Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers (through 5/20/11)

Justin Verlander Top Fantasy Baseball Pitcher

Justin Verlander is our top fantasy baseball pitcher so far this season

Fantasy baseball is one of the more demanding sports and brings out the true gurus among boys (and girls). While some usual workhorse studs are in the mix for the top fantasy starting pitchers of 2011, we at Fantasy Baseball Sportal are here to provide you with some names you may not be familiar with.  It will be interesting to analyze the progression of these starters towards the all-star break and even late October. Because each team has a five man rotation (~150 starters), a top ten list may leave out some honorable mentions: Trevor Cahill (OAK), Zach Britton (BAL), Kyle Lohse (STL), Jair Jurrjens (ATL), and Cole Hamels (PHI).

1) Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
10    10    73.0    24    4    3    2.96    0.92    71    21    46    8.75
After tossing a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, Verlander followed up that performance with another bid for perfection. Those back-to-back starts totaled 15 consecutive scoreless innings, an unbelievable feat. While his ERA is flirting with 3.00, Verlander continues to generate strikeouts every start. It is very difficult to follow a 19 win season (2009) with 18 wins (2010), however; Verlander has established himself as a fantasy stud for the future.

2) Dan Haren – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
10    8    73.1    15    4    2    1.84    0.85    66    12    50    8.10
Leading the MLB with a 0.85 WHIP, Dan Haren is looking to settle with the Angels in his ninth season. As one of the most complete fantasy baseball starting pitchers, Haren has started 33+ games each season since 2005. He is a true definition of a workhorse and will look to stay healthy in order to build upon his early success. Haren is 7th in the MLB for strikeouts but has given up the least earned runs among those ahead of him.

3) Jered Weaver – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
10    8    69.2    19    6    4    2.45    0.98    65    15    53    8.4
Weaver had a ridiculous start to the 2011 season, finishing April with a (6-0) record and 0.99 ERA. He threw back-to-back  complete games, giving up one combined run in those 18 innings. Since then Weaver has gone (0-4), raising his ERA to the current 2.45. Over those  four starts the Angels have only scored 2.25 runs per game. If Weaver  and the Angels can replicate their April success, this fantasy stud will be a hot commodity come next year.

4) Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    8    69.1    17    5    3    2.21    1.00    73    11    58    9.48
No surprise that Roy “Doc” Halladay makes this one. The future Hall of Famer continues  to dominate each season, and his K/BB ratio makes hitters sick to their stomachs. Halladay has thrown 8+ innings in five of his nine starts in 2011. His 250 IP last season marks the most since his 2003 Cy-Young campaign, and may be something to look into. The following two seasons (133 IP and 141.2 IP) were hindered due to injury. After throwing a perfect game in the playoffs last year, one may argue that Halladay has reached the apex of his career in his 14th season.

5) Josh Johnson – Florida Marlins
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    7    60.1    11    3    1    1.64    0.98    56    20    39    8.35
Despite only three victories thus far, Johnson carries the lowest ERA in the MLB with fellow National Leaguer Jaime Garcia. Of the eleven earned runs he has allowed, Josh surrendered five of those in one start. Take away that one implosion and his ERA could be well below one. Johnson has been very consistent, and is looking to string together his third solid campaign in a row. Johnson had a 24.1 inning stretch in which he only gave up one earned run, striking out 30 and giving up 11 hits. Touting a 1.35 WHIP in 2007, Johnson has reduced that to 1.11 in 2010.

6) Jaime Garcia – St. Louis Cardinals
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    6    60.1    11    5    0    1.64    0.99    53    13    47    7.91
In only his second season as a starter in the MLB, Jaime Garcia has emerged as a legitimate fantasy baseball starting option. His K/BB ratio is impressive, and with continued run support 15+ victories is not too far fetched. This southpaw threw a complete game shutout May 6th, striking out eight and limiting the Milwaukee Brewers to two base hits. Although he has given up 3+ runs four times, his league-leading 1.64 ERA should not be ignored.

7) James Shields – Tampa Bay Rays
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    8    67.2    17    4    2    2.26    0.99    60    14    53    7.98
After finishing the 2010 season with a 5.18 ERA and a (13-15) record in his fifth season with the Rays, it was hard to be optimistic on Shields. Despite a rocky start, the 30 year-old has settled down nicely. He threw back-to-back complete game victories, giving up one run between the two wins. Shields then followed that start with an eight inning no decision in which he only surrendered one earned run. Combine that with back-to-back wins and here we are today discussing Shields as an elite fantasy pitcher.

8) Josh Beckett – Boston Red Sox
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    6    57.1    11    3    1    1.73    0.92    52    17    36    8.16
How does a two-time World Series Champion bounce back from a career high 5.78 ERA in 21 starts due to injury? 1) Get healthy 2) Trust your stuff. Beckett has only allowed one base runner to cross the plate in four starts in May (23.1 IP). The early season Red Sox slump did not affect Beckett, as he won three of his first four starts. While his strikeout totals have not been consistent, if JB21 can stay healthy he seems poised to revisit his 2007 self (20-7 ALCS MVP).

9) Alexi Ogando – Texas Rangers
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
8    7    50.2    12    4    0    2.13    0.87    37    11    33    6.57
This 27 year-old from the Dominican Republic was converted into a starting pitcher this season after posting a 1.30 ERA in 41.2 IP as a reliever for the Texas Rangers. My only question is, where did he come from? After being drafted by the Oakland Athletics as an outfielder in 2002, he fizzled out until earning a spring training invitation in 2005. Upon arrival at the U.S. Embassy in the D.R. to pick up his working visa, he was immediately flagged by consulate officials. Ogando admitted his guilt to participating in a human trafficking ring in which young major leaguers were to marry women who had been previously denied visas. Thus stated, he was banned from the United States for five years. Wow.

10) Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves
GS    QS    IP    ER    W    L    ERA    WHIP    K    BB    H    K/9
9    5    53.2    14    5    3    2.35    0.99    54    14    39    9.06
As a starting pitcher, losing your first two starts of the season can be beneficial in some aspects. One is able to analyze strengths and weaknesses, and devise a strategy to stray away from early season failures. Tommy Hanson is the perfect example to this hypothetical situation. He has gone (5-1) after starting 2011 with two losses and a 6.00 ERA. Hanson has great stuff and has had 7+ strikeouts in five out of nine starts. The only question-mark his lack of IP. He has not surpassed seven innings in any start, and leaves a lot of his victories in the hands of the Atlanta Braves bullpen. But hey, let’s give the kid a break – he is only 24 years of age.

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