be sound so that it is driving the analysis into the right place and then you can apply it to what you’re seeing on your TV/MLB AtBat app and in the stats then perhaps you can uncover your own hits. I hope I helped you assemble a viable staff in your fantasy league. And if you happened to get saddled with any of my big misses, hopefully they were cancelled out by two or three (or eight) hits.

**ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE 2013 GUIDE COMING SOON!**

Last year’s guide

Jump to National League
Jump to The Misses

AMERICAN LEAGUE

…nailed a second straight Cy Young call (Kershaw in 2011) highlighting David Price’s immense potential in the guide, “There is still another level to Price as he has a Verlanderian season in his future; his 2010 was a taste” and pegging him for some hardware in the projections spreadsheet comments, “Follow the skills, not ERA, to see that he’s getting better yearly; future Cy Young”. Tabbing Kershaw and Price as superstuds is hardly walking the thin branches, but their modest W-L records the year before may have deflated their value in some leagues which should have never happened.

…loved Jake Peavy as a low investment/high upside play for those willing to stomach the obvious injury risk, “Injury risk looms, but 4.0 K/BB shows the upside & full health could yield a star return”.

…also loved Peavy’s teammate Chris Sale, who was transitioning from the bullpen. From the guide, “Sale is a worthy asset to be sought after both immediately and for the future. He may only pitch 150 innings, but he could strike out 135 batters with a 3.65 ERA which would be incredible value at his current price.” He turned out even better as there was no real cap on his innings.

…saw Max Scherzer as someone to invest in, “I was bullish on Scherzer last year and remain so headed into 2012 especially because the 2011 surface disappointment should lower his price at least a tick. Now is the time to buy.” If you follow me on Twitter or listen to my podcast, you know I was never dissuaded from Scherzer even with a 7.77 April ERA or 5.55 through May.

…bought into Doug Fister’s improvements in the second half with Detroit and he actually ended exceeding strikeout estimates, “I do think Fister has a legitimate shot to be a low 6s strikeout pitcher with great control and a groundball lean giving him a real chance at 200+ innings with a mid-3.00s ERA and enough Ks to make it worthwhile. His post-trade work shows there is potential for even more, too. There is real talent here.” Injuries are the only thing that kept the 200 IP/mid-3.00s from happening.

…eagerly backed Felipe Paulino, “[who] was a growth stock to monitor in last year’s guide, but now he is a full on buy especially since his price is likely to stay low thanks to his composite numbers (4-10, 4.46 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)”, and only injuries could derail that train. He was brilliant through seven starts and no doubt paid back the dollar you spent on his services.

…liked an aged Bartolo Colon, “All that to say that a healthy Colon (and at 39, I’m considering healthy something around the 164 innings he reached in 2011, let’s say anything 145 or better) is a worthy buy. Outings in Texas could be dangerous, but there is more good than bad here with Colon”. He had a 3.43 ERA in 152.3 innings, and it was at 3.05 in 141.7 if you had him in a league where you could bench him for his Coors Field and US Cellular Field starts.

…all but aced Jarrod Parker’s projection giving him between a 3.58 and 3.87 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP and 8.3 K/9 in 151 innings. He bested the innings and ERA at 181.3 and 3.47, respectively, making up for the 6.9 K/9 and 1.26 WHIP. The comment was strong as well, “Uber-prospect ready to step onto the stage for big rookie season in OAK.”

…saw Tommy Milone for the value he does have, “I often prefer guys who miss bats, [but] I also like bargains and this particular skill set is still underappreciated on the fantasy landscape.”

…suggested that fantasy players only use Jason Vargas in his friendly home ballpark, “The best deployment of Vargas is as a home-only spot starter. His flyball/pitch-to-contact profile is very dangerous outside of Safeco Field.”

