Complete 2014 Projections

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PROJECTED 2014 SEASON STATS
31. Mike Minor, Atl SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3232204.24618113003.211.097.96
2014 Projections2929190.05116512003.321.187.82
2014 Outlook: Few pitchers enjoyed the kind of boost in fantasy production that Minor did in 2013; he rose 122 spots on our Player Rater, 32 alone among starting pitchers. Always a capable strikeout artist in the minors, Minor sacrificed some of those K's -- albeit not by a devastating amount -- in exchange for substantial gains in terms of control, his 5.6 percent walk rate in 2013 well beneath his 7.7 percent career rate in the minors. He did it by improving his changeup by leaps and bounds against right-handers, while ramping up his breaking pitches against left-handers; the result is a much more reliable fantasy option than the one who posted a 1.52 WHIP in 23 starts from 2010-11 combined. Minor has arrived as a true second-tier fantasy starter, and a potential top-shelf one in NL-only leagues.
Stephania Bell: The Braves announced on March 23 that Minor will open the season on the DL. The move is not entirely surprising given he came into spring training behind in his throwing program, the result of a month off in December following a urinary tract procedure. This is not terrible news, as it appears to be more a function of a late start to his routine as opposed to an undiagnosed injury. The hope is that Minor will be ready to return in late April.
32. Joe Nathan, Det RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics67064.2227364301.390.9010.16
2014 Projections65062.0166754202.761.029.73
2014 Outlook: Nathan picked the perfect time to put up career numbers, as not many 39-year-old closers can fetch multiyear deals. Fortunately, Lady Luck shined brightly and the Detroit Tigers want to win now. Lost in the sparkling 2013 ERA and WHIP was a rising walk rate which could be a minor issue, assuming Nathan's fortunate hit and homer rates regress to normal levels. That said, the veteran stopper continues to fan more than a batter per inning, so even with a normalized ERA, he'll again be a reliable source of saves.
33. Koji Uehara, Bos RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics73074.19101421131.090.5712.23
2014 Projections55055.076843302.450.8011.13
2014 Outlook: Uehara rarely receives due credit for his raw ability, as DL stints in each of his first four major league seasons, plus an unwarranted reputation for being unable to handle larger workloads, tend to make fantasy owners hesitant to trust him. So let's help him earn yours: In 2013, he set a new single-season record for lowest WHIP among pitchers with at least 50 innings, with his 0.57 mark besting Dennis Eckersley's 23-year-old record of 0.61. His 11.22 career K-to-walk ratio was fifth-best in the modern era, and his .130 batting average-against was second-best. And to answer the workload question, after capturing the Boston Red Sox's closer gig last June, he appeared 13 times on consecutive days and 54 times in 99 games overall (playoffs included). Uehara is as safe a ratios bet as relievers come, and he's firmly locked into the Red Sox's ninth-inning picture after his outstanding late-2013 run. If not for his DL history, he'd surely warrant a higher rank.
34. Hyun-Jin Ryu*, LAD SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3030192.04915414003.001.207.22
2014 Projections3131202.05516614003.521.247.40
2014 Outlook: A Korean left-hander who relies upon command and deception rather than overpowering stuff, Ryu made a successful transition to the U.S. game last year, scoring the No. 26 spot among pure starting pitchers on our 2013 Player Rater. What's more, his was a consistent year all the way through, and one that even showed hints of gradual improvement: He walked just 3.3 percent of batters faced during the season's second half, after an 8.1 percent mark in the first half and 7.2 percent in his two years in the Korean Baseball Organization. Though often overshadowed in a deep Los Angeles Dodgers rotation by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Ryu is as reliable a No. 3 starter -- both in the real and fantasy games -- as there is in baseball today. There's no reason he can't either repeat, or even slightly exceed, his rookie-year numbers.
35. Hisashi Iwakuma, Sea SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3333219.24218514002.661.017.58
2014 Projections3131196.14816613003.301.177.61
2014 Outlook: Two seasons of success in the U.S. -- consistent, start-over-start success -- should be enough to convince any fantasy owner that Iwakuma is an upper-tier fantasy starter. Thanks to elite control and a filthy splitter, he has posted a 2.66 ERA and 1.07 WHIP since joining the Seattle Mariners' rotation in July 2012, defying all those "luck factors" that fantasy owners use to critique. Those underlying stats do hint at potential regression, as he had the fourth-lowest BABIP (.253) and second-highest left on base percentage (81.9) among qualifiers last season, but even if his ERA/WHIP take a mild hit, Iwakuma's win total could swell on what's a better overall Mariners team, countering it. Once the elite pitchers are off the board, he's as good a pick as any.
Stephania Bell: Iwakuma is dealing with a strained tendon that will push his throwing program back by more than a month. He'll likely open the season on the DL but, if all goes well, he could return sometime in April.
