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Fantasy Baseball Profile: Zack Greinke

Kansas City Royals ace and 2009’s top fantasy baseball pitcher Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young award Tuesday in convincing fashion over Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

Greinke was typically drafted in rounds 7 through 9 in mixed league fantasy baseball formats last season, according to 2009 ESPN draft data. Those who drafted Greinke probably got the best value in fantasy baseball last season.

He finished the season as the no. 2 overall player in fantasy baseball. His numbers were pretty sick – 16 wins, a 2.64 ERA, 242 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP in 229.3 innings of work. Dude even pitched well in the All-Star Game: 1 inning, 2 strikeouts.

We tried to tell you to sell him back in May – and we were wrong. Hopefully you didn’t take our advice there, because he made our 2009 All-Star team and was the top 2009 pitcher in fantasy according to both Yahoo! and ESPN. CBS Sports couldn’t be reached for comment, but we’re guessing he was no. 1 in their books, too.

All that fuzzy stuff about Greinke aside, what’s the outlook for the Cy Young winner in 2010?

There are a couple factors playing against him. Greinke has now gone over 200 innings in back-to-back seasons. While he has had the benefit of truly having an off-season, that amount of workload is going to start taking its toll on his arm. His ERA last season was more than a full run below his career average, too. To me, this means that next season his ERA is likely to creep back towards 3.50 or higher. A mid-3.00’s ERA doesn’t make him a risk on draft day 2010, but it does lower his value from the top fantasy pitcher.

In our defense, we predicted that Greinke would fall back to earth in the dog days of summer, and he did. From June through August, he went 5-7… but he only gave up around 30 runs in almost 100 innings of work. So even his crappy stretch looked good on paper.

Greinke is a top 10 starting pitcher heading into 2010, but I don’t think he’s done enough to jump into the top five. Another season similar to this one may put him in that upper echelon of fantasy starters, but Greinke still lacks the track record of the top starters in fantasy baseball – Santana, Sabathia, Lincecum, Halladay, etc.

I might be undervaluing him heading into 2010, but Greinke is a low-end no. 1 fantasy baseball starter at this time.

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