…wished that the Mariners would’ve used Hisashi Iwakuma in their rotation from the jump comparing him to Hiroki Kuroda, “Kuroda has been one of my favorite values the last few years thus if Iwakuma continues to mirror Kuroda as a major leaguer, he could end up as a nice 2012 bargain. Signing with the low profile Mariners should help curb his debut price tag this spring.” Iwakuma went 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, and 2.8 K/BB in 95 innings after a modest 4.75 ERA in 30.3 relief innings.

…believed in Matt Harrison’s 2011 season, “his breakout was due almost entirely to growth and improved skill meaning we should see more of the same in 2012.”

…had a good feel for Yu Darvish, “I lean toward the conservative on things like this so I would pay for something like a 3.70-4.00 ERA in 170 innings (that looks like a big range, but it’s five earned runs in 170 IP). The likelihood of him completely falling on his face is low in my estimation as he seems to have the stuff and makeup to avoid such a fate, but I think the upgrade in difficulty of Major League Baseball compared to the Japanese League he is coming from is such that the likelihood of a sub-3.00 ERA season of dominance is equally low. Bid cautiously on this promising, but uncertain profile.”

…has never really liked Clay Buchholz especially given his price tag, “Injuries have been a yearly concern and the skills aren’t that appealing to overlook that risk, but his presence on the Red Sox is likely to keep his value relatively high making it easy to stay away as the price surges.”

…didn’t buy Daniel Bard’s move to starter, “Necessity seems to have prompted move to SP, but I’m not sure it works right away.”

…was worried that Henderson Alvarez’s strong 2011 debut would inflate expectations, “This a growth stock, though the progression is probably more of a long-term one thus we will likely see some regression in his numbers in his first full season around the league”.

…refused to bite on Justin Masterson’s 2011, “I wouldn’t pay the premium for his 2011 season with the hopes that he figures out southpaws, rather I would let someone else take the plunge and monitor him from afar. Better to reassess this winter and decide for 2013.”

…wasn’t surprised by Rick Porcello’s career-high hits-allowed rate, “For now, he remains an AL-only play primarily both because he is still growing and because of the potential pitfalls with the infield defense, but don’t write him off as a bust so quickly.”

…saw flaws in Bruce Chen’s 3.77 ERA from 2011, “There is a good chance that Chen will suffer a severe regression before it is all said and done and you don’t want to be around for it.”

…fought off the temptress that is Francisco Liriano noting that “his next 200-inning season will be his first. The potential remains evident, but the headache that comes with it remains equally evident and can’t be quelled by any amount of ibuprofen thus he is better off on anyone else’s roster but your own.”

…has never had faith in Nick Blackburn, “I love groundball pitchers, but you have to strike out somebody and Blackburn simply doesn’t with a career strikeout rate 4.3 and a career-best of 4.6 set last year (not counting his 6.2 K/9 in 12 IP in 2007). Avoid.”

NATIONAL LEAGUE

…didn’t exactly call Kris Medlen becoming the best pitcher ever, but you NL-only players should’ve had him on your roster once he did, “[F]or now he is a $1 NL-only guy who could pay dividends as your last pitcher logging 70-something strong innings with 70-something strikeouts and having an outside shot to emerge as a starter should injuries ravage the Braves rotation and the more advanced prospects prove unready.”

…continued to like Jon Niese, “With a little help from his defense, he can have the breakout season that his skills have been begging for the last two years. Go an extra buck or two on what will likely still be a low price tag.”

…loved Jordan Zimmermann, “This profile is brimming with potential, a fact not lost on mock drafters as his he holds an average draft position as the 34th pitcher off the board and 117th overall. I could see him even a bit higher as he is poised for a true breakout turn in 2012. Go the extra dollar… or three.”

…liked Ryan Dempster to rebound from a rough 2011, “Hopefully the jump in ERA is seen as a decline in skill by your leaguemates and pushes Dempster’s cost down at the draft table. If so, be ready to pounce. Heck, even if it doesn’t, his price tag is rarely as high as the value he delivers.”

…was pretty darn close on Mat Latos’ projection giving him a 3.26-3.56 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in 214 innings only to see him post a 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9 in 209.3 innings. Not too bad when you consider the error bars in projections. As with Scherzer, I was never worried even when Latos ended April with a 5.97 ERA.

