by Moonlight Graham

Beware the Young Studs

So, you’re beginning to prepare for your Fantasy Baseball Draft and the annual dilemma of when to start assembling your pitching staff rears its ugly head. “Can I really let Tim Lincecum get past my early, second round pick?”  “If Johan Santana falls to the fourth round, is he worth the risk?” And, finally, “When do I look to grab one of the young guns that could put my staff over the top?”  Well, to answer the first two, Lincecum would be a tough pass at that point in any Fantasy Baseball Draft and Johan is a steal if he drops to the fourth round.  As for the third question, there’s a little more to consider than potential.

In The Sporting News 2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview, Brad Pinkerton wrote a terrific piece on young pitchers titled, Folding Aces.  In it, he analyzed the performance of these rising stars in the season after their stellar debuts.  He presented a formula for targeting those young hurlers that could reasonably be expected to turn up on the disabled list or suffer a disappointing campaign.  He had my interest when he presented those hurlers that violated his criteria in 2007.  Ian Kennedy, Dustin McGowan, Fausto Carmona, and Yovani Gallardo all turned out to be disappointing selections for Fantasy Baseball owners in 2008.  His ’09 list was equally clairvoyant, as Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, Glen Perkins and Manny Parra (above) either underperformed or landed on the DL.  So, what are these criteria and who’s on the list for 2010?

Pinkerton looked for pitchers 25 and younger who experienced a jump of 30 innings pitched over their previous career high in pro ball. Next, he eliminated any who’d registered 200 IP in any Major League season or had exceeded 35 career starts. What was left was a roster of hurlers with the potential to destroy your season.  Now, it’s not a perfect indicator,as evidenced by the ’09 performance of Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw.  What it does tell you, though, is that you’re running a big risk if you take more than one of the following guys:

Max Scherzer
David Price
Tommy Hanson
Wade Davis
Joba Chamberlain
Mat Latos
Trevor Cahill
Ricky Romero
Marc Rzepczynski
Derek Holland

Moonlight Graham’s Top 20 Pitchers

Tim Lincecum
Johan Santana
C.C. Sabathia
Zack Greinke
Felix Hernandez
Roy Halladay
Justin Verlander
Dan Haren
Javier Vasquez
Chris Carpenter
Josh Beckett
Cliff Lee
Adam Wainwright
Jake Peavy
Josh Johnson
John Lackey
Jon Lester
Tommy Hanson
Jair Jurrjens
Matt Cain

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