Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/12/12

Forgive the overused cliche, but there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Matt Cain outperforming his peripherals. It’s gotten to the point where anyone who doubts Cain just looks foolish. He’s finished five straight seasons with ERAs noticeably lower than his FIPs, and in each of those five seasons he’s pitched at least 200 innings. His walk rate has settled around 2.5 BB/9, and his strikeout rate is comfortably in the low 7.0s. Cain might be the most consistent pitcher in the league.

Best case scenario: Dan Haren (LAA)
Similar players: Jered Weaver (LAA), Ian Kennedy (ARI), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
Worst case scenario: Chris Carpenter (STL)


Durability, IFFB%, consistency. Cain is a 220-inning monster, and his infield fly rate (IFFB%) is always among the league’s best. In fact, since Cain became a full-time starter in 2006, his IFFB% is the fifth highest of the 110 pitchers who’ve thrown at least 600 innings (100 per season). One look at the stats above will show you how consistent he is.


W. I’m not sure Cain will win many games in San Francisco, though right now I have the Giants as my projected NL West champions.

ADP Report (61.2)

Our rank (51) is rather aggressive in hindsight, but that’s why we’re updating the rankings in our first annual draft guide (available in the coming weeks). I don’t think I’d like to have Cain as my fantasy team’s ace, but he’s a fantastic number two fantasy starter and he’s as reliable as they come. Cain has always outpitched his FIPs, mostly because of his unusual ability to generate a lot of infield flies, and seeing how his FIPs have dropped each season, there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to have an ERA under 3.00. With his 220-inning durability, Cain is a safe pick in the fifth or sixth round.

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