2012 Fantasy Rankings: Who Ranks Higher – Moore or Hellickson?

Sunday March 25th, 2012

Sam Evans: The Tampa Bay Rays front office has assembled one of the most talented and youthful rotations in the Major Leagues. Matt Moore is the best pitching prospect in baseball and is ready to make an impact in the majors this year. Jeremy Hellickson was the 2011 A.L. Rookie of the Year and he will look to build on his success in 2012. So my question is, if you play fantasy baseball, which Rays pitcher should you draft first?

First of all, let’s assume you’re in a 10-team, 5X5 league. For pitching, the statistics are measured in the five main categories; wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. While they might not be the best statistics to determine a pitcher’s success, they are the most commonly used fantasy baseball categories.

Wins: The win category is almost pointless for measuring starting pitching in fantasy baseball. Wins tell you more about the team’s lineup than the pitcher’s value. Nonetheless, a player’s value in fantasy baseball is based on a number of variables. If you are drafting a pitcher, and wins is one of your league’s categories, then you need to consider the offense of the team he pitches for.

Since Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson  play for the same team, the leader of the wins category will be decided by luck and who goes deepest into games (plus pitch counts and limits on innings). Last year, in twenty-seven starts between AA and AAA, Matt Moore threw an average of almost six innings per start. In twenty-nine Major League starts, Hellickson threw almost six and a half innings per start.

For this year, I’d expect these two pitchers to get about the same amount of wins. ESPN projects Jeremy Hellickson to win fifteen games, and Matt Moore to win fourteen. I would be somewhat surprised if either pitcher won fifteen games, but neither pitcher should have an extremely dissimilar win total than another. If I had to choose one pitcher for this category, I would take Hellickson due to his experience and the fact that Moore may be on a shorter innings leash). Advantage: Jeremy Hellickson

Saves: Unless something goes wrong, don’t expect Moore or Hellickson to get any save opportunities this year.

Strikeouts: In order for a top-30 starting pitcher to justify his draft position, he needs to provide some value in the strikeout category. Last year, Jeremy Hellickson was right on the verge of being a top-30 pitcher, but he only struck out 117 batters. Meanwhile, Matt Moore was dominating the hitters at every level he played at. In just 164 innings, Moore struck out 225 batters.

There’s no way Moore will strike out  almost fourteen batters per nine innings like he did in 2011. However, with his array of pitches I could see him striking out close to 160 batters in 2012. Hellickson, on the other hand, has never had too much success striking out hitters. Last year, he posted a career-low K/9 of 5.57. He will probably see that statistic bounce back this year but he’s never going to be a high-strikeout pitcher.

This category isn’t very close. Moore is obviously the better choice for strikeouts. Advantage: Matt Moore

Earned Run Average: Last year, both pitchers had very impressive ERA’s. Hellickson finished with a 2.95 ERA, and Moore had a combined 1.97 ERA at three levels. The main difference between Hellickson and Moore’s ERA’s is the level of competition. “HellBoy” posted his ERA in the extremely competitive American League East, while Matt Moore was pitching in the Southern League. With that in consideration, Hellickson’s peripherals suggest he wasn’t as good as his 2.95 ERA.

In 2011, Jeremy Hellickson got lucky. Some pitchers like Matt Cain have shown the ability to consistently outperform their peripherals, but we don’t have enough data on Hellickson to prove that he’s one of those guys.

Matt Moore was phenomenal in 2012. I don’t think anyone could have predicted he’d have as good of a year as he had. However, when he faces teams the second time around this year, some of his luck is going to run out. There’s no reason why he can’t win the Rookie of the Year award, but he is going to struggle just like every other MLB pitcher.

Bill James predicts that Jeremy Hellickson will have a 3.39 ERA in 2012. That seems a little to generous to me. I think his ERA will be around 3.65-3.75. As for Moore, ZiPS projections see him as having a 3.72 ERA in 2012. I see him as having an ERA closer to 3.50. Advantage: Matt Moore (barely).

WHIP: This is perhaps the most overlooked 5X5 category, but it might be the most important. Any pitcher than can keep players off the bases is going to find success, no matter where he pitches. In 2011, Hellickson had a WHIP of 1.15. Moore had a 0.94 WHIP in AA, a 0.97  in AAA, and a 1.29 WHIP in the majors.

Just based on experience, I think Hellickson has the advantage here. Neither pitcher is going to walk a lot of batters or give up lots of hits, so this category is a toss-up. Advantage: Jeremy Hellickson

In terms of “stuff”, these guys are much different pitchers. Hellickson boasts a fastball around 92 MPH, and a killer change-up which sits at about 80 MPH. Moore can throw his deceiving fastball all the way up to 97 MPH. Matt Moore’s curveball is already considered one of the best curveballs from starters in the game today. If Moore could improve his changeup, hitters will never stand a chance when facing him.

Currently, Matt Moore’s average draft position in ESPN leagues is 75th overall. On Mock Draft Central.com, Moore is being drafted 102nd overall. On ESPN, Jeremy Hellickson’s ADP is 98th, and on MDC, Hellickson is going 130th overall. In most leagues, Moore is the popular choice, but I think it is closer than early draft results suggest. Nonetheless, If I had to choose one of these young Rays pitchers for the 2012 season, I would take Matt Moore.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on March 25, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Awesome. I picked Moore in my Fantasy Draft last weekend.

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