Dontrelle Willis: Duane Burleson/AP
On Tuesday night, baseball experienced one of the feel-good stories of the season. In his second season as a member of the Tigers and his second start of the season, Dontrelle Willis held the powerful Rangers to no runs and one hit in 6 1/3 innings to earn his first AL win and first victory since Sept. 25, 2007. Although nobody in his right mind had him active in their fantasy league, Willis had been a quality fantasy pitcher with the Marlins, peaking in 2005 when he was 22-10 with a career-best 2.63 ERA. And although his record took a downturn in his last two years with the Marlins, he was still one of baseball's top winners in the period from 2005 through 2007.
|Josh Beckett, Marlins/Red Sox||51|
|Johan Santana, Twins||50|
|Roy Oswalt, Astros||49|
|Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks||48|
|Carlos Zambrano, Cubs||48|
|Jon Garland, White Sox||46|
|John Lackey, Angels||46|
|Andy Pettitte, Yankees/Astros||46|
|CC Sabathia, Indians||46|
|Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees||46|
|Jeff Francis, Rockies||44|
|Roy Halladay, Blue Jays||44|
|John Smoltz, Braves||44|
|Dontrelle Willis, Marlins||44|
As good as his track record may have been, one good start does not make a fantasy starter. Until he strings three or four good starts together, keep this in mind while looking at his name on the waiver wire: Between Willis' victories, 547 different major league pitchers earned wins, including 17 hurlers who won at least 20 games each.
|Top winners from Sept. 26, 2007 to May 18, 2009|
|Roy Halladay, Blue Jays||29|
|Cliff Lee, Indians||24|
|Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks||23|
|Ted Lilly, Cubs||22|
|Chad Billingsley, Dodgers||21|
|Joe Saunders, Angels||22|
|CC Sabathia, Indians/Brewers/Yankees||21|
|Tim Lincecum, Giants||21|
|Johan Santana, Twins/Mets||21|
|Edinson Volquez, Rangers/Reds||21|
|Bronson Arroyo, Reds||20|
|Edinson Volquez, Rangers/Reds||20|
|Mark Buehrle, White Sox||20|
|A.J. Burnett, Blue Jays/Yankees||20|
|Ryan Dempster, Cubs||20|
|Zack Greinke, Royals||20|
|Jamie Moyer, Phillies||20|
|Mike Mussina, Yankees||20|
In researching my Diamond Digits column this week, I remembered a stat I used to employ often when evaluating relief pitchers: the perfect appearance. As I've often stressed, it's as important to avoid bad pitchers as it is to use good ones, and one great way to add some clean innings to your stats is by knowing the leaders in unblemished games. Those are the pitchers who come into a game and shut down their opponent no matter how frequently they're called upon. Come into a game for one batter and get him out, and you've had a perfect appearance. Asked to pitch two innings and they go down in order one through six. Perfect appearance. In deep leagues you're always looking for pitching and the right reliever can mean the difference between winning or losing. So who are this year's perfect appearance leaders?
|Pitchers||Perfect outings||Total outings|
|Eric O'Flaherty, Braves||11||19|
|Ramon Ramirez, Red Sox||11||20|
|Mitch Stetter, Brewers||11||19|
|Michael Wuertz, A's||10||20|
|Dennys Reyes, Cardinals||10||21|
|Dan Meyer, Marlins||10||18|
|Ryan Franklin, Cardinals||10||17|
|Kiko Calero, Marlins||10||25|
|Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers||10||19|
Memorial Day weekend chimes in another round of Interleague Play, temporarily spoiling the value of some AL sluggers but possibly increasing them in the long-term with players like Jim Thome and David Ortiz potentially picking up additional position eligibility. However, some part-time NL players who'll act as designated hitters should become much more valuable in immediate future.
NL team-by-team best guesses for DH situation:
Astros: A team of DH's already, Jason Michaels and Darin Erstad find at bats in their return to AL parks.
Braves: Bobby Cox usually takes every opportunity to preserve the fragile Chipper Jones so look for Martin Prado and Greg Norton to see the boost in activity.
Brewers: It's the perfect opportunity for Ken Macha to use the defensively-challenged Mat Gamel without having to worry about where to hide his glove.
Cardinals: Coming off of a neck injury, look for Rick Ankiel to return to hitting, letting Colby Rasmus remain in centerfield for the meantime.
Cubs: Milton Bradley has 361 career at bats as a DH and will be shielded from injury by keeping off the field. Micah Hoffpauir will be the biggest beneficiary.
Diamondbacks: Tony Clark and Conor Jackson are on the DL which leaves the snakes looking for an answer. The best choice is Chris Young who's recently lost at bats to hotshot rookie Gerardo Parra. Utility man Ryan Roberts also sees a slight boost.
Dodgers: Joe Torre is well versed in DH usage and he'll turn to power-hitting youngster Xavier Paul and veteran infielder Mark Loretta more while resting his regulars.
Giants: Nate Schierholtz needs at bats and the Giants don't have anyone else who deserves them.
Marlins: Former Royal and White Sox first baseman Ross Gload is the top choice with veteran pinch hitter Wes Helms also in line for added PT.
Mets: Stone-handed Daniel Murphy would be the top choice if he wasn't needed to play first in Carlos Delgado's absence. Considering Jerry Manuel's current man-crush on Angel Pagan, he'll go to the outfield and Gary Sheffield will return to the role he's hit 58 of his 501 career home runs in.
Nationals: Does it really matter in Washington? An NL team laden with DH types, Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Nick Johnson all make it into the lineup together.
Padres: Cliff Floyd, the active leader in DH games as an NL player, is out so that leaves Scott Hairston to fill the role.
Phillies: Matt Stairs is the definition of a DH, but Greg Dobbs, despite batting .121 is the likely choice. A dark horse in the running is a brief fielding vacation for Raul Ibañez with a more defensive-minded roster move adding an outfielder.
Pirates: Eric Hinske has been virtually invisible for the Pirates but here's a chance for him to rack up some regular at bats. Craig Monroe is also experienced at sitting every other half inning.
Reds: Laynce Nix has been effective (.294, 3 HR) when give the playing time. He, Chris Dickerson and Willy Taveras all get into the lineup at once.
Rockies: In an effort to get him to the plate, Ian Stewart has played second, third and the outfield and will add DH to his résumé.