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After I posted the top 40 starters for 2009 fantasy baseball, there was a public outcry in the comments.  Where is so and so?!  It was as if I butchered their bunny rabbit like the Roger and Me lady.  No one’s butchering your bunny rabbit, friend.  Your bunny rabbit’s fine.  Unfortunately, I don’t think your bunny rabbit’s a top 40 starter.  Your bunny rabbit, friend, is a top 60 starter.  How’s dem carrots?  BTW, while the 2009 fantasy baseball rankings are the gospel, they aren’t set in stone.  I update them occasionally.  Anyway, here’s the top 60 starters for 2009 fantasy baseball:

41. Justin Verlander – This is the first tier of these starters.  This tier I call, “Guys I took grief for leaving off my top 40 starters list.”  Every other ‘pert has Verlander in the 25 to 30 range.  There’s lots of anecdotal evidence why he wasn’t that good last year.  The new pitching coach picked out a flaw in his mechanics, at Tigerfest Verlander admitted his arm was tired from 2006, Inge’s butt pats aren’t as firm as Pudge’s, etc.  Maybe these things are true, or maybe no one wants to admit Verlander is not the pitcher he showed in 2006.  In 2006, Verlander left a huge amount of baserunners on.  His ERA that year was 3.63.  His FIP ERA, which is basically ERA without fielding, was 4.35.  So he was really a 4.35 ERA pitcher the year that he was tremendous.  Then throw in his Ks have gone down, his walks have gone up.  I purposely left him off the top 40 starters because I don’t want him on any team at the spot he’s being drafted.  In the end, Verlander is a 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP pitcher.  That’s fine, it’s just not a 25 to 30 range pitcher like others would have you believe.  2009 Projections:  15-9/4.00/1.30/160

42. Zach Grienke – I think Rudy’s 20 risky pitchers post says it all on Greinke.  I’m especially concerned this year about pitchers who went from reliever to starter in the last two years.  Remember Reliever to Starter to DL.  It’s not that I won’t draft one, I just want to preach caution.  Then you throw in the fact, Greinke’s two years removed from a nervous breakdown and he plays for the Royals.  Put on the breaks, people.  The Royals are not this year’s Rays.  2009 Projections:  9-7/4.10/1.30/130 and starts missed.

43. Brett Myers – See Greinke, Zach or 1/18th of an inch above.  2009 Projections:  12-5/4.30/1.32/130 and starts missed.

44. Ted Lilly – Also mentioned in the 20 risky pitcher post.  Caveat emptor as they say in Honduras.  2009 Projections:  12-10/4.30/1.25/160

45. Ryan Dempster – See Myers, Brett then see Greinke, Zach then see 20 risky pitchers post.  I’m probably most concerned about Dempster from this tier.  His 2008 screams outlier.  Here, listen… Dempster’s 2008 season, “Outlier!”  See?  2009 Projections:  9-7/4.50/1.35/120 and starts missed.

46. Derek Lowe – This is a new tier.  I call this tier, “Guys I’d draft to be my third or fourth starter.”  This tier goes from here to Kuroda.  Derek Lowe has proven himself to be a reliable workhorse, just nothing that flashy in the K department.  A steady pitcher from one or two of your starters helps you when you take fliers on other guys cough David Price cough.  I already went over Derek Lowe’s move to the Braves in detail.  2009 Projections:  14-10/3.60/1.22/140

47. Clayton Kershaw – The walks worry me.  52 in 107.2 innings is P to the lenty.  That’s why he’s this low.  The Ks have me excited.  He’s definitely worth a flier.  I do think he can outperform this ranking.  2009 Projections:  11-6/4.20/1.40/140

48. Jair Jurrjens – There’s concern about his jump in pitches/innings last year from the previous year, but he throws a low percentage of curves/sliders and lots of sinking fastballs.  He’s not going to be an ace, but there’s good reason to believe he can be a solid number two to three.  2009 Projections:  12-8/3.75/1.35/150

49. Ubaldo Jimenez – Walk numbers like Kershaw but in Coors would usually lead me to tell you to pass, but his stuff is nasty.  Like first name ain’t baby nasty.  I’d be careful about the leagues where I grabbed Jimenez though.  Walks in Coors could explode in your face in any league shallower than 12 team ones.  2009 Projections:  10-8/4.20/1.40/165

50. Fausto Carmona – Didn’t like him last year.  I like him this year.  Last year, he had a lot going against him.  This year he still has no Ks against him.  So I don’t like him that much.  Everything in moderation, except moderation. You can quote me on that or whoever I just bogarted it from.  2009 Projections:  14-9/4.00/1.25/120

51. John Maine – He was pitching hurt last year and losing some speed on his fastball when he looked like crizz-ap.  I don’t think he’s going to be an ace, but he could move up these rankings if he is indeed healthy in the spring, which he is claiming he will be.  2009 Projections:  13-7/3.85/1.35/150

