March 2010

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National League Projected Offenses

I just finished up my Offseason In Review series at MLB Trade Rumors, and it involved projecting the offenses for all teams using CHONE projections and the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool.  The National League results in runs per game:

  1. Rockies - 4.907
  2. Phillies - 4.871
  3. Marlins - 4.845
  4. Braves - 4.844
  5. Cardinals - 4.832
  6. Dodgers - 4.784
  7. Brewers - 4.751
  8. Mets - 4.738
  9. D'Backs - 4.702
  10. Cubs - 4.688
  11. Reds - 4.552
  12. Pirates - 4.550
  13. Nationals - 4.368
  14. Giants - 4.282
  15. Astros - 4.202
  16. Padres - 4.149

The extremes will probably hold up, but tons of variables will change these rankings around in reality.

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Keith Law's Breakout Players

A year ago ESPN's Keith Law named the following players as breakout candidates: Clay Buchholz, Yovani Gallardo, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Lind, Lastings Milledge, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jonathan Sanchez, and Justin Upton.  The results:

  • Jones, drafted in the 16th round, provided $8.71 in value.
  • Lind, drafted in the 22nd round, provided $21.01 in value.
  • Upton, drafted in the 19th round, provided $18.62 in value.
  • Gordon, Milledge, and Saltalamacchia provided little or no value.
  • Buchholz pitched only 92 innings in the bigs but was decent.
  • Gallardo, drafted in the 10th round, provided $14.37 in value.
  • Kershaw, drafted in the 18th round, provided $14.65 in value.
  • Sanchez, drafted in the 20th round, provided $4.95 in value.

Law named ten breakout candidates and unearthed three very good players (Lind, Upton, Kershaw) drafted very late, plus Gallardo, Jones, and Sanchez for solid value.  Six of the ten picks worked out well, and the risk was minimal.

Hopefully I've proven that Law's picks need to be taken seriously.  This year he's touting Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, David Price, Jay Bruce, Ian Stewart, Brett Anderson, Gordon Beckham, Chase Headley, Cameron Maybin, and Matt Wieters.  Insider is required to read the article (sign up, it's worth it).

Bruce, Anderson, Beckham, and Wieters are all being drafted pretty early, often before the 10th round.  Rasmus, Snider, Price, Stewart, and Maybin are the five who might provide the most profit.  I'd probably cross off Headley, who will be more valuable in real life than fantasy.  Focus on the remaining five, with Rasmus, Maybin, and Stewart the intriguing power/speed guys but also batting average risks.

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Fantasy Sleepers: Out of Options

With spring training winding down, all eyes are on the waiver wire as Major League Baseball teams scramble to find the best mix for their Opening Day, 25-man rosters. As such, players with no minor-league options remaining are particularly vulnerable this time of year. Below, we've listed the eight most likely players to break camp on Major League rosters - even if it's not with the club they're currently playing for - that could have a positive impact on your fantasy baseball roster in 2010.

For an entire list of players out of options in 2010, visit MLB Trade Rumors.

Bobby Wilson | Catcher | Los Angeles Angels

Unless Mike Napoli or Jeff Mathis suffers an injury, Wilson doesn't have a spot on the Angels' 25-man roster, which is too bad. He's turning 27 shortly and has more than proven himself both offensively and defensively in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Wilson has the potential to hit for a respectable batting average for a catcher, along with line-drive power. With just 17 at-bats this spring, Los Angeles may be trying to hide him in the hopes of slipping him through waivers.

Brayan Pena | Catcher | Kansas City Royals

Pena proved last season in the Majors what he'd shown in the minors: He can hit. Not a great defensive catcher, Pena was used behind the plate just 30 times as the club's third-string catcher in ‘09. He'll likely serve as the No. 2 guy behind Jason Kendall this season; with the veteran's decline in offense and increasing age (35), Pena could see more action in 2010. Expect a good batting average and slightly-above-average pop.

