Oh, no, he didn’t! I did and why are you talking like a guest from The Ricki Lake Show (God rest her talk show.)  That’s right; Cliff Lee is being put in the 2009 fantasy baseball overrated schmohawk box never to be seen again.  If you had Cliff Lee last year, you know what I’m about to say, so skip ahead to the paragraph that starts, “First off…”  Last year, Cliff Lee was the bomb-diggity as the kids said about twelve years ago.  Cliff Lee was the Lenny to your team’s Squiggy.  He was the happy on your ending.   Cliff Lee was so Hey-I-need-a-flashlight-this-guy-is-so-lights-out-right-now last year it was kinda ridiculous.  But why are people shunning Cliff Lee in their 2009 fantasy baseball leagues?  Does anyone know?  A frequent commenter, IowaCubs, recently witnessed this mock draft IM exchange:

IowaCubs: “Why is Cliff Lee falling to the 9th round”
Pie’s Mixed Nuts: “b/c he sucks.”
RedSUKSballs: “Yeah… totally gonna suck this year”
IowaCubs: “Why does he suck?”
Pie’s Mixed Nuts: “b/c he can’t repeat, okay jerk?”
Scuffed Balls: “I only drafted him cuz it was on auto.”
Brett’s Illegal KY’d Bat: “I heard he had a gd year bc of yer mom.”
Twisted Testicles: “LOL!!!!!!!!”
IowaCubs: “Can’t he repeat like 90% of last year and still be ok?”
Scuffed Balls: “LOL”
Pie’s Mixed Nuts: “lol… you should be in my league…lol”
Brett’s Illegal KY’d Bat: “LOL”
RedSUCKballs: “that’s funny”

So if this exchange of trying not to be too crude and not quite that clever names is any indication, people are avoiding Cliff Lee, but they’re not that sure why.  So what can we expect of Cliff Lee in 2009 for fantasy baseball?

First off, a big Wassup to everyone that skipped ahead and didn’t read that other nonsense.  You didn’t miss much, just some superlatives and shizz.  Last year, Cliff Lee won 22 games in 23 quality starts.  Let’s just say, that is a pretty significantly lucky number of Wins for the amount of QS’s Lee had.  He could easily win 15 games in 2009.  I huge difference in value.

Cliff Lee’s K/9 ratio last year was 6.85, a solid number, but it’s not going to produce K numbers that you want from a fantasy ace.  It’s a ratio that places him 49th last year for starters just ahead of Mussina.  Last year, Lee had 170 Ks, that number works.  But in 2009 if he doesn’t pitch 223.1 innings, he’s not going to come close to 170 Ks.  And 223.1 innings is a lot of innings.  I wouldn’t bet on more than 200 innings.

Then what really kills Cliff Lee for 2009 is his fly balls didn’t go out last year.  In 2008, Cliff Lee’s home runs per fly balls ratio was 5.1%.  To give you a rough idea of how low this is, Peavy, the guy who calls Petco home, has a career HR/FB of 9.7.  In other words, Lee will give up more home runs in 2009.  The good thing is Lee’s career HR/FB is 8.9%.  The other good thing is Lee has great control.  His K/BB is superb, especially considering his K/9.  But, wait, this is supposed to be about how Cliff Lee is overrated.  Yes, he is and will be, but he’s not completely unusable.  You just need to keep expectations in check.  Cliff Lee is a 15 win, 3.75 ERA pitcher, which makes him a lot closer to Derek Lowe with a spotty track record than Tim Lincecum.

  1. big o says:

    the HR/FB comparison to peavy is startling .
    winning 22 of 23 QS on a .500 ballclub seemimgly seals the deal .

  2. sean says:

    Rich Hill to the O’s… any comments?

  3. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: The O’s void left by Daniel Cabrera is finally filled? Maybe as a late round sleeper in AL-Only leagues. I wouldn’t draft him in mixed leagues.

  4. Freak says:

    Michael Wuertz just got traded to the A’s. Think he competes for the closer role?

  5. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Freak: Highly unlikely without some injuries opening up things. It’s between Ziegler and Devine.

  6. Grey

    Grey says:

    @IowaCubs: Good article, thanks for sharing.

  7. Not that this matters, but Lee would have had at least one more win i can think of, he pitched a SHUTOUT into extra innings.

    If Lee had the 2008 season in 2007 the tribe MIGHT have been world series champs.

    That being said, i agree there’s really no where but down right now. He’s clevelands ACE. CC is gone. Lee is the #1. He’s going to face other teams #1’s now.

    Picking him off the waiver wire in 08 was gold, the 6-7th round in 2009 is suicide.

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