Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitchers

When I prepare for any fantasy draft, I always rank players into tiers. This way, you will have a better understanding while drafting of when there is a big drop-off in talent. Using this type of drafting strategy should lead to an increase in overall value for your team.

When compiling my rankings, I focus on a couple of major factors. First, I look at last year’s statistics. That is obviously a great place to start because it is the most recent data to project how a player might perform this year.

Then, I look into any circumstantial changes a player might have going into this year. For example, was this player traded? Did this trade lead to a new ballpark that may be more/less favorable to hitters/pitchers? Is this player surrounded by new players in the lineup? Is this player going into a contract year? Is this player injury-prone of currently injured? All of these questions can give you a better idea of who might have the biggest jump or drop from last year’s performance.

Next, I look into the player’s history. This is less important in my opinion than the first two steps of analysis because a lot can change in two or three years. What it does help me with is it shows me which players I can feel confident and safe in drafting due to a consistent run of seasons of similar statistics.

Finally, the last factor that I use in my rankings is the team that the player plays for. I mean this in a couple of different ways. I personally believe that first and foremost, fantasy sports is supposed to be enjoyable. So, if you are deciding between a few players who on paper have similar values, go ahead and be a homer and take your favorite team’s player ahead of the others. But more importantly, I look for teams that I believe will still be playing competitive baseball towards the end of the season. I have been burned many times by having my top player get a minor injury come fantasy playoff time, only to be rested for the remainder of the season due to their actual team not having any chance of making the real playoffs. If you are deciding between two players close in every other category, my advice is lean towards the player that you are confident will be in a playoff push towards the end of the year. This will give you the best chance of them playing competitive baseball when it matters most in your fantasy season.

Here are my Starting Pitcher rankings going into this season:

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
  2. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
  3. Max Scherzer, Nationals
  4. Jake Arrieta, Cubs
  5. Noah Syndergaard, Mets
  6. Chris Sale, Red Sox
  7. Corey Kluber, Indians
  8. Jon Lester, Cubs
  9. Johnny Cueto, Giants
  10. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  11. Chris Archer, Rays
  12. Jacob deGrom, Mets
  13. Carlos Carrasco, Indians
  14. Yu Darvish, Rangers
  15. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
  16. Cole Hamels, Rangers
  17. Rick Porcello, Red Sox
  18. Kyle Hendricks, Cubs
  19. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks
  20. Carlos Martinez, Cardinals
  21. Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
  22. Gerrit Cole, Pirates
  23. Jose Quintana, White Sox
  24. Kenta Maeda, Dodgers
  25. Kevin Gausman, Orioles
  26. David Price, Red Sox
  27. Dallas Keuchel, Astros
  28. Danny Duffy, Royals
  29. Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays
  30. Julio Teheran, Braves
  31. Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays
  32. Danny Salazar, Indians
  33. John Lackey, Cubs
  34. Matt Harvey, Mets
  35. Michael Fulmer, Tigers
  36. Rich Hill, Dodgers
  37. Anthony DeSclafani, Reds
  38. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
  39. Steven Matz, Mets
  40. Sonny Gray, Athletics
  41. Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox
  42. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
  43. Tanner Roark, Nationals
  44. Jake Odorizzi, Rays
  45. Jeff Samardzija, Giants
  46. Drew Smyly, Mariners
  47. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
  48. Marco Estrada, Blue Jays
  49. Aaron Nola, Phillies
  50. Jon Gray, Rockies
  51. Michael Pineda, Yankees
  52. Jameson Taillon, Pirates
  53. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
  54. Carlos Rodon, White Sox
  55. Matt Moore, Giants
  56. J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
  57. Sean Manaea, Athletics
  58. Lance McCullers, Astros
  59. Michael Wacha, Cardinals
  60. Vince Velasquez, Phillies
  61. James Paxton, Mariners
  62. Matt Shoemaker, Angels
  63. Ivan Nova, Pirates
  64. Chris Tillman, Orioles
  65. Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
  66. Taijuan Walker, Diamondbacks
  67. Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
  68. Jason Hammel, Royals
  69. Julio Urias, Dodgers
  70. Joe Ross, Nationals
  71. Jordan Zimmerman, Tigers
  72. Zach Davies, Brewers
  73. Ian Kennedy, Royals
  74. Blake Snell, Rays
  75. Garrett Richards, Angels

Much like the Outfield position, you are going to be drafting many starting pitchers for your fantasy team. The top two tiers features seven aces who could all finish the year atop the fantasy pitcher rankings. They will all be drafted anywhere from the end of round 1 to round 3.

Chris Sale
Now in Boston, will Chris Sale continue to put up incredible numbers? Or will it take some time to adjust to Fenway?

Tiers 3 and 4 consist of solid starters who you will need to draft to bring stability to your rotation. You’ll notice I have David Price ranked at 26, which is noticeably lower than he was on my rankings a few weeks ago. The injury he is dealing with is one you should monitor. It appears that he will be start the year on the disabled list, but should not be on it for an extended period of time. Still, when I draft players early on, I want security. I believe in the phrase, “you can’t win your league in the first few rounds, but you can definitely lose it.”

The final two tiers will be players you need to finish out your staff. I like to draft young, high-upside pitchers late. Starting pitcher is often a position that you will be very active at throughout the season on the waiver-wire as well.

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