Pitchers with the highest Breakout Rates for 2007, based on BP's PECOTA projections, which predicts performances based on comparisons with thousands of historical player-seasons. ''Breakout Rate'' is the chance that a pitcher's overall production will increase. (Rookies were excluded from this list.) <br><br>2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>14-9, 3.74 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 170 K's <br><br>A power/flyball pitcher, Lackey has taken advantage of Angels Stadium to allow just 27 home runs in the last two seasons. That, combined with a good strikeout rate, steadily improving K/BB numbers and good physical attributes -- size and a terrific health record -- mark the 28-year-old as a pitcher to watch in 2007.
2 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
Rich Harden, RHP, A's
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>7-6, 3.84 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 116 K's <br><br>Health is the only question for Harden, 25, who made a mere nine starts in 2006 and struggled with his command when he was on the mound. A bad back and a strained elbow ligament combined to sideline him for most of the year, on the heels of shoulder issues that limited him to 22 appearances in 2005. As with Burnett, it's just a matter of him staying in the rotation, because all the indicators are positive.
3 of 10Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Josh Beckett, RHP, Red Sox
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>12-8, 4.29 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 144 K's <br><br>Beckett's home-run rate was off the charts last season, doubling despite a very small rise in his flyball rate. Some uptick was expected, given his change in league and park, but what he experienced was unusual and unlikely to be repeated. The 27-year-old did make a full complement of starts for the first time, assuaging concerns about his blister problems, and his strikeout rate and K/BB remained above average.
4 of 10Leon Halip/WireImage.com
A.J. Burnett, RHP, Blue Jays
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>11-8, 4.07 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 135 K's <br><br>Burnett, 30, is an odd choice for a breakout, given that he's settled in for the last three seasons at about the same level: ERA between 3.00 and 4.00, 3:1 K/BB, moderate to strong G/F ratio. It would help if he stayed in the rotation all year; he has made at least 27 starts just three times in eight years and has averaged just 19 outings a year since 2003.
5 of 10Brad Mangin/SI
Javier Vazquez, RHP, White Sox
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>11-11, 4.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 148 K's <br><br>One of only two thirtysomethings on the list, Vazquez, 30, is coming off of his second straight season of at least a 3:1 K/BB, a key performance indicator. Vazquez annually posts higher ERAs than his peripheral stats indicate, in part due to pitching in some tough parks, such as Chase Field and U.S. Cellular. Despite this,he has improved in both years since his difficult season with the Yankees in 2004.
6 of 10John Iacono/SI
Adam Loewen, LHP, Orioles
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>10-12, 4.67 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 148 K's <br><br>At 6'5" and 235 pounds, Loewen cuts a hulking figure on the mound. Like his teammate Cabrera, he struggled to find the strike zone (62 walks in 112 1/3 innings) while missing bats (98 strikeouts) and limiting the long ball (eight home runs). The big lefty, 23, is still working his way back from a torn labrum, so keep that in mind when you look at that breakout percentage.
7 of 10David E. Klutho/SI
Oliver Perez, LHP, Mets
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>6-6, 4.66 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 92 K's <br><br>For an idea of why this number is so high, you only have to look back at Perez's 2004 season: 239 strikeouts and a 2.98 ERA in 196 innings for the Pirates. A mechanical -- and some say, mental -- mess since then, Perez, 25, retains the overpowering stuff of a No. 1 starter, but struggles to convert that into results. His seven starts for the Mets last season (plus an NLCS Game 7 outing that nearly put them in the World Series) were enough to get hopes up again.
8 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
Daniel Cabrera, RHP, Orioles
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>9-9, 4.33 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 159 K's <br><br>PECOTA makes its call here irrespective of two key pieces of information that weigh heavily in Cabrera's favor: 1) His pitching coach is Leo Mazzone, widely considered one of the best in the game; 2) Cabrera began wearing glasses in the second half of last season, a move that coincided with improved control. What PECOTA does see is strong strikeout and groundball rates that mark Cabrera, 26, as a pitcher with very high upside.
9 of 10Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>9-7, 3.64 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 128 K's <br><br>Hernandez's 2006 was a disappointment, mostly to those expecting a rehash of Dwight Gooden's debut season. The King struck out 176 in 191 innings while posting a 3-to-1 G/F ratio, and after a homer- and hit-heavy first two months, saw his ERA fall steadily through the second half. The 21-year-old's Opening Day gem against the A's portends a season full of dominant performances.
10 of 10David Bergman/SI
Jeremy Bonderman, RHP, Tigers
2007 PECOTA Projections: <br>14-8, 3.50 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 177 K's <br><br>The righthander has survived the "injury nexus," reaching age 24 without encountering a serious arm problem, while improving his performance each year. The combination of established durability and steady gains in his metrics -- strikeout rate, strikeout-to-walk ratio, home-run rate -- is a powerful one in a young pitcher, which is why Bonderman has the highest breakout rate of any hurler in the game.
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