…saw the upside in Homer Bailey’s peripherals, “Despite a pair of mid-4.00 ERAs the last two years, xFIP has Bailey at 3.75 and 3.77 based on his pure skills. There is upside to invest in here.”

…was really bummed when A.J. Burnett bunted a ball into his own face, but stayed the course which paid off even more when he beat estimates on how much time he’d miss. He still ended up with 202.3 innings. “[He is] shifting to the pitcher-friendly PNC Park and NL Central fresh on the heels of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving. I’d be willing to take a shot in a league with a reserve roster or disabled list spots because Burnett could be very useful in the 4 or so months he does pitch this year.”

…liked Trevor Cahill so much that he got a full breakdown even before the guide came out seen here and his projection was dead on. The guide put him down for a 3.60-3.92 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 6.9 K/9 in exactly 200 innings. He threw exactly 200 innings and managed a 3.78 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 7.0 K/9.

…was hoping for a full season out of Chad Billingsley, but fantasy managers no doubt netted a profit in his 149.7 innings given his average draft position in the spring, “I think the 2011 season creates a great buying opportunity for Billingsley especially as his ADP is currently tracking eight spots below teammate Ted Lilly’s as the 74th starter off the board and 29 spots overall at 271.”

…suggested Chris Capuano would be a worthy late pickup, “He is a nice low-dollar gamble who can really pay off if there are more solo shots than anything else.”

…found the obvious value in Clayton Richard, but made sure everyone else saw it too, “he is at best a home-only spot starter so if you don’t play in a league with a reserve roster that would allow you to stream him in and out, don’t even bother.” So he managed some value despite leading the NL in home runs allowed and all of MLB in hits allowed thanks to his 3.02 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 95.3 home innings.

…bought fully into Madison Bumgarner’s star potential, “This is a star in the making, but don’t expect any sort of discount as he is tracking just five spots below Cain on starting pitcher ADP at 20th and just over a round later as a 7th rounder (75th overall). Buy.”, and only a shaky September (5.47 ERA in 26.3 IP) kept it from fully coming to fruition. That September kept the ERA projection of 2.99-3.28 from coming through (he ended at 3.37), but everything else was on target.

…saw enough from Ryan Vogelsong’s excellent 2011 to stay invested, “Even if his LOB% regresses back toward the 72% league average, he can still be a valuable asset if everything else remains steady. His xFIP had him at 3.85 so you should plan for that as a ceiling and bid accordingly from there.” He even bested that 2011 xFIP with a 3.37 ERA in 189.7 innings.

…urged everyone to run away from Jair Jurrjens, “I almost refuse to roster Jurrjens for any price at this point, especially if his 5.3 K/9 from 2011 is a new level he plans to work at going forward. Sure, there is a price at which point it becomes crazy not to take a shot, but he is unlikely to fall to my threshold for that scenario.”

…and Carlos Zambrano, “I just don’t see the upside. Zambrano can miss some bats and while does generate more groundballs than flyballs, his rate is on a three-year decline down to 1.1 GB/FB last year. No thanks.”

It wasn’t all peaches & cream. There are bound to be some misses when you’re doing several hundred profiles.

THE MISSES

I was too high on Matt Moore despite pointing out the reasons why I shouldn’t be within his profile. I fell for the new shiny toy, which is exactly what I repeatedly tell y’all not to do.

I gave up on Jason Hammel after supporting him for years!

I watched in horror as one of my favorites, Ricky Romero, crumbled and took our teams down with him.

I watched in horror as another one of my favorites, Dan Haren, fought a losing battle against injuries and he saw his performance diminish in concert.

I expected a much bigger rebound for Gavin Floyd.

I thought Ubaldo Jimenez’s 2011 struggles were merely a blip. More like a blimp… because are blimps are large… and his struggles were large… :crickets: No? OK, no.

I didn’t think Ervin Santana would lead baseball in homers allowed thus tanking his numbers.