Dana Eveland | Left-Handed Pitcher | Toronto Blue Jays

Eveland seems to have more lives than a cat. Just 26, the left-hander has seemingly been around forever and his next MLB club will be his fourth. After making 29 so-so starts with Oakland in '08 (4.09 FIP), Eveland has looked good in the Toronto 'pen this spring and he even has an outside shot at the club's No. 5 starter role. The southpaw has always had potential, but his lack of conditioning has held him back.

Mitch Talbot | Right-Handed Pitcher | Cleveland Indians

After getting stuck behind higher profile arms in Tampa Bay, Talbot may finally have some luck with the young Indians staff. The right-hander has posted some impressive triple-A numbers over the past three seasons but he missed significant time in '09 and made just 15 starts. Now healthy, Talbot is continuing to show good command/control while posting a 1.04 ERA in 11.1 spring innings. The 26-year-old pitcher has a big league arm.

Tyler Clippard | Right-Handed Pitcher | Washington Nationals

Clippard has some similarities to Talbot and he's also in a reflective situation with the Nationals. The 25-year-old right-hander made 41 relief appearances with Washington in '09 and he should have a bullpen spot sewn up for 2010, as well (despite some control issues this spring). Keep an eye on him, though, as he could end up with some spot starts due to questionable pitching depth in the organization. Clippard gave up just 36 hits in 60.1 innings last season.

Sean Gallagher | Right-Handed Pitcher | San Diego Padres

It's been a rough spring for Gallagher, who is just 24 years old but already out of options. With pitchers like Wade LeBlanc and Mat Latos setting the world on fire, the right-hander is likely headed for a long-relief stint in the bullpen. Don't forget about Gallagher, though. Still young, he has a big, strong pitcher's body and he's shown better command/control in the minors than he showed last season in the Majors. Add in the fact that his new home is in San Diego and his fly-ball tendencies should be less damaging.

Homer Bailey | Right-Handed Pitcher | Cincinnati Reds

Oh, how the mighty prospect has fallen. Bailey was once the cream-of-the-crop when it came to pitching prospects but he fell on hard times in '07 and '08. He made 20 big league starts in '09 but was inconsistent. The right-hander has had pretty good results this spring, although the 3 Ks in 11.2 innings is a bit worrisome - especially for a guy whose fastball sits around 94 mph. If he can continue to make strides with his slider, Bailey could develop into a real sleeper.

Sergio Santos | Right-Handed Pitcher | Chicago White Sox

Santos is one of the biggest high-risk, high-reward players in the game right now. The former shortstop gave up hitting after topping out at triple-A and being given up on by Arizona, Toronto, and Minnesota. With a rocket arm, Chicago moved him to the mound and has been reaping the benefits ever since. Although he's still raw on the mound, Santos' options are gone and the 26-year-old hurler could open the year with the Sox thanks to a blazing fastball that has seen him strike out 11 batters in 6.2 innings of work. His five walks are definitely a concern, but Chicago loves hard-throwing relievers and Santos could help out AL-only squads with his big strikeout numbers and even some vulture wins.

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2010 RotoAuthority League Draft Results

12 combatants squared off last night in the $100 RotoAuthority league.  Format: mixed 5x5 with C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P, P, Bn, Bn, Bn, DL, DL.  Click here to view the results.

I had the sixth pick, and ended up with this group:

