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Top 10 Rotations in MLB

December 27, 2011

ESPN’s Buster Olney posted his top 10 MLB rotations yesterday. I would link to it but it’s an Insider piece. However, along with my picks I’ll include his pick for each spot, 1-10. I had several problems with his rankings, but he got most of the picks right. So let’s see where we differ, eh?

1. Philadelphia Philles (Buster’s pick: Phillies)

This is, obviously, a very easy pick. There are three other staffs that could compete with the Phillies for best rotation, but any rotation led by Halladay, Lee and Hamels will top teams that have better fourth and fifth starters than the Phils. The Phils’ rotation led the majors in ERA, by almost half a run, and it also had the most complete games (18) and shutouts (21). Out of the six pitchers who made at least 15 starts last year for Philadelphia, Roy Oswalt had the worst ERA (3.69) and WHIP (1.34). They’ll probably lose Oswalt to free agency, but with Doc, Lee and Hamels the Phils will again have the best rotation in ’12.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, United States, North America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy. (Buster: Rays)

This second spot came down to the Angels, Tampa and San Francisco. In my mind, San Fran really only goes three-deep in its rotation; Ryan Vogelsong’s not as good as he appeared last year. I like Tampa Bay, but the Angels have four proven arms, while TB has two very good arms (David Price, James Shields), and two young, but still fairly unproven arms, in Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. With the addition of C.J. Wilson the Angels have four guys who last year posted at least a 3.38 ERA and 178 strikeouts. I’m kind of skeptical about C.J. Wilson (see this year’s postseason), especially now that he’s got a big contract. But Weaver and Haren are great, and Santana’s a great fourth starter.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (Buster: Angels)

So we just switched ’em around here, and the Rays could jump past the Angels this year, also. Moore should provide about 160 innings of stellar ball, and there’s still a lot of room for Hellickson to grow. However, his numbers last year were worse across the board from his short time in the majors in ’10. He’ll probably regress some this year, but he’ll still be a good third/fourth starter. Price actually improved in several advanced statistics last year, but had some bad luck, finishing with a 3.49 ERA but only a 3.32 FIP, which only accounts for factors the pitcher usually can control (K, BB, HR). Shields probably won’t post another sub-3.00 ERA next year, but he should be good for a 3.30 ERA, which in the AL East is very good.

4. San Francisco Giants (Buster: Giants)

We agree here. Lincecum and Cain are two already established studs and are still young. Madison Bumgarner started off poorly last year, but rebounded nicely, posting a 2.79 ERA, 182 strikeouts and only 36 walks in 29 games after April 22.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (Buster: D’backs)

Buster didn’t even list the Cards in his top 10, but the Cards had the 12th best ERA in the majors last year, and that was without Adam Wainwright. That number also is inflated because of the repeated use of the ineffective Kyle McClellan for most of his 17 starts. After the all-star break, and basically with Edwin Jackson and not Kyle McClellan starting, the Cards had the sixth best ERA in the majors. With the return of Wainwright, who was throwing and rehabbing during games late in the season, the Cards will have a great 1-2 punch with Chris Carpenter at the top. Jaime Garcia, 25, had a second solid year in a row, increasing his innings and bettering his walk rate, and posting a better FIP than ERA, which is good news for Cards’ fans. Kyle Lohse is in a contract year now (finally) and finally had a good year last year, his first healthy year under his new contract. If he can put up another solid 3.39 ERA the Cards should easily crack the top 10 rotations next year.

6. Milwaukee Brewers (Buster: Texas Rangers)

Another glaring omission from Buster’s list was the Brewers, who boasted the 10th-best starters’ ERA last year. The Brewers’ staff is anchored by Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, who all had very good years. If the Brew Crew decides to bring back soft-tossing, yet effective lefty Randy Wolf, they should again have another great pitching year.

7. Detroit Tigers (Buster: Tigers)

The Tigers’ rotation is extremely top heavy, led by Justin Verlander. If Doug Fister continues what he did last year and Max Scherzer finally gets some good luck on his side, then the Tigers should have a solid 1-4, including youngster Rick Porcello.

8. Washington Nationals (Buster: Nationals)

The addition of Gio Gonzalez really helps the Nats and gives them a top three with a lot of potential. Stephen Strasburg was his usual self in several starts at the end of the season after recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and Jordan Zimmerann only showed glimpses of his potential last year.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (Buster: Mariners)

I have no idea why Buster put the Mariners in his top 10. They were 15th in starter ERA last year, at 4.04. They only have one pitcher who’s above average. The rest of their staff is full of questions. I’m not as high on the D’backs as Buster is, but Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson form a good 1-2 and the addition of Trevor Cahill will help a little bit.

10. Atlanta Braves (Buster: Braves, Dodgers)

Atlanta has a few question marks in its rotation, most importantly the health of ace Tommy Hanson. But Tim Hudson continues to do well, and Jair Jurrjens is better than average. The Braves have a lot of young talent coming up through their system and should be able to plug and play if needed.



From → MLB

One Comment
  1. Bo Jangles permalink

    The Mariners have one starter who is one of the top 5 pitchers in the game, above average is an understatement. They also have Michael Pineda, who established himself as a great #2 in 2011. Their rotation is rounded out by a solid #3 in Jason Vargas, followed by what will be a fight between some of the best prospects in the game for the last two spots.

    Please stop using ERA to evaluate pitchers. It is an inherently flawed statistic.

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