Even more dynasty rankings

A few weeks ago, Josh Shepardson, Paul Singman and I put out our lists of our top 25 fantasy players under the age of 25. Last week, Paul took a second look at his list, reworking his rankings and expanding the list to 32. In a petty attempt to one-up Paul (to pay Peter), here is some insight into my top 35 or so dynasty players under the age of 25 when the season starts:

| New | Name                | Old Rank |
|  1  | Evan Longoria       |  1       |
|  2  | Felix Hernandez     |  2       |
|  3  | Carlos Gonzalez     |  4       |
|  4  | Stephen Strasburg   |  3       |
|  5  | Jason Heyward       |  7       |
|  6  | Justin Upton        |  6       |
|  7  | Clayton Kershaw     |  14      |
|  8  | Mat Latos           |  5       |
|  9  | Jay Bruce           |  8       |
| 10  | Carlos Santana      |  9       |
| 11  | Domonic Brown       |  10      |
| 12  | Andrew McCutchen    |  11      |
| 13  | Desmond Jennings    |  12      |
| 14  | Tommy Hanson        |  N/R     |
| 15  | Jeremy Hellickson   |  13      |
| 16  | Mike Stanton        |  15      |
| 17  | Buster Posey        |  16      |
| 18  | Yovani Gallardo     |  17      |
| 19  | David Price         |  18      |
| 20  | Colby Rasmus        |  19      |
| 21  | Gordon Beckham      |  20      |
| 22  | Billy Butler        |  21      |
| 23  | Jesus Montero       |  22      |
| 24  | Brett Anderson      |  23      |
| 25  | Madison Bumgardner  |  24      |
| 26  | Pedro Alvarez       |  25      |
| 27  | Jhoulys Chacin      |  N/R     |
| 28  | Mike Moustakas      |  N/R     |
| 29  | Kris Medlen         |  N/R     |
| 30  | Neftali Feliz       |  N/R     |
| 31  | Elvis Andrus        |  N/R     |
| 32  | Daniel Hudson       |  N/R     |			
| 33  | Jordan Zimmermann   |  N/R     |			
| 34  | Matt Wieters        |  N/R     |
| 35  | Mike Minor          |  N/R     |			

As you might notice, almost all of the top 25 guys on this “redone” list were on my original top 25 list. The exception is Tommy Hanson, whom I just plain forgot about (oops!). I still believe these 25 players (plus Pedro Alvarez) represent the best current dynasty players in fantasy.

I emphasize the phrase current for two reasons. First, a major league read player with statistics under his belt is more proven and less risky for the short term, in my view, than a player with no major league statistics, let alone a lack of Triple-A numbers. Second, I include each player’s expected 2011 value in his ranking. Playersd are penalized if they are not expected to play in 2011. This is why guys like Jesus Montero, Mike Moustakas and Kris Medlen are ranked so low.

Stephen Strasburg is the exception because if he is truly progressing back from injury as positively as reports indicate, his talent is just too superior to ignore. He is the kind of guy worth paying a premium for to retain in the future, despite limited expected 2011 contribution (pitching 40 innings down the stretch, however, might make some nice quality reliever-equivalent production).

Some very talented players who are unlikely to play much, if at all, in 2011 (I’m looking at you, Mike Moustakas) are not on this list this year, but will likely creep in to the top 25 in coming seasons. If you want more information on why Moustakas is not on this list, consult the original rankings post comments section, which beat the topic like a dead horse. I’m shocked no one gave me any flak for my man-crush on Gordon Beckham (a .285/20-plus/10-plus capable second base talent on par with Rickie Weeks, but with more batting average).

The notable changes to the original top 25 rankings regard a slight bump down for Strasburg (from No. 3 to No. 4 because I just love that CarGo guy), a jump up in position for Jason Heyward, who now rounds out the top five (because he is just that good, walking more than 90 times in his age 21 rookie year), Clayton Kershaw moving up from No. 14 to No. 7 (because I did not realize that Kershaw is younger than Jeremy Hellickson, bumping Latos down a few slots to make room for Heyward and Kershaw, and Alvarez getting kicked off the top 25 to make room for Hanson. If anyone has further questions about my updated top 25 rankings, please post them in the comment below. The rest of this post will focus on the new names, players ranked No. 27-35 (note that Alvarez, originally in my top 25, is ranked No. 26).

