Cliff Lee was easily the best pickup in 2008 and one of the best all-time.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the topsy-turvy world of fantasy baseball starting pitching, only three of the top-10 based on ADP (Average Draft Position) actually finished in the top-10!
So why do we keep spending high draft picks for well-known names?
Tim Lincecum - Playing on a very bad San Francisco Giants squad, his performance should make him the NL Cy Young Award winner and a fantasy superstar. He was a bargain because most owners didn't think he could win 10 games with the defense and hitting behind him. Shows you how much the "experts" know (I offered him in a trade for B.J. Upton about three weeks into the season). Won/loss record of 18-5, 227 innings pitched, 26 quality starts, league-leading 265 Ks and an ERA of 2.62 all add up to stardom in both real and fantasy worlds. Because of his size, you do worry about whether he can keep doing it every year like a Roy Halladay.
C.C. Sabathia - Four starts into the year, Sabathia's ERA was 13.50, his WHIP was 2.55 and he was 0-3. How many fantasy owners panicked and traded him? He ended the season with a 17-10 record, 10 complete games, 2.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.11.
Cliff Lee - An ADP of 397 means he was not drafted in more than 90% of fantasy leagues. What a pickup! Despite a mediocre Cleveland Indians team behind him, Lee went 22-3, struck out 170 while walking just 34, had an ERA of 2.54 and a WHIP of 1.11 just like Sabathia. But you spent a fifth-round pick on "C.C." and nothing on Lee. Easily the best pickup in 2008 and one of the best all-time.
Roy Halladay - All Halladay does is go out and pitch - well. This year was no exception as he went 20-11, 206 Ks, 2.78 ERA and WHIP of 1.05. He doesn't get the attention of some other pitchers, but the hitters sure know about him. Except for a couple of injury-filled years in 2004-05, he has been a top-five pitcher since 2002. Nothing will change in 2009.
Brandon Webb - It was Webb's fourth straight winning season and the first time he cracked the coveted 20-win mark. His 22-7 season has him in the running for NL Cy Young. He threw less than 200 Ks for the sixth consecutive season and his WHIP hovers around the 1.20 mark which leaves him slightly behind the top-four starting pitchers.
Johan Santana - It wasn't Santana's fault that the Mets blew another NL East Division title. In his first season on the senior circuit, Johan went 16-7 with 206 Ks, 2.42 ERA and WHIP of 1.15. He also lost a number of wins to the Mets horrible bullpen. Santana underwent surgery on October 1st to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, something to be aware of next spring.
Edinson Volquez - Like Lee, Volquez was not drafted in most leagues, but he proved to be a very valuable waiver wire move. He went 17-6 with 206 Ks in 196 innings, had a solid ERA of 3.21 and a WHIP of 1.33. Despite pitching in a hitters park in Cincinnati, don't even think about trading him away in keeper leagues because of his high upside.
Ervin Santana - The "other" Santana had an identical record to the more well- known New York Mets pitcher, but with an ADP of 393 was much more valuable because he was a waiver pickup instead of the 17th-overall pick. Ervin had eight more strikeouts than Johan in 15 less innings, but his ERA of 3.49 doesn't compare to his east coast competitor.
A.J. Burnett - If Burnett could just pitch against the New York Yankees, he win the Cy Young Award. He made five starts against the Bronx Bombers and went 3-1 with an ERA of 1.64 and a WHIP of .787. He pitched at least eight innings in four of the five starts and never yielded more than two earned runs. For the year he was 18-10 with 231 strikeouts, but an ERA of 4.07 shows that someone knows how to hit him.
Ryan Dempster - After starting just six games between 2004 and 2007, Dempster became a starter for the Cubs and pitched brilliantly. His numbers of 16-7, ERA of 2.96 and WHIP of 1.21 don't tell you how difficult the transition really is. Brett Myers of the Phillies tried the same thing and had to go the minors for about a month to straighten out his pitching motion.