Staff rankings: Starting pitchers, part one

Phew. Position players are taken care of. What’s next? Logically, starting pitchers, so below, we present the top 35 (more to come tomorrow).

The following writers have ranked their top 70: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson and yours truly. We used FantasyPros.com to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts’. Assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5×5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we’ll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.

2012 Starting Pitchers Rankings
Player Name Nick
Fleder
Ben
Prichett
Josh
Shepardson
Brad
Johnson
THT
Composite
FantasyPros
Expert Consensus
Roy Halladay 2 3 1 1 1 view
Clayton Kershaw 1 2 2 2 2 view
Justin Verlander 3 1 7 3 3 view
Cliff Lee 4 4 3 4 4 view
Tim Lincecum 6 5 5 7 5 view
CC Sabathia 10 7 6 5 6 view
Felix Hernandez 7 6 8 8 7 view
Cole Hamels 8 9 9 6 8 view
Jered Weaver 5 8 14 11 9 view
Zack Greinke 15 12 4 9 10 view
David Price 13 10 12 10 11 view
Dan Haren 9 11 17 14 12 view
Madison Bumgarner 14 18 11 13 13 view
Jon Lester 16 13 15 12 14 view
Stephen Strasburg 12 17 13 18 15 view
Matt Cain 11 14 26 15 16 view
Yovani Gallardo 24 16 10 22 17 view
Matt Moore 18 21 16 17 18 view
Adam Wainwright 19 15 23 20 19 view
James Shields 23 19 20 16 20 view
Ian Kennedy 17 25 25 21 21 view
C.J. Wilson 20 23 22 26 22 view
Yu Darvish 21 24 30 19 23 view
Mat Latos 27 28 18 28 24 view
Michael Pineda 25 27 19 30 25 view
Josh Johnson 32 20 28 23 26 view
Daniel Hudson 22 26 34 27 27 view
Brandon Beachy 28 29 21 34 28 view
Tommy Hanson 26 33 29 31 29 view
Gio Gonzalez 34 30 31 25 30 view
Matt Garza 29 35 24 33 31 view
Josh Beckett 30 32 27 32 32 view
Jordan Zimmermann 35 31 33 24 33 view
Cory Luebke 31 22 39 47 34 view
Anibal Sanchez 33 42 35 29 35 view

Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.

Tomorrow… Starting pitchers, part two


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Dave Shovein
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Dave Shovein

List looks very solid overall, great work guys!

If I were to nitpick at all, I’d have Dan Hudson a couple of spots higher, and Tommy Hanson a couple of spots lower.

I also agree with Ben that I would have Luebke much higher, he’s currently #25 on my list.

Chicago Mark
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Chicago Mark

Thanks for the response Nick.  It’s a good compilation and I’d be picking nits if I had any objections.  I traded Moore on a 2012/2013 contract at $14 for a 2012 Corey Hart at $1.  I’m pretty happy with it but really didn’t expect this kind of positive feedback about Moore. 
Thanks again and keep up the good work.
ChiMark

