Much Matt Cain in Johnny Cueto, minus respect, even in fantasy baseball

      November 9, 2012 @ 12:57:37 PDT

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It sounds dirtier than it is.

Cain
Year
IP
K%
K/9
BB/9
P/IP
TBF/IP
2006
190 2/3
21.9%
8.45
4.11
17.3
4.29
2007
200
19.6%
7.34
3.56
16.8
4.16
2008
217 2/3
19.9%
7.69
3.76
16.6
4.29
2009
217 2/3
19.3%
7.07
3.02
15.5
4.07
2010
223 1/3
19.8%
7.13
2.46
15.7
4.01
2011
221 2/3
19.7%
7.27
2.56
15.7
4.09
2012
219 1/3
22.0%
7.92
2.09
15.3
3.99

Matt Cain is in the prime of his career. He has transitioned from "one of the most talented pitchers in baseball" to "one of the best pitchers in baseball." Whether he remains in that class depends on how he adapts as his body ages and what he learns from the vast experience he has yet to gain, among other things.

The San Francisco Giants' hurler has, accordingly, become one of the better fantasy investments. For the past couple of seasons, his auction price and draft position have reflected the community's faith in the right-hander's skills development.

A few years ago, mild concern arose about the dip in his rate of strikeouts per nine innings, but we quickly learned that such worry was unwarranted. He's made a concerted effort to improve his control, and he dialed back the strikeouts a little to help him get there - to put it simply (and overly so).

Cain's labor is evident in his increased efficiency. In 2012, he threw roughly two pitches per inning fewer than he did in his first full season. This evolution has allowed him to maintain his potency and enjoy longer outings, naturally.

Cueto
Year
IP
K%
K/9
BB/9
P/IP
TBF/IP
2008
174
20.6%
8.17
3.52
17.5
4.42
2009
171 1/3
17.8%
6.93
3.20
17.0
4.32
2010
185 2/3
17.7%
6.69
2.71
16.8
4.20
2011
156
16.5%
6.00
2.71
15.4
4.04
2012
217
19.1%
7.05
2.03
15.9
4.09

For good rotisserie measure, it appears that Cain reintroduced in 2012 a greater rate of strikeouts to his dossier.

What's interesting, at least to me, is that Johnny Cueto, in his career, seems to have made similar progress, yet he's not received near the attention ... or fantasy interest. A month ago, Christina Kahrl conveyed her appall, justifiably, about the fuzzy-chinned righty's early elimination from NL Cy Young Award contention. This past spring, for the second year in a row, his price point was approximately half of Cain's.

Why is that?

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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