  1. Matt Kemp (6) - I was hoping for Braun or Utley to drop to me, but Kemp was the consolation prize.
  2. Joey Votto (19) - I didn't want to do this, but Rollins, Tulo, Wright, and Lincecum were off the board.  I feel Votto can potentially match the overall production of some of the bigger-name 1Bs like Teixeira.
  3. Mark Reynolds (30) - Having taken Kemp and Votto, with Jeter on the radar, I felt I could stomach Reynolds' .250-.260 AVG for big contributions in the other four categories.  I also didn't like the remaining 3Bs nearly as much.
  4. Derek Jeter (43) - With Zobrist gone this was an easy choice.
  5. Carlos Lee (54) - Cruz and Werth were off the board, but I wanted to keep adding offense.  Brian Roberts and his back scare me.
  6. Gordon Beckham (67) - At this point Asdrubal Cabrera was the best available 2B.  Then I realized I could use Beckham there within a week or so, and I feel Beckham has more upside.
  7. Hunter Pence (78) - Not in love with this pick, but he won't hurt you.
  8. Carlos González (91) - I knew I'd have to take CarGo early in this league.  Jay Bruce and the other remaining OFs didn't hold the same appeal for me.
  9. Javier Vázquez (102) - Billingsley and Brett Anderson, also in my queue, went right before this pick.  But I was happy to get Vazquez; I think his projected downturn is overblown.
  10. Geovany Soto (115) - With Montero and Napoli off the board I had to take Soto.  Last year I got burned picking him in the 5th round, but this was easier to stomach.  Speaking of stomachs, Geo lost 40 pounds!
  11. Francisco Liriano  (126) - I regret not taking Garza here.  Liriano this early was quite risky, with plenty of more reliable interesting arms available.  If he closes, I'll have to make a trade for a starter.
  12. Ryan Dempster (139)
  13. Chad Qualls (150)
  14. Carlos Beltrán (163) - My thinking was that 3/4 of a Beltran season is worth $15, plus I will have someone filling in in the meantime.  It was the best OF upside pick I could find.
  15. Garrett Jones (174)
  16. Matt Capps (187)
  17. Kelly Johnson (198)
  18. Brandon Webb (211) - Probably risky to make a second Beltran-like move and tie up both DL spots until at least May.
  19. Matt Lindstrom  (222) - There were no remaining stable closers at this point, and I didn't feel like jockeying for saves this year, so I took both Astros candidates to ensure I have three closers.
  20. Brandon Lyon  (235)
  21. Mat Latos  (246) - Maybe it's because he plays for the Padres, but Latos is getting surprisingly little love.  If he's capped at 160 innings, I'll just drop him at that point.
  22. Jason Hammel (259) - His last four months were very sharp; I can see a sub-4.00 ERA and good WHIP. 
  23. Colby Lewis (270) - Dominant in Japan, worth a look.
  24. Jeff Francoeur (283) - If he runs more, this could be a solid pick until Beltran is ready.
  25. Ramón Hernández (294) - It hurt to settle for Hernandez.  I will be looking to upgrade.
  26. Adam Kennedy (307) - He'll take second base until Beckham is eligible, and then will probably be cut.  But, his 2009 numbers were better than I realized.

After settling last year for veterans like Chipper Jones, John Lackey, Carlos Delgado, and Randy Johnson because they were the highest-projected on my board, I decided to take a different approach in 2010.  My plan was simply to not make any picks I didn't like.  If it didn't feel right I didn't do it.  I chose upside and offense whenever possible.  I find starting pitching the easiest thing to find on the waiver wire, so I let that become a deficiency.

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2009's Top Pitchers

The Top 50 starting pitchers of 2009, with '09 draft round in parentheses:

  1. Zack Greinke (13)
  2. Tim Lincecum (3)
  3. Felix Hernandez (8)
  4. Javier Vazquez (12)
  5. Justin Verlander (11)
  6. Dan Haren (5)
  7. Roy Halladay (4)
  8. Adam Wainwright (11)
  9. Chris Carpenter (25)
  10. C.C. Sabathia (3)
  11. Josh Johnson (13)
  12. Jon Lester (9)
  13. Matt Cain (11)
  14. Josh Beckett (6)
  15. Wandy Rodriguez (22)
  16. Jair Jurrjens (16)
  17. Ubaldo Jimenez (24)
  18. Ted Lilly (17)
  19. Cliff Lee (6)
  20. Randy Wolf (28)
  21. Jered Weaver (20)
  22. Clayton Kershaw (18)
  23. Johan Santana (2)
  24. Yovani Gallardo (10)
  25. Joel Pineiro (N/A)
  26. Scott Baker (19)
  27. Edwin Jackson (N/A)
  28. J.A. Happ (N/A)
  29. Jorge de la Rosa (N/A)
  30. Ryan Dempster (14)
  31. Tommy Hanson (27)
  32. Bronson Arroyo (28)
  33. John Danks (13)
  34. Gavin Floyd (13)
  35. Chad Billingsley (8)
  36. Matt Garza (15)
  37. A.J. Burnett (9)
  38. Ricky Nolasco (11)
  39. Scott Feldman (N/A)
  40. Randy Wells (N/A)
  41. Joe Blanton (28)
  42. John Lackey (8)
  43. Kevin Correia (N/A)
  44. Brett Anderson (N/A)
  45. Mark Buehrle (27)
  46. James Shields (7)
  47. Kevin Millwood (N/A)
  48. Cole Hamels (4)
  49. Jake Peavy (4)
  50. Andy Pettitte (19)