Tom
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Tom
In the spirit of Pitchers & Catchers, Pitchers & Catchers I ranked starters this past weekend and I’m somewhat surprised how closely our lists match. There is one player that I am much higher on than most and I can’t figure out why. Of all the rankings I’ve seen on the web no one considers Ubaldo a top 25-30 starter anymore. Looking at his peripherals compared to C.J. Wilson I can’t help but think they are nearly identical other than team, ballpark and handedness. Over the last 2 years their ERA estimators and batted ball types are very similar. Both… Read more »
Daniel
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Daniel
How can you possibly consider Halladay as the number 3 or even number 2 pitcher in the MLB?? Im not at all a Phillies fan, but I’m sold on Doc. Most people would agree that he was the best pitcher coming into 2011, and I think he had the best pitching year in 2011. He had a 2.20 FIP (!!!) a 2.71 xFIP, 2.79 SIERA, 2.46 tERA, and really great standard stats such as a .39 HR/9 and a career best 8.5 K/9 and of course the fabulous amount of 35 walks. He had a better year than Verlander in… Read more »
Mark Himmelstein
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Mark Himmelstein
I agree with Ben and Dave on Luebke—He’s Top 25.  I’m also quite a bit higher on Garza—his results were fantastic last season and there’s all kinds of sustainability suggested there, though the drastically increased slider usage comes with some risk.  Am I crazy for thinking he belongs in the back end of the Top 20?  I’m also a bit higher on Hudson and Latos. In the latter’s case, I think people are overreacting to the ballpark shift, and underestimating the quality of the Reds’ defense (between +5 and +9 UZR/150 as a team for three straight seasons) and increased… Read more »
Bobbo
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Bobbo
Fantastic list guys, I always trust you the most when it comes to rankings since you seem to back them up the most soundly.  I’m in an interesting position in a keeper league where I get to keep 3 SP from my roster each year (at no $$ value or anything).  I currently have Felix, Gallardo, and Hanson and was able to acquire Matt Moore at the end of last season.  Am I crazy to bring him in over Hanson even though he’s unproven?  Several years ago I made the mistake of not keeping an unproven “top prospect” in Lincecum… Read more »
Ben Pritchett
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Ben Pritchett
Daniel- First of all, I’d like to say that although Halladay is technically 3rd on my list, he is more like a 1C. I think he is a phenomanal pitcher that should still perform amazingly well in 2012. The reason he is not 1A is more so a testament to the what I think about the other two pitchers ranked ahead of him. Actually, the more I think about it the more I like Clayton Kershaw as my number 1A since I have concerns about the Tigers defense. I think Halladay could suffer from that a little this year as… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

I probably wont even rank pitchers in time to use them this year, sigh. Ranking 100 pitchers is not a simple task

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Tentative top 40: 1   Roy Halladay 2   Clayton Kershaw 3   Justin Verlander 4   Tim Lincecum 5   Cliff Lee 6   Felix Hernandez 7   CC Sabathia 8   Zack Greinke 9   Jered Weaver 10   Cole Hamels 11   Dan Haren 12   David Price 13   Madison Bumgardner 14   Jon Lester 15   Matt Moore 16   Mat Latos 17   Stephen Strasburg 18   Adam Wainwright 19   Yu Darvish 20   Michael Pineda 21   Brandon Beachy 22   Anibal Sanchez 23   James Shields 24   Max Scherzer 25… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Minor re-rank:

12   David Price
13   Madison Bumgardner
14   Stephen Strasburg
15   Matt Moore
16   Jon Lester
17   Mat Latos

Mark Himmelstein
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Mark Himmelstein
@Jeffrey Scherzer’s a good catch.  I like that ranking.  He was such a popular pick last year, people seem to be overreacting to what really amounted to a superficially poor seasion, when he actually improved his command substantially and just had a HR/FB issue.  Also love that Marcum and Wilson are back to back.  I think they’re much closer than people realize too and they’re both likely to regress towards a middle ground vs. their expected performances/last year’s performance.  Why so down on Gallardo though?  He’s consistently been a strikeout machine and has improved his command each of the last… Read more »
Jeffrey gross
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Jeffrey gross

MH,

Gallardo always seems to bust in the second half. I don’t buy the effect of his control per ae outweighing some luck regression. League bb% has declined as a whole so how much is him improving versus the batting field just being weaker, also changes his relative value weight. That said, I like him but someone undoubtedly will like him more than me. I forgot to rank unaldo in the mix. Probably will need to be near Gallardo

Mark Himmelstein
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Mark Himmelstein

What luck regression though?  His BABIP was .291, LOB% 74.8%, if anything he’s due some positive regression on his 12.2% HR/FB.  He had a 3.19 xFIP / 3.22 SIERA.  And even if the league’s BB% has declined, he went from 11.9%, 9.3%, 6.8%, which is a pretty huge swing.  I actually agree with you that there are those out there who will probably like him more than I do, but he could wind up on some of my teams in the right situation.

Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder

Jeff, my friend… Why the hell is Matt Cain your 35th ranked pitcher?

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Nick, No rational reason. #35 is the highest I’ve ever ranked him. In my view, the W upside is minimal and the K’s are below the fantasy league average. Ok, so the ERA/WHIP might be there and I am more of a “buyer” than I was before the last 15 months of PU/HR/FB skill talk (though PU% as a skill seemed pretty minimized by Derek Carty’s recent research and it seems to be a Giants-like anomaly). If Hiroki Kuroda doesnt crack my top 30…. Now keep in mind that my top 40 above is just preliminary. I feel like Cain… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

MH,

Look at Scherzer’s splits by month. Second half and aug/sept goodness.

