Already dealing with the fallout from last season’s epic collapse, Beckett may have another storm heading in his direction. Usually one to give up frozen ropes, Beckett was able to curb this weakness, as well as curtail his allotment of adversarial home runs in 2011. Yet metrics prove this reduction was a byproduct of luck rather than skill, and similar production for 2012 is unlikely. Expect a return to normalcy for the former World Series MVP.
Shields delivered a career year in 2011, leading the league in complete games and shutouts and posting a solid 2.82 ERA with 225 strikeouts. Yet Shields seems to be a recipient of good fortune, with nearly 80 percent of runners last season left on base (compared to his previous four-year average of 71 percent.) His walk rate was also the highest it’s been since his rookie year, and was assisted by an abnormally high amount of ground balls. Envision a bit of regression from Shields in 2012.
Perhaps pitching in a more spirited situation gets Latos’ juices going, but his home-and-away splits suggest the former Padre was aided by the vast dimensions of Petco Park. Cincinnati’s loaded offense should enhance Latos’ win total of nine from 2011, and the Reds do employ a solid defense. However, Great American Ball Park surrendered the third-highest rate of home runs last season, which should rear its ugly head in Latos’ ERA figure.
Last year’s All-Star berth was warranted after an amazing start to the season, posting nine wins and a sub-3.00 ERA before the break. Alas, Ogando’s 4.48 ERA in the second half was more in line with his projected output. Ogando is currently the odd man out for the fifth spot in the Rangers rotation, meaning an Ogando selection comes with high risk and little reward. Only consider in AL-only leagues.
To some, this suggestion may sound sacrilegious, as Verlander vanquished his AL adversaries in 2011, leading the league in wins, ERA, innings, strikeouts and WHIP. While he remains one of the game’s elite, Verlander’s truncated ERA was a consequence of fielding luck, evidenced by the Cy Young winner’s 3.77 ERA from the previous four seasons. With Miguel Cabrera moving to third, expect this defensive dexterity to drop.
On the bright side, Kuroda will have the run support of one of the best offenses in baseball. Unfortunately, the positives end there. Kuroda transfers from the pitcher’s paradise of Dodger Stadium to the launching pad known as new Yankee Stadium. Moreover, the move also signals a change from the non-threatening NL West to the ultra-competitive AL East. At 37 years old, Kuroda may not have what it takes to adjust to this new environment.
Hellickson snagged AL Rookie of the Year thanks to a 2.95 ERA and 13 wins in 29 games last year. However, his sub-3.00 ERA was somewhat of a fluke, as his penchant for surrendering line drives suggests an expected earned run average of 4.50. His strikeout rate was nearly cut in half from past production in the minors, and the fact that Hellickson gave up nearly a run more in starts on the road is disconcerting. Anticipate a sophomore slump once spring hits for Hellickson.
He’s healthy in spring training, but it’s only a matter of time before the former All-Star gets sidetracked by the injury bug. When Liriano wasn’t spending time on the DL, his performance was far from adequate, racking up 10 losses and a 5.09 ERA in just 134.1 innings in 2011. He’s still 28 years old, but Liriano’s best days are behind him. Even in AL-only leagues, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
Romero had a breakout season in 2011, improving his win, inning and ERA figures, earning an All-Star bid in the process. Alas, Romero appears due for regression in the upcoming campaign. His home run rate nearly doubled, and metrics indicate that Romero’s production was aided by extraordinary defense last season. Romero is still young enough to solve a few of his predicaments, but don’t envision another Midsummer Classic appearance in July.