Joe Saunders, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, SP
It is an amazing thing watching the development of a player from day one. You see all the trials and tribulations a young major leaguer goes through to settle into the game. It almost makes you feel like you have a special bond with the player. I personally have had the pleasure of seeing Joe Saunders mature right before my eyes.
I remember Saunders making spot starts in 2006. The left hander showed signs of brilliance, but could not win a permanent spot in the loaded Angel rotation. He was sent back down after a few more appearances.
Saunders continued to make sporadic starts throughout the next season compiling a 15 and 8 record over a two year span, but still could not lock down a position in the Los Angeles rotation. By 2008, however, Joe was given his shot. He thrived as a full time starter. Saunders accumulated 12 wins in the first half of the season sending him to his first All-Star Game. He finished the season with 17 victories and an ERA of just under three-and-a-half.
You could see this coming by looking at the numbers. Every season of his career his starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, and win totals have all increased. The only stat that has decreased is his ERA. He has never had a losing season racking up a career 33 and 16 record already in his young career.
Joe does have negatives in the fantasy world. He does not strikeout a great deal of batters, he faded in the second half of his first full season (only posting 5 more wins), and his team is not exactly a potent run producer. You cannot beat this guy for the value though. I grabbed him in the 17th round in my league.
Saunders found himself making the opening day start for the Angles this season. He has posted a 1 and 1 record with an ERA under three so far (with both his outing being quality starts). The future looks bright for the new Los Angeles ace, so do not be surprised if you see a better season than last from Joe Saunders.