Convincing evidence that you can wait until the 8th round to draft your first pitcher.  34 of the top 50 were under 30 years old.

A look at the top 20 closers:

  1. Jonathan Broxton (11)
  2. Joe Nathan (7)
  3. Mariano Rivera (7)
  4. Andrew Bailey (N/A)
  5. Heath Bell (15)
  6. Brian Wilson (14)
  7. Huston Street (16)
  8. David Aardsma (N/A)
  9. Trevor Hoffman (16)
  10. Jonathan Papelbon (5)
  11. Ryan Franklin (28)
  12. Rafael Soriano (28)
  13. Francisco Cordero (13)
  14. Joakim Soria (9)
  15. J.P. Howell (N/A)
  16. Francisco Rodriguez (7)
  17. Jose Valverde (10)
  18. Brian Fuentes (11)
  19. Mike Gonzalez (15)
  20. George Sherrill (24)

A lot of saves come from the waiver wire, but it pays to start snagging closers in rounds 13-16.  Not only are save totals unpredictable, but win totals matter more than you might think.  Papelbon had a great year but was hurt by getting just one win.  Broxton and Bell saw over 16% of their total value come from their wins, as opposed to just 3% for Papelbon.  Save totals typically account for half of a closer's value, with ERA/WHIP combining for 19%.  Strikeouts were typically about 26%.

I wouldn't worry too much in a 12-team mixed league about getting value from non-save relievers.  Among relievers with fewer than five saves, only Mike Wuertz, Phil Hughes, and Alfredo Aceves provided more than $5 in value.

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Learnings From 2009

I've been crunching some more 2009 numbers and found some interesting things.

Looking at the values of the top 168 hitters and the top 108 pitchers, I found a split of 61.9% hitting 38.1% pitching.  So next time some fantasy site tells you a 70/30 split is correct, make sure there is something behind the assertion.  That's not to say you should actually allocate 38% of your draft budget toward pitching; I've found that in most leagues good pitchers are easier to acquire off waivers.

I also found that the top 36 middle infielders fell within the top 144 non-catchers in 2009.  Casey McGehee was the #36 infielder, and he came a few spots before the #144 non-catcher Mark Teahen.  In other words, no adjustment upward for middle infielders was necessary in 2009.  Simply being an MI didn't increase a player's value.  That doesn't mean that Chase Utley isn't a first-rounder or that it's easy to find a top-notch MI.

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2009's Top Position Players

Just because I think it's cool, let's take a look at the top position players from 2009, using their real '09 stats and my own valuation methods.  I've added the player's average draft round from March '09 drafts.

Top Ten Catchers:

  1. Joe Mauer (5)
  2. Victor Martinez (7)
  3. Brian McCann (4)
  4. Kurt Suzuki (22)
  5. Jorge Posada (18)
  6. Miguel Montero (N/A)
  7. Bengie Molina (15)
  8. Mike Napoli (14)
  9. Miguel Olivo (28)
  10. A.J. Pierzynski (22)

Top Ten First Basemen:

  1. Albert Pujols (1)
  2. Prince Fielder (3)
  3. Ryan Howard (1)
  4. Mark Reynolds (22)
  5. Miguel Cabrera (1)
  6. Mark Teixeira (2)
  7. Derrek Lee (7)
  8. Kendry Morales (27)
  9. Kevin Youkilis (4)
  10. Pablo Sandoval (18)

Top Ten Second Basemen:

