...you might not want to order the 2008 Baseball Forecaster, because Ron Shandler and co. seem fully on board with the notion that the Rays will top .500 next year.
I won't publish all the BF projections for Tampa's pitching staff, mainly because I'm not allowed to. But I will say this: BF has a stat called Base Performance Value (BPV) that captures all the things a pitcher is supposed to do: strike out lots of batters, minimize walks, keep the ball down, and give up few hits. Browsing the starting pitcher BPV projections for 2008:
- James Shields ranks fourth in the majors.
- Scott Kazmir ranks seventh.
- Matt Garza is 26th.
- J.P. Howell and Andy Sonnanstine aren't projected for enough innings (180) to qualify, but if they did, they'd rank 16th and 22nd, respectively.
By at least one measure, the Rays will feature five of MLB's top 30 starting pitchers next year. That's just plain sick.
Do I actually think Sonnanstine and Howell are front-of-the-rotation pitchers? No, but they're way better than the fourth and fifth starters everyone else will be throwing out there.
Just in case Mr. Shandler's attorneys are reading this, I'd like to close by saying that I heartily recommend the Forecaster to any serious baseball fans or fantasy players. Not only are the projections good, but the book specifically points out buy-low opportunities, and does a damn good job of it.