Michael Pineda Player Projection No. 45

Key Stats: Upon seeing where other sites are ranking Michael Pineda after the way he started in his rookie season, I am very surprised that he’s not being ranked higher. Pineda came out of the gates flying last year as a top 50 player in both April and May – only four other starting pitchers accomplished that. He was deservedly (unlike 50% of the players) selected to the all-star game as a result of his first half. And yes, Pineda did limp to the finish, but his batting average against was still just .236 to go along with a respectable 1.22 WHIP after the all-star game. He is going to be 23 this year –he should improve on everything in year two.

Skeptics Say:  As a Pineda owner I painfully had to absorb one blow after another to my rotisserie ERA in an AL-Only league. After he gave up about 1 home run every 7 innings in that second half it was pretty clear that either the league had caught up to him or he was exhausted. If it was the former it’s now Pineda’s turn to play catch up.

There’s also the obvious move from Seattle to New York. In addition to playing in a bigger market where expectations for him are to be the guy that puts the Yankees to the next level, he has to adjust to the dimensions of right field in Yankee Stadium. According to Park Factors, Yankee Stadium was the 6th best park for runs and Safeco Field was 26th last year.

Peer Comparison: If there’s one thing that shouldn’t worry an owner regarding Pineda it is the strikeouts. During that second half collapse, he still managed to strikeout 60 hitters in 58 innings. And as most fantasy analysts seem to agree, the negative of leaving the comforts of Safeco is balanced out by the fact that he’s going from the team that was 30th in runs scored to the team that was second. So wins should be easier to come by too. Thus, if Pineda is going to outdo what every publication claims he should do and be a top 50 player as I’m projecting, it will come down to ERA and WHIP. Looking at this list of rookies that have turned it on in year two, I’ll take my chances.

Player

Rookie Y! Rank

Sophomore Y! Rank

Tim Lincecum

124

13

Clayton Kershaw

821

83

David Price

301

28

Madison Bumgarner

240

85

Michael Pineda

130

???

Since 2007 only Lincecum and Daniel Hudson have finished their first season with a higher overall ranking at the end of the year than Pineda did last year. Hudson didn’t disappoint in his encore either (finishing 108 overall last season), but Hudson’s stuff isn’t in the same class as Pineda.

Team Outlook: The Mariners wasn’t bad last year (12th in baseball), but the Yankees had the 4th best bullpen. Given that Pineda will have better run support, a better bullpen, more experience, and the opportunity to make more starts, throw more pitches per start, and ultimately have more innings (got all that?) he is in prime position to double his win output from last year.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #22 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #21 Starting Pitcher & #87 Overall; Yahoo: #26 Starting Pitcher & #104 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #97 Overall; RotoChamp: #76 Overall

Projection: Going back to that line about Pineda’s WHIP and ERA, let’s remember that he was 14th in baseball last year with his 1.10 WHIP.  If we can agree that this is one of his biggest questions coming into this season, how in the world is he not a top twenty starter for anyone?
17 wins 3.40 ERA 1.14 WHIP 196 K in 190 innings