As for Gallardo, even sabermetrics are often the byproduct of some degree of luck. Look at individual year K rates. Pretty stable overall, but you sometimes see spikes. Gut says Gallardo’s surface stats look like 2009 by season end. I’ll try to quantify my reasoning later if I remember to do it.

Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder

Cains been top 15 for the past three years per Baseball Monster and has been above average in Ks for the same time frame. I just don’t see it.

Ben Pritchett
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Ben Pritchett

I don’t either Nick. You can’t justify him in the thirties period. At least not if you are basing your evaluation on talent, age, past stats, and consistency.

Tom
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Tom

Anyone care to tackle the question I posed earlier about Ubaldo or do I have to wait until the second part of the SP rankings to be posted? I know I kinda answered my own question, but I still don’t see how that could drop him so far in everyone’s ranks.

Will
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Will

Where’s Fister?

Ben Pritchett
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Ben Pritchett
Tom- I tend to agree with you about Ubaldo. He’s prime for a return to norms. Read my tidbit about him in this article: Ubaldo Jimenez SP CLE – Oh, I don’t think anybody’s had the fall from grace as quickly as Jimenez. His trade to Cleveland only intensified an already disappointing 2011 season. Jimenez pitched one of the best half-seasons in baseball history in early 2010. Since then, his ERA has fluctuated more than the housing market. There are, however, some very interesting positives underlying Jimenez’ awful stat lines. First of all, only Fausto “Roberto Hernandez Heredia” Carmona had… Read more »
MH
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MH
@Tom The other difference, which is much easier to discern for Ubaldo than CJ, is command.  Ubaldo’s pretty much a lock for iffy command, while CJ actually had decent command last year, and while projection systems expect him to regress, they still think he’ll be better.  Ubaldo’s SwStrike% at 7.5% is also pretty concerning, the first time he’s been below average in that regard, especially tied to the dip in velocity.  I’m also just not that high on CJ either, tending to agree more with Jeff on CJ’s rankings than the other guys.  His plate discipline numbers are also pedestrian… Read more »
Tom
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Tom

Thanks for the great analysis guys. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing some known injury tied to last years velocity drop. I’ll probably move him down in my ranks since, like you said, the upside for him to command the strike zone and limit walks is almost non-existent.

Scherzer is another guy I think I will have higher than most people as well (read the other day he’s adding a two-seamer). Looking forward to see where everyone ranks him in part 2.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
On further analysis, diligence and consideration, here are my new #20-50. Still subject to revision upon good argument. 20   Michael Pineda 21   Brandon Beachy 22   Anibal Sanchez 23   James Shields 24   Max Scherzer 25   Yovanni Gallardo 26   Daniel Hudson 27   Ian Kennedy 28   Josh Beckett 29   Jordan Zimmerman 30   Matt Cain 31   Chris Carpenter 32   Matt Garza 33   Cory Luebke 34   Shaun Marcum 35   Ubaldo Jimenez 36   C.J. Wilson 37   Josh Johnson 38   Gio Gonzalez 39   Tommy Hanson 40  … Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

I’m giving serious thought about Bumping Scherzer up for the wins, but man is that defense awful

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

OK. I give. Im putting Cain in the top 20-25

19   Yu Darvish
20   Michael Pineda
21   Matt Cain
22   Brandon Beachy
23   Anibal Sanchez

Chicago Mark
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Chicago Mark

If he stays healthy, do you see Wainright moving back into the top 10/5 for 2013? 
What do you use as indicators to rank Darvish?
Where do you see Moore moving to in the future.  If he’s top 20 as a rookie could he be a top 5/10 next year?  Some/most projection systems have Moore at about a 3.30 ERA with 10+ k/9 for 2012.  Are you guys buying into this?
Thanks

Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder
Chicago: Quick hits, and it’s early, but 1) I don’t think Wainwright throws as many curveballs, but I could be wrong… I think he’s at least a year away from top 10 but he could be a bargain. Not for the risk-averse, but you already knew that. 2) Darvish has a wide range of projections on him, but check this out: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/yu-darvish-2012-projections-he-gon-be-good/ 3) Moore most definitely has top 5/10 upside; I doubt anyone will debate that. It’s a matter of when, so long as he stays healthy (and a number of other, obvious variables I won’t get into)… I buy… Read more »
Ben Pritchett
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Ben Pritchett

Josh, you are going to have to explain to me Matt Cain at 26…

Ben Pritchett
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Ben Pritchett

Looks like I like Verlander, King Felix, Wainwright, and Josh Johnson more than the room…. And apparently I’m the founder of the Cory Luebke Fan Club. I love me some Luebke! I guess that needs to be my next article.