  1. Chase Utley (2)
  2. Aaron Hill (27)
  3. Ian Kinsler (1)
  4. Brian Roberts (4)
  5. Ben Zobrist (N/A)
  6. Robinson Cano (7)
  7. Dustin Pedroia (2)
  8. Brandon Phillips (3)
  9. Asdrubal Cabrera (28)
  10. Jose Lopez (13)

Top Ten Shortstops:

  1. Hanley Ramirez (1)
  2. Derek Jeter (9)
  3. Troy Tulowitzki (9)
  4. Ben Zobrist (N/A)
  5. Jason Bartlett (19)
  6. Jimmy Rollins (1)
  7. Miguel Tejada (10)
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera (28)
  9. Yunel Escobar (16)
  10. Marco Scutaro (N/A)

Top Ten Third Basemen:

  1. Mark Reynolds (22)
  2. Evan Longoria (2)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman (8)
  4. Chone Figgins (7)
  5. Kevin Youkilis (4)
  6. Alex Rodriguez (2)
  7. Pablo Sandoval (18)
  8. David Wright (1)
  9. Michael Young (7)
  10. Jorge Cantu (13)

Top 25 Outfielders:

  1. Ryan Braun (1)
  2. Carl Crawford (3)
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury (5)
  4. Matt Kemp (4)
  5. Jason Bay (3)
  6. Matt Holliday (2)
  7. Jayson Werth (12)
  8. Bobby Abreu (6)
  9. Adam Lind (22)
  10. Justin Upton (19)
  11. Ichiro Suzuki (3)
  12. Michael Bourn (27)
  13. Shin-Soo Choo (25)
  14. Ben Zobrist (N/A)
  15. Andre Ethier (10)
  16. Johnny Damon (10)
  17. Michael Cuddyer (26)
  18. Torii Hunter (10)
  19. Raul Ibanez (10)
  20. Denard Span (19)
  21. Adam Dunn (6)
  22. Nelson Cruz (11)
  23. Nick Markakis (3)
  24. Jason Kubel (28)
  25. Carlos Lee (3)

Top Two Designated Hitters:

  1. Hideki Matsui (16)
  2. David Ortiz (5)

The best position players you could've reasonably gotten off the waiver wire: Montero, Olivo, Morales, Hill, Zobrist, Asdrubal Cabrera, Scutaro, Bourn, Choo, Cuddyer, and Kubel.  Suzuki, Posada, Pierzynski, Reynolds, Sandoval, Bartlett, Yunel Escobar, Lind, Upton, Span, and Matsui were had late in drafts, so take those last ten rounds seriously!

42 position players drafted in the 15th round or later, or not at all, returned at least $10 in rotisserie value.  About 60% of these players were under 30 years old.  The "young" group averaged $19.35 in value vs. $15.09 for the old.  The top ten from the entire 42 were all under 30.

A year ago, what did we know about the valuable late picks? 

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The Next Chris Carpenter

Good look finding the next Chris Carpenter.  The St. Louis ace did something extremely rare: he finished third in the Cy Young voting in 2006, was a complete non-factor for the next two seasons, and finished second in the Cy voting in '09.  That path won't be repeated anytime soon, but let's widen our criteria in hopes of finding a pitcher who can have a similar fantasy impact in 2010.

My criteria: the pitcher received Cy Young votes in 2006, '07, or '08, but had a disappointing 2009.  The 11 pitchers:

