I finished the 2011 fantasy baseball rankings for most hitters.  I’ll go back to the Utility guys at some point, but I wanted to move on to the top 20 starters for 2011 fantasy baseball while we were both relatively young.  And, yes, relatively is relative.  See what I did there?!  Yeah, I’m not sure myself.  You’re not going to find me drafting many of the top 20 starters unless they drop to the point where I feel they’re a bargain.  Say two to three rounds past their average draft position.  There’s just too many starters you can grab in the 8th to 12th rounds that are pretty safe to mess with the top, top guys.  I do like to grab at least one starter from the 3rd tier listed here, but we’ll get to that.  As with the hitters, the projections are mine and I’ll list where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 starters for 2011 fantasy baseball:

1. Roy Halladay – This is the first tier.  This tier goes from here until Lee.  I call this tier, “The best, Jerry.  The best!”  As I put Miggy first in the top 10 for 2011 fantasy baseball, I kinda wanted to put F-Her number one here, but, as long as Halladay is in the NL facing pitchers, I can’t be that contrarian.  I am worried about the insane amount of innings he put on his arm last year, but that’s probably just me being paranoid.  Who said that?!  2011 Projections:  19-7/2.75/1.06/205

2. Felix Hernandez – I love F-Her.  If I didn’t think it would have my diploma from the College of Fantasy Baseball at Charleston revoked, I’d project F-Her for a 2.25 ERA and tell you to draft him in the first round.  There was plenty of discussion about his historically insane low support last year.  I won’t rehash it, other than saying that I won’t rehash it, which kinda does rehash it.  He could easily win 20+ games this year.  Run support is fickle.  Double negatives be damned, don’t not draft F-Her because you’re worried about wins.  Don’t not draft him because you need a 3rd baseman and you don’t want to start Mark Teahen at 3rd base while your team languishes in last place.  2011 Projections:  16-12/2.80/1.10/220

3. Adam WainwrightUPDATE:  I went over Wainwright’s injury.  Don’t draft him. The problem I have with Wainwright is… Nothing!  El oh el!!!  Some dopey people should be outlawed from ever writing that acronym.  Seriously, there’s no way they are actually laughing out loud as much as they write it.  If they were, they’d be in a mental asylum.  Wanna go into an el oh el wasteland?  Check out your high school friends on Facebook.  Especially the girls that used to be attractive.  I guarantee they are laughing out loud right now.  What are you laughing at?!  That your baby said poo-poo?!  Okay, changing the subject back to Wainwright before I have an aneurysm.  Wainwright’s fastball actually gained speed last year, K-rate went up a notch and he’s right in the middle of his prime.  No reason why he can’t repeat everything from last year except wins, which he can repeat just don’t count on it.  2011 Projections:  Nothing

4. Cliff Lee – I already went over my Cliff Lee fantasy when he signed with the Phils.  2011 Projections:  16-6/2.95/1.05/190

5. Tim Lincecum – This is a new tier.  This tier is just Lincecum and Sabathia.  I call this tier, “Top starters that I’m wary of.”  Lincecum’s resemblance to kd lang shouldn’t factor into your decision on whether or not to draft him, his falling K-rate should.  Last year the percentage of pitches a batter hit outside the strike zone was 56% compared to 48.8% the year before.  He also lost a mile on his fastball, threw his slider a lot more and his curveball a lot less.  All these things separate?  Whatever.  Together?  Something stinks and it’s not his bong.  If all of these things revert, it’s all good.  If this is a start of a trend, we might be seeing a different pitcher in Lincecum than what we’re accustomed to seeing.  Before you scoff, you scoffer, think about how terrific Johan was not that long ago.  You drafting him this year?  2011 Projections:  15-10/3.20/1.18/225

6. CC Sabathia – For three years, CC’s walk rate has gone up.  For three years, his K-rate has gone down.  For three years, his WHIP has gone up.  For three years, his wins have gone up which has helped mask the disturbing trends orbiting him.  He will be 31 years old in July and I really think he should be fine for another year, but, for where you have to draft him, it’s not worth the warning signs he’s coming bundled with.  2011 Projections:  18-10/3.40/1.20/190

7. Jon Lester – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Gallardo.  I call this tier, “I’m going to have one of these guys on my team.”  Usually around the 5th through the 8th rounds of a draft, I grab one SP.  It’s nice to have one guy that you can send out there with confidence when you’re upside Morrow, Marcum etc. etc. etc. picks crap the bed during any given start.  This tier could also be called, “These guys could all win the Cy Young but they come at a better price in the draft than the names above.”  It’s no surprise the first guy in the tier of starters I like is a guy with a K-rate that is over 9.  I love strikeout pitchers, as everyone and their cousin’s monkey knows.  Cousin’s monkey, “I read Matthew Berry.”  Simply, if a guy can strikeout out a hitter with runners in scoring position, he has a better chance of getting out of an inning than a guy who needs someone to hit the ball to a fielder.  Lester should get all the run support he needs, should keep his ERA in the low 3’s and strikeout 200+ hitters.  Yes, please and thank you.  2011 Projections:  17-9/3.30/1.18/220