First, the nine names that just missed the cut for my top 35 list. These include Brandon Beachy (like his potential, but I have no firm indication as to his future role and full-time major league ETA), Starlin Castro (loads of defensive talent, but his offense needs more proving before I am convinced he really is 15/30 capable), Aroldis Chapman (his lack of control and below-average change-up will limit his value, as will his short term role as a reliever), Travis Snider (I love the potential, but he needs to prove some production first), Eric Hosmer (too far away), Bryce Harper (even further away), Pablo Sandoval (again, love the potential, but his body type will not age well and he needs to prove that 2010, not 2009, was the fluke), Logan Morrison (the White Sox should have traded Ozzie Guillen for him) and Freddie Freeman (others love him, I want to see what he does first). These players all have high ceiling and could vault up the value chart in 2011, but there are too many question marks surrounding downside, role, playing time, etc. that limit their prospective value.

Of the newly ranked names, Jhoulys Chacin is my favorite. He is only 23 years old, but has struck out 23.9 percent of the 631 batters he has faced in his brief major league career (148.1 innings, 151 Ks). Chacin also profiles as a solid groundball pitcher (46.6 percent GB, 32.2 pedrcent fly balls), which should play well at Coors Field.

Though his control, like that of teammates Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de La Rosa, is well below average (bottom quintile among all pitchers to toss 10-plus innings last season), it is not entirely unbearable in light of his strikeout and groundball rates. Chacin posted a 3.54 FIP and 3.74 xFIP last season, which squares nicely with, though slightly higher than, his 3.28 ERA mark. I expect a mid-to-high 3s ERA, an average WHIP (around 1.32, according to the xWHIP calculator), and a bellyful of strikeouts with wins upside. Chacin could be a second-tiered ace in the making.

Moustakas is a big talent who, despite suspect defense, might stick at third base if not Ryan Braun-bad due to a glut of first base/DH types on the Royals’ 40-man roster (Billy Butler, Kila Ka’aihue, Eric Hosmer, etc.). Moustakas will likely change positions eventually, however.

Oliver thinks Moustakas is capable of hitting .280 with around 30 home runs and a handful of stolen based in the immediate future, and, assuming the Royals bring Moustakas up in 2012, he will provide great fantasy value at third base. Moustakas is certainly a player worth owning now in keeper leagues, but I think he is not yet a top 25 talent under the age of 25 because he is at least a year away from full-time play.

I love Kris Medlen. I think he is a top 25-capable starting pitcher with strong strikeout upside. He is ranked so low only because he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery for most of 2011. Medlen should return in the second half, and, assuming he is not too rusty, should provide 50-90 strong innings for the Braves. Keep him on your radar.

Like Paul, I really have no interest in ranking relievers on my list. That is why I did not create a top 40 list, which would have undoubtedly included Chapman. Neftali Feliz, however, is an exception for two reasons. First, Feliz was raised as a starter throughout most of his tenure in the Braves/Rangers minor league systems and was quite successful in that role before being converting into an emergency reliever in 2009. There is a realistic chance that the Rangers convert Feliz back into a starter in the near future. Second, even if Feliz is not re-converted into a starter, he established himself as one of baseball’s premier closers last season, striking out more than a batter per inning, keeping the walks under control (6.7 percent BB rate, 2.34 BB/9), and setting the rookie saves record (40) in the process. Feliz is something special.

According the Bill James 2011 Handbook, Elvis Andrus was baseball’s fastest baserunner. He was nothing short of elite in getting from first to third on singles and scoring from both first and second base. Unfortunately, raw speed does not always translate into smart baserunning and instincts.

While Andrus stole 32 bases last season, he was also caught 15 times and Ron Washington, taking notice, often gave Andrus a red light. Andrus could easily steal 40-plus bases, but to be given the opportunity, he will have to be more efficient. That is not to say that he won’t be in the future, only that, as a largely 2.5 dimensional player (runs, stolen bases, mediocre batting average), he is going to have to prove he is capable of remaining “elite” in at least one of his production categories before I am going to rank him higher.