Addendum (3/12): Once doctors made the decision for Iwakuma to remain in a splint a few weeks longer, it became clear he would start the season on the DL as he'll need additional time to build up his arm strength. While there’s no set timetable, fantasy owners shouldn't count on him before the middle of April at the earliest.
36. Aroldis Chapman, Cin RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics68063.22911243802.541.0415.83
2014 Projections57055.0219743402.290.9615.87
2014 Outlook: Although he'll miss the first few weeks of the season after being hit by a line drive in the face during spring training, there's no debate that Chapman enters 2014 as the Cincinnati Reds' closer. It took until the conclusion of spring training for the team to decide his eventual role for 2013, but once they did, they were rewarded with the No. 7 season by any pure reliever on our Player Rater, as well as the fifth-best strikeout rate (43.4 percent) of any pitcher in history (minimum 50 innings). Chapman's high-90s fastball -- he averaged a major-league-leading 98.2 mph with it -- and biting slider make him difficult to hit, maximizing his chances at a third consecutive season as one of the game's most valuable closers thanks to his strikeout contributions. He's one of the few true "trustworthy" fantasy closers -- if there is such a thing -- and worth an early-round pick even in shallow mixed leagues.
Stephania Bell: In a terrifying moment during a spring training game on March 19, Chapman took a line drive comebacker to the left eye region, sustaining facial fractures and a concussion in the process. He underwent surgery to implant a stabilizing plate two days later and the initial outlook is remarkably positive. Team medical director Timothy Kremchek says Chapman could begin throwing in as little as 10-14 days and could pitch in game conditions by late April. The fractures should heal in that timeline but regaining comfort on the mound after such an injury may be less predictable.
37. Julio Teheran, Atl SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3030185.24517014003.201.178.24
2014 Projections3232196.05316414003.721.217.53
2014 Outlook: The third time was the charm for Teheran, who, after failed attempts to adapt to the majors in 2011 and 2012, posted a 1.04 ERA and 12.12 K's-per-nine innings ratio in six spring starts to secure a permanent place in the Atlanta Braves' rotation. After tinkering with his delivery in recent years, Teheran returned to his old, more natural delivery, and soared into the top 25 starters in fantasy baseball during his true rookie season in 2013, restoring the top-of-the-rotation-potential label scouts had previously given him. As might be expected with any young pitcher, he struggled late in the year, posting a 5.26 ERA in his final seven starts (playoffs included), but in his defense, he had a healthy 3.58 K/BB and 25.4 percent K rates during that time. Teheran is seemingly one step away from joining fantasy's upper tier; what he lacks is a dominant pitch to use against left-handed hitters. But even as is, he's in the SP 3/4 class, with potential for more.
38. Matt Moore*, TB SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics2727150.17614317003.291.308.56
2014 Projections3131180.08018112003.401.279.05
2014 Outlook: Despite sporting a sparkling 17-4 record, last season was a step backwards for Moore as his strikeout and walk rates both worsened a smidge. His 4.32 xFIP is a much better indication of his season than his actual 3.29 ERA. Good luck with batted balls in play, as well as a high LOB percentage, masked the skills decline. Still just 24, there is time for the southpaw to realize the promise he displayed coming up through the minors. The key will be improving his control while maintaining a strikeout rate of nearly a batter per inning. Can Moore do it? Absolutely, but with the present state of quality pitching, there's no reason to overpay on the hopes he does.
Stephania Bell: Just days after Aroldis Chapman's scary incident, Moore took a comebacker to the face in a March 23 spring outing. He was fortunate to escape with stitches to close a lacerated lip, although he is expected to undergo X-rays on March 24 to check his jaw and teeth, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Depending on the results, he could potentially still start the season on time.
39. Sergio Romo, SF RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics65060.1125853802.541.088.65
2014 Projections77063.0117043702.570.9810.00
2014 Outlook: While Romo is still deserving of top-10 closer status, it comes with some warning. The reliance on his slider half the time poses an always-present injury risk. Perhaps more concerning is, for the second straight season, Romo incurred a rather precipitous drop in strikeout rate while his still excellent walk rate is slowly edging upward. Assuming his skills stay where they are, he remains a top-10 closer. Just don't wait too long to add a second source of saves to your staff.
40. Jeff Samardzija, Oak SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3333213.2782148004.341.359.01
2014 Projections3333216.08121812003.791.299.08
2014 Outlook: On the surface, Samardzija's 2013 numbers look like a step backward. But keep this in mind: He has made tremendous strides in terms of his stamina, culminating in a career-high 213 2/3 innings last year, which represented a 39-inning increase, and his 2013 was effectively marred by a 5.47 ERA from July 1 forward that belied his skill set. Samardzija maintained a similar strikeout, swing-and-miss and walk rates during that span to the same time period in 2012 and the first three months of 2013, and his BABIP from July 1 forward was a bloated .333. He was one of the more attractive MLB trade candidates of the winter and might remain so during the year; what's important to know about this trade possibility is that he has a much higher career ERA in day games (5.05) than night (3.41), and he'd surely garner many more night assignments on any other team. Samardzija's rank might appear generous, but we still see positive things in his immediate future.
