2011 Fantasy Ranks: SP

Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.

Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.

While we still have over a month until voluntary report dates (Feb. 14th can’t get here fast enough), it is never too early for fantasy owners to start digesting mock drafts, big boards and keeper options.

With that, Athlon Sports has perused the World Wide Web for the latest and greatest positional rankings and brought them together for a one-stop shop. Big media names like ESPN, CBS, Athlon Sports and Yahoo! were incorporated as well as a variety of smaller, yet no less insightful, sites like FantasyPhenoms.com, DeepLeagues.com, RotoChamp.com, HardballTimes.com and RotoProfessor.com.

Each site’s rankings — including Athlon’s own rankings, which will be released early in February — were compiled and averaged into one “consensus” ranking. (Age on Opening Day 2011)

1. Roy Halladay, PHI (33)
The numbers for Doc Halladay are staggering. He has led his league in complete games four years running — leading the majors in three of those four. His 34 CGs over that span doubles second place CC Sabathia (18). However, a slight regression from his astronomical 2010 season is probably in store. His 219 strikeouts were a career high. His innings, wins, ERA and WHIP were his second highest career totals. Halladay also led the league in hits allowed (231). Even with back-to-earth ratios and K totals, Doc is the surest thing on the mound this side of Mo Rivera.

2010 Stats: 250.2 IP, 21 W, 219 K, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

2. Felix Hernandez, SEA (25*)
For the fourth straight year, King Felix’s innings went up. And for the fourth straight year, so did his strikeouts — all while watching the ERA plummet each season. His WHIP has dropped three seasons in a row as well. For a guy who seems to conjure injury notions in owner’s minds, Hernandez has a stout five-year, 30-start streak going. The tiny win total – he has averaged 12 wins per year other than his 19-win 2009 – is the only thing keeping him from taking the top spot away Halladay.

2010 Stats: 249.2 IP, 13 W, 232 K, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

* - Hernandez will be 25 on April 8th.

3. Adam Wainwright, STL (29)
A strong case can be made that Wainwright could be the top fantasy pitcher in 2011. Obviously, it would take a small regression from Halladay (which is possible) and another stellar year from the Cardinal ace (which is almost guaranteed). Wainwright posted career bests in BB/9 (2.2) and H/9 (7.3) giving his owner’s a nasty 1.05 WHIP. His 162-game average over his last three seasons: 20-9, 233 IP, 2.68 ERA, 202 K, 1.14 WHIP. A career ERA of 2.97 – and dropping every year – indicates he is nearing his prime. The big fella turns 30 in August and with two years left on his contract, will be at his best over the next 24 months.

2010 Stats: 230.1 IP, 20 W, 213 K, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

4. Tim Lincecum, SF (26)
2010 was a major off year for Lincecum. Okay, a Timm-ah off year isn’t the same as anyone else — he led the league in strikeouts for the third straight season. He allowed a career high 194 hits, which led to his largely “inflated” ratios. After a poor May (4.95 ERA) and an atrocious August (7.82 ERA), The Freak turned it on. He allowed 18 ER in his next 70.2 innings (2.30 ERA) with 85 strikeouts through September and the playoffs. The small dip in velocity is a concern, but owners should expect a return to normalcy for the World Series Champion.

2010 Stats: 212.1 IP, 16 W, 231 K, 3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

5. Jon Lester, BOS (27)
Last year was the last season to get Mr. Lester at any sort of discounted rate. As the ace of the best team in the American League, he will cost you an early (2-4) round pick from here on out. He has three straight 200+ IP seasons to go with back-to-back 225 K campaigns as well. He is 50-23 over that span. Putting together one full-season – his second half ratios jumped from 2.78/1.09 to 3.89/1.35 – is the only thing keeping him from challenging the elite tier of pitchers above.

2010 Stats: 208.0 IP, 19 W, 225 K, 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

6. Cliff Lee, PHI (32)
The curious case of Cliff Lee continues. Alliteration aside, why has one of the single most dominant pitchers in the game today changed teams five times over the last two seasons? But since his clubhouse demeanor means nothing to your fantasy team, owners can expect ratio greatness once again. The wins should be there as well pitching against most team’s No. 2 starter. This might be a bit high for a pitcher who has never topped 200 strikeouts in a season – his 185 last season were a career best. Also not to be overlooked, what sort of impact does finally signing the big contract have, if any?