In short, the White Sox got (pale) hosed when they traded Daniel Hudson, a No. 2 type with upside, for Edwin Jackson. Hudson has good strikeout stuff (22.6 percent strikeout rate last season) and slightly above average control (2.55 BB/9), but the groundball rate (only 35.2 percent last season) might be an issue at Chase Field. A concert of Hudson’s groundball rate and home park is the only thing keeping him outside the top 25 list.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Jordan Zimmermann. He throws hard, strikes out a good number of batters, and has good control over his pitch mix. Zimmermann is an exciting talent to watch in 2011 as he removes himself further in time from Tommy John surgery. I expect big things from him, but his injury past forces me to temper expectations.

In light of impressive Double-A numbers entering the 2009 season, Matt Wieters was once touted as a premier hitting talent capable of sticking at catcher. Two seasons later, like Alex Gordon before him, this Double-A wonder has been a large disappointment, hitting only .266/.328/.393 with a mere 20 home runs over his brief major league career (226 games).

For a guy once projected to easily ding 20-plus a season, Wieters’ 98 RBI for his career to date has to be slightly underwhelming for those who have had him in keeper leagues for the past two seasons. Nonetheless, Wieters is only 24 and has the upside/pedigree such that we don’t want to give up on him yet. I am expecting a .280-plus batting average with 17 home runs from him next season, but do not hold me to it. This is a case of perceived downside canceling out upside.

What is Mike Minor’s role in 2011? Like many a Braves prospect (like Brandon Beachy and Julio Teheran), Minor is a talented pitching prospect with a lot of strikeout (9.00-plus K/9) and control (sub-3.00 BB/9) upside who could make a huge impact for both the Braves and fantasy owners. Minor seems to be both the closest to the majors amomg him, Beechy and Trout and also the likeliest of the three to round out the back of the Braves’ deep starting rotation in 2011. If Minor accumulates 150 or more innings next season, I will kick myself for not ranking him higher.

Jeffrey Gross is an attorney who periodically moonlights as a (fantasy) baseball analyst. He also responsibly enjoys tasty adult beverages. You can read about those adventures at his blog and/or follow him on Twitter @saBEERmetrics.
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12 years ago

The name that jumps out at me is Melden … I agree he is a fine pitcher, but Top 35 under 25 coming off both TJ and a torn labrum in his hip? He is lucky if he pitches this year at all … and I don’t see his upside being equal to the other pitchers available (while I am not as high on him as most, I would rank Pineda above Medlen for one).

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

Because upton is still like 7 years old and proven enough to be 280+/20+/20+ capable.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

I realize the argument,but you must understand my Man Crush on Medlen. I’ve been in love with his stuff since before either he or hanson got the call up. I’ll admit his ranking here may be bias.

12 years ago

Moustakas is not a year away.  Per Dayton Moore, Moustakas will be in the majors by sometime this summer – my guess would be after the Super Two deadline.  Not 2012.

12 years ago

Re: Medlen … It’s one thing if your admitted bias allows you to elevate one player over another in a close call, but here you are flat-out ignoring Medlen’s injuries keeping him out of the bulk of 2011 despite relying on the very same argument (albeit timing of call-up) to keep Moustakas down.  Plus, Cahill is 22, the under-rated Jaime Garcia is 24,  Hughes is 24 and while each may be a candidate for regression, all should be above Medlen in a Dynasty format as well.

mike trout
12 years ago

First off, I am not a braves prospect, I am an angels prospect and many believe I will make my major league debut this September despite never playing Double A. I should be on this list ahead of some of the scrubs you have on here.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago


1) I have Moustakas ranked above medlen because of the injury risk, BUT i do not agree with yuor assertion. Medlen is a semi-proven major league talent with a strong pedigree, which is inherently more valuable than prospects in my eyes. It is rare that I’d rather have a highly touted prospect over a major league ready, effective talent with high upside. The kid has good stuff and control over it. I like that a lot in a pitcher. I think he has a more effective mix with control over that mix than Hughes and while I do like Cahill, his minor league stuff has not translated over as well. Cahill is not striking guys out. Medlen is getting grounders, whiffing and not walking too many. Because of his injury, i have him ranked quite low, but if he comes back healthy, i peg him top 25+ capable thereout

