2. Roy Halladay (PHI) - As reliable as they come but could lose a couple wins with the Phillies offense likely in for a down year. A case can be made for picking him over Kershaw in a H2H league.
3. Felix Hernandez (SEA) - Crazy to think he'll turn 26 in early April. Last year's underlying stats were on par with his prior years so a return to his 2009-2010 stats is likely. Help from Safeco earns him the nod over Hamels and Verlander
4. Cole Hamels (PHI) - Learning from two of the games' best and the addition of a cutter worked wonders for the Phillies hurler. Batters struggle to square up Hamels' offerings -- 15% line drive rate last year.
5. Justin Verlander (DET) - Was a man among boys last year but arguably pitched equally well in 2009 when he posted a 3.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Better K-rate, similar walk rate, the difference was a .83 point drop in BABIP and a strand rate above 80%. Expect regression.
6. Cliff Lee (PHI) - Pinpoint command and playing in the National League gives him a very safe floor. His K/9 ratio of 9.21 might not be duplicated in 2012.
7. Tim Lincecum (SF) - Can't help but love the guy but his K-rate has dropped in four straight seasons while his walk-rate has increased in the last three. Still expect him to be great but another manager will likely select him before I'm ready to.
8. CC Sabathia (NYY) - As good a bet as any to lead the league in wins and posted low 3 ERA's in three consecutive seasons. If he was in the National league he'd put up the same numbers Roy Halladay does.
9. Madison Bumgarner (SF) - Higher than most here. Bumgarner actually pitched better than his 3.21 ERA would suggest compiling a 2.67 FIP on the back of a low strand rate. Excluding April of last season his ERA was in the high two's. Already showing elite control with his BB/9 ratio just above two in each of the first two seasons. Upped his K/9 to 8.40 last season.
10. David Price (TB) - Everything heading in the right direction. Much improved control last year and increased his K-rate for the third straight season. The lefty averages nearly 95 on the gun with his fastball. Will significantly outperform his ADP in one of the next few years.
11. Zack Greinke (MIL) - Post-break he amassed a 2.59 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 97 innings. When he's at his best there are few who are better.
12. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) - Feel free to upgrade him in an innings capped league but be wary in a h2h format as he may miss the stretch run with the Nationals capping his workload this season. Didn't miss a beat after his surgery bringing a 12 K/BB ratio and a fastball averaging above 95 MPH in his return last season.
13. Dan Haren (LAA) - Began throwing his cutter nearly 50% of the time last year and it brought great results. His strand rate and BABIP weren't outliers and his K/BB reached a career high 5.82. Wish I had more shares.
14. Matt Cain (SF) - The proud owner of a new $127 million contract is a consistency king when it comes to a very good ERA and WHIP. Unfortunately he's equally consistent with his ho-hum K-rate and underachieving in the wins category.
15. Jon Lester (BOS) - Always considered him to be a better pitcher than his ERA and WHIP would suggest. No lack of K's or wins and at 28 he is a candidate for a breakout season.
16. Adam Wainwright (STL) - Was an elite starting pitcher the two years prior to his Tommy John surgery. Countless tales of successful recoveries and a strong spring make me bullish at his current draft position.
17. Mat Latos (CIN) - The streaky righty showed why the Reds wanted him to anchor their rotation with his second half performance. Post All-Star break he posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Solid K/BB ratio and a line drive percentage hovering around 15% each of the last two seasons brings plenty of upside.
18. C.J. Wilson (LAA) - Initially had him lower in the ranks but his underlying stats persuaded me to bump him a bit higher. Heading to Los Angeles helps some but as a lefty Arlington isn't too treacherous so don't expect a huge value bump due to that.
19. Jered Weaver (LAA) - Last year saw an 82% strand-rate, a career low .250 BABIP and a K-rate that dropped by nearly two strikeouts per inning. Throw 2011 out the window it has fluke written all over it.
20. Matt Moore (TB) - When many believe you'll surpass David Price and become your team's ace before your first full major league season you know you have promise. He's refined, nasty, and on a team that knows how to develop pitchers. Worth the risk if no one reaches in your draft.
21. Yu Darvish (TEX) - Don't let tales of Daisuke Matsuzaka scare you off. Daisuke was an above-average MLB pitcher in his prime. Yu has the potential to strike out more than a batter an inning especially during his first trip around the league as batters try to identify what he offers. At 25 he's ready to produce.