2010 Stats: 212.1 IP, 12 W, 185 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

7. CC Sabathia, NYY (30)
Fantasy owners yearning for CC circa 2008 will be sadly mistaken. It is highly unlikely that Sabathia will ever return to his 2.70 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 251 K, 10 CG form of a few years ago, but the big man is still an absolute horse. The 6’7” 290-pounder has topped 230 innings in four straight seasons, will win plenty of games and will push for 200 strikeouts. There is a player option he is most likely to exercise for 2012, but should he post huge numbers, he could play the open market once again. That propostition should have fantasy owners salivating.

2010 Stats: 237.2 IP, 21 W, 197 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

8. Josh Johnson, FLA (26)
Johnson is an interesting risk-reward option. On one hand, he could lead the league in ERA and be downright unhittable for long stretches. On the other, he has had one healthy season over his first five major league campaigns. He struck out more than a batter per inning last season but also had an MLB-high seven blown wins by his bullpen. Tommy John surgery, back issues, soreness have all kept Johnson from elite status. If he puts an entire season together, he could be magical seeing as how he is only 26.

2010 Stats: 183.2 IP, 11 W, 186 K, 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

9. Justin Verlander, DET (27)
If you can weather his normally poor starts, fantasy owners are usually rewarded with No. 1 starter numbers from a No. 2 starter draft pick. His 2008 looks more and more like the outlier while his three-year drop in ERA, coupled with four straight 200+ IP seasons, places the hard-throwing righty squarely in the top 10. He was won at least 17 games in four of the last five seasons and has topped 200 strikeouts two years in a row. A repeat of 2010 would cement '08 in the 'please disregard' category.

2010 Stats: 224.1 IP, 18 W, 219 K, 3.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

10. Clayton Kershaw, LAD (23)
How many 22-year old southpaws have back-to-back sub-3.00 ERA seasons under their belts? While upping his innings (171 to 204.1), strikeouts (185 to 212) and wins (8 to 13), The Claw still managaed to drop his walk total from 91 to 81. With his tiny 7.2 career H/9 ratio, Kershaw figures to be mowing hitters down in Chavez Ravine for years to come.

2010 Stats: 204.1 IP, 13 W, 212 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

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<p> Athlon scours the web to compile its first consensus fantasy MLB rankings for 2011. Today, we focus on Starting Pitchers.</p>

11. Ubaldo Jimanez, COL (27)
The ultimate tale of two halves: Jimenez went 15-1 in 18 starts with a 2.20 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 127 IP over the first half of 2010. In roughly the same number of starts (15), he posted a 4-7 record, a 3.80 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 94.2 IP. While Ubaldo can electify with triple-digit heat, he still has yet to totally master his arsenal. His walk rate is still high (3.7 in 2010, 4.0 career), so if he can eliminate 12-15 free passes per year, he could easily find himself in the top five on this list.

2010 Stats: 221.2 IP, 19 W, 214 K, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

12. Cole Hamels, PHI (27)
The Phorgoten Philly quietly turned in career bests in ERA, strikeouts and games started last fall. And even though his 2009 season seems like the outlier, his 22 total wins over the last two seasons are the only thing keeping the Phillies fourth starter from being in the top 10 on fantasy draft boards. His walk rate, albeit solid at 2.6, was his worst since his first season, yet his 9.1 K-rate was his best since his first season. If he can put together the complete campaign, owners would be happy to spend a fourth or fifth-round pick on the lefty.

2010 Stats: 208.2 IP, 12 W, 211 K, 3.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

13. Jered Weaver, LAA (28)
It may have taken a little while, but the younger Weaver has officially reached stud status. His innings and strikeouts have increased for five straight seasons and his ERA and WHIP have improved three straight years. Owners should not expect Weaver to lead the majors in Ks or the league in starts again, but something close isn't out of the question. Having Dan Haren behind him for 30+ starts will help as well.

2010 Stats: 224.1 IP, 13 W, 233 K, 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

14. David Price, TB (25)
MLB Network's Tom Verducci has already released his 'Verducci Effect' for 2011 and Price was sitting squarely in the middle of the pack. Of course, his theory about increased workload for younger pitchers has plenty of validity. However, Josh Johnson and Felix Hernandez both made the list in 2010 and then both proceeded to lead their respective league in ERA. If Price continues to lower his pitch counts and increase his K/BB rate, he has a chance to outperform this ranking with ease. The defense behind him and his run support will take a big hit this year, but there just aren't too many 6'6" 225-pound lefties who can touch triple digits on the gun.

