Grading the Unexpected Aces: Wacha, Liriano, Burnett, Martinez and Odorizzi

Let’s take a look at another batch of pitchers having great years despite low pre-season rankings. All of the pitchers below are currently ranked in the top 25 starting pitchers in baseball in 5×5 leagues. Are they flukes or can we expect them to continue pitching at an elite level?

Michael Wacha, Cardinals — 9-3 Record, 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 69 Strikeouts in 88.1 innings.

Wacha was not a low-ranked pitcher this offseason. In most rankings he sat in the 35-50 range among starting pitchers. But so far this season he has been a top-15 pitcher in 5×5 leagues. His 7.03 K/9 is a league average strikeout rate. His 2.04 BB/9 walk rate is better than average. Wacha has been a little bit lucky with the .262 BABIP that should rise up to the .295 range. The Cardinals are not a very good defensive team that can maintain his BABIP far below league average. Wacha’s home run rate is low again this year despite having a neutral ground ball profile. We should expect him to allow a few more homers as the season rolls along. His 3.61 xFIP and 3.76 SIERA point toward a bump in his 2.85 ERA, but I think we should continue to see Wacha perform very similarly to what he has done throughout his career. The Cardinals are a strong team who can provide Wacha with plenty of support from the offense and the bullpen, and they play in a strong pitcher’s park. Expect a slight drop in the winning percentage and a slight rise in the ERA and WHIP. We are looking at an above average but not elite pitcher in a great situation to succeed. Verdict: The Real Deal. Continue to roll with him. Trade for him if the price is reasonable. Continue reading

The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, Nos. 41-75

Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month  traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

We’ll continue the list with an underrated hurler who won’t stop putting up numbers despite a hideous delivery:

41) Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 83)

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Mike’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014

Bold predictions are fun. Instead of just being ‘high’ on a player, I can create an outlandish bold prediction to really profess my love for them. I got a little homesick editing these. Without even realizing it, my eleven bold predictions begin and end with my hometown Phillies. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

1. Ben Revere steals 50 bases and hits his first career home run.

It is a warm July day at Citizen’s Bank Park. Revere is in the midst of a career year, with 24 steals already on the season. He feels good today having eaten a second bowl of Wheaties before heading to the ballpark. He takes a first pitch fastball over the right field scoreboard to the surprise of everyone in attendance that day. ESPN home run tracker will call it “lucky”. Ben Revere will just call  it “awesome”. He flashes his trademark smile as he crosses home plate to put the Phils ahead 1-0.

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Craig’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014

11 Bold Predictions

You’re not here for intros. Here’s last year’s. Here’s the review of last year’s. Here’s this year’s train wreck:

1)      Michael Choice gets 400+ plate appearances

Mitch Moreland is playing through a might-be-tweaked oblique right now and I think Choice is good enough to hold on to the job if he can get a crack at it full time. Between his ability to rotate into the outfield corners and hit for power that would be functional in Oakland much less Texas, Choice should earn plenty of playing time. If he does, it’s fantasy gravy.

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#TDGX Recap — Team Kantecki’s First 10

By now, you are well aware that my TDG mates and I have been participating in an intense 40-round, first-year dynasty league draft called The Dynasty Guru Experts League. We’re already 34 rounds deep and the pickings are slim — we’ve recently entered the part of the draft where the CBS player universe doesn’t house all of the players we’d like to draft on our respective teams. I entered the draft with a plan to stick strictly to value, but, as you’ll see, sometimes you need to re-adjust your plan on the fly.

The first ten picks from Team Kantecki:

1.03 — Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went first and second, respectively, there wasn’t much debate at No 3. Miggy is a top-three dynasty selection no matter how you slice it. While he’s on the wrong side of 30 and will likely lose third-base eligibility after this year, Cabrera should still provide elite numbers for at least the next three seasons. Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen entered my thoughts briefly, but I couldn’t pass up the back-to-back American League MVP.

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Nos. 41-75

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

Now the next 35 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with one of the players who was a highly questioned omission from the top-40:

41) Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

Wacha’s explosion onto the scene was like a lemon you’re trying to squeeze into your drink – temporarily blinding, coupled with a lot cursing and stinging regret. Blinding because of how good he was, cursing because you passed on him, regret because you wanted him but he wasn’t supposed to be this good – but you knew about the Cardinals and their devil magic. Stinging because there’s lemon in your eye. Your good eye. You’re not going to let it happen again though, so help you, except what’s this – everyone is saying the same things as when he was drafted? He’s overrated, it was a small sample… who do you trust this time?

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Prospect Smackdown: Yordano Ventura vs. Carlos Martinez

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

In last week’s Prospect Smackdown, we saw Francisco Lindor earn a narrow Christmas victory over Chris Owings in a battle of fantasy shortstop prospects. In our inaugural edition of this series, we saw Billy Hamilton crush Adam Eaton when it comes to 2014 steals.

This week, we’ll send 2013 out on a high note by taking a look at two of the more electric young arms poised to make an impact in 2014. We have fastballs. We have #want. We have filth. We just don’t have size.

But, just like I tell myself every night, that doesn’t always matter.

Prospect Smackdown No. 3 – Who will be more valuable in 2014: Yordano Ventura vs. Carlos Martinez Continue reading