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2011 MLB Baseball Handicapping – 10 Best Starters

MLB Betting – My List Of The Top Starting Pitchers of 2011

When I recently discussed the top closers of 2011, I didn’t just look to saves. I wanted a more accurate measure of skill, so I went with save percentage.


For my top 10 starting pitchers of 2011, I want to look beyond wins and ERA, both of which can be influenced by luck, and go with what I think is the most important stat: WHIP.

Though it can still be impacted by defense, it’s hard to argue against walks or hits per innings pitched as a great measure of skill.

These top 10 allow the fewest baserunners per nine innings in baseball (among qualifiers).

1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (10-3, 2.38 ERA, 124 Ks, 0.84 WHIP)

Justin Verlander’s WHIP of 0.84 is absolutely unheard of for a starting pitcher and especially a strikeout pitcher. It would make him just the third pitcher since 1913 to accomplish the feat. When you throw a no-hitter and flirt with several more in just half a season, you post numbers like these.

2. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox (6-2, 1.86 ERA, 79 Ks, 0.92 WHIP)

Becket has proven that he was a bit unlucky last season by posting sparkling numbers with the BoSox this year. His 30 walks in 92 innings are high by his standards but people aren’t hitting his stuff. He has allowed just four homers after serving up 20 in 127.2 innings last season.

3. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels (9-4, 1.97 ERA, 106 Ks, 0.93 WHIP)

Weaver flew out of the gate for an untouchable 6-0 start before going winless in May. He rallied to go unbeaten in June, however, and remains in the hunt for the American League Cy Young.

4. James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays (8-4, 2.29 ERA, 117 Ks, 0.96 WHIP)

Mr. Complete Game – he has six and three shutouts already this season – has sacrificed a bit of his trademark control for tougher-to-hit stuff this season. He’s on pace for the highest single-season walk total of his career but his opponents’ average of .207 is a huge drop from his career .264 mark.

5. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (9-4, 2.49 ERA, 108 Ks, 0.96 WHIP)

Perhaps the most underappreciated member of the Phillies’ Phantastic Phour, Cole Hamels has actually been more efficient than even Roy Halladay. His numbers show great control and strikeout ability. They should come as no surprise. Few pitchers have had worse luck in recent years than the uber-talented Hamels.

6. Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox (7-4, 2.89 ERA, 59 Ks, 0.97 WHIP)

Humber is obviously the first real head scratcher on this list. How are guys hitting just .200 off him when he doesn’t strike anyone out? Try his extremely lucky .219 opponents’ batting average on balls in play. Humber is due to regress in a big way. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

7. Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners (7-4, 2.45 ERA, 94 K’s, 1.00 WHIP)

Here’s a young gun whose production seems more sustainable. Pineda is whiffing a batter per inning and showcasing respectable control by rookie standards. He looks like the absolute real deal.

8. Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals (7-4, 2.91 ERA, 56 K’s, 1.03 WHIP)

Lohse’s strikeout rate is lower than ever but he continues to work miracles under Dave Duncan’s tutelage in St. Louis. Some of it is luck and defensive help (.242 BABIP) but it’s also because Lohse’s control has been among baseball’s best this season.

9. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies (10-3, 2.40 ERA, 123 Ks, 1.03 WHIP)

Halladay is amazing because he shows up among the most dominant starters in the game no matter how you slice the stats, whether you’re looking at wins, ERA, strikeouts, walk rate or WHIP. The man is simply unstoppable.

10. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (8-3, 2.93 ERA, 128 Ks, 1.03 WHIP)

Clayton Kershaw could stay on this list for years to come now that he’s transitioning from thrower to pitcher. His strikeout rate is still outstanding but he’s dramatically curbed his walks this season, resulting in a career-best WHIP so far.

GRAB OUR BEST Expert MLB Picks for 2011 MLB Betting! —–>


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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.