Picking the players at the plate likely to fall is often far easier than seeing the same thing on the mound. The top pitchers seem to perform year in and year out. With names like Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay regularly being found among the top of leader boards, making mistakes on elite pitching is more difficult when injuries are taken out of the equation.
When a pitcher comes out of nowhere to succeed fantasy owners assume there is going to be a repeat in the following season. The depth of pitching makes mistakes more tolerable but just as dangerous to make. The player that should have fantasy owners raising an eyebrow here is Ian Kennedy.
The Arizona starter made the team forget about Brandon Webb and the constant disappointment. His 21 wins and 2.88 ERA in 222 innings seemed to come out of nowhere. Largely, it did. Kennedy had shown little indication of this ability and had become a truly frustrating near-former prospect. In 2010, Kennedy was 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA. He has a workhorse mentality, as he has thrown 416 innings over the last two seasons. Still, there are plenty of question marks that should have him sliding past the current ADP of 69 being seen early on in the drafting season.
One such statistic is the LOB% put up by the righty last season. Kennedy stranded nearly 80 percent of the runners he allowed on base compared to a league average of 72 percent. Usually this is a number that regresses to the norm.
Next is the K and BB rates. While everyone wants to see a pitcher increase the K rate and decrease the walk rate, the 10 percent up and 25 percent down movement in them over just a year seems to be an outlier.
One positive for Kennedy was the introduction of a cut fastball that he used nearly eight percent of the time. It helped increase his ground ball rate while reducing his overall fly balls and his FB/HR ratio. He will need to be as effective with it in 2012 to maintain the reductions that he produced.
FantasyPros911 has Kennedy pegged for 12 wins to go with a 3.22 ERA and 191 strikeouts with a 1.17 WHIP. All of these numbers are heading in the wrong direction off the 2011 season. None are bad, particularly around the strikeouts and ERA. Still, Mat Latos, Dan Hudson, Ricky Romero, C.J. Wilson and many others are going well after Kennedy in terms of ADP.
It took fantasy owners a long time in 2010 to buy what the pitcher was selling and he was widely available into the summer months. History tells us there was a reason for that. Kennedy should have bust potential written all over him at his current level and with the expectations many have for him.