22. Yavoni Gallardo (MIL) - There's something about him that just doesn't let him put it together. He was on my do-not-draft list for the last couple of years but his dwindling walk rate might coerce me to take a stab if the price is right.
23. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) - Pre-injury he held a K/9 above nine and in his first season back he posted a BB/9 at 1.73. With another year of health and spacious National's park behind him he could be a draft day steal.
24. Josh Johnson (FLA) - Likely goes without saying that luck contributed to his 1.64 ERA some. When he's healthy he's as good as they get but has a long history of that not being the case. Improved offense could lead to more wins.
25. Matt Garza (CHI) - Took him a while to get situated in the National League but posted a 2.45 ERA post-break last year. Chicago limits his win upside but could realistically post a K per inning with a very good ERA and solid WHIP. Sub 70% strand rate suggests some unluckiness last year.
26. Ian Kennedy (ARI) - Take his stats from the past two seasons and split the difference and that's a solid projection for Kennedy. 15 wins 3.4 ERA 1.15 WHIP and a respectable K-rate.
27. Jaime Garcia (STL) - The Cardinals are a team that can develop starting pitchers and despite cutting his BB/9 rate from 3.53 to 2.31, his strand rate of just under 67% kept the results hidden. Nothing but profit to be had at his current ADP.
28. Corey Luebke (SD) - Many figured his promotion from the bullpen to the rotation would trim his K-rate but that wasn't the case.. His strand rate and BABIP suggest last year were normal and Petco never hurts. The only thing to worry about was his 22.4% line drive rate.
29. Brandon Beachy (ATL) - One simply does not stumble upon a 10.74 K/9 rate. Underlying stats suggest he may have pitched better than his 3.68 ERA suggests and at 25 in a position to repeat his success.
30. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) - This Nationals rotation is legitimate. Still has a BB/9 above four so his WHIP will never be good unless he fixes that but he should produce well in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
31. Francisco Liriano (MIN) - He's on nearly every one of my teams this season. There isn't another pitcher with Cy Young candidate upside that can be targeted as late as he's going. When he commands his fastball and his healthy he can be un-hittable.
32. Daniel Hudson (ARI) - Another one of those guys you start to like more and more when you look at the underlying stats. Nothing special in the strikeout department but his ability to eat up innings with a good ERA/WHIP plays very well in a h2h format.
33. Josh Beckett (BOS) - In Boston his ERA was in the fives and threes twice and the fours and twos once. The Geovany Soto of pitchers. Strand rate from 2011 increased in by 15% and BABIP increased by nearly .100 points. To be fair, he was as unlucky in 2010 as he was lucky in 2011.
34. Ricky Romero (TOR) - 2.23 K/BB ratio and 4.20 FIP make the Jays workhorse seem pretty ordinary. Low BABIP partly a product of his low line drive rate but it'd be a surprise to see him put up another sub-three ERA in the AL East.
35. Anibal Sanchez (FLA) - His 27-year-old season saw an uptick of two strikeouts per nine innings and was the third straight season of BB/9 improvement. If his slider returns to 2010 form and his change-up matches his success from 2011 he'll outperform this ranking.
36. Neftali Feliz (TEX) - Former stud prospect finally gets the rotation spot he's been yearning for. Unlike most relievers he mixed in four pitches last year. How reliable those off-speed pitches are will determine if he's a huge success or merely good.
37. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) - When a draft gets around pick 150 I have a hard time not drafting the man. He's the kinda player that scares you if another manager has him. Gets a partial mulligan last season due to lingering injury issues but there's no denying that when he's struggling with command it can get ugly.
38. Johnny Cueto (CIN) - Will he repeat his 2.31 ERA and 1.09 WHIP? Probably not. But he keeps the ball on the ground and no daunting red-flags with his underlying stats. A shame he probably won't strike out more than six or seven per nine innings.
39. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) - 1.63 K/BB, an 82% strand rate and an alarming .223 BABIP are all easily identifiable red-flags. However writing off potential improvement from the former top prospect would be ill-advised. Good chance he improves his strikeout and walk rate.
40. Tommy Hanson (ATL) - He struck out more than a batter per inning at every minor league stop in his career, earning him top prospect status. This wasn't the case early in his MLB career but he regained some of that strikeout juice last year. Injuries have become a concern and he just seems like one of those guys who may never pan out as once expected.
1. Craig Kimbrel (ATL) - Striking out 127 batters in 77 innings speaks for itself.
2. Mariano Rivera (NYY) - The sandman is as consistent as they come. Since 1997 Rivera recorded at least 30 saves each season. Sub-2 ERA in seven of the past eight years.