@Mike Trout.
Oops. I’d edit it now, but this computer types in Chinese when i try and type URLs. Go figure. Don’t ask. Thanks for pointing out the issue. Still, I think you are too far away smile.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

Again, before the debate starts, I do not believe Moustaka plays full time or even 200 AB in 2011. Why would the royals start the service clock on their young stud hitter when they wont be competitive until at least 2013

Braves Fan
12 years ago

Imagine if the Braves hadn’t given up Andrus and Feliz for Teixiera…

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

A few quick points:

1) A little too pitcher heavy for my taste.  I think you have the right names in the right order, but I’d slide most down a few slots in deference to position players.
2) Your argument to include Strasburg and Feliz but ignore Chapman is ridiculous.  The soon-to-be 23-year-old is MLB ready, is a lefty, and throws 106, for cryin’ out loud.  He’s a better bet to start than Feliz at this point, but even if he remains a reliever (which I doubt), you HAVE to include him in a list of this sort, where he’s a lock top-10 guy regardless of role. 
3) The only explanation I can conjure for your disrespect for Posey is that you’re suffering from the desire to find the “next big thing” over going with the proven stud at a premium position.  I have him in my top-5; to have him below Jennings, Hellickson, and Santana is baffling.  What exactly does he have to do, win the World Series?  Oh, wait…
4) Everyone has already pointed out Medlen, but what about Zimmerman?  I’m curious how you include him on this list over Hughes, Garcia, Matusz, and Pineda?  I can think of 20 young starters I’d take over him, easily.  Zimm would have trouble making my top 100.
5) Notable position players missing and not previously mentioned by you: Delmon Young, Ian Desmond, Ike Davis, Logan Morrison, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Brett Lawrie, and Ackley.
6) Stop this nonsense that the Royals are going to keep Moustakas down to control his clock longer.  How long will they go with this strategy?  Will they keep him in AAA until 2016?  If he’s anything other than abysmal after the first month of the season, he’s on the major league roster.

Michael Smith
12 years ago

Just curious on why you’re still so positive on Upton at this point.

Bob Miller
12 years ago

Jordan Zimmermann – the Nationals pitcher – has two n’s at the end of his name.  Ryan Zimmerman spells his last name with one “n”.  I hope it doesn’t seem too picky to point this out, but it can be confusing.  Especially if you ever write just the last name in an article.  Then the reader will think that you mean the 3B (Ryan).

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

@The Baltimoron,

Thanks for the feedback, let me address in kind—

1) 100% ok. I admit routinely that I overvalue pitching. I realize pitching is more fungible and unreliable, but rather than discount pitching because of that, I put a premium on strong, “reliable” pitching.

2) I know chapman throws 106, but Daniel Cabrera used to throw >100+. Speed isnt everything. It’s also about semblance of command. That is what separates Ryan and Johnson from Cabrera, Matt Lindstrom and Kyle Farnsworth. Chapman also has a terrible change up. He has too much to prove between control and a third pitch to warrant top 35 rank. He’s got talent, no question, but the guys above him are more polished talents with better projected trajectories given their current set of track record. That is not to say that Chapman can’t become a top notch talent.

3) I like Posey, but I do not buy into his 2010 power. I can’t even justify that opinion on anything other than a gut feeling. I rarely judge baseball players with my eyes, but I expect a .300/20 line and view 2010 as above his talent level. But seriously, I could be wrong and have to eat my words. His home run profile is very pedestrian: http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2010_4612&type=hitter . And yes, I realize his is young. I’m not discounting room for improvement, just my tempered expectations. I also undervalue catchers generally. I will say, however, that Santana could be the most valuable catcher within the next few years. He has the best catcher power, good OBP skills and can run (is young!). Just watch. The only Posey advantage will be in AVG.

4) Here is why I like Zimmerman over Hughes, Garcia, Matusz, and Pineda.

