Fantasy breakout pitchers

Zack Greinke has had dominant fantasy seasons, and all signs to point to 2012 being another one. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

These projections also appear in the March 5 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Computerized projections have come a long way in the past 15 years. With the constant march forward of technology, the models for projecting players are able to do a lot more than they could in the early days of sabermetrics.

While basic midpoint projections are very useful when applied correctly, fantasy players need more than that. After all, competing in your fantasy league isn't just an exercise in overall accuracy of evaluating players, but taking better calculated risks than the other guys.

To get an idea of the fantasy players with the biggest short-term upsides in 2012, we asked the ZiPS projection system to evaluate which players in each 5x5 fantasy category have the best odds of beating their established levels of play by a certain amount. (For players who spent time in the minors, we used minor league translations.)

For example, ZiPS says Felix Hernandez has a 44 percent chance of beating his two-year wins average (14) by at least five victories.

For breakout hitters, click here.


It's a testament to the weakness of Seattle's offense in recent years that King Felix was able to snag a Cy Young with a 13-12 record. With a full year of Dustin Ackley, the addition of Jesus Montero, and even the acquisition of John Jaso, suddenly the offense -- while still rather bleak -- can give Hernandez something to work with.

Fantasy owners may not be crazy about what Latos' move from Petco Park to Great American Ballpark will do for his ERA, but they'll be more happy with the wins as he goes from the 2011's 15th-ranked NL offense to 2011's second-ranked NL offense.

Justin Masterson's ERA finally caught up with his peripherals in 2011. Perhaps this will be the year his W-L record does, too.

Jhoulys Chacin had a losing record last year despite a 3.62 ERA while pitching at high altitude. The addition of Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro should really help Colorado's offense, and his ground-ball tendencies speak well of his ability to succeed at Coors Field.