1. Jake Peavy
Your pitching staff was in pretty good shape if Peavy was your number one starter as long as your number two starter wasn’t Kip Wells. Leading the majors in strikeouts (though Bedard might have made a claim for that if he was healthy at the end of the year), leading the majors in ERA and WHIP for starters, finishing 2nd in wins and he singlehandedly put out the California fires. Okay, I made the last one up, but it wouldn’t have been surprising. The only thing that hurt Peavy was out of his control, a haiku for Mr. Peavy:
With a cutoff man
Barrett throws out baserunners
Friends with Zambrano
2. C.C. Sabathia
After posting solid numbers in ’06, Sabathia really came into his own this year. See, who says a plus-size model can’t be sexy? He was the benefit of a solid defense behind him and an even better offense supporting him. By the postseason, he began to wane as his innings were nearly as high as his cholesterol. Hopefully this won’t affect him next year.
3. Johan Santana
An off year for Santana and he still comes in at number three. If not for the one game playoff between the Padres and Rockies, he would’ve led the majors in strikeouts. It’s a shame that we’ve come to expect the spectacular because the only thing Santana failed to do this year was drive in runs in games he pitched. With four or five more wins, he’d be in the discussion for Cy Young. Speaking of which…
4. Josh Beckett
They haven’t given him the award yet, but he’ll win it. The voters love wins, as if that’s more of indication of how someone pitched than their ERA or their WHIP. Not that Beckett was a slouch in those categories either, so it’s hard to fault him winning the Cy Young. Where you drafted Beckett as compared to Santana, you got plenty of value. And, for what it’s worth, I like his taste in random country singers. He’s the red state Jeter.
5. Brandon Webb
Not giving up a run for a month will usually get you on a list of the best pitchers. He was phenomenal for stretches, but merely average other times of the year. Yet, it’s hard to fault him with these final numbers. BUT, if we do want to find fault, his walks were up, which accounts for his WHIP jumping from 1.13 in ’06. Nevertheless, he registered nearly 200 strikeouts and came in 2nd to Peavy for NL-only pitchers. Yet, his strikeouts were down from last year even though he pitched more innings. Okay, I’ll leave Webb alone. But, if you can’t tell, I’m not completely sold on him.
6. John Lackey
Take out two games from Lackey’s season and he has a 19-7 record and a 2.77 ERA. Not any two games, obviously. Just the two games played against Boston (both games at Fenway). The two games where he was 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA. Luckily, he calls the AL West home, a division with three pitcher’s parks and the Marlon Byrd-led Texas Rangers.
7. Aaron Harang
Harang was nothing spectacular this year. He only put up the exact same numbers that we’ve come to expect from him. Numbers that rival the best in the game. Then again, he doesn’t get drafted until the ninth round in a ML universe, so something must be wrong, right? Wrong. Perhaps it’s his team, the media market he plays in or lack of wins, but for whatever reason, he’s perpetually under the radar. I have a feeling the same people trumpeting Blyleven’s Hall of Fame candidacy will have a new poster boy in fifteen years.
8. Erik Bedard
What kind of name is Bedard? French? Is he from Louisiana? Anyone ever hear him talk? Anyone care? I’m not sure Orioles’ fans care. Ladies and gentlemen, your American League Harang. Bedard was had for a steal. Probably falling to the twelfth round in a ML universe. As mentioned above, he was headed for the majors strikeout title when a late season injury derailed him, but his season was still great. On a better team, he wins twenty easily.
9. Dan Haren
Another reason not to draft a ton of pitchers early on. In a ML universe, Haren probably was available into the tenth round. He blew away his previous career high in strikeouts, dropped his ERA by a full point and didn’t allow more than five runs in any start all season.
10. Javier Vazquez
Yet another steal, falling to the seventeenth round in many ML universe drafts. And, FINALLY, living up to the hype of his days in Montreal. It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Not to mention it was done on the crappy White Sox. Some things even Ozzie Guillen can’t screw up.
There’s so many more pitchers to talk about it will have to wait for another column.