Matusz: 18.9 K%, 8.1 BB%, 90.2 MPH fastball, 35.2% GB%

Garcia: 18.3 K%, 9.4% BB%, 90.2 MPH fastball, 56.3% GB%

Hughes: 20.1 K%, 8.4% BB%, 92.5 MPH fastball, 35.8% GB%

Zimmerman: 22.6% K%, 7.4% BB%, 93.0 MPH fastball, 45% GB%. Strong velocity and control (which is the hardest thing to regain post TJ) post-surgery.

Need I explain further? I have Hughes rankd ahead of Zimmerman for 2011, but long term, I would probably rather have Zimmerman assuming he keeps improving form as he is more and more removed from TJ. I think a good argument for Hughes to make this list could be made. I really do, but too many FBs in the AL east worry me.

5) Delmon Young isn’t even a top 40 OF on my list (don’t like him, see the comments arguments for the OF rankings—the best projection for him is 21 HR), Ian Desmond (like him, but wouldnt rely on him given the poor K/BB ratio), Ike Davis (lke him, but he projects as a Derrek Lee type (.290 hitter with 25 HR power), which is unimpressive, though useful, in fantasy for a 1B), Logan Morrison (like him, but need to see what he profiles to do other than walk a ton before I place him), Austin Jackson (BABIP gods can’t keep smiling, even with a 24% LD%…xBABIP-adjusted batting line: 0.263/0.318/0.370), Jose Tabata (too one dimensional to be top tier. useful, but not top of the crop), Brett Lawrie (too unknown, Oliver only projects him .260/.311/.417 capable at this stage in the game, but he can’t even legally drink yet (well, that’s a lie, he can. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRETT LAWRIE) and Ackley (love his potential, but he does not project to be as elite as Moustakas without MLB play under his belt, so let’s see what he does first).

6) It’s not nonsense. Moustakas is 22, so it’s not like he’s at all old. If he plays full time next year, he’d be 23, which is still quite young. He’s also barely even accrued 200 PA in AAA. If you really believe this, then you’d win him over myself in auction. That’s all.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

Thanks for pointing that out. I will correct it!

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

1) Chapman looked pretty darn good last year. I think if you’re talking prospects, a tall, young lefty who’s already reached the bigs on a playoff team, with once-in-a-generation heat, deserves respect until he proves he’s not worth it.  I suspect if he’d played his formative years at UNC instead of in Cuba, the story would be very different.

2) Zimm only threw 70 innings last year split between the minors and the Nats—I need more than that to rank him on a list like this, especially compared to the other players I mentioned who are younger and already have a full year of success as starters in the majors.  And it’s not like any of them came out of nowhere.  Zimmermann did throw strikes, but he was also getting hit a ton.  He has the ability, but I can’t see him above those players at all, and I’d have a personal preference to several other pitching prospects over him.  I’m curious where you got those stats and what years they cover?

3) There’s NO WAY the Royals will keep Mous on the farm if he’s hitting come June.  It just won’t happen.  You can argue he’s due for a hiccup, or that you think 2010 was a fluke and a correction is coming, but the idea that KC will drag their feet for another full year is absurd. 

4) You’ll notice that I didn’t argue that any of the position players left off SHOULD be included, just that they are notable exemptions.  I do think we forget how young Delmon is, and Desmond has a nice mix of MI eligibility and a balance of pop and speed.  Lawrie may be a personal favorite of mine, but he has over 600 AA ABs and has an intriguing mix of power and speed at 2B.  But I think the most underrated player might be Ike Davis.  Dude has hit everywhere and I think you’re really underselling his power upside.  I see him more as a Konerko type hitter—prone to seasons in the .260s, but capable of usually being over .280 and with 30+ homers a realistic baseline.  Not flashy, but a nice young CI option.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

1) Let’s talk Chapman after 2011. I think he’s too much upside/downside, no consensus at this point

2) Stats are MLB career, and % are as a function of TBF. Each, except Hughes, has comparable TBF totals. http://www.fangraphs.com for K, BB, TBF, GB%, velocity.

3) Let’s again talk about this after 2011. I think we’ve reached an impasse in the argument and I’m not budging. Sorry.