I was a bit too aggressive on Derek Holland… for approximately the 19th straight year.

I didn’t think Mark Buehrle would see such stark improvements in WHIP and K rate in the NL.

I thought Kyle Kendrick was useless as a fantasy asset.

I figured Joe Blanton’s shiny peripherals would yield something way better than a 4.71 ERA.

I suggested avoiding Paul Maholm despite his amazing first name.

I remain baffled by home run king* Bronson Arroyo. (*that’s not a flattering title for a pitcher)

I was way down on Kyle Lohse.

I loved Tim Lincecum (like just about everyone else I’m sure, but it’s still a miss in my guide so I’ll own it).

As I mentioned up top, I’ll have information on the 2013 guide very soon. I’m already working on it which is the earliest ever. It will be the best iteration yet!

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Wednesday: 08.8.2012

Starting Pitching Rankings for Remainder of ’12

I apologize for the tumbleweeds blowing around here the last week-plus.  I’ve been adjusting to my new sleep schedule as a gainfully employed citizen and it has limited my time to post.  That said, I have definitely been working on baseball projects in the limited spare time I’ve had and the primary project has been my rest of season SP rankings.  I did a top 80 for each league as well as an overall top 100 which includes commentary.  I did it in Excel and you can find the file below for the latest version of Excel as well as a 1997-2003 compatible version.  To whet your appetite a bit, here are the top 24 sans commentary:

And here are the files for your perusal.  I encourage comments if you have questions about guys or anything of that nature.

Top 100 from Aug to EOS

Top 100 from Aug to EOS-Old Excel

The commentary is listed on the first sheet and then you have the league-by-league ranks on the second sheet.

Tuesday: 03.27.2012

BS Report and Betting Dork!

My primary goal for the 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide was to make it better than last year’s offering which I considered a resounding success.  I am feeling confident that the goal will be met as the 2012 version has already had more downloads than last year’s and that number is likely to go up after today.  Today’s BS Report during which Bill Simmons discussed baseball with his buddy Jack-O and Grantland head baseball writer Jonah Keri included a plug of the SP guide.   You can and should listen to the entire podcast at the BS Report link in the previous sentence, but I’ve also included my name check here because why not?!

Simmons Plug

Additionally, I recorded my second stint on the Betting Dork podcast with Gill Alexander from Pregame.com.  Last week we covered pitchers (naturally) and this week we dove into position players discussing a handful of over and under valued guys.  Gill is an excellent baseball handicapper and while we’d both love to add the other’s primary hobby (mine being fantasy baseball, of course), the time needed to succeed at both is just too much.  At least too much to enjoy it and maintain any semblance of a life during the summer.

Part 1 talking pitchers (I come in at the 30-minute mark, but listen to it all if you love baseball)

Part 2 talking hitters (I come in at the 43:30 mark, but again I recommend the entire show)

Monday: 03.19.2012

The 2012 Starting Pitcher Tiers & Projections – Now Available

When I released the 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide last week, I made mention into the introductory piece that there the tiered rankings you are likely used to seeing in the guide would be part of a supplement to come out later.  Later is now as I have completed the file.  It is a lot different from previous years in that this year’s version includes projections for 124 starters across the AL & NL.  I’ve never tackled projections before, but decided that it would be a healthy addition to the tiered rankings and give you a better handle on how well (or poorly in some cases) I think these guys will do in 2012.  For the aforementioned 124 arms, there will also be an additional comment within the spreadsheet so if the 73,000 words of the guide weren’t enough, I’ve got more reading for you!

Here is a sample of the AL rankings (click for full-size)

As you can see, they are split into colored tiers with the projections and comments included.  That sample shows a couple from each grouping in the AL.  There are 64 names in AL who got a projection.  I cut it off there because I’m not sure how useful projections are for the lower grade guys like Nick Blackburn, the uncertain playing time guys like Jacob Turner and the who-really-cares-if-they-pitch-200 IP-anyway-guys like Bruce Chen.  Of the 21 names in that bottom grouping that you will see on the spreadsheet, I’m sure some of them will emerge into useful arms whether in AL-only formats or all formats, but things aren’t adding up that way right now so I focused on the most useful names (in my estimation).

