There are times that fantasy writers will make a bold statement or reach for a player in a mock draft in order to simply make a point. As unrealistic as it may seem, they want to hammer it home how strongly they feel about a particular player. That’s not something that I do and this isn’t one of those times. If I had a choice between David Price and Colby Lewis, I would make the same selection every single time whether it be a mock draft or a real draft…
I would rather own Colby Lewis
Before you get all excited and rip me for what most will think is a rather bold statement, let’s take a look at the two players and show you where my thought process comes from:
(Side Note: Basically what this actually comes down to is that I won’t be drafting Price based on his current ADP. According to Mock Draft Central Price has an ADP of 49.34 vs. Lewis’ 172.19. In reality I don’t have to select Lewis before Price, and I wouldn’t. I simply would let Price go off the board and get Lewis several rounds later.)
He’s the more highly touted of the two, which I think helps to skew people’s belief that he is clearly the better option of the two. The former first overall pick certainly made strides in 2010, posting the following line:
188 Strikeouts (8.11 K/9)
79 Walks (3.41 BB/9)
He had tremendous value a year ago, but one of the numbers we can easily throw out and that’s the wins. First of all, we all know that it is a category that we can’t depend on from year-to-year. They are impossible to predict and, even if Price could replicate his overall success, it’s highly unlikely that he can maintain that type of win level in 2011.
At this point you have to think that the Rays bullpen will be extremely less effective than it was in 2010. It was significantly depleted due to free agency with names like Rafael Soriano (though there is an off chance he returns), Joaquin Benoit, Randy Chote, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour (he’s still a free agent) and Chad Qualls (he’s still a free agent) all likely gone.
Even if Price leaves with a lead, is there a guarantee that the new bullpen can hold it? In 2010 he had 15 starts of less than seven innings, nearly half of his outings. That’s a significant number of outs to ask for your bullpen to get and seeing a few leads slip away would not be surprising.
You also have to take into account that the Rays just likely won’t be as good overall. Their offense was hit hard with the departures of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, so they may not be able to score enough runs to keep up with the Yankees, Red Sox or Blue Jays.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only number that may see a regression. He posted a BABIP of .279 and a strand rate of 78.5%, both marks that could regress in 2011. Assuming the control stays the same (and it’s certainly not an elite number), that’s going to inflate the WHIP and ERA.
Not to mention, Price dominated the Red Sox (2-1, 2.61 ERA in 2 starts), Orioles (2-0, 0.61 ERA in 2 starts) and Blue Jays (4-0, 0.58 ERA in 4 starts) in 2010. Can we really anticipate those types of numbers within the division once again? Those are teams that we all know can score runs, so seeing them beat up on Price a little bit in ’11 would not be surprising.
Price should absolutely be a good pitcher again in 2011, just not quite up to the level he pitched to in 2010. He is a Top 25 pitcher, for sure, but what’s to say that Lewis isn’t as well?
There isn’t much history to go on with Lewis, having spent the past few seasons over in Japan. However, in his first year back since 2007, Lewis was very impressive:
196 Strikeouts (8.78 K/9)
65 Walks (2.91 BB/9)
A lot of people want to point to a second half regression as reason to be skeptical:
- First Half – 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.58 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, .267 BABIP in 110.2 IP
- Second Half – 4.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 9.09 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, .324 BABIP in 90.1 IP
There are a couple of potential explanations for the falloff. You could take the stance that the league was able to figure him out, meaning he will be unable to come close to his first half success again. You also could believe that maybe he tired in the second half, due to the innings load and the difference in work in the U.S. compared to Japan.
Honestly, neither may be accurate. Keep in mind that he actually improved both his strikeout and walk rates in the second half. Luck certainly had something to do with his regression (you also could say that he was lucky in the first half). Either way, his overall luck metrics were believable making his overall line believable. The old adage is baseball is a game of averages, and Lewis’ season is a prime example. He was lucky in the first half and unlucky in the second, but overall things looked reasonable.
He showed better control then Price in ’10, which easily could lead to a better WHIP.
He showed a better strikeout rate then Price. Maybe this is an aberration but, at worst, you would have to think that the two enter 2011 on an even playing field.
He pitches in a division that has the A’s, Angels and Mariners, far from the high-powered offenses that call the AL East home. He likely has a better team behind him, meaning that he could have more wins upside even on days that he pitches poorly.
There really is an awful lot to like.
The two pitchers are a lot closer than many people want to believe. As I said, I lean towards Lewis due to his:
- Strikeout potential (he showed in the second half he could strikeout over a batter per inning)
- Potential better control (which could lead to a better WHIP)
- Easier division
- Potentially better team
When push comes to shove, I’m going Lewis every time. There’s just too much potential for him to build on his 2010 campaign, while Price easily could go in the other direction. That’s not to say that I can’t understand why people prefer Price. He has an extremely high upside and, at 25-years old, certainly has the room to significantly improve. I actually have them back-to-back on my updated pitcher rankings (to be released this week), so there is definitely room for debate.
Lewis is far from old at 31-years old, however, and just looks to have a higher upside for 2011. In keeper leagues things are obviously different, but for just one season I don’t see it as outlandish to think Lewis will have the better season.
What about you? Which of these two pitchers would you pick? Why?
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Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings: