2012 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings: Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and More

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It is common knowledge that the Nationals plan to shut Strasburg down before the end of the season.  And they claim they’ll stick to that plan despite being in contention for the playoffs.  But what isn’t so clear is what the exact innings limit is.  The Nats limited Jordan Zimmerman to 160 innings last year, so maybe that is the best guess for what the limit on Stras will be.

 If that’s the case, he’ll only throw 70 more innings this year.  And that makes it hard to put him among this elite group of pitchers who are all going to throw 100ish more innings this season.  But Stras is so damn good.  He leads all qualified starters in xFIP and K/9, so you could easily make the case he’s the best starter in the league.  70 innings from the best guy in the league plus 30 from someone like Bud Norris, Joe Blanton, or Jeff Samardzija who are all widely available and all in the top 50 on this list makes for a very productive spot in your fantasy rotation.

1. Cole Hamels (Philadelphia Phillies, 100% owned)

2. Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers, 100% owned)

3. Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers, 100% owned)

4. Zack Greinke (Milwaukee Brewers, 100% owned)

5. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners, 100% owned)

6. David Price (Tampa Bay Rays, 100% owned)

7. Matt Cain (San Francisco Giants, 100% owned)

8. Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals, 100% owned)

9. Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies, 100% owned)

10. James Shields (Tampa Bay Rays, 100% owned)

11. Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals, 100% owned)

12. Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants, 100% owned)

13. CC Sabathia (New York Yankees, 100% owned)

14. Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies, 100% owned)

15. R.A. Dickey (New York Mets, 100% owned)

16. Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox, 100% owned)

17. Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers, 98.6% owned)

18. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals, 100% owned)

With ERAs close to 5.00, Scherzer and Wainwright may not look like top 20 pitchers to you.  But they’re pitching far better than their ERAs indicate.  They are 6th and 7th in the league in xFIP.  Scherzer trails only Strasburg in K/9 and has had the worst luck in the league on balls in play (.359 BABIP).  Wainwright has had some of the worst luck with runners on base (66.1% LOB%) and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio above 3.00.

19. Anibal Sanchez (Miami Marlins, 83.9% owned)

20. Matt Garza (Chicago Cubs, 98.6% owned)

21. Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels, 100% owned)

22. Jordan Zimmermann (Washington Nationals, 100% owned)

23. Josh Johnson (Miami Marlins, 100% owned)

24. Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants, 100% owned)

25. Dan Haren (Los Angeles Angels, 100% owned)

26. Ian Kennedy (Arizona Diamondbacks, 99.4% owned)

27. C.J. Wilson (Los Angeles Angels, 100% owned)

Wilson is 8th in the league in ERA (2.33), but he’s not really pitching that well as his 4.08 xFIP indicates.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio is only 1.83, which is exactly what it was in 2010.  When he truly broke out in 2011 with a 2.94 ERA, his ratio was much better at 2.78.  The only reason the ERA is still below 3.00 is plain old good luck.  His BABIP is down at .247, and he’s stranding about 4% more runners than he has for his career.  Because of his groundball skills and ability to limit homers, CJ is always going to be a guy whose ERA outperforms his xFIP on some level.  But the level he’s at so far this year is unsustainable.

28. Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers, 100% owned)

29. Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee Brewers, 100% owned)

30. Lance Lynn (St. Louis Cardinals, 93.2% owned)

31. Mat Latos (Cincinnati Reds, 97.4% owned)

32. Johan Santana (New York Mets, 100% owned)

33. Bud Norris (Houston Astros, 36.1% owned)

34. Jonathon Niese (New York Mets, 42.3% owned)

35. James McDonald (Pittsburgh Pirates, 100% owned)

36. Jon Lester (Boston Red Sox, 100% owned)

37. Dillon Gee (New York Mets, 18.6% owned)

38. Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati Reds, 100% owned)

39. Felix Doubront (Boston Red Sox, 52.3% owned)

40. Joe Blanton (Philadelphia Phillies, 14.1% owned)

Aside from Colby Lewis who is currently on the DL, Blanton leads the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio with an impressive 5.93 mark.  The next guy behind him is Matt Cain who only has a 4.96 K/BB.  Blanton is also in the top 20 in xFIP.  Unfortunately his ERA is 4.85 thanks in large part due to some bad luck with the gopher ball and with men on base.  But his HR/FB rate is about 7% higher than his career average, so presumably he’ll give up fewer homers going forward.  The best thing about Blanton is that he can help with WHIP when WHIP is incredibly hard to come by on the waiver wire.

41. Gavin Floyd (Chicago White Sox, 49.5% owned)

42. Hiroki Kuroda (New York Yankees, 94.8% owned)

43. Chris Capuano (Los Angeles Dodgers, 100% owned)

44. Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox, 100% owned)

45. Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox, 88.5% owned)

46. A.J. Burnett (Pittsburgh Pirates, 95.2% owned)

47. Jeff Samardzija (Chicago Cubs, 23.9% owned)

Samardzija had a horrendous month of June.  His ERA was over 10.00, and opposing batters had an OPS of almost 1.000 against him (.984).  And though a .377 BABIP and 49.5% strand rate didn’t help, he didn’t pitch that well either as evidenced by his 4.82 xFIP and 5.77 BB/9 for the month.  But the bad luck did have something to do with it and leads me to believe he’s closer to the stud we saw in April and May than the total scrub we’ve seen lately.  He’s been dropped in a ton of leagues, but I think he’s a sub-4.00 ERA guy with good strikeout numbers going forward who needs to be owned.

48. Edwin Jackson (Washington Nationals, 80.6% owned)

49. Jason Hammel (Baltimore Orioles, 99.8% owned)

50. Matt Harrison (Texas Rangers, 97.1% owned)

51. Ryan Dempster (Chicago Cubs, 84.6% owned)

52. Tim Hudson (Atlanta Braves, 98.3% owned)

53. Vance Worley (Philadelphia Phillies, 78.0% owned)

54. Wandy Rodriguez (Houston Astros, 94.9% owned)

55. Colby Lewis (Texas Rangers, 91.1% owned)

56. Ivan Nova (New York Yankees, 94.2% owned)

57. Tommy Hanson (Atlanta Braves, 100% owned)

What the hell happened to Tommy Hanson?  From 2009 to 2011 he steadily improved as his xFIP went from 3.97 to 3.87 to 3.29 last year.  But this year his xFIP is 4.41, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a career worst 2.19.  The reason for the sharp decline appears to be a drop in velocity.  His average fastball velocity is less than 90 mph, and every one of his pitches has significantly less velocity than they’ve had in the past.  Thanks to a bit of luck his ERA is still at 3.59, but Hanson could be in for a rough second half.  With 9 wins and a respectable ERA, Hanson is one of the best sell high candidates in the game right now.

58. Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee Brewers, 87.6% owned)

59. Chad Billingsley (Los Angeles Dodgers, 53.1% owned)

60. Wade Miley (Arizona Diamondbacks, 98.0% owned)

Written by Brett Talley exclusively for  Brett is a soon-to-be attorney in Dallas who thinks the fact that inflation is often expressed using the prices of hamburgers and movie tickets says a lot about this country.  You can follow him and/or ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @therealTAL.

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