Here is a sample of the NL rankings (click for full-size)

Right now, the Tiers & Projections will be available to donors only. 

I’m insanely appreciative of those who donate for the work I do and I wanted to reward that generosity so once you donate through the PayPal link (also found in the upper right of the page), you will be sent the Excel file containing the information.  If you’ve already donated, it should already be in your inbox.  If it’s not and you believe you should have it, please let me know via email or on Twitter.  If your PayPal email address isn’t where you want it sent, just let me know and I’ll make sure you get it at the proper address.

Wednesday: 03.14.2012

The 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide

It’s finally here!

-400 Pitchers

-76,300 Words

-190 Words Per Pitcher (on average)

-151 Pages

Please enjoy the 2012 Guide and feel free to direct any questions and comments either here in the comments section, on Twitter @sporer or via email through sporer at g mail.  As was the case last year, you can donate to show your appreciation in the upper right corner of this page.  I sincerely appreciate any and all donations and I’m beyond flattered at the fact that I’ve already received a handful of donations AHEAD of the release.

2012 SP Guide with 400 Player Capsules

Tuesday: 03.6.2012

Update #2: 2012 SP Guide

Last week I announced that I would be releasing the 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide today, but that isn’t going to happen just yet.  It was an aggressive date that I thought I could hit, but I didn’t get everything done in time.  I’m working extremely hard and even around the clock on some days to get everything done as I know draft season is ready to fire up in earnest pretty quickly.  At the same time, I pride myself on putting together a quality product and I don’t want to rush a lesser product out just to have it done in time for the early March drafts and auctions.

I hope everyone can understand my desire to put out the best product possible as a one man crew and I apologize for those who were looking forward to today’s proposed release date.  In light of a second push-back (originally I wanted to hit March 1st), I’m not going to pressure myself into a specific date, rather I will continue working day and night to get the product ready for consumption in a timely manner that should still have plenty of utility for the overwhelming majority of drafts and auctions.  I’m confident that the product will be worth the wait.  Thanks in advance for your patience.

Monday: 02.27.2012

Update: 2012 SP Guide

The 2012 Starting Pitcher Guide is still being worked on and it is currently on track to be released a week from Tuesday.  I was hoping to have it out no later than March 1st which I could maybe make by rushing it, but I would rather the product be complete and of higher quality than rush it out to hit a target date that doesn’t have any real significance other than it being the start of a month.  As I mentioned in the preview piece, there are fewer players capsuled this year (don’t worry, still over 400), but in lieu of that there is a lot more analysis on the players who matter.  Instead of covering fringy prospects with 5th starter ceilings in the bottom of Baltimore’s organization, I’m spending more time on major leaguers who are going to impact fantasy teams this year and can do so in a significant way.

Last year’s book checked in around 73,000 words and this year’s is already on pace to hit 87,000.  I am not trying to be unnecessarily wordy by any stretch of the imagination, but if a player merits a deep dive, he is getting it this year.  Another difference for this year is the lack of the feature pieces at the front of the guide, but again, the sort of analysis found within those pieces is now peppered throughout the guide with the longer capsules.  To give you a rough idea of what to expect, last year’s guide had an average of about 110 words per player.  This year’s average so far is about 180 words per player.  There isn’t a specific target or sweet spot for the word count per player and I’m not just dragging on about a guy if he doesn’t merit it, but I felt that you, the readers, would be better served by deeper analysis of the core of pitchers that will matter in 2012 (whether major leaguers or the prime prospects).

I will have some pitcher-related articles up on this site after the release of the book which will cover my favorites for 2012 and who I see making the leap forward, things of that nature.  I just wanted to update everyone as I have been getting tweets and emails (which I have no problem with and am completely flattered by) about the release date. I’m also planning a special supplement that I will keep the details of quiet for now as I have to decide if it something worth going through with from a value standpoint for readers.   Better to marinate on it for now in private than to talk about it, get some people hyped and then not follow through.

