AL Central Position Rankings - Starting Pitchers
The last couple of weeks, Twins Daily readers have had the opportunity to vote for the preseason all-AL Central All Star Team. Here are those results:
- Catcher – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
- First Base – Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
- Second Base – Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
- Third Base – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
- Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
- Left Field – Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
- Center Field – Denard Span, Minnesota Twins
- Right Field – Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
- Designated Hitter – Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Now it is time to think about the preseason all-AL Central pitchers. Today, we’ll start with the starting pitchers. I’ll give you the 2011 stats for the starting five (or six) for each of the five teams in the division. In the poll, you will be able to vote for five, and in a few days, we’ll have our five preseason starting pitchers.
Scott Baker was amazing in 2011, well, until he got hurt. He is a very good pitcher, but based on his elbow problems last year and already this spring, will he hold up? Francisco Liriano is an enigma. He was terrific in 2010 and terrible in 2011. The differentiator? Watch his KK/B ratio and his BB/9. That’ll tell you all you need to know. Carl Pavano is a league average pitcher who eats innings and walks no one. Nick Blackburn probably isn’t as bad as we thing, at least not when he’s healthy. And Jason Marquis fits in the same category as Pavano and Blackburn. And Twins fans await Liam Hendriks arrival in the rotation!
- Scott Baker (30) – 8-6, 3.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
- Francisco Liriano (28) – 9-10, 5.09 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 5.0 BB/9, 7.5 K/9
- Carl Pavano (36) – 9-13, 4.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 4.1 K/9
- Nick Blackburn (30) – 7-10, 4.49 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 4.6 K/9
- Jason Marquis (33) – 8-6, 4.43 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.2 K/9
Justin Verlander’s incredible 2011 season earned him not only the AL Cy Young Award, but also the MVP award. Max Scherzer is very talented and should be better than his ERA indicates. Doug Fister is a control artist who was tremendous for the Tigers in the final months of the 2011 season. He relies on his defense and the Tigers won’t exactly have a strong defense in 2012. What will it mean? Porcello has been around forever and is still just 23 years old. He hasn’t improved which bring the required question, “Why rush young players?” That said, he is capable of being pretty good in any outing. The Tigers do have a question mark at fifth starter and Oliver and especially Turner provide some hope.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
- Justin Verlander (29) – 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
- Max Scherzer (27) – 15-9, 4.43 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
- Doug Fister (28) – 11-13, 2.83 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
- Rick Porcello (23) – 14-9, 4.75 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 5.1 K/9
- Jacob Turner (20) – 4-5, 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.6 K/9 (AA/AAA)
- Andy Oliver (24) – 8-12, 4.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9 (AAA)
Hochevar, a former #1 overall pick, has made his starts, but he is what he is, a slightly below average control pitcher. Bruce Chen is the subject of much mocking because he doesn’t throw hard, but he knows how to pitch and a look at his 2011 numbers show that he can be a decent pitcher. Jonathan Sanchez is very similar to Francisco Liriano. The lefty has no-hit stuff (And threw on like Liriano with a bunch of walks a couple years ago), but he is also so wild and very inconsistent. Paulino has primarily been a reliever and is likely a stop-gap to more of the Royals prospects. Duffy is a terrific talent who took his lumps in his rookie season. However, the lefty throws really hard and has good secondary stuff, so he could be a surprise.
- Luke Hochevar (28) – 11-11, 4.68 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 5.8 K/9
- Bruce Chen (34) – 12-8, 3.77 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.6 K/9
- Jonathan Sanchez (29) – 4-7, 4.26 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 5.9 BB/9, 9.1 K/9 (Giants)
- Felipe Paulino (28) – 4-6, 4.11 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 8.6 K/9
- Danny Duffy (23) – 4-8, 5.64 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Ubaldo Jimenez pretty much better be good because Cleveland brought him in last year at the trade deadline (and traded Alex White and Drew Pomeranz and more to get him), hoping he would help them to a division title. Justin Masterson broke out in 2011 with a very good season and a lot of innings. Derek Lowe comes to Cleveland from Atlanta. He’s definitely seen his better days. Josh Tomlin was a surprise rookie performer in 2011 and showed incredible control. Kevin Slowey and David Huff are likely competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Of course, how the Roberton Hernandez (aka, Fausto Carmona) situation plays out over the course of the season will affect the rotation as well.
- Ubaldo Jimenez (28) – 10-13, 4.68 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 8.6 K/9
- Justin Masterson (27) – 12-10,3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
- Derek Lowe (38) – 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
- Josh Tomlin (27) – 12-7, 4.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 1.1 BB/9, 4.8 K/9
- Kevin Slowey (27) – 0-8, 6.67 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 0.8 BB/9, 5.2 K/9
- Roberto Hernandez (28/31/?) – 7-15, 5.25 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.2 K/9 (aka Fausto Carmona)
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
The White Sox were supposed to be selling players all offseason and rebuilding, right? It didn’t happen, and their pitching staff in 2012 will most likely be filled with people who were in the organization in 2011. John Danks was involved in a lot of trade rumors, but the Sox were asking for way too much, so instead they signed him to a long-term deal. Can Jake Peavy stay healthy, and even if he is, what is his upside at this stage? Gavin Floyd remains in trade rumors, and he’s coming off of a solid 2011 season. Philip Humber finally showed a little of what made him the #3 overall pick in the draft all those years ago. Is he going to be able to keep it up? Chris Sale and his high-90s fastball and devastating slider move to the rotation. Moving dominant reliever types to the starting rotation makes sense in theory, but it doesn’t always work well in practice. How will he do?
- John Danks (26) – 8-12, 4.33 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
- Jake Peavy (30) – 7-7, 4.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
- Gavin Floyd (29) – 12-13, 4.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
- Chris Sale (22) – 2-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 10.0 K/9
- Philip Humber (29) – 9-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
So there you have it, the probable starters for the five American League Central Division teams. So now it’s time to vote. Again, which five pitchers do you think will have the best season in 2012? Vote for up to five! Note that we are limited to ten candidates for the poll. If you would like to vote for someone who is not in the poll, be sure to write it in!!