Early 2012 Outlook: Top 20 SP

Please note that these rankings are EXTREMELY early and there is a whole offseason worth of projections and analysis ahead. Due to time constraints, this list is posted without commentary. Rest assured, however, that these players will be discussed in length before the draft season begins.


1. Clayton Kershaw

2. Roy Halladay

3. Justin Verlander

4. Cliff Lee

5. CC Sabathia

6. Felix Hernandez

7. Cole Hamels

8. Dan Haren

9. Jered Weaver

10. Tim Lincecum

11. David Price

12. Zack Greinke

13. Madison Bumganrer

14. Jon Lester

15. Matt Cain

16. Tommy Hanson

17. Yovanni Gallardo

18. Ian Kennedy

19. James Shields

20. Matt Garza

Others of note: Josh Beckett’s name may have come up in Cy Young debates, and he did post incredible numbers, but he’s been far from consistent over his career. His lack of focus and conditioning are both red flags for me… Call me crazy, but I’ve just never bought into C.J. Wilson. His numbers from 2011 are undisputable (3.41 xFIP), but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and had never posted peripherals as good as he did this past season. All of that makes me wonder about the contract year affect. If his K/BB numbers regress, he’ll have to rely on his defense more often, which, depending where he lands as a free agent, is likely to be quite inferior to the Kinsler/Andrus/Beltre combo he had this year in Texas…James Shields posted an excellent 3.5 K/BB rate in 2011. He also posted the lowest BABIP of his career (.258) while allowing 26 home runs… I took an in-depth look at Doug Fister here. Until this season, Matt Cain had never posted an xFIP under 4.00 – he posted a 3.78 xFIP this season. Interestingly enough, he posted a fly-ball rate of under 40 percent for the first time in his career. Obviously, the man is build to beat advanced metrics, but I don’t want to him to be on my team the one season he doesn’t.