So March 6th.  I apologize to anyone who has already had their draft or is having it this weekend and I realize the guide loses utility the deeper into March it is released, but I still think a March 6th release gets out in time for the majority of drafts and auctions.  One other reason for the pushed release date is that I did a poor job of editing last year and there were typos (mostly missed words) because I didn’t take time to proof the entire guide after it was completed.  I will be doing that this time around to hopefully cut down on the errors found within the book.  I’m also looking for a job at the same time and so I can’t devote all of my time to the book as I would like to be gainfully employed again some time soon.  Feel free to tweet or email me with questions or comments, especially if you are drafting before March 6th and have questions about certain pitchers.

Friday: 02.3.2012

2011 Starting Pitching Guide Review (and 2012 Announcement)

Well, that dopey groundhog saw his shadow and saddled us with six more weeks of winter allegedly (it was 76 degrees today in Austin), but that’s neither here nor there because the calendar turning to February means baseball is once again on the horizon.  Spring Training will start mid-month and from there we will soon have meaningless Spring Training game stats to ascribe far too much meaning to as we prepare for our fantasy drafts and auctions.

My annual Starting Pitcher Guide is also on the horizon.  Last year’s edition was a resounding success and while it may be difficult to top, I plan to do so in 2012.  While the number of pitchers covered is unlikely to grow for the first year since I started back in 2008, the analysis of those included in the guide will be expanded.  Make no mistake, it will still be a robust offering covering names all the way down to the short season minor leagues, but there just won’t be as many of those project types included in 2012.

What you can expect is another guide that will have utility regardless of your league type.  Whether you play in an 8-team mixed league or 20-team dynasty league with 50-man rosters, you will be well equipped to tackle the 2012 pitching pool with aplomb.

Last year’s guide

…nailed the rebound of James Shields, “He is likely to be dirt cheap and I can’t recommend buying in enough. The downside if his luck just bounces back to average is 2009 while the upside is 2008 or better.”

…outlined the immense upside of Clayton Kershaw (though admittedly it takes all of one time seeing him pitch to understand his greatness), “He has more brilliance in his future including a 20-win season and/or a Cy Young award.  Buy.”

…pegged the sleeper status of Ian Kennedy, “He deserved better than his 9-10 record even with the gopheritis, but that may depress his value again in 2011 making him a sleeper albeit a much different kind of sleeper than prior to the 2010 season” and also offered a solid expectation for teammate Daniel Hudson’s first full season, “I would use Kennedy’s 2010 line (194 IP-3.80 ERA-1.20 WHIP-168 K) as a guide for Hudson’s 2011 (222 IP-3.49 ERA-1.20 WHIP-169 K) and bid accordingly”.

…encouraged aggressively buying into a 2011 rebound for Josh Beckett, “With his BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB rate all working against him, he is ripe for a significant bounce-back in 2011, which may also come at a measurable discount. This is a buy profile regardless of the size discount, because he certainly won’t cost what he did heading into last year.”

…really liked the prospects of Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann even with a reduced workload on the heels of Tommy John Surgery, “[Innings] Limit or not, I love Zimmerman’s skills and will do what I can to acquire his services for my teams.  He has strikeout-per-inning stuff with above average control.  In his 91-inning debut, he pitched like a mid-3.00s starter, but bad luck cost him more than a run rendering him a 4.63 ERA. Buy now on this budding star, especially in keeper leagues.”

…loved Ricky Romero for 2011, “He’s a bit under the radar for some reason. In ESPN’s top 75 starting pitcher list, he’s behind Jeremy Hellickson, Trevor Cahill and Jhoulys Chacin among others. All three of those guys have their merits, but I wouldn’t take any of them ahead of Romero.  He could take another step forward in 2011, but even a 2010 repeat is very valuable.”