3. Jonathan Papelbon (PHI) - Pitched better in 2011 than he did in the previous two seasons but not as great as he once was. Move to the National League bumps him back to the elite level.
4. John Axford (MIL) - Never looked back after securing the closing gig in 2010. Velocity increasing in each of his first three seasons is a great sign that he'll sustain his success.
5. Joel Hanrahan (PIT) - Strikeout rate decreased last year as a result of him throwing his fastball 83% of the time putting an emphasis on control and ground balls. Nearly doubled his GB/FB rate from 2010. Another closer whose velocity increased in each of the past three seasons. Up to 97 MPH on average last season.
6. J.J. Putz (ARI) - Regained the command that made him of the league's best for the Mariners. Lost a few ticks on his fastball since then but still a very effective closer with little competition in Arizona.
7. Jordan Walden (LAA) - The 24-year-old averaged 97.5 on the gun on his way to 32 saves in his first season as the Angels closer. If he can cut his walk rate the sky is the limit for the young flamethrower.
8. Sergio Santos (TOR) - Struck out 13 batters per nine innings and the Blue Jays named him their closer upon trading for him. The patient AL East may not mesh well with his wild tendencies but blessed with the stuff to make up for it.
9. Heath Bell (MIA) - After easily striking out more than a batter an inning in 2009 and 2010 Bell's strikeout rate dropped nearly three batters per nine innings last year. He leaves the friendly confides of Petco and while it's unlikely that he'll lose his job I don't expect great supporting stats.
10. Jason Motte (STL) - Retirement of Tony LaRussa is a plus for anyone entrenched in the closer role for the Cards. Displayed better control last year and comes right after you throwing his fastball or cutter 96% of the time.
11. Drew Storen (WAS) - Expected to miss the first month of the season but neither Henry Rodriguez or Brad Lidge projects to be an obstacle to his returning to the ninth inning. If healthy would slot him above Sergio Santos.
12. Grant Balfour (OAK) - Not sure why he isn't getting more love. Sub 2.5 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in three of his past four seasons. Pitches half his games in Oakland and when the A's win it will more often than not be a close, low-scoring game.
13. Brian Wilson (SF) - Dwindling K-rate, drop in velocity and an elbow Wilson said bothered him all of 2011 scares me off. If he can keep the inflammation out of his elbow and regain his past stuff he could easily finish in the top five but there are too many question marks for me to draft him early.
14. Sean Marshall (CIN) - There is no disputing his effectiveness as a reliever the past two years and there are no red flags on his underlying stats. However, I can't get the image of the up-and-coming Sean Marshall out of my head when projected to be a No. 5 starter for the Cubs. Not a stereotypical closer as he only throws his fastball 25% of the time and relies on off-speed offerings.
15. Rafael Betancourt (COL) - Elite K/BB ratio the past two seasons the only concern is his fly-ball tendencies in Colorado. A bargain in many drafts I've been in.
16. Jose Valverde (DET) - He's the kinda guy who is so consensually overrated that he's underrated. Still throws hard, avoids solid contact -- 13, 13 and 16 percent line drive rate the past three years -- and consistently posts a high strand rate.
17. Carlos Marmol (CHC) - No matter how well he is pitching it will always be a carnival ride with Marmol. Averages 11.74 K/9 and 5.88 BB/9 over his career but the bothersome number is his fastball's velocity which was down two ticks to under 92 MPH last year. Perhaps he'll regain his stuff but formerly filthy closers like Marmol aren't immune to flaming out.
18. Huston Street (SD) - If you draft Street do yourself a favor and handcuff him with Cashner as DL trips are not uncommon for the brittle righty. Killed by the home runs last year in Colorado but playing his home games in Petco should help with that.
19. Jonathan Broxton (KC) - Yost says Broxton will be the "primary" closer for Kansas City and it wasn't too long ago that he was one of the best in the game. If you're in a shallow league then investing in the high-upside Broxton would be savvy.
20. Javy Guerra (LAD) - Kanley Jansen looms but Guerra was very effective in the closer role in 2011. Unless he plays himself out of the role he'll continue to pick up the saves in Los Angeles.
21. Brandon League (SEA) - Not going to post a great K-rate but with Safeco and one of the best defenses in the league behind him should post effective ratios. His strand rate was under 70% the past three seasons which is abnormally low for a reliever, though its consistency suggests it may not improve.
