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by contributing author Bill Berthold


Leagues are being renewed; invitations are being sent; drafts are being set; rankings are being determined. Yes, it’s the arrival of another fantasy baseball season.

“It’s all about pitching,” will be uttered by major league baseball general managers a zillion times this season. Pitching is a commodity major league teams never have enough of. In the fantasy baseball universe production from the batter’s box is just as, if not more, important than success off the mound.

In 2012, there are more than enough quality pitchers to go around. Walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, known as WHIP by baseball people, has always been a good barometer of a pitcher’s success. The lower the better. Last season saw 43 starting pitchers, from Justin Verlander to Ryan Vogelsong, finish with a WHIP of 1.25 or below. It was the most pitchers since 1988. An owner in a 10 or 12 team league in 2012 could wait to the seventh round to select his first pitcher and still amass a quality staff.

For our first fantasy baseball article, we take a look at the top 11 (everybody does top tens) pitchers for 2012 who finished with a WHIP above 1.25 last season.

1. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox   –   2011 WHIP: 1.26

Lester was taken as high as the third round in fantasy drafts last season when he was widely considered a top five fantasy pitcher. Thanks to a disastrous September, Lester failed to fulfill expectations. Still he is the ace of a Red Sox team that should win 90 games. Fantasy owners can do a lot worse than having Lester as a number two starter.

2. Anibal Sanchez, Miami Marlins  –    2011 WHIP: 1.28

Sanchez had his best statistical season in 2011. He fanned 202 hitters in 196.1 innings pitched. Forget the 8-9 record, Sanchez is a top of rotation starter who is not being drafted like one. Draft with confidence.

3. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals  –    2011 WHIP: 1.26

Hard to believe one of the post season’s heroes for the World Champion Cardinals is on the list, but he qualifies. Carpenter’s 191 strikeouts were the second highest total of his career. He did give up a little more than a hit per inning in 2011, but the 14 year veteran should have a productive 2012.