…stayed the course with Derek Holland for a second year & reaped the benefits of his 16-5, 3.95 ERA season, “One of my favorites for a little while now, Holland flashed real skill in his 57 innings, but an injured shoulder cost him 55 games in the middle of the summer. He has a good chance of locking up spot in the rotation heading into 2011 and I’m looking for the full breakout.”

…liked Bud Norris for a solid year, especially at his price (next to nothing, even in NL-Only leagues), “If I’m going to buy into an imperfect profile, there has to be a legitimate upside and Norris has it. With his strikeout-per-inning stuff, Norris isn’t far from being an impact arm at the major league level.  The biggest hurdle remaining is his control. If he can get his walk rate under four per game (4.5 BB/9 in ’10; 4.4 career), he could have a big season.”

…suggested keeping Cory Luebke on your watch list for the first opening in San Diego, “If he doesn’t win a job in Spring Training, he will be on call if any of the non-Latos entities falters as they all come with their own special brand of risk. Keep an eye on him. He still qualifies for minor league drafts and he’s almost certain to contribute at some point in 2011.”  Luebke pitched well out of the pen (39 IP, 43 K, 3.23 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) through mid-June before finally getting a start on June 26th and holding a rotation spot the rest of the way (101 IP, 111 K, 3.31 ERA, 1.09 WHIP).

…pointed out that Scott Baker’s skills were much better than his >4.00 ERAs in three of the last four years heading into 2011, “Still, the skills beyond the flyballs are so appealing that it’s hard to stay away. Be prepared to walk if the price climbs too much, but there is value and upside lingering in this profile.”

…preached caution with youngster Kyle Drabek, “Even if he wins the job, I would suggest tempering expectations of a youngster who has skipped AAA. Keeper leaguers invest; re-draft leaguers invest only at the right price.”  Even that tepid endorsement probably wasn’t enough as he was absolutely brutal in any format.

…warned that Clay Buchholz wasn’t a 2.33 ERA pitcher with his skill set, “He continued to be successful because a strong 51% groundball rate was supplemented by very favorable BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB rates that turned a 3.50-4.00 season into a 2.33 one. I love profiles with elite groundball rates and above average or better strikeout rates, but you will pay a premium for Buchholz’s 2010 in most leagues making it tough to invest for profit. I would pass unless his value is commensurate with his true skill.”  He had almost equal strikeout and walk rates, yielding a 3.48 ERA in 83 innings before injuries cut his season short.

…had Jonathan Sanchez’s 2009 season as the barometer for his 2011 forecast, “Use that [2009] season (4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHP, 9.8 K/9) as your guide and bid accordingly.  His price may escalate because of 2010 so don’t be afraid to bow out; let others pay the unnecessary premium.”  Sanchez toted a 4.26 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 in 101 innings.

…didn’t buy Mike Pelfrey’s 2010 artificial breakout at all, “He’s not a legitimate mid-3.00s [ERA pitcher] with his current skills profile. I don’t think he’s going to all of a sudden develop an above average strikeout rate after 683 major league innings at 5.1, so his key to pushing the strikeout-to-walk rate above 2.0 (for the first time ever) is his walk rate. If the record (15-9) and ERA (3.66) inflate his value, step away.”

…virtually nailed Mat Latos’s 2011 performance, “Look for a 3.25-3.50 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP or better and 8-9 Ks per game for the budding star.”  Latos pitched to a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 8.6 K/9 in 194 innings.

…wasn’t deterred by Hiroki Kuroda’s age, instead focusing on his consistent year-to-year performance since coming over to the States, “Though 36, he shows no signs of slowing down (including significant 2nd-half improvement in 2010) yet the elevated age generally brings an unnecessary but welcomed discount.”

…saw improved control mitigating the impact of a worse infield defense for Jaime Garcia, “A 180 inning season with a 3.50ish ERA, 1.30ish WHIP and 140 strikeouts is very good. The worsening defense with the departure of Brendan Ryan will hurt a groundballer like Garcia, but improved control after getting 163 innings under his belt isn’t out of the question either, which would help offset Ryan.”  Garcia threw 195 innings with a 3.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 156 K (7.2 K/9).