4) I hope Ike Davis is more what I peg and less of what you peg. I drafted him in a mock tonight to fill out AVG, not HR, and that’s how I’ve been targeting him as my CI for most leagues (expected .280-.285, 20-25 HR). I could be way off though.

12 years ago

@ The Baltimoron

I have to agree with Jeff on Chapman.  Being able to throw 106 miles per hour doesn’t guarantee success.  I like Chapman but I think he could go either way.

And as for Delmon Young.  I get to watch him all summer her in Minneapolis and in my opinion after watching him, he is what he is.  Don’t see a lot more upside to him.

Josh Shepardson
12 years ago

Alright, I’ll throw my two cents in on the Jordan Zimmermann conversation, and say he’d probably rank in the 26-30 range on my list if I were to extend it.  I fail to see how he’s NOT a better pitcher than Hughes, Garcia and Matusz.  In looking at him directly compared to Hughes and Matusz, the first thing that stands out is league they pitch in.  Follow that up by batted ball profile and that’s two checks in favor of Zimmermann.  In comparison to Garcia, his K/BB rate gets a huge check mark in the positive ledger for Zimm, who’s mark in 2009 3.17 as opposed to Garcia’s who’s barely checked in at better than 2:1 at 2.06 last year.  Both have a nearly identical pitch repertoire, so give me the guy who throws a bit harder and has better control every day of the week.  I find it astounding how little love Zimmermann gets, as he posted just a smidge over a strikeout an inning, as a rookie and a starter!  Guys like that, with control and command don’t grow on trees.  Toss in, small sample size caveat, that he made growth in his GB rate, and I could easily see Zimm soaring up pitcher rankings next year, and he’s a player I’ll be owning in any league I can get him.

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

Josh, you’re insane!  For starters, Hughes had a far superior minor league record and has always been an elite prospect.  He pitches for the Yankees, while Zimm is with the lowly Nats.  Hughes won 18 games last year—when was the last time ANY Nationals pitcher did that?  Then there’s the fact that Phil is actually YOUNGER than Jordan.  Zimmermann has a 4.71 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.  Yes, he throws strikes, but those strikes get hit a ton, with more hits than innings pitched and 18 dingers in 122.1.  There is no intelligent argument that can be made for taking Zimmermann over Hughes, period.

Garcia (also younger) posted a 2.70 ERA in the bigs while going 13-8—I’ll take the guy with an actual track record of success on the better team.  And while you can argue Zimm over Matusz (younger still), the Oriole is left-handed and has a more compelling minor league and scouting resume.  He also was outstanding down the stretch last year and will not suffer for offensive support. 

Zimmermann has a less storied minor league track record, a lesser scouting profile, less experience and success on the major league level, a history of injuries, is very hittable, plays for an inferior team, and is older than all three.  I get that you can have love for him, or consider him undervalued, but there’s no way he belongs above those three.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago


I disagree with your assessment of Zimmermann. Zimm has the better profile and track record. Less of a pedigree, yes, but remember Albert Pujols was like a 9th round pick. Pedigree and early scout reports are less important the peripherals and underlying data, which I have shown all swing in favor of Zimm.

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

This all reminds me of the poo-pooing of Blake Griffin as an NBA prospect.  People thought because he didn’t make the leap from high school to the NBA, and had the misfortune to play not one but two years in college, that we knew all there was to know about him.  It was more fun to discount him as a safe, solid pro and try to find the “next big thing” than it was to realize we had a stud in the making right in front of us. 

Could Chapman fail?  Of course.  But to not rank him as a top-10 prospect smacks of just wanting to be contrary for contrary’s sake.  It’s always more fun to be the guy who found the lump of coal that became a diamond.  That doesn’t mean you ignore the giant gold nugget sitting at your feet.

BTW, I think you could substitute “Chapman” with “Posey” or “Hughes” and make the same argument, expect those two guys have already found success and still are discredited.  Sometimes the easy choice is easy for a reason.

Josh Shepardson
12 years ago

@ Baltimoron

Hughes had a tremendous 2006, and opened 2007 on fire in the minors as well, admittedly.  That said, his best minor league season came 4 years ago.  Jordan Zimmermann posted a fantastic season in Double-A in 2008 as well, albeit not as impressive as Hughes 2006 campaign, more recent. 

