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Adam Wainwright Likely to Undergo Tommy John Surgery: Updated Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

Wed, Feb 23, 2011

Rankings/List

Word hit Wednesday morning that Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright has been flown back to St. Louis to have his right elbow examined by team doctors.

The Cardinals (and fantasy managers) across the country are holding their collective breaths, but it’s expected that Wainwright will undergo Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him for 12-18 months.

This is a devastating blow to not only the Cardinals, but those who own Wainwright as well. The 29-year-old was among the top-ranked starting pitchers this season, checking in as the No. 2 pitcher (27th overall) in our rankings.

Our updated starting pitcher rankings now exclude Wainwright, but everything else is the same. Click on each player for a more in-depth analysis, including 2011 projections!

2011 TOP 10 STARTING PITCHERS

1. Roy Halladay (SP – Phi): Five-year averages: 236 IP, 18 wins, 1.42 BB/9, 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP. Entering age-34 season, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue dominance.

2. Tim Lincecum (SP – SF): Regression in K/9, BB/9, HR/9, batting average against, ERA and WHIP last year after improving all categories in previous two seasons. Decrease in fastball velocity and fourth-least effective curveball also contributed to his 2010 decline. Throw out unlucky August, however, and his season ERA drops from 3.43 to 2.79.

3. Felix Hernandez (SP – Sea): Lowest ERA (2.27) in majors last year to go along with stellar peripherals: 8.36 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, .210 BAA, 1.06 WHIP. Low BABIP (.263) and sub-2.50 ERA curse, however, suggest regression in 2011.

4. Cliff Lee (SP – Phi): Since 2007 minor-league stint, he has averaged 222 innings, 16 wins, 7.23 K/9, 1.28 BB/9, 2.98 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP per season with four different MLB teams. And now he’s a No. 2 starter on a team with plenty of run support.

5. Josh Johnson (SP – Fla): Since 2005, only five starters have an ERA lower than Johnson’s mark of 3.10 (min. 600 innings). Top-five among qualified starters last season in ERA, FIP, xFIP, HR/9, contact rate and swinging strike rate.

6. Jon Lester (SP – Bos): Has the ninth-best ERA (3.29) among starters who’ve logged 600 innings since 2008. Of the eight pitchers with a lower ERA during that time, only Lincecum has a better strikeout rate (10.25) than Lester (8.72).

7. Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD): Youngest of 45 pitchers that logged 200-plus innings in 2010. Of that group, only Lincecum, Lester and Weaver posted a strikeout rate better than Kershaw’s (9.34). His age-21 (2009) and age-22 (2010) seasons show he’s well ahead of where Felix Hernandez was at the same ages.

8. Cole Hamels (SP – Phi): Only eight pitchers since 2007 (min. 800 IP) have lower ERA than his total of 3.44. Ranked second among qualified starters last year in contact rate, swinging strike rate, and 10th in strikeout rate. Clearly best No. 4 starter in the majors; should lead to career high in wins this season.

9. Zack Greinke (SP – Mil): Wide range of ERAs (3.47, 2.16, 4.17) and K/9 (7.40, 9.50, 8.14) in last three seasons. 2010 LOB rate (65.3 percent), FIP (3.34) and xFIP (3.76) indicate he was better than 4.17 ERA.  Numbers against N.L. since 2008 (7-2, 3.39 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.23 K/9, 1.57 BB/9) suggest forthcoming success in Milwaukee.

10. Ubaldo Jimenez (SP – Col): Improved innings pitched, wins, strikeout rate, ERA, WHIP and batting average against in each of last three seasons. Totals after June, however, are discouraging: 4.34 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.43 K/9, 4.19 BB/9 in 120 1/3 innings. Needs to lower his walk rate (3.74 in 2010) to become true elite fantasy pitcher.

Image courtesy of: John Thompson

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