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The Fantasy Baseball All-Patriotic Points League Team: Pitching

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer

Jul 3, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

In my blog, Pathological Hate, I have mentioned my Head-to-Head Points fantasy baseball keeper league and I’m not ashamed to periodically update on the progress of my keeper team, although maybe I should stop updating because my team has been terrible despite being only a game below .500.

But I’m not here to talk about my crummy team.  I’m here to celebrate a tremendous first half of baseball by shining the spotlight on the most important players in fantasy points’ leagues.  Fantasy points’ leagues do not get the attention that traditional roto-leagues get, whether you’re prepping during the offseason or trying to improve your club in-season, much of the fantasy baseball content available is geared towards a roto, mostly traditional 5X5, fantasy baseball audience.

Although you will see a lot of the big names you would normally see in roto-leagues, the dynamics in a fantasy points league, especially in Head-to-Head formats, is a bit different and a lot more emotionally invested.

Why the “All-Patriotic Team?”  Because of the upcoming holiday coinciding with the halfway point of the MLB season gives us an opportunity to just be fans and soak in the first half of the season and not have to be rocket scientists in figuring out which players are “real” and which players are due for a big “regression.”  We’re keeping it traditional as baseball is traditionally “America’s Pastime” by only celebrating a player’s stats and taking them at face value as we give these players the props they deserve.  Odds are, if you have a few of these pitchers on your team, you’re probably having a great fantasy season.

The Rules: There will be a “First Team” and a “Second Team.”  Each team consists of four starting pitchers, one relief pitcher, and a SP/RP pitcher, depending on where that pitcher is ranked in terms of year-to-date, accumulated fantasy points.  The First Team will have the four best SPs in fantasy points’ league, followed by the best reliever, and a “wildcard” pitcher that placed outside the top 10 in Points’ Leagues.  Scoring is based on my league’s–seemingly complicated–scoring system (10 points for a win/save, points for K’s, negative points for walks, earned runs, etc).  All stats are current as of July 2, 2013.

FIRST TEAM PITCHING STAFF
Player P GS INN W L K BB ERA WHIP S
Adam Wainwright SP 17 125.7 11 5 114 12 2.22 0.99 0
Clayton Kershaw SP 18 130.3 7 5 126 33 1.93 0.93 0
Max Scherzer SP 16 110.3 12 0 131 25 3.10 0.90 0
Jordan Zimmermann SP 17 120.7 12 3 85 17 2.46 0.94 0
Jason Grilli RP 0 36.7 0 1 59 7 1.72 0.85 27
Mariano Rivera P 0 30.3 1 1 28 6 1.48 1.22 27

Adam Wainwright–392 Points: There is no doubt in my mind that this is the guy to beat for NL CY YOUNG.  He’s only given up 12 walks all season long.  Yes, Jordan Zimmermann is only behind by five walks, but Wainwright has pitched in more innings and has a lot more strikeouts.  And what other starting pitcher do you want out there pitching an important game that your team desperately needs?  The arguments are there for the other pitchers listed, but for my money, Wainwright and his impeccable control get top billing as the most dependable pitcher in baseball, and in this case, the best pitcher in Fantasy Points’ Leagues.

Clayton Kershaw–366: Ok, an argument could be made for the overpowering southpaw.  You also have to consider how different this table would look if Kershaw had an identical 11-5 record as Wainwright; Kershaw would most likely be at the top of the table.  However, we can’t live in a hypothetical world, even in fantasy baseball.  However, at 7-5, being the second best pitcher in fantasy baseball is a testament to his dominance.  With the Los Angeles Dodgers playing better of late, perhaps Kershaw can start racking up the wins and force his way into the Cy Young conversation, if he isn’t already.

Max Scherzer–365: I understand that Scherzer doesn’t have as many starts as the other starters, but he’s been the best fantasy points’ pitcher from the American League side.  To me, the most impressive thing about him is not the 12-0 start (although that will probably be the main reason he would garner plenty of 1st place votes for many people’s Mid-Season AL CY YOUNG award), but it’s the rate that he’s striking out batters.  I know I promised I would only concentrate on counting stats, but I can’t help, but include Scherzer’s K/9 of 10.7.  Plus to see him go from a young pitcher with all sorts of control and command issues to the outstanding SP that he’s become is a pure joy for any baseball junkie out there.

