Stephen Strasburg Player Projection No. 29

Key Stats: The 160 innings that the Nationals have set as a hard innings cap on Stephen Strasburg has thrown a wrench in this ranking. When I originally developed these rankings back in October, I had assumed that Strasburg would be throwing somewhere closer to 180 or 190 innings which is still less than a number one or two starter. What the Nationals are doing obviously make sense though. Strasburg has only been a pro for two seasons (really it’s closer to one factoring in the time he missed with TJ Surgery) and given that the most he’s thrown in any one season is 115 innings the Nationals plan would appear to make sense. 

Skeptics Say: We’ve seen pitchers with phenomenal talent before who just couldn’t stay on the mound every fifth day. Strasburg has more hype and talent than even Mark Prior did coming out of USC, but that doesn’t mean that his career is going to take a different path than Prior. Hopefully for baseball and fantasy sake, this guy can stay healthy because from what we’ve seen so far he can be the most exciting player in baseball. There’s nothing to question when he is on the mound, but getting there is the issue that will force people to think twice before selecting him this season. 

Peer Comparison: Matt Moore is Stephen Strasburg American League. Moore was ranked 69th on this countdown and was compared to Strasburg in the player profile. Knowing that Moore is likely in line to pitch 30 more innings than Strasburg this season, Moore could be taken with good justification ahead of Strasburg. That said, if I’m in a league that goes beyond this year I like Strasburg – risk and all. Moore has had much more time to develop and season his repetoire in the minors, but that’s not a shot at the Nationals for developing Strasburg as they have. Strasburg has really never belonged in the minors. His injury was just an accident waiting to happen and did not have to do with what level he was competing at. The fact is that Strasburg has more to learn than Moore, and when he does will be all the better because of what he learns. 

Team Outlook: The one factor that could enable the Nationals to push Strasburg a little more is if the team is in contention for a playoff spot come September. And there is a strong possibility they will be in contention with the additions of Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez to the rotation. It won’t be easy though. The NL East is the most improved – if not the best division in baseball this season. The Phillies will still be the favorite, but the Marlins went with the Yankees/Redskins route in free agency (that worked in 1997) and the Braves youth will take another step forward in 2012. 

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportstline: #20 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #25 Starting Pitcher & #95 Overall; Yahoo: #14 Starting Pitcher & #57 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #15 Starting Pitcher & #68 Overall; RotoChamp: #20 Starting Pitcher

Projection: So just to be clear, will I take Strasburg in the top thirty this season? No. Especially given that the market for him isn’t any higher than 57th where Yahoo has him ranked. With 160 innings, getting into the top 30 rankings he would have to be the best pitcher in baseball (which is far from impossible). That said, I will take him higher than 57th. He will be a first round caliber player entering the 2013 season, and for keeper leagues that makes him extremely valuable. 
10 wins 2.29 ERA 1.06 WHIP 180 K in 160 innings