  • Chien-Ming Wang - Wang had surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule in July of '09.  We've heard a May 1st return date tossed around, but mixed leaguers are right to ignore him for now.
  • Roy Oswalt - Oswalt's last Cy vote came in '06, but he was plenty valuable in '07 and '08.  Now 32, Oswalt was just a six-inning pitcher last year.  But even in this off-year, he had a 3.29 K/BB.  His 93.1 mph average fastball was his best since '05.  His 4.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP becomes 3.86 and 1.19 if we subtract one ugly September effort against the Braves, during which his back was acting up.  Oswalt busted out a new training regimen this winter and hasn't had any problems this spring.  He's a solid 13th-round pick.
  • Fausto Carmona - Carmona is not being drafted in mixed leagues.  He was a surprise ace in '07, but walks have plagued him since.  The problem appears to be a good part mental, as's Anthony Castrovince explains here.  Castrovince notes that Carmona didn't allow any walks in winter ball, and two free passes in seven spring innings is a good sign.  The killer groundball rates of 2007-08 slipped last year, but 55.2% is still strong.  A return to 2007 form is unlikely for Carmona, but monitor his April walk rate just in case.
  • Erik Bedard - Even in the 20th round, Bedard seems like a lousy pick.  Coming off August labrum surgery, he's targeting a June 15th return.  Even if he does reach that goal of 2.5 months of baseball, there's a good chance he pitches poorly.
  • Brandon Webb - Webb is coming off a lost 2009, and may not make his 2010 debut until May.  He's going in the 13th round, and is a high risk, high reward choice since you can get Scott Baker, Brett Anderson, and Oswalt around the same time.  Those drafting him are hoping he can still provide 175 innings of vintage 3.20 ERA Webb.  He's in his contract year and seems unlikely to return to the D'Backs, which implies they might ride him hard.
  • Brad Penny - Even when he did get those Cy votes, Penny had unimpressive peripherals.  He still brings the heat, though, and now he'll be under Dave Duncan's tutelage.  The upside could be Kyle Lohse's '08 - decent ratios, 13+ wins.
  • Aaron Harang - Harang makes for a solid 21st round pick.  My big concern is that his groundball rate has been down the last two years.  His strikeout and walk rates remain respectable.  Reds pitching coach Bryan Price has quite a positive outlook: "What I think is his best days are ahead of him."
  • Carlos Zambrano - Big Z getting a Cy vote in '07 just reflects poorly on the voter, as he didn't pitch particularly well but won 18 games.  He'll likely continue to be a high strikeout, high walk guy.  The hope is that he'll return to his 215 inning days and somehow rediscover whatever led to a hits per nine rate below 7.0.  I'll be surprised if everything comes together for Zambrano, but he is only 28.
  • Jeff Francis - He had shoulder surgery in February of last year and missed the entire season.  He hasn't impressed this spring, and seems unlikely to be a factor in mixed leagues even if he can muster up a 4.25 ERA in 180 innings.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka - Dice-K had very good control in Japan, but it hasn't carried over in his three seasons in the States.  Like Zambrano, he'll give you Ks and an ugly WHIP, and you'll hope he avoids hits inordinately.  His most recent injury is a back strain.  Even in the 17th round, I'd rather take Kevin Slowey, Ervin Santana, Jonathan Sanchez, Francisco LirianoJohnny Cueto, or Ben Sheets
  • Ervin Santana - Santana was an ace in '08.  His elbow started barking in March of last year, but he's supposedly healthy now.  Gamble on that upside.

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Spreadsheets: ADP, Pitcher Comparisons

I hope you've got Excel fired up, because today we have two cool spreadsheets that may give you a draft-day advantage.

The first comes from Kelly Pfleiger of Fantasy Gameday.  Click here to get the latest version of Kelly's 2010 Fantasy Baseball Average Draft Position and Scarcity Report.  If you're using just one site for your ADP data, you may fall victim to that site's rankings.  Kelly's spreadsheet averages ADP data from more than six sources.

You can also click here to download Darrell John's CHONE-ZiPS comparisons and averages for the top 70 starters.  Darrell's theory is that CHONE is too conservative and ZiPS too aggressive, and that an average of the two will serve you best.

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25 Pitchers To Watch

You've seen my starting pitcher rankings, so you have an idea of guys I like statistically for 2010.  However, I can guarantee you that we'll see some bona fide fantasy baseball studs emerge this year that didn't crack my rankings and in many mixed leagues aren't being drafted at all.  Here are 25 pitchers to watch that you can draft in the 13th round or later of a 12-team mixed league.