52. Scott Baker – Mentioned in the 20 risky pitcher post and had a high amount of men left on base, but has enough ability to induce strikeouts to make me like him to an extent.  I’m a bit of a whore for Ks if you haven’t noticed. 2009 Projections:  12-6/3.95/1.22/150

53. Andy Pettitte – I don’t want Pettitte in all leagues just those AL-Only ones.  He’s way past the point of “accidentally” backing his ass up into a Clemens syringe.  2009 Projections:  15-10/4.40/1.40/160

54. Hiroki Kuroda – Doesn’t have the K/9 ratio to get too excited about and he was one of the largest FLAKES in the majors last year.  (A FLAKE is basically a pitcher who goes from excellent to unusable from start to start.  A FLAKE is also Manny Ramirez.)  2009 Projections:  13-9/3.90/1.25/120

55. Oliver Perez – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here to Pelfrey.  I call this tier.  “No thanks.”  Perez can be great.  Doesn’t matter, I’m off him like black off rice.  2009 Projections:  14-10/4.50/1.42/190

56. Gavin Floyd – Everything from last year points to him having more luck than stuff.  In fact, CHONE projections for 2009 has Floyd at a 5.05 ERA.  I just threw up a little in Gavin Floyd’s mouth.  2009 Projections:  12-11/4.50/1.32/140

57. Jeremy Bonderman – Bonderman’s career took a left turn down an alley in the red light district of Amsterdam and now it’s living with an STD in Copenhagen and it changed its name to Jan Lingön Strudel.  Until Jan Lingön Strudel shows me a year where he’s worthwhile, I’m not drafting him.  2009 Projections:  9-10/4.50/1.40/125

58. Armando Galarraga – He had a FIP (ERA independent of fielding) of 4.88 compared to his real world 3.88.  Or, I guess, imaginary world.  Also, mentioned in the 20 risky pitcher post.  2009 Projections:  9-10/4.50/1.26/110

59. Chris Carpenter – There’s plenty of pitchers to choose from, give Carpenter a year to prove himself.  That’s all, one year.  Or maybe until the All-Star Break.  Just don’t draft him out of the gate.  It’s not worth the ulcer.  2009 Projections:  9-5/3.70/1.27/110 in 20 starts

60. Andy Sonnastine – Not that you thought I was a prostitute, but I wouldn’t touch him if you paid me.  Also, mentioned in the 20 risky pitcher post.  If you want to read a contrary opinion, Fangraphs likes him in 2009.  You say tomato, I say marginal starter who doesn’t strikeout enough hitters. 2009 Projections:  9-9/4.50/1.30/100

61. Joe Saunders – What I said about Sonnastine2 2009 Projections:  11-7/4.15/1.26/95

62. Mike Pelfrey – What I said about Sonnastine3 Also, mentioned in the 20 risky pitcher post.  2009 Projections:  10-10/4.50/1.40/100

63. Justin Duchscherer – Because this awful tier just won’t end, I had to make this the top 63 starters plus 2 post.  Are you happy with yourself, Justin Dook-sheer?  2009 Projections:  5-7/3.85/1.15/70 and missed starts.

After the top 60 starters for 2009 fantasy baseball, there’s a lot of names, but these two stand out:

Wandy Rodriguez – I already went over why Wandy’s a 2009 fantasy sleeper.  If you don’t want to read it, that’s on you.  2009 Projections:  10-7/3.75/1.30/160

Jeremy Guthrie – Anyone who has read Razzball for longer than a minute (not an Urbandictionary minute which is actually long) knows that I love me some Guthrie.  Hopefully he continues to be underrated.  2009 Projections:  12-10/3.90/1.25/130

From Around The Web

  1. So do you think it’s Edinson Volquez in the Bentley?

    …(too soon?)

  2. Fman99 says:
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    Thanks Grey, great list. My cheat sheet has been updated. You’ve got a few guys on the ass-end of this list that I would never pick (Kuroda, O-Perez, etc.) but I suppose that’s to be expected.

    Curious as to what you think on a few specific names that didn’t come up — Manny Parra, the Big Unit, and Chris Volstad among others. Thanks oh moustachioed one.

  3. lincecumshot says:
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    Kenshin Kawakami! Kuroda, part deux. Or whatever “part two” is in Japanese.

    Expect a 3.90 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, about 6-7 K/9. 10-12 wins. I’ll fill out the end of my staff with those numbers any old day.

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Terry Grant: Hehe

    @Fman99: There just wasn’t room for everyone. I like Parra and Big Unit and they would probably be in the next tier where I start liking players again. Maybe I need to go to the top 80.

    @lincecumshot: Eh… Maybe. I went over Kawakami in the Lowe goes to the Braves post. I usually don’t mess with Japanese pitchers their first year here. Too much risk, not enough upside. They always seem overrated.

