Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
"You got to give me one thing. I'm a scary judge of talent," said Al Pacino's character Walter Burke in the movie "The Recruit."
Three years ago I saw a short clip of Tim Lincecum while he was pitching in the minors, checked out his "out-of-this-world" statistics, and put him on my keeper league roster a month before he was brought up to the majors. Obviously, I've never regretted the move.
Lincecum won another National League Cy Young Award, his second in a row, and along with American League Cy Young winner Zack Grienke were the two best starting pitchers - both in the real world and the fantasy world.
Grienke was simply "unreal' at the beginning of the season, going four games (all wins) before yielding a single run. He was an amazing 8-1 on May 26th, just 46 games into the season, before the Royals' weak offense finally took its toll on Grienke's win total. His microscopic ERA (2.16) and top-five WHIP plus third-best strikeout total won him the top overall placement.
Lincecum just missed beating out Grienke, but was still a great anchor for any fantasy pitching staff. (Note to my keeper league competition - I'll be keeping Lincecum again next year along with my other starters: Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia).
"King Felix" didn't see as much respect as in previous seasons after a less- than-stellar 9-11 2008 campaign. He came into the season as a eighth-round pick (ADP 86), but finished third overall. Had he struck out a-batter-an-inning, he likely would have edged out Lincecum for second due to his 19 wins. He'll be a fourth-or-fifth round pick next year.
Javier Vazquez got almost no press, playing in Atlanta for a non-competitive Braves team, but every one of his numbers shouts "monster season." Third-best WHIP, fourth in Ks and an ERA under 3.00 means you got much more than you expected to get from this 10th-round pick.
If Vazquez was a surprise, then Cardinals duo of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were absolutely shocking. Wainwright got less respect than Vazquez heading into the season even after an 11-3 2008 season where he lowered his ERA by half-a-run. Nineteen wins, 212 Ks in 233 innings and he lowered his ERA by more than half-a-run again won him a spot in the top-five.
We know Carpenter is a good pitcher when healthy, he just hadn't been right in over two years. So it was no surprise that he was a free agent or very late draft choice in most leagues. Those that took the chance were handsomely rewarded. Carpenter only lacks the strikeout ability to be a top-five fantasy guy.
Top-12 Starting Pitchers