Let’s keep this simple. When assembling a staff of hurlers for your fantasy squad, in most standard leagues you have to keep in mind ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, wins and saves. Regardless of the pitching categories your league commish has determined, drafting pitchers who excel in at least three of these five categories will undoubtedly help your chances of playing in September for your league title. Not every league is standard though. Aside from rewarding complete games, most of the other pitching categories are a redundancy upon WHIP or ERA (batting average against, on base percentage against, runs allowed, hits allowed, BB allowed to name a few). Another option is to punish the heck out of people for accumulating losses.
The 2008 season brought us 65 starting pitchers with double digit losses. Highly coveted starting pitchers Aaron Harang and Justin Verlander had disastrous 17 loss seasons, and both pretty much tanked in the other categories as well. However, take the following list of twenty-two quality major league starters and consider the losses they racked up last year:
16 – Javier Vasquez
15 – John Lannan
14 – Andy Pettite, Matt Cain
13 – Brett Myers
12 – Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Buehrle
11 – Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy, Felix Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Slowey, Gil Meche, Derek Lowe
10 – Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels, Randy Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, Zack Greinke, Roy Oswalt
All star games and World Series rings aside, this group averaged the following:
Wins - 12.86
Losses - 11.5
ERA - 3.71
Are these numbers what you want out of your fantasy ace? I hope not. For the rest of your staff though, these numbers look pretty healthy. Obviously, you want to target pitchers that play for winning teams that give a 3.71 ERA a chance to get the W. With this in mind, do you ignore guys like Peavy, Greinke, Meche, Hernandez, Guthrie, Lannan, Johnson and Cain because they play for losing clubs? Aside from Peavy, I wouldn’t chose any of them as my number one, but each is capable of putting up 2nd or 3rd fantasy starter numbers in 2009 with Cain, Greinke, and Hernandez having the biggest upside in their overall statistics.