By Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise: Cole Hamels
We’ll term it a surprise – Cole Hamels did put up a 3.06 ERA a year after having a 4.32 number in that category last year. But if you follow secondary statistics, it was just another year for Hamels. Consider his FIPs (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that runs along the same scale as ERA, but strips out the park effects, defense and other factors beyond a pitcher’s control) since his rookie season: 3.83, 3.72, 3.72, and 3.67 last year. This year, he finally benefited from some good luck, standing 82.7% of the runners he put on base and thus netting his “surprise” year.
Biggest Bust: Joe Blanton
This was a good year for the deep Phillies staff, but Joe Blanton‘s ERA spiked to 4.85 from the 4.05 mark he put up in 2009. He also ate up the fewest innings since becoming a regular rotation member (175.2), fueling low totals in wins (nine) and strikeouts (136). He did have a 4.34 FIP this year, (4.21 career), so he’s basically somewhere between the 2009 and 2010 versions of himself, though neither is very helpful in fantasy baseball.
2011 Keeper Alert: Roy Halladay
Sure, the Doc is a little older these days (33), but he sure enjoyed the weaker league, as he had the best strikeout (7.86) and walk rates (1.08) he’d ever shown in a full season. The innings totals might be a little worrisome for other pitchers (more than 220 innings for five straight years), but not all innings are created equal. Halladay has averaged just 14 pitches per inning – almost two fewer than Blanton, for example – despite the solid strikeout totals. He’ll surely win some hardware and make a fine keeper this off-season.
2011 Regression Alert: Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt is also 33 and also put up his best strikeout rate (8.21) since he became a full-time starter. This, despite hovering under 7 K/9 for most of his recent career. Unlike Halladay, Oswalt hadn’t shown this kind of Cy Youngish performance in years. Asking for another ERA below 3.00 next season is probably asking too much.