41. Glen Perkins, Min RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics61062.2157723602.300.9311.06
2014 Projections63063.0177443902.571.0510.57
2014 Outlook: Remember, good closers on poor teams can still rack up saves. Not only is Perkins good, he's very good. Put him on a big-market team and Perkins would be a top-five closer. The danger of pitching for someone like the Twins is the possibility of being dealt at the deadline and possibly being asked to set up, especially since he's a southpaw. This knocks Perkins down a few spots, but he's still a top-10 stopper.
42. R.A. Dickey, Tor SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3434224.27117714004.211.247.09
2014 Projections3434228.06617515003.871.246.91
2014 Outlook: Predictably, Dickey's numbers regressed upon the move to the hitting-rich, competitive American League East last season, though the needle might have moved too far in terms of his future analysis. As a member of Team USA's World Baseball Classic entry, Dickey's year was a lengthy one, and back and neck issues dogged him for much of the season's early weeks, resulting in a key skills change: He was unable to recapture the velocity on his knuckleball, which had earned him a Cy Young Award the year before. But in June, the velocity suddenly returned. Dickey's hard knuckler, termed "The Thing," helped him to six wins, eight quality starts, a 3.56 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 14 second-half starts, numbers which were much closer to our preseason expectations for him in Toronto. Those are his ratios to project forward, though as with any knuckleballer, some start-to-start variance should be expected. If Dickey's pitch is dancing at similar speed during spring training, there's every reason to predict a rebound.
43. David Robertson, NYY RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics70066.1187753332.041.0410.45
2014 Projections71067.0218653152.551.0911.55
2014 Outlook: Robertson has big shoes to fill -- future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera hung up his cleats this winter -- and if you listened to the New York Yankees all winter, surely you heard them hem and haw over whether Robertson is worthy enough to be Rivera's successor. We look at Robertson and see only one key difference: He's not as pitch-efficient, having averaged 4.14 pitches per batter faced the past three seasons combined; Rivera averaged 3.81 during the same time span. But that's forgivable, especially if you consider that Robertson converted 94.7 percent of his save/hold chances last season, second-best in the majors, and he had a 1.91 ERA the past three seasons combined, third-best among relievers. There's also a reason he's less efficient: He generates more swings and misses than Rivera -- at least the after-40 model -- and that fuels your strikeout category. Robertson's statistical ceiling is one close to the upper tier of fantasy closers -- yes, we're talking that group of four truly elite stoppers -- as long as the Yankees truly have faith in him.
44. Cole Hamels, Phi SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3333220.0502028003.601.168.26
2014 Projections2929197.04818213003.381.148.31
2014 Outlook: What is it about Philadelphia Phillies left-handers and bad luck in the win column? After Cliff Lee won only six games in 2012 despite little-to-no change in his peripherals, Hamels scored only eight "W's" in 2013, backed by numbers that weren't all that different than his in any year from 2010 to 12. Telling: Hamels' 17 non-win quality starts last season were the most by any pitcher in the history of baseball, something fantasy owners whose leagues reward for quality starts need to tuck away. His FIP also tells a compelling tale: He had a 3.05 in 2011, 3.30 in 2012 and 3.26 in 2013, showing that both his wins and ERA were misleading. In truth, Hamels is one of the most consistently reliable pure pitchers in baseball, as likely to bounce back in terms of wins/ERA in 2014 as Lee did in 2013. You might not need to spend top-10 pitcher value on him, but he surely belongs in that class. Stephania Bell: Hamels had a few bullpens under his belt but an attempt at throwing live BP left him feeling his arm was "fatigued out" and his progression has been halted. He was already likely to start the season on the DL; this delays the process indefinitely.
45. Jonathan Papelbon, Phi RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics61061.2115752902.921.148.32
2014 Projections64065.0137433402.351.0010.25
2014 Outlook: Last season marked the first time since 2006, his first year as closer, that Papelbon failed to garner 30 saves or fan a batter per inning. His numbers weren't bad, just not as expected from the best closer over the past eight seasons not nicknamed Mo. After sporting a K per nine innings average of 12.0 the previous two seasons, his ratio plummeted to 8.3 in 2013. A 2 mph drop in velocity could be the culprit, though this doesn't explain why batters swung at five percent fewer pitches outside the zone. Papelbon can still be effective, provided his strikeouts don't fall further, but he's best thought of as a second closer in 10-team mixed leagues and a low-end first closer in larger formats. His track record affords Papelbon the benefit of the doubt, but declining velocity and a steep drop in whiffs is disconcerting.