It isn’t Rocket Science to think Roger Clemens couldn’t lead the NL in wins this year at 12-1 odds.
And if you chose Randy Johnson (6-1), Johan Santana (6-1) or Curt Schilling (9-1), not many would criticize. The real test is to find the needle in the haystack, the surprise who could have the career year and pay big bucks to those that did their homework or have incredibly good luck.
Our job is to supply possible candidates for big seasons and hope everything falls into play. Bottom line: No major injuries and a team that can stay in the hunt for postseason play.
Here are a few options for the 2005 campaign, where no doubt some pitchers will respond with huge seasons.
Mark Buehrle (75-1): The White Sox lefty has won 65 games over the past four seasons, including a career best 19 in 2002. He’s just 26 and the staff ace.
Bartolo Colon (18-1): The Angels ace right-hander tossed four scoreless innings last week and is capable of winning 20. If healthy, can throw 100 and overwhelm.
Jake Peavy (18-1): Ask as the Dodgers how good this guy is. Jayson Werth is still hacking at thatcurveball. San Diego is exciting and Peavy leads a top rotation.
Roy Halladay (35-1): Former Cy Young winner, Halladay will get plenty of starts for Toronto. Won’t back down to Red Sox and Yanks.
Barry Zito (40-1): Without Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, the burden falls squarely on Zito. Won 25 games in 2002, but just 11 last year. Should rebound.
David Wells (75-1): If Schilling goes down with that bad ankle, Wells become a major player in that Boston rotation. He’s 40 and fat, but nobody competes better.
Dontrelle Willis (60-1): The young southpaw for Marlins has great stuff on a staff of strong arms. Focus will be on A.J. Burnett and Series hero Josh Beckett, but Willis could blossom.