8. Clayton Kershaw – I see Verlander, Weaver and Josh Johnson on a lot of perts’ rankings for this spot.  I don’t dislike those guys, but a K-rate over 9 on an ace in the NL West, pitching his home games in a pitchers’ park is too good for me to pass up.  Oh, and he cut his walk rate from 2009 to 2010 by more than a full walk per nine.  If he takes one step forward and gets run support, he’s winning the Cy Young.  2011 Projections:  14-8/3.00/1.15/220

9. Francisco Liriano – You could kinda guess my favorite guys by just going through the top K-rates for last year.  It’s not thrilling to me that we have a few AL pitchers in here.  I do prefer NL pitchers when push comes to shove.  But a pitchers’ park like Hubert H. Homerfree Retrodome helps and a guy with an xFIP of 3.06 last year doesn’t hurt.  2011 Projections:  15-7/3.15/1.18/220

10. Yovani Gallardo – I don’t think anything is as shortsighted in fantasy baseball as when people look at last year, underrate a guy and don’t think about what they can do in the upcoming season.  We are drafting for 2011 now not 2010, right?  Gallardo cut his walk rate by almost one per nine, K’d almost 10 per 9 and had an xFIP below 3.50.  If you’re doing a throwback to 2010 league, don’t draft YoGa this high, his ERA was 3.84.  If you’re doing like me and drafting for 2011, get him.  2011 Projections:  16-9/3.30/1.24/220

11. Jered Weaver – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Ubaldo.  I call this tier, “I would draft one of these guys, but I think others will take them first.”  I think we just saw a career year from Weaver.  I don’t think he approaches quite that K-rate, walk rate and ERA again this year, which made me almost want to put him in the next tier of pitchers that I don’t want, but even if he only loses one strikeout per nine and gains back some of his walks, I still think he’s going to be a top starter.  I do think he probably will be drafted before I get him because of my ranking.  2011 Projections:  15-10/3.40/1.15/195

12. Josh Johnson – Here’s another guy that will probably end up on someone else’s team in 2011.  It’s not that I don’t like porn star Gosh Johnson’s brother as much as the next guy, but, well, I don’t.  All his injuries annoy me for where you have to draft him.  2011 Projections:  10-7/3.15/1.10/160 in 150 IP

13. Justin Verlander – Yet another guy I don’t terribly dislike, but he’s really more of a 3.50 ERA pitcher with a great K-rate who is drafted like he’s a sub-3 ERA pitcher with an incredible K-rate.  Also, his Aprils and first innings drive me batty.  If he started his season in May and had Valverde pitch the first, Verlander would be a top 5 starter.  2011 Projections:  15-10/3.50/1.18/210

14. Ubaldo Jimenez – Ubaldo’s more than a hair off the pitcher he was last year.  (Pun point!)  His 1st half last year was one for the storybooks, if you’re reading bedtime stories to Bill James’ kids.  His 2nd half ERA of 3.80 wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t his 2.20 ERA from the 1st half.  Unfortunately, he’s closer to the pitcher we saw in the 2nd half.  I’m not saying he’ll be quite that bad, just closer to it.  2011 Projections:  15-9/3.50/1.20/195

15. Cole Hamels – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Greinke.  I call this tier, “If I failed to get a pitcher in the Lester tier, I absolutely need one from this tier.” If you grabbed a pitcher from the Lester tier, feel free to skip this tier.  If you draft two pitchers from these tiers, there’s a chance you’re hurting your hitting.  That’s, of course, assuming one of these guys doesn’t fall far enough in the draft where it makes sense to double dip.   As for Hamels, I’ve liked him for four (stutterer!) straight years now.  As long as he avoids bad luck, he’ll be a solid 3 and a half ERA pitcher with Ks.  2011 Projections:  14-10/3.40/1.18/190

16. Roy Oswalt – What’s this?  The entire Phillies pitching staff in the top 20?  Yeah, pretty much.  If you’re thinking about avoiding one of them because you’re concerned that all of them can’t win 20 games, you’re being silly.  They can all win 15 games.  You’ll take that and like it.  2011 Projections:  15-8/3.35/1.16/175

17. Zack Greinke – I already went over my Greinke fantasy when he was traded to the Brewers.  Nothing’s changed since then, except for that hair growing out of your mole.  2011 Projections:  15-9/3.50/1.18/200

18. David Price – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the end of this post.  I call this tier, “You guys had fun last year, I’d let someone else enjoy them this year.”  Each one of these pitchers has positives.  Price’s K-rate went up last year, Latos pitches in Petco and Buchholz should get run support, but their negatives have me turning away.  As with the Weaver tier, these guys probably won’t fall far enough for me to draft one.  As for Price, he was lucky last year; his xFIP was 3.99.  Also, he derived a lot of value from wins last year and, as previously mentioned three gazillion times, don’t count on wins.  2011 Projections:  14-10/3.60/1.22/185

19. Mat Latos – I’ll lay this out for you nice and simple like Minnie Pearl would’ve wanted it, Latos threw too many innings last year.  2011 Projections:  9-7/3.50/1.10/160

20. Clay Buchholz – His K-rate is terrible, he pitches in a tough park in a tough division and his number one category is wins, which are fickle.  Or fichhkle.  2011 Projections:  12-9/3.75/1.25/140