As far as prospect status, Hughes was the top prospect in the Yankees organization in 2006 and 2007, but what of Jordan Zimmermann?  Well he was the #7 prospect in Washington in 2008 and #1 in the organization in 2009, so not exactly a slouch himself.  As far as age, Hughes is younger… by one month and one day, not exactly a huge gap there.  If you are expecting the 22.1 HR/FB rate that Zimm suffered from last year to continue, and skew his overall numbers, than you’re making a foolish mistake.  Also, projecting wins is a bit of a fools errand, as it really comes down to run support, and even pitchers on great teams can have the misfortune of not receiving run support in their starts.  I’ll stick to going with the pitcher who is better in the things they control, which is without question Zimmermann.  He boasts a better K/9, BB/9 and GB rate and pitches in the more favorable league.  Finally, looking at past results, Zimmermann’s 2009 xFIP of 3.39 dwarfs Hughes best as a starter, which came last year at 4.33.

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

Yes, Hughes best minor league season came way back in 2006…because he’s been pitching in the majors since.  Hughes was not only the Yanks top prospect, but a top-5 prospect overall.  Yes, they are similarly aged, but Hughes has been pitching in the bigs for years—that’s the point.  He has 57 MLB starts to Jordan’s 23. 

I’m confused why you can cite some of Zimmermann’s stats that paint him in a favorable light, but I can’t mention his H/9 or HR rate?  Why, exactly, are considering those stats a foolish mistake?  Throwing strikes means nothing if you’re getting clobbered. 

And why can’t I project wins?  Most leagues use them, and if a pitcher is talented, has a solid offence, has a quality bullpen, and plays on a team that wins 90+ games every year, doesn’t that lead to wins?  Isn’t having an 18-win season at age 24 predict future seasons of high win totals? 

I see you took him in the mock right after Johan Santana, over not only Hughes, but also CJ Wilson, John Danks, Volquez, Mike Minor…wow.

Josh Shepardson
12 years ago

@ Baltimoron

I chose to cite stats Zimmermann has control over.  Once a flyball leaves a player’s bat, it is out of the control of a pitcher, thus expecting a pitcher’s HR/FB rate to hover around DOUBLE the league average IS foolish (not to be confused with calling you a fool, because your posts are well thought out, just to be clear).  I would expect Zimmermann’s h/9 to be higher than Hughes, as he induces more GB’s, which have a higher average in play than FB’s due.  That said, he hasn’t thrown enough innings to expect him to continue to post a BABIP greater than league average (2009 BABIP of .339 was .036 points higher than the league avearge of .303), especially when taking into account his BABIP was below league average last year.  I’d be much happier looking at numbers a pitcher has the most control over, than simply expecting a guy to continue to be more, “hittable,” when in fact he may have simply been less lucky. 

I won’t say you shouldn’t project wins, as a team that scores runs and win games should lead to more wins, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will.  Also remember, this is a dynasty rankings list, thus rosters are going to change, so while Hughes situation looks tremendous next year, what about beyond next year, when the Nationals look to infuse some of the talent in their farm system into their squad? 

I also don’t follow the point about Hughes starts at the major league level being of value in painting him as a better pitcher than Zimm?  Would you argue that Jason Maquis trumps both because he has more major league experience?  Hughes numbers have been, at best, pedestrian, and while he’s young, and has time to get better (as I’d expect), there are reasons to not be nearly as excited as four years ago, when he was posting gaudy strikeout totals in Double-A.  Also, how much faster could Zimm have really gotten to the show?  He flew threw the Nats system after pitching in Division III.  And yes, I did take him over all of the mentioned pitchers in the mock, and would once again.  Wilson had a huge innings spike, Danks has posted hoe hum numbers with little reason for optimism of a breakout, and Volquez has major control issues. I love Mike Minor, and he’d be in the same tier, so no argument there, but I’d rather have the guy with a little more seasoning in a one year league, so I’m not sure how that elicits a, “wow.”

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

Using your logic, the guy who throws BP is the most valuable pitcher on the team, as he throws nothing but strikes and can’t be held accountable that they all get crushed.

