The 10 Best Starting Pitchers Heading into 2013 MLB Season
Just a Bit Outside
Now that the football season is finally over, it's time to look forward to the 2013 MLB season. Last season, I decided it would be fun to do a top ten list for every position in baseball, so I figured it would be fun to do it again. The first position I will look at is starting pitching, which is by far the hardest list to configure.
The main reason why making this list is so difficult is the omission of so many amazing pitchers, considering each team has five guys compared to the one for other positions. Seeing as I obviously have a lot of snubs, I figured it would be a good idea to explain those snubs now:
Gio Gonzalez: control issues and steroid questions.
Yu Darvish: control issues.
Johnny Cueto: first real dominant season in 2012.
Jered Weaver: I don't care about wins. Also, he had bad peripherals, although this is his second straight season of outperforming them - - could be a trend.
Cole Hamels: no real reason; still awesome.
Max Scherzer: Need to see more.
Adam Wainwright: bad first half in 2012 makes me weary.
Chris Sale: need to see it for one more season.
Those are just a few pitchers and reasons why they didn't crack my top ten list. The next player rankings will be for first basemen. But without further adieu, here are baseball' ten best pitchers heading into the 2013 season.
Matt Cain just makes the cut at number ten on my list. Deciding on who I wanted at number ten was very tough, but Cain's consistency and postseason dominance is what put him over the edge. When you throw 200+ innings in every season since 2007, you have more value than what your WAR says, which is why the Giants extended him over Lincecum.
Being a workhorse is probably the most important thing a true ace can provide a team, and even though he CC only had 28 starts in 2012, he still threw 200 innings. If it wasn't for the injury concerns, Sabathia would probably be higher on my list.
Zack Greinke may not be worth the $147 million contract he signed during the off-season, but he's pretty darn close. Greinke is a pitcher whose true value isn't found in the traditional statistics. He constantly outperforms his ERA, and is one of the better strikeout pitchers in baseball. The 1-2 punch the Dodgers have is about as scary as a 1-2 punch can be.
I am admitted Stephen Strasburg fanboy, so it was impossible for me to keep him off my top ten list. As far as potential goes, there's no doubt Strasburg is definitely at the top; however, I am very curious to see how he pitches this season after reaching his innings limit in 2012. If the extra rest really did his longevity, he could be baseball's best pitcher by season's end.
From a strict numbers standpoint, Cliff Lee is still one of the ten best pitchers in all of baseball; it's not his fault he only had six wins last year. The most amazing facet in Lee's arsenal is his control. Lee only walked 1.19 hitters per nine innings last year, which is the second best total of his career. The only downside of Cliff Lee is his ridiculous contract, but there's only one man to blame for that, and it isn't Lee.
There a lot of misinformed, ignorant perceptions in baseball right now, but the "RA Dickey has only been good for one season" might be the biggest one out there. Sure, Dickey had the best season of his career in 2012, winning the NL Cy Young award in the process. However, Dickey has put together two quality seasons prior to 2012, which gives me optimism about him in 2013, even with the league and park switch that could affect the success of his knuckler.
David Price officially broke out in 2012, winning his first American League Cy Young award. Now that James Shields went to the Royals, the talented Rays' rotation is Price's to lead. Although the Toronto Blue Jays improved greatly this off-season, it would not be a shocker to see the Rays win the American League East.
Although I could be wrong, I think most of baseball fans forget how good Felix Hernandez is because he pitches on a bad team that's on the West Coast. Hernandez proved exactly how dominant he can be last season when he threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Outside of the number one pitcher on this list, Hernandez has thrown the most innings in baseball over the past three seasons, showing that he is the true definition of being a workhorse.
Clayton Kershaw won the pitching triple crown in 2011, giving him his first of probably many Cy Young awards. Although he didn't win the Cy Young in 2012, he was still one of baseball's best pitchers. Kershaw had a 2.53 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 227 innings last season, proving that his dominance is here to stay.
It's really hard to make a case for another pitcher being better than Justin Verlander. The 2011 AL MVP is not only one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, but he's also the most durable. The fact Verlander can throw 230+ innings and not seem phased is remarkable. One would have to figure that all those 130+ pitch count games will catch up to him eventually, but it hasn't happened quite yet.
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