Jordan Zimmermann–356Hard to believe that Zimmermann, at one point of his career in the Majors, was recovering from Tommy John Surgery.  I don’t think he’s still a household name as he gets overshadowed by his more famous teammates in Washington, but he is as steady as they come and like Wainwright, has incredible control.

Jason Grilli–356.5: ***bad pun alert*** What better way to spend your Independence Day than by GRILLIng some hot dogs and burgers in your backyard?  But you know what’s not funny?  The Pittsburgh Pirates making the bold move of trading former closer Joel Hanrahan in the offseason and giving the job to Grilli.  The Pirates are winning and they’re winning ugly averaging 3.9 runs per game (22nd in the Majors), 29% of their games won are of the one-run variety, and their league leading Pythagorean Luck figure is five.  No doubt, Grilli’s 9th inning performances so far this year are a big reason why the Pirates are looking to finally have a winning season for the first time since I was still in elementary school.

Mariano Rivera–325: Rivera actually ranks as the 11th best pitcher in terms of fantasy points, but he is the First Team’s “wildcard.”  It has been vintage Rivera as he is halfway through his farewell tour.  If the New York Yankees were playing a bit better, Rivera would no doubt see his name climb a few notches.  And that’s the scary part; Rivera is still a dominant closer even though he’s set for retirement.  If I’m the Yankees’ front office, I would attempt to talk him out of it and get ready for 2014.

Here is the Second Team:

SECOND TEAM PITCHING STAFF
Player P GS INN W L K BB ERA WHIP S
Cliff Lee SP 17 125.3 9 2 115 21 2.59 0.97 0
Justin Masterson SP 18 124.0 10 6 125 45 3.48 1.18 0
Matt Harvey SP 17 117.0 7 1 132 24 2.00 0.85 0
Yu Darvish SP 17 113.3 8 3 151 37 2.78 1.01 0
Joe Nathan RP 0 35.7 1 0 35 10 1.51 0.81 27
Jim Johnson P 0 39.0 2 6 31 12 3.92 1.21 28

Cliff Lee–348.5: Lee has been one of the best pitchers in the last few seasons or so, but seems to have nothing to show for it.  Where 2012 was one of the unluckiest I’ve seen for a starting pitcher (in terms of wins and losses), 2013 is seeing Lee’s Win-Loss record reward his outstanding effort.  Lee can easily be on the First Team, but just fell short as their 4th starter.  He looks pretty good as the “Ace” of this Second Team, however.

Justin Masterson–344: I’ve been waiting for Masterson to come down to Earth after his hot start, but he’s actually been pitching very well for a majority of the season, finally displaying his full potential that had Red Sox fans excited about his prospects.  His WHIP of 1.18 is the highest among the starting pitchers so that might be a red flag, but owning a K/9 of 9.1 is pretty darn good.

Matt Harvey–343.5: If I ever needed a reason to follow the New York Mets closely, this guy is the reason.  His starts have become events.  I’ve had high hopes for Harvey since the offseason and so far, he has not disappointed.

Yu Darvish–341.5: Nobody was more mad that the Texas Rangers had snubbed Darvish from pitching Opening Day 2013 than yours truly.  That is why when Darvish almost pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros on the 2nd game of the season, I went on a total, “I told you so!” rant that lasted for weeks.  So you want to know Darvish’s K/9?  11.99!

Joe Nathan–343: It is unbelievable how Nathan has rebounded after having Tommy John Surgery performed very late in his career.    The Rangers are 13th in runs scored per game, but just like the Pirates, they take part in a lot of close games and Nathan is still reliable enough to shut the door when he is summoned from the bullpen.

Jim Johnson–324: The Baltimore Orioles are 4th in runs scored per game, but also ranked 4th in runs allowed so just like the Rangers, the O’s see themselves in the middle of a lot of ballgames.  Johnson did go through a stretch where he struggled, but has recorded five saves in his last seven appearances.

So at this point of the 2013 MLB season, the pitchers mentioned have been the best of the best in terms of fantasy points’ leagues.  Thoughts?  Surprises?  While you let this linger in your mind, I’m going to try to anticipate other pitchers that might show up on these teams by the end of this season:

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