Complete 2014 Projections

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PROJECTED 2014 SEASON STATS
16. Doug Fister*, Wsh SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3332208.24415914003.671.316.86
2014 Projections3333214.04016414003.491.186.90
2014 Outlook: The Washington Nationals might have scored themselves a coup with their December trade for Fister; they picked up arguably baseball's second-best control artist (behind Cliff Lee) at the price of two prospects and a bench bat. Since the date of Fister's first major league start (Aug. 11, 2009), he has the majors' fourth-best walk rate (4.8 percent) and walks-per-nine ratio (1.81), as well as the highest swing rate on non-strikes (38.4 percent) and the second-best called-strike rate (38.4 percent), behind only Lee. Fister has an arsenal that consists of both precision and deception, things that should play nicely in the more pitching-oriented National League. He might enjoy improved ratios on his new team at no expense to his win total, and he'll have a better defense behind him than the one that backed him in Detroit. There aren't many more stable investments in the SP3 class.
17. Gerrit Cole, Pit SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics1919117.12810010003.221.177.67
2014 Projections3333195.05318414003.651.198.49
2014 Outlook: While anyone who drafts Cole this season is speculating upon his immense statistical upside, scouts' longtime reports justify the decision: He was the No. 1 pick overall in the 2011 amateur draft and earned No. 3 (2012) and No. 2 (2013) rankings among pitchers in Keith Law's annual prospect rankings. Cole's combination of high-90s fastball and nasty slider are rarely matched in the professional ranks, and he concluded his 2013 debut season in the majors with a 2.31 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in his final nine starts. He also tallied 196 1/3 innings in 2013 (including minors and postseason), hinting that he won't face any workload limitation this season, meaning his potential is already immense. Extensive experience at this level is the one thing Cole lacks; if you're comfortable with spending a top-30 starter pick on the right-hander -- granted an expensive price tag for a pitcher with his short track record -- you might land yourself a potential top-10 performer.
18. Trevor Rosenthal, StL RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics74075.12010823292.631.1012.90
2014 Projections64068.0208643702.511.0311.38
2014 Outlook: At the time news broke that projected St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte had an elbow injury that would eventually require Tommy John surgery, Rosenthal appeared the obvious replacement, thanks to his high-90s fastball and elite changeup, both of which he could command and use to generate many swings and misses. He was one of 2013's breakout relief pitchers; what no one could've seen coming was that he'd spend most of it in the eighth inning, only graduating to the ninth in time for the playoffs, during which he had four saves in five chances to go along with 11 2/3 shutout innings. Rosenthal's performance was both outstanding and historic, as he became only the ninth reliever in history to manage at least 100 K's with 20 or fewer walks in a season, and it set him up well to close for the Cardinals at the onset of 2014. His ceiling is as high as any closer -- the case can legitimately be made that he warrants consideration alongside our "Big Four" top tier -- with any rankings/draft-stock hesitation centered upon his limited experience as a closer, his somewhat aggressive early-2013 usage and Motte's projected midseason return. But we must admit, we're nit-picking.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Jeff Samardzija, ChC 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. Michael Wacha, StL SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics15964.219654002.781.109.05
2014 Projections2929170.05115112003.551.217.99
2014 Outlook: Sometimes all it takes is a small sample size to completely earn a fantasy owner's trust, especially when that sample size is displayed in its entirety on national television. That was the tale of Wacha's postseason: He made five starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, four of which were quality starts, and had a 2.64 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. (It's worth noting that in his regular-season finale, he tallied 8 2/3 frames of no-hit baseball.) Now everyone believes in Wacha, and with good reason. He has one of the filthiest changeups in the game, one that both generates many swings and misses and helps keep hitters off-balance against his other offerings. But before you dive in and overspend on Wacha in your draft -- a more understandable strategy in a dynasty/keeper format -- understand that he's not a complete lock. His command of the changeup needs some polish, a fact the Boston Red Sox exploited during his bad World Series outing, and he did have a steep home/road split that could paint a picture of being more matchup than every-start option. Wacha's ceiling, even this year, is high, but we'd like to see more evidence before we vault him another tier (or three) in our rankings.
28. Addison Reed, Ari RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics68071.1237254003.791.119.08
2014 Projections69068.0197043902.911.109.26
2014 Outlook: Reed's move to Arizona was one of the more unexpected transactions of the winter, and in an even more out-of-left-field development, he wasn't even guaranteed the closer's job by Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers following his acquisition. Mmm-hmm, Mr. Towers, we're sure you'd swap an above-average third-base prospect for a setup reliever. Reed is almost certain to close in the desert, just as he did in Chicago, with the ballpark swap resulting in a negligible impact upon his statistics but the move to the National League a boost. Reed is a closer with plenty of career ahead of him -- his 69 career saves were the 16th-most of any pitcher in history at the time of his 25th birthday -- and if he can merely polish his command, he might vault himself into the top 10 at his position in fantasy.
29. Andrew Cashner, SD SPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics3126175.04712810013.091.136.58
2014 Projections3030175.04914011003.551.197.20
2014 Outlook: For years a risk/reward pitching prospect, Cashner finally stayed healthy enough to contribute regularly in 2013; consider that he had never exceeded 111 1/3 innings in any of his first five professional seasons. Pitching in an extremely favorable environment, he experienced a precipitous drop in his strikeout rate, but improved his control by leaps and bounds to make up for it. His 18.1 percent K and 6.7 percent walk rates were both easily his lowest in any single year as a pro. The result was a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 11 second-half starts, and Cashner's more optimistic fantasy owners will point to the 20.8 percent K rate he managed during that span as reason to believe he could offer even more in 2014. His injury history and his 105 1/3-inning workload increase last season are two facts worth tempering enthusiasm. But if you're willing to take a chance, Cashner is one of the few mid-round starters with legitimate top-20 upside.
30. Jason Grilli, Pit RPYEARGGSIPBBKWSVHDERAWHIPK/9
2013 Statistics54050.0137403322.701.0613.32
2014 Projections61059.0207933602.751.1012.05
2014 Outlook: Grilli has the skills of a top-five closer; it's his durability that's the problem. And at 37 years of age, it can't be ignored. Grilli hasn't topped 59 innings since 2008, losing six weeks last season to a forearm strain. When he's on the hill, Grilli fans well above a batter an inning, which is a nice bonus for points-based leagues as well as daily or weekly head-to-head formats. Just have an emergency plan in place, which very well may include handcuffing Grilli with Mark Melancon, as Melancon's skills are also superior.