Interesting that, when it suits you, you’ll use the favorable stats for JZ, but when the stats go against your argument, you cite a small sample size and the likelihood of a return to the MLB average.  How, exactly, can you expect his other stats to hold up while discounting his HR, BABIP, and hit rates as products of the fewer innings he’s pitched?  And isn’t this the point of my noting that Hughes has more than double the major league starts?  Last I checked, experience counts, especially when considering the validity of the data involved and the expectation that a 24-year-old can achieve a baseline of success and then develop as he matures.  So far, Hughes not only has more data, but better data as well.

I’m more confident assuming the Yanks will continue to field a dominant offence than I would be assuming the Nats reach an equivalent level in the near future.

You’re not concerned with JZ’s innings spike?  He threw 80 innings last year—how many is he good for in 2011?  Danks may be a proven commodity, but I see that as a positive whereas you see that as a negative.  I’d like to have a 5th starter who is 25 and will likely give me 13 wins, 160 Ks, and 3.70/1.25 over 200+ innings.  Volquez has elite strikeout ability, and I attribute the lack of control to his quick rebound from TJS.  One of my favorites late in drafts/on the cheap this year.

Fun times!  I guess this is the reason we draft our fake teams, eh?  I will admit, all this debate has put Zimmermann on my radar where previously he was not.  I still don’t think he’d be more than a $1 flier for me, but he at least has a shot at making my roster now.  I feel like I’ve been dominating this debate—I’d love to see where everyone else’s head is at.  Am I the only one in the dark on JZ’s prospects, or are others as baffled as I am at his standing here?

Josh Shepardson
12 years ago

@ Baltimoron

I too like Volquez because of his elite strikeout ability, but his control issues go back to prior to having TJ surgery, thus I don’t believe that to be the issue at hand. 

I also strongly dispute Hughes has had better results at the major league level, as I pointed out, Hughes best xFIP at the major league level came last year, after all of his major league seasoning and experience, and was a mediocre 4.33.  Zimmermann’s best mark came as a rookie and was 3.39.  Even looking at last year’s post TJ xFIP for Zimm, it would trump Hughes best mark, as his 2010 xFIP sat at 4.08.  Sure, experience is great, but if said experience yields mediocre results, and little in the way of growth, isn’t that cause for concern, not reason to rejoice? 

Also there is a HUGE difference between the BP pitcher and a starting Major League Baseball pitcher throwing strikes, it is called talent.  Players simply don’t ascend to the major league level if they are tossing BP type hittable pitches. Do some pitchers prove slightly more hittable than others, sure, but it takes a lot of data to determine that, so it is much safer to view him from a league average perspective until he proves otherwise. 

Anyways, I’ve enjoyed the spirited debate, and like you, would like to see some more perspectives on each player.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago


I say we challenge-bet again on this topic.

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

Well, the tough part of any bet would be finding agreeable terms, right?  I mean, I’d measure success by crazy outdated means like winning games, or strikeouts, or WHIP (you know, fantasy categories), while you’d be dropping some crazy xFIP knowledge on my butt…

I will ask one more question: is there a recent major leaguer you’d compare Zimmermann to?  Ignore size, handedness, and pitches, I’m just talking a guy who would produce similar numbers.  If you deem him better than Hughes or Danks, I’m curious what the comparable upside example is.  Thanks!

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

I’d be willing to go by end of season Yahoo player rater.

When I see a Zimm comparable, I do not look at handedness or size, etc., but in terms of peripherals, he reminds me a lot of vintage James Shields. Maybe Ryan Dempster with better control or a young Zack Greinke?

The Baltimoron
12 years ago

Those are three very different pitchers.  Interesting.

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

Just thinking of WHIP/ERA/K comparables….
Plugging the numbers into my ever evolving xWHIP calculator:

expected tERA: 4.08
expected xFIP: 3.62
xWHIP 1.4.3: 1.237
xWHIP 2.0: 1.206
qXwhip: 1.207

Yeah, I’m riding the Ztrain

Jeffrey Gross
12 years ago

Using 4-year outs-numbers:

4.21 tERA
3.64 xFIP
1.243 xWHIP 2.0