2012 AL Starting Pitching Keeper Rankings: Tier Five

We are getting near the end of the AL pitcher keeper rankings and this may or may not be the last tier. These are basically the last couple of guys I would truly be satisfied keeping on my team. Everyone else is just blah and no one really stands out from the crowd. To recap…

Tier 1:
Justin Verlander
CC Sabathia
Felix Hernandez
Jon Lester

Tier 2:
Jered Weaver
Dan Haren
Josh Beckett
David Price
James Shields

Tier 3:
Michael Pineda
Max Scherzer
C.J. Wilson
Brandon Morrow

Tier 4:
Matt Moore
Ricky Romero
Ubaldo Jimenez
Gio Gonzalez
Derek Holland

And off we go…

Tier 5:

Jeremy Hellickson

On the surface, Hellickson had a fantastic rookie season, posting a 2.95 ERA over 189 innings. The performance even resulted in Rookie of the Year honors. However, as has been discussed quite a bit over the past month, there are a lot of questions about Hell Boy next season. You are all well aware by now about the huge discrepancy between his xFIP/SIERA marks and his ERA. That would normally be a major for me, which is why many pitchers with strong ERAs this year won’t sniff these rankings. However, I am quite confident his skills will improve enough to the point that his ERA and ERA estimator metrics will converge.

No, the strikeout rate is not going to jump near a batter per inning or above, where it sat during his minor league career. The change-up problem is very real and not going to go away overnight. However, his called strike percentage should still rise a bit next year and all he needs to do is keep his SwStk% stable to enjoy a K/9 surge. At the very least, I think his strikeout rate gets above 7.0, which will not only increase his fantasy value given his contributions in that category, but will push his xFIP/SIERA marks down to meet his ERA. I expect him to finish the year somewhere around a 3.75 ERA, which will allow him to maintain decent fantasy value, but this time backed up by his peripherals.

Justin Masterson

I was a big Masterson fan back in 2010, but the talk of him being unable to succeed versus lefties apparently subconsciously influenced my opinion. So naturally after I lose my optimism, he goes out and performs in 2011 like I expected in 2010. This time, he was much improved versus lefties, as he cut his walk rate in half, while maintaining the rest of his skill set against them. He also enjoyed better luck on balls in play and in stranding runners, and even managed to post a below average HR/FB ratio.

His SwStk% and strikeout rate did decline, which is a concern, especially since he threw his fastball about 84% of the time. Whether his slider usage rebounds next year is anyone’s guess, but it does offer the potential for strikeout rate upside. In addition, since he remains a two-pitch pitcher, any talk of him developing a change-up could be huge news. Though this would likely knock his stellar ground ball rate down a notch, it would certainly increase his punch outs and lead to even greater fantasy value.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

12 Responses to “2012 AL Starting Pitching Keeper Rankings: Tier Five”

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  1. Brad Johnson says:

    Some stealthier names that could be keeper worthy in some formats include Fister, Sale, Alvarez, and Duffy. I tried to imagine a scenario where Anderson was cost effective, but couldn’t come up with one, the same is probably true of Buccholz.

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  2. st says:

    i beg you at some point to put this all together so people that play in mixed leagues–which i bet is a majority–can really know see how you rank guys

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    • Matt says:

      Totally agree – tiers by league aren’t helpful to the majority of people.

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      • Devon F says:

        Yup, mixed league analysis would be great

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      • M.C. Antil says:

        Sorry guys, you want to play real, he-man fantas basebally? Forget those mixed, fish-in-a-barrel leagues. Any bozo can play that kind of roto. You wan’t to challenge your knowledge and determine just how good or bad you are at this thing? Go deep and go single league. Place a value on bench guys and middle men. Anything with more available players is simply less. Sorry, I’ve done both and there’s just no comparison.

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      • Brad says:

        @M.C. – l like the use of rhetoric. I have played X, and because my opinion is somehow objectively superior to anyone else, you are not “cool” if you don’t do what I say. I remember that being effective…in high school.

        If YOU enjoy single leagues, great. Not sure how being an elitist snob is going to erase the incorrect presumptions contained in your post. Sorry to break it to you.

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      • NBH says:

        @M.C. – Not all of us have unlimited time to devote to baseball (real and fantasy). If you only have 10 or 15 hours a week to give, do you want to spend it reading about the best 300 MLB players (AL + NL) or do you want to spend it reading about 150 of the best 300 players (AL or NL) plus 150 of the players who are considered #301 through #600?

        Besides, a 16 team mixed league is going to be just as deep as an 8 team AL or NL league.

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  3. Colin says:

    Surprised no Baker appearance in that tier.

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      I thought about Baker, but his elbow issues and extreme fly ball tendency meant that is should be lumped into a group with guys like Colby Lewis. A bit of value in mixed leagues, and certainly AL-Only, but nothing particularly exciting.

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  4. BMoreGreen says:

    11-team AL-only league here, 5×5, $260 – thank you for the depth. Please do not capitulate and cater to the lowest common denominator requested by these mixed-league-only complainers. Of course, they will not find their preferred topic discussed anywhere else on the interwebs between now and OD …..

    Ogando for ’12? Started looking in Tier 3, surprised at the end of 4, a little perplexed now. Sure it’s not the most common storyline, but the dude was still dealing in October after 169 IP regular season. Not sure where, but I remember reading he accrued time in various winter leagues during his journey to MLB so the MiLB stats do not completely reflect his potential to go 180+.

    Thoughts on the following potential SP keepers for next year compared to RPs – do not want to keep more than 3 pitchers altogether:
    $ 1 Ogando
    $10 Moore
    $ 7 Britton
    $ 5 Bedard (assuming AL landing spot)

    $10 Walden
    $11 M.Adams (assuming closer)

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      Ogando was lucky in 2011, with expected ERA metrics much closer to 4.00. He should probably also be lumped in with the Colby Lewis/Scott Bakers of the world, though his velocity does suggest his strikeout rate should be better.

      Obviously for $1, you keep Ogando. As closers, both Walden and Adams should earn well above $10 in an Only league. Then next would be Matt Moore, but I might consider dangling him just to see what kind of offers you receive given the hype. Sure, he could be worth $20, but that’s if everything goes right. Odds are he earns only a little profit.

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