2010 Stats: 208.2 IP, 19 W, 188 K, 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

15. Matt Cain, SF (26)
Is a 0.00 ERA good? That is what Cain delivered to Giants faithful in three postseason starts. His walk rate continues to fall every season from 4.1 in 2006 to a nasty 2.5 last summer. Despite improving numbers in almost every category that matters, Cain has only averaged a 10.5-12.3 win-loss record since 2007. That said, his 14- and 13-win seasons in his last two years, combined with his brimming postseason confidence, put Cain on the verge of a career year in the win column.

2010 Stats: 223.1 IP, 13 W, 177 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

16. Roy Oswalt, PHI (33)
A notoriously strong second half guy, Oswalt has never been beaten in Citizens Bank (9-0).

2010 Stats: 211.2 IP, 13 W, 193 K, 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP

17. Dan Haren, LAA (30)
Pretty simple for a guy with six straight 200+ IP seaons: 4.60 ERA in 141.0 IP in ARI, 2.87 in 94.0 IP in LAA.

2010 Stats: 235.0 IP, 12 W, 216 K, 3.91 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

18. Zack Greinke, MIL (27)
A move to the NL Central and a dramatically upgraded offense? What's not to like?

2010 Stats: 220.0 IP, 10 W, 181 K, 4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

19. Tommy Hanson, ATL (24)
Made the big innings jump (127.2 to 202.2) and dropped walk rate. More stable, bigger things in store.

2010 Stats: 202.2 IP, 10 W, 173 K, 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

20. Mat Latos, SD (23)
Huge innings jump required SD to shut him down early. But ratios, 9.2 K/9 are just sick.

2010 Stats: 184.2 IP, 14 W, 189 K, 2.92 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

21. Chris Carpenter, STL (36*)
Two straight solid seasons post surgery, but how much longer can he be elite?

2010 Stats: 235.0 IP, 16 W, 179 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

* - Carpenter will turn 36 on April 27

22. Francisco Liriano, MIN (27)
Strikeouts and his ability to keep people in the park are back, but never 2006 back.

2010 Stats: 191.2 IP, 14 W, 201 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

23. Max Scherzer, DET (26)
Finally learned how to pitch deeper into games, upside potential is sky high with his stuff.

2010 Stats: 195.2 IP, 12 W, 184 K, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

24. Yovani Gallardo, MIL (25)
Slight improvement in BB rates, and Ks are very sexy, but still puts too many people on base.

2010 Stats: 185.0 IP, 14 W, 200 K, 3.84 ERA, 1.36 WHIP

25. Brett Anderson, OAK (23)
Should be an excellent draft day value as injuries scar his near elite numbers.

2010 Stats: 112.1 IP, 7 W, 75 K, 2.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

26. Ted Lilly, CHC (35)
A 1.06 WHIP over the last 370.2 IP and 8 straight 10+ win seasons makes him wildly underrated.

2010 Stats: 193.2 IP, 10 W, 166 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

27. Clay Buchholz, BOS (26)
Wins will be there but lack of strikeouts and high walk rate could make him poor value on draft day.

2010 Stats: 173.2 IP, 17 W, 120 K, 2.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

28. Chad Billingsly, LAD (26)
WHIP has always been an issue, but Bills posted a career best in 2010. He should continue to bounce back from terrible 2009.

2010 Stats: 191.2 IP, 12 W, 171 K, 3.57 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

29. Tim Hudson, ATL (35)
What he lacks in Ks, he more than makes up for in ratios and wins. An ageless wonder.

2010 Stats: 228.2 IP, 17 W, 139 K, 2.83 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

30. Trevor Cahill, OAK (23)
A twelve-year younger version of Huddy. Great ratios and wins, but virtually nothing in K column.

2010 Stats: 196.2 IP, 18 W, 118 K, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

31. Daniel Hudson, ARI
32. Matt Garza, CHC
33. Wandy Rodriguez, HOU
34. Jonathan Sanchez, SF
35. John Danks, CHW
36. Colby Lewis, TEX
37. Shaun Marcum, MIL
38. Brett Myers, HOU
39. Gio Gonzalez, OAK
40. Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
41. Ricky Romero, TOR
42. Phil Hughes, NYY
43. Ryan Dempster, CHC
44. Jhoulys Chacin, COL
45. Jamie Garcia, STL
46. Brandon Morrow, TOR
47. C.J. Wilson, TEX
48. Ricky Nolasco, FLA
49. Josh Beckett, BOS
50. Jeremy Hellickson, TB

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