…was actually a little on high side when it came to Javier Vazquez’s rebound even though his season started off about as poorly as possible, “I’m less concerned [about his velocity dip in the Bronx] as a one year drop doesn’t automatically make it a certainty and though he is 35, I think he will rebound nicely out of the limelight with the Marlins. We almost certainly won’t see 2009, but 200 innings of 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and a heap of strikeouts has plenty of value.”  On June 11th, 13 starts into his season, Vazquez had a 7.09 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 66 innings, but pitched to a 1.92 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in his final 127 innings to end the season with a 3.69 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 193 innings (as well as a solid 7.6 K/9).

Of course those 18 success stories were but a sample of the insightful analysis found in the 2011 guide and in the interest of full disclosure, there were some duds which is to be expected when putting out 546 player profiles.  I was way too high on Kevin Slowey, who managed just 59 innings of work and while his 6.8 K/BB ratio was a career best, his 1.5 HR/9 led to a 6.67 ERA and 0-8 record.

I also thought buying in on John Lackey was wise.

I saw an implosion for Mark Buehrle, who enjoyed his best ERA since 2005.

I thought Derek Lowe was a low-risk investment (5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP).

I vastly underestimated his teammate, Tim Hudson, who showed plenty left in the tank at 35 improving his K and BB rates.

I fell for Ricky Nolasco… again.

I jumped off the Matt Garza Bandwagon before reaping the dividends after loving him in 2010.

I stayed the course with Jason Hammel whose skills were much better than his ERA for two straight years until last year when he decided to regress his skills toward his ERA instead of vice versa.

I thought AJ Burnett could rebound from his dreadful 2010 thanks to a solid track record & big time strikeout ability… whoops (Burnett lowered his ERA just 0.11 to 5.15).

I dismissed the signing of Bartolo Colon by the Yankees, lumping him in with Mark Prior, “even the best Spring Training in the world couldn’t convince to lay a dollar on either, but they are in Tampa and could feasibly pull off a miracle… I guess.”

I overrated Brett Cecil suggesting “he definitely merits heavy consideration in most league formats” as he went on to post a 4.73 ERA in 124 innings thanks in large part to a 1.6 HR/9.

I gave Justin Masterson merely a tepid endorsement which may have caused some to miss out on the 26-year old’s breakout season, “There is still to work to be done, especially against lefties. Invest on the cheap in AL-Only leagues and deeper mixed leagues, but maybe reserve (if applicable) or just monitor him in standard 10-12 team mixers.”  I should’ve stayed the course with him after recommending him in the 2010 guide.

I was duped by Bruce Chen again, who lowered his undeserved 2010 ERA by 0.40 despite a strikeout rate below 6.0, “If you are falling for the 4.17 ERA last year and actually consider rostering Chen in any league format, I’d rather you just send me your money since burning it is illegal.”

I thought Joel Pineiro could continue to offer value as a low strikeout, control artist after back-to-back sub-4.00 ERA seasons in 2009 and 2010.  I was so very wrong.  His already miniscule strikeout rate plummeted to 3.8 K/9 and his ERA rose significantly to a completely unusable 5.19 in 146 innings.

In any sort of undertaking like the 2011 Starting Pitching Guide, there are going to be hits and misses, but overall I am happy with how everything turned out both when I published it last winter and now as I look back on how the prognostications panned out.  You can expect more quality analysis in the 2012 guide as well as feature pieces diving into a bevy of starting pitcher-related topics yet to be determined.

Apart from knowing there will be profiles and some articles, details are scant on the 2012 guide because I have several decisions to make in terms of both content and distribution.  I am flattered with how many inquiries I’ve received on Twitter and via email asking if there will be a guide this year so I wanted to make it known that there will be one which also explains why coverage has been scant at paulsporer.com through January.

I’ll post updates throughout the month especially as I get a strong handle on a release date.