Fantasy owners will always try to get a "complete" package player on draft day. However, your team will likely have holes to fill in certain statistical categories. In Low Book Value and High Return, we will examine players with low average draft positions (ADP) who can either be drafted in later rounds or picked off of the waiver wire prior to the start of the season.
Low Book Value and High Return - Strikeouts
Wednesday February 22nd, 2012
Below are several starting pitchers who are cheap sources of strikeouts. Most of these players can't help out significantly in other fantasy baseball categories, but will rank near the top of the league in strikeouts when the season ends.
ADP data via Mock Draft Central. Values as of February 22, 2012.
Bud Norris - Houston Astros (ADP: 230.36)
Bud Norris pitches for a bad baseball team, but that doesn't mean fantasy owners should avoid him all together in upcoming drafts. The 26-year-old won only six games last season, but returned plenty of strikeouts for owners - 8.5 batters per 9 innings (K/9). In his first two full big-league seasons, Norris has 334 strikeouts in 339 2/3 IP (8.8 K/9). Norris has struggled with walks in the past, as he had 4.5 walks per 9 innings (BB/9) in 2010, but lowered that number to 3.4 BB/9 in 2011. Don't let the win totals and walks allowed detour you from owning this young pitching source of strikeouts.
Chris Sale - Chicago White Sox (ADP: 231.21)
Although lefty Chris Sale hasn't taken the mound as a starting pitcher since his days at Florida Gulf Coast University, the White Sox plan to move him into the starting rotation during the 2012 season. The soon-to-be 23-year-old has appeared in 79 big-league games out of the bullpen while posting 10.6 K/9. He didn't spend much time at the minor league level after being drafted in 2010, but has shown he's capable of being a quality major league pitcher. Sale currently throws three pitches - with his slider being his best - having an 18% whiff rate when throwing his slider (source: Brooks Baseball). No fantasy owner knows what will happen to Sale's numbers once he transitions to the starting rotation, but if his previous numbers are any indicator, fantasy owners who own Sale will be just fine.
Ryan Dempster - Chicago Cubs (ADP: 235.21)
Ryan Dempster ranks as the No.16 overall pitcher in strikeouts among all major leaguers with 571 during the past three seasons (2009-2011), placing him around pitchers like Cole Hamels (573) and James Shields (579). Our own Nate Springfield wrote a detailed report on Dempster as a bounce back candidate in 2012, so you can read more details by clicking on the link. Overall, despite the 4.80 ERA in 2011, Dempster's strikeout totals have remained consistent over the past several seasons, and that trend should continue in 2012.
Scott Baker - Minnesota Twins (ADP: 212.13)
Despite throwing 134 2/3 innings in 2011, Twins pitcher Scott Baker had 8.2 K/9. For his career, Baker has 7.2 K/9 in 958 big-league innings since joining the Twins in 2005. Elbow discomfort cut Baker's 2011 season short, but he has reportedly arrived at spring training with zero issues. Before the injury, his first half statistics for the Twins in 2011 looked terrific all around - a 7-5 record with a 3.01 ERA and 8.5 K/9. Overall, Baker has good strikeout numbers along with low walk totals, but fantasy owners will need to monitor his health during spring training.
Erik Bedard - Pittsburgh Pirates (ADP: 231.67)
The biggest roadblock for Erik Bedard is health. Although staying healthy is a concern for any player, it's a huge concern for owners who take a chance on Bedard. He can pile up the K's when healthy, but finding healthy innings from the lefty is troublesome. The 2011 season marked the first time since 2007 that Bedard tossed more than 100 innings, so perhaps it's a sign of good fortune for Bedard. However, while he tossed 129 1/3 innings in '11, Bedard still lost time due to back and knee injuries. Even after battling injuries the past few years, the lefthander has still managed to post a 9.11 K/9 rate since 2009. Owners can grab Bedard cheap and hope he'll throw 125 innings, and if he doesn't - there isn't a huge value loss. He's truly a high risk, high skill type of pitcher.
Colby Lewis - Texas Rangers (ADP: 203.50)
Colby Lewis is a fan favorite around Baseball Press and for good reason. After playing overseas, the 32-year-old returned to Major League Baseball during the 2010 season, helping the Rangers reach the World Series in each of the past two seasons. The righthander posted 8.2 K/9 the past two seasons and finished 2011 on a high note, striking out just over a batter per inning to close out the final two months of the season. Although he allowed an American League leading 35 home runs in 2011, the strikeouts and low walk totals (2.5 BB/9) will offset the high ERA over the course of the season.
Luke Hochevar - Kansas City Royals (ADP: 238.33)
Royals righty Luke Hochevar started the 2011 season by posting ugly numbers during the first half of play. In 19 starts prior to the All-Star break, he was 5-8 with a 5.46 ERA and 4.6 K/9. However, he really turned the corner during the second-half of play, compiling a 6-3 record, 3.52 ERA, and 7.7 K/9 in his final 12 starts of the season. He has 5.9 K/9 in 100 appearances (96 starts) in five big-league seasons, but there's optimism that Hochevar's second-half strikeouts numbers will carry over into the 2012 season. He won't strike out a batter per inning, or post a win percentage over .500 this season, but having approximately 6.5 to 7.0 strikeouts per 9 innings is a real possibility.
Ted Lilly - Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 231.13)
Much like Luke Hochevar, Ted Lilly started the 2011 season poorly, but finished strong after the All-Star break. The 36-year-old lefthander started the year with a 4.79 ERA and 6.6 K/9, but finished the second half of the season with a 2.94 ERA and 8.4 K/9 over his final 14 starts. For his career, Lilly has never dominated hitters or thrown flashy pitches, but he's a low risk option for owners and has shown strikeout number consistency during his 13 year big-league career.
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