FLB: 2005 Review: The Arms

In my last column, we took a look back at some of my hitter projections and predictions. This week, let's take a look back at the pitchers. Listed under each pitcher is his Average Draft Position, final standing on the Player Rater, my 2005 preseason projection and his final statistics.

Johan Santana, SP, Twins:
Picked 7th on average, 3rd on Player Rater
2005 Projection: 20 W, 2.60 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 261 K, 225 IP
2005 Actual: 16 W, 2.87 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 238 K, 231.2 IP
He entered the season as my top-ranked pitcher, finished the year a close second, and will certainly head into 2006 with my No. 1 ranking yet again. While Santana might fall considerably short in his bid for back-to-back American League Cy Young Awards, I think he's far more deserving than he's being given credit. There were only two real differences between his 2004 and 2005 seasons: His win total (16 this year, 20 in 2004), and not having a dominant stretch like his 2004 second half (when he was 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts). The wins were largely a result of his team's disappointing performance; his run support was 4.70, down from 5.64 a year ago. Santana might not be a 20-win candidate if the 2006 Twins don't shape up much differently, but I generally pick my pitchers based on ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. He's about the best as they come in those categories.

Randy Johnson, SP, Yankees:
Picked 10th on average, 19th on Player Rater
2005 Projection: 19 W, 2.91 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 268 K, 223 IP
2005 Actual: 17 W, 3.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 211 K, 225.2 IP
The Big Unit's finish on the Player Rater is a bit misleading, as his fantasy owners surely considered him a disappointment, especially when he began the season with a 9-6 record and 4.16 ERA before the All-Star break. Most people assumed that Johnson would be a lock for 20 wins coming to a team with as potent an offense as the Yankees, but at age 41, the velocity on his fastball became inconsistent and his slider often went flat. As a result, he served up a career-high 32 homers. Among my more amusing experiences of the season was busting on the Yankees' staff in the preseason: "I have a feeling the Yankees as a whole aren't going to live up to expectations. … Randy Johnson is 41 years old and requires lubricant injections in his knee; only two pitchers in history aged 41 or older have won 20-plus games in a season (Cy Young and Warren Spahn) and two have had 200-plus strikeouts in a season (Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens)." Reader response was pretty harsh, most more colorful spins on "You inconsiderate Yankee hater!" (Ah, the irony.) Sadly, questioning the Yankees' arms was the smart move, not that I was proud doing it. I probably won't be that much higher on them in 2006, either.