  5. cockyphoenix says:
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    so are you a whore (baker) or aren’t you (sonnanstine)? Also with names as shaky as Oliver Perez on the list, Slowey’s absence is more noticeable/conspicuous to me. A FIP of 3.9 with a BB/9 of 1.35 is worth a look at the #5 spot, even if he doesn’t strike out a lot of folk (about as many as my homey Guthrie).

  6. Dusty-Baker-In-Diguise says:
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    What do you think of Cueto this year?

  7. cockyphoenix says:
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    So he was. So he was.

    Well, since you already covered the name I wanted to hear about, I’ll come up with another. Has anyone heard about this Uehara chap Baltimore is starting 2nd? Any chance he’s around a Kuroda value?

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @cockyphoenix: Kawakami is only interesting because he’s in the NL. I wouldn’t touch a new Japanese import in the AL East at all.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @cockyphoenix: Oh, and no I wouldn’t expect him to be of Kuroda’s value.

  10. cockyphoenix says:
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    good point. to the suspiciously intrigued section of the watch list he goes

  11. sean says:
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    ’09 Sleeper: Josh Johnson? 6’7, 240

    ’08 following Tommy John:

    14 GS, 87.3 IP, 7-1, 77K/27BB, 3.61/1.351

  12. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @sean: Johnson is on the Top 40 starter post.

  13. Moonlight's Grahams says:
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    Are you concerned or excited about pitchers throwing the the World Baseball classic? Namely guys like Verlander who complained of dead arm last year. Are the extra games going to get them in shape or will the real pressure situations take their tolls down the road?

  14. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Moonlight’s Grahams: I’m only concerned if one of them gets hurt during a game or looks especially bad, like Rich Hill last year in the spring.

  15. Joe says:
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    Geez. How in the hell do you assemble a 6 to 7 pitcher starting staff (assuming the usual 9 pitcher roster spots) in a 12 team league when you’re basically down on EVERY pitcher? There has to be SOMEBODY you like from 41 to 60!

    If you like Parra and Johnson, why not move them up above Top 80? Certainly they should be ahead of schleps like Bonderman and Guthrie?

  16. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Joe: I like them as late round fliers and they will get their own posts in the sleeper sections. Also, I like everyone from 46 to 54 with certain restrictions.

    Then I sorta like others on this list… Notice where I say in Greinke’s, “It’s not that I won’t draft one, I just want to preach caution.”

    Also, I listed the projections I see for people. So if you can handle Ollie Perez’s inability to throw a strike some time, then you can grab him for the Ks. I did give him 190 Ks. That’s a lot. I just said, I wouldn’t own him. I’d find Ks elsewhere.

  17. Joe says:
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    Okay, but what I don’t understand is why you don’t just rank the guys you see as having better years AHEAD of those you don’t. For example, you have Ryan Dempster at #45 and Derek Lowe at #46. But your projection for Dempster is pretty bad: “9-7/4.50/1.35/120 and starts missed”. For Lowe, your projection is pretty good: “14-10/3.60/1.22/140″.

    So why rank Dempster ahead of Lowe? Why not just rank ‘em as you see ‘em?

  18. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Joe: There’s a few things going on with the rankings. First, there’s tiers. So Dempster is in a tier of pitchers that I don’t want. Then Lowe is in a tier of guys I do want. So you could take that whole first tier and chop it off if you like and you trust me. Second, if I ranked them for how I would draft them, Mauer would be at 140th on the list and you’d think I was crackers. Or Dempster wouldn’t even be on the list and then you’d have people asking where’s Dempster? So I need to explain each player and rank them. So my shorthand is tiering bad pitchers together and then explaining why you don’t want them. I could start this list with Lowe and leave off all of those first guys but then no one will have any idea why I’m leaving them off. So you take my rankings and you watch as someone drafts Dempster and you chuckle to yourself, then you draft Lowe or Maine or Kuroda, etc. Sorry, if this is confusing, but it’s the easiest method for me.

  19. PWNightmare says:
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    Jan Lingön Strudel…

  20. Andrew says:
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    How come you have John Danks projected at “176. John Danks – 2009 Projections: 14-10/3.90/1.28/160″ on your top 300 list (above Lilly, Myers, and Lowe) but you dont have him anywhere in the top 80 starters? It seems like everyone thinks he fell off the face of the earth, or did you just forget?
    Whats the deal Grey!?

  21. Mike says:
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    Grey, question about Guthrie. Do you feel he has some innate ability to keep his BABIP lower than other pitchers? Like Neo in the Matrix, does he not believe in this fate crap and that he has control over his own luck? I only ask because his BABIP the last two years has been .277 & .267 and his FIP has been 4.41 & 4.53, yet he has posted ERAs of 3.70 & 3.63.

    Shouldn’t he really be in line for some type of regression? I hope not because I picked him up.

  22. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Mike: He’s not a #2, he’s a borderline #4, so at the place where he’s drafted, he’s not that risky. I do agree with you, he’s peripheral numbers show a regression might be forthcoming.

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