22. Chris Perez (CLE) - Can't dismiss the possibility that he'll rebound from last season but a 1.5 K/BB rate with only 5.88 K/9 is an eyesore. Still penciled as the closer for 2012 but Vinnie Pestano out-pitched him mightily last season. Imploded in his first game of 2012.
23. Kanley Jansen (LAD) - In September he posted 32 strikeouts in 13.2 innings making him a great option in an innings capped league. Career ERA of 2.12 and FIP of 1.77.
24. Joe Nathan (TEX) - Didn't lose too much on his fastball post-surgery and his strand rate which was 14% below his career norm contributed to his 4.84 ERA last year. At 37 with no shortage of closing options in Texas don't rely too heavily on Nathan.
25. Frank Francisco (NYM) - Not a guy who's going to get you style points but has a knack for holding down closer roles. Very little competition in New York and the transition from the AL East to the NL East can only help the cause.
26. Matt Thornton (CHW) - The White Sox just don't seem to want to commit to the lefty as their closer. Last year he was beat out by Sergio Santos and this year Hector Santiago appeared out of nowhere to compete with him. 2008-2010 were much kinder to Thornton than 2011 was.
27. Matt Capps (MIN) - Never been a big strikeout guy but his 4.66 K/9 was certainly an outlier. Still 28 and throwing 93 MPH with only Glen Perkins behind him. Generally the last solidified closer off the board could net you profit.
28. Addison Reed (CWS) - Dismissed from the closer discussion early in spring training presumably because of his inexperience but don't write off the stellar youngster. Even if he doesn't get saves he should be worth drafting with his strikeout and ratio upside.
29. Kyle Farnsworth (TB) - His elbow injury doesn't appear to be worst case scenario but a long history of inconsistency makes me question how he'll bounce back in 2012. Will the Rays give him the job back if his replacement pitches lights out?
30. Alfredo Aceves (BOS) - Not convinced a converted long reliever has the stuff it takes to be a closer in the AL East. One thing that can be said for him is his poise and Bobby Valentine puts stock into that. Detroit knocked him around in his first appearance but Mark Melancon didn't look much better.
31. Jim Johnson (BAL) - Has a history of producing solid ratios despite a low K-rate but doesn't have an out pitch and recorded just 5.74 K/9 last year. Rough spring training but little-to-no competition in Baltimore.
32. Hector Santiago (CWS) - Excellent spring from the screwballer and the White Sox don't seem to want Thornton in the closer role. Addison Reed is still my pony in the race to finish the year as the White Sox closer but Santiago might start with it.
33. Joel Peralta (TB) - Peralta put together two very successful campaigns for the Rays and with Farnsworth out he's the odds on favorite to get save in Tampa.
34. Andrew Cashner (SD) - The newly acquired righty lit up the radar guns in spring training and the Padres are invested after trading Anthony Rizzo in the deal to acquire him. Once a top closer at TCU he could take over if Huston Street makes one of his routine DL visits.
35. Vinnie Pestano (CLE) - Great strikeout upside and his control is middle of the road. With a questionable closer ahead of him it wouldn't be surprising to see Pestano finish the year as the closer
36. Mike Adams (TEX) - After leaving Petco his ERA "climbed" to 2.10 and Joe Nathan isn't the most reliable option ahead of him. Beware that Alexi Ogando might be a dark-horse if Nathan is sidelined.
37. Tyler Clippard (WAS) - No upside for saves here as Drew Storen is out but Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge are the ones in the saves discussion. He's a great source for strikeouts and ratio stats and is one of the most heavily used relievers in the game.
38. Johnny Venters (ATL) - His high walk-rate means his WHIP will never be extraordinary but 72% of the batted balls against him were on the ground and he'll produce in strikeouts. Atlanta uses him in the ninth inning when a string of lefties are coming to the plate so 5-10 saves would be a realistic projection.
39. Sergio Romo (SF) - He posted a K/BB ratio of 14 last year, arguably the best non-closer when it comes to ratio stats and K/IP. Downfalls are he's only pitched 50 innings once in his career and Santiago Casilla got saves when Brian Wilson went down last year.
40. Mark Melancon (BOS) - Keeps the ball on the ground and posted a solid strikeout rate in Houston but the AL East presents a different degree of difficulty. With Alfredo Aceves an unreliable option Melancon might be thrust into closer duties._blank t dismiss the possibility that he
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