  • Felipe Paulino, Astros.  He averaged 95.4 on his fastball last year, and his control and groundball rates weren't bad either.  He whiffed 35 in his final six starts.
  • Dustin McGowan, Blue Jays.  He had a very strong second half in '07, making him one of my top breakout picks for '08.  That '07 season included a 94.7 mph average fastball and a 53% groundball rate, a pair of traits you don't often see outside of Felix Hernandez.  He had shoulder surgery in July of '08 and reports this spring have been positive.  He still might not break camp with the team, but don't let him slip your mind.
  • Francisco Liriano, Twins.  Liriano's numbers in 2006 were filthy in every way.  Several years removed from Tommy John surgery, it's worth a 16th-round pick to see if he can rediscover even 75% of what he was in '06.
  • Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks.  Given the 13 wins and 214 innings for the Tigers last year, maybe 2009 was Jackson's breakout season.  Fantasy leaguers are expressing skepticism, making him a 15th round pick.  His peripherals weren't amazing, so that's fair.  Still, he averages 94.5 mph and is moving to the easier league.
  • Homer Bailey, Reds.  Just a 24th-round flyer in most fantasy leagues, despite once being considered one of the best prospects in the game.  He's the definition of a post-hype sleeper.  He throws as hard as Jackson and struck out 42 in his last seven starts.
  • Ervin Santana, Angels.  Just a year removed from a monster season, Santana is going in the 19th round.  Maybe his elbow won't hold up, but it's not much of an investment.
  • Mat Latos, Padres.  He's not even being drafted most mixed leagues.  Latos brings the velocity, control, and ballpark you want, though his innings could be limited by the team.
  • Robinson Tejeda, Royals.  He's not a lock for the rotation, but he did whiff 32 over his six starts and averages 94.
  • Bud Norris, Astros. Throws 94 and gets the Ks, though his control hasn't arrived yet.
  • Brad Penny, Cardinals.  His strikeout rate never matches his velocity, but I'm curious to see what Dave Duncan does with him.
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees.  He appears to be the favorite for the fifth starter job.  He was dominant out of the pen last year; can he hold on to the success for six or seven-innings at a time?
  • Max Scherzer, Tigers.  He's going in the 13th round, so there is some appreciation for the 174 Ks he logged in 170.3 innings last year.  If he improves his control against lefties and limits the longball, there could be even more here.
  • Clay Buchholz, Red Sox.  Currently a 17th-rounder, Buchholz has the best groundball rate on this list, throws 93.5, and plays for the Red Sox.  His home run rate should come down.
  • Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies.  Contract year, big velocity for a lefty, solid groundball rate.  He's a 200 strikeout candidate and could really break out with a control improvement.
  • Vince Mazzaro, Athletics.  He was shut down with shoulder pain last year, but at least brings a 93 mph heater and a pitcher's park.
  • Matt Garza, Rays.  A control improvement might lead to his best year yet.
  • Johnny Cueto, Reds.  Cueto tailed off in the second half as his control slipped.  If he can combine the 8.0 K/9 with the 2.5 BB/9, watch out.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets.  We're not hearing much about Pelfrey this year, but even in an off-2009 he had a 51.3% groundball rate and 92.6 mph fastball.  Never struck out many, though.
  • Jason Hammel, Rockies.  Lot of groundballs, 92 mph fastball.  Under the radar despite a breakout '09.  He was dominant in the season's final month.
  • Wade Davis, Rays.  Like Norris, he's got the velocity and Ks but the control might need time.  His appeal is somewhat limited by the AL East.
  • Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers.  He's gotten good reviews this spring.  Bonderman was once a perennial breakout candidate due to a strikeout/groundball combo.
  • Brian Matusz, Orioles.  He's one of the top rookies to watch, a player Baseball America has compared to Brett Anderson.
  • Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates.  I'm intrigued by his September 5th start against the Cardinals.  Not ready to go after him but he's worth monitoring. 
  • Colby Lewis, Rangers.  He's a sleeper after two dominant seasons in Japan.
  • Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks.  He's finally healthy and has a rotation job in Arizona.  Like Ohlendorf, worth watching.
  • This list was not meant to be comprehensive; I'm sure you'll also be watching Stephen Strasburg, Neftali Feliz, Ben Sheets, David Price, Rick PorcelloKevin Slowey, Jonathan Sanchez, Aroldis Chapman, Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson, and others.  Tell me your picks in the comments.

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