Also surprising me, I thought I would like Darvish more than everybody, but I actually have him third lowest of the group. However something tells me in a draft I would pull the trigger before both you guys. Yeah, that’s me calling you out Nick and Brad…

Will
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Will

Thanks for providing the link to the Fielder affect on Fister….that makes a lot of sense.  Cheers!

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
Hi guys, I’ll be updating my starting pitcher ranks by the weekend (hopefully).  I’ve ranked Verlander too low, and that was silly.  I do like him less than others, but my preliminary rankings (which these were) didn’t properly account for win potential and volume.  I made up most of my initial pitcher rankings with an eye at rate stats (i.e. BB/9, K/9) without as much concern for the number of innings a guy would throw (hence my man crush on Greinke… who I like a lot, but not more than Verlander when I factor in the difference in innings pitched).… Read more »
Jerry
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Jerry

Specifically on Daniel’s man crush for Halladay, how can you say he will have no decline in the next 3-5 years? He would be 38-40 years old during those seasons. I expect to see a slight decline this season when he will be 35 for most of it. Also, since when is Philly considered a pitcher friendly park? It certainly doesn’t compare with Detroit or LA. Having said these things, I still think Halladay will be a great pitcher this season, though I would rank him third behind Kershaw and Verlander.

Jerry
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Jerry

Wow! that Grienke rating is high in my opinion. I think he should come in at around #16, and I could see him being ranked lower than that. I think wins for Grienke is always a questionable category and while he’s always at least pretty good in ERA and Whip, he does tend to fluctuate from very good to just pretty good from year to year. I think to rank Grienke #8 you would need his best output with a 16+ win season. I don’t think he’s reliable enough to count on that.

Will H.
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Will H.

As a Nats fan, interested in one of the earlier divergences between you guys on Stras. Is it innings-cap, injury risk, or talent that informed the difference.

As for the other Nat, I think the majority needs to reconsider not having him top-30, but hey, more for me if that is what becomes the conventional wisdom!

Daniel
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Daniel
He will be 37-39 in the next 3-5 years. do the math. 2012=next year, 2013 equals 2 years from now (aka 36 years old) and so on. anyway, I understand you’re reasoning on that. It does seem a little scary to bet on someone like him to stay as good as he is in his later 30s, but, he’s roy halladay. As of today, if you’re going to give someone a 5 year contract, go with kershaw or verlander, and that’s fine. Still, until we see a decline instead of IMPROVEMENT from halladay, there’s no reason not to rank him… Read more »
Bobbo
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Bobbo

@Jeffrey Gross: You seem to have Anibal Sanchez ranked higher than most.  Care to walk through the rationale?  Thanks!

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Sure. A look at Sanchez’s overall numbers indicates elite potential. +9 K/9, sub-3 BB/9, 63+% First pitch strikes, and a robust swing and miss rate. Sanchez’s chase rate has spiked and remained high the last two years. His slider percentage is a little high and worrisome for a guy with an injury history, but , but he’s got a good multi-pitch mix that minimizes “L/R split” issues (3.08 xFIP vrsus LHB, 3.43 xFIP vs RHB). Although Sanchez had a rough Aug/Sept, he really bounced back in Sept. Overall, his xFIP by month: 3.34, 3.24, 2.73, 3.27, 3.75, 3.24. I expect… Read more »
Bobbo
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Bobbo

Thanks a lot, it really does help!  I like being able to rationalize my choices and talking with someone who knows and understands the numbers behind the scenes is awesome.  Like I said earlier, I’m in an interesting situation where I get to keep 3 SP’s and have Felix, Gallardo, Hanson, Matt Moore, and Anibal Sanchez to choose from.  I’ve been trying to work the trade market, but assuming no moves what do you see as the best mix of starters from that group for a long-term keeper roto (we keep 3SP each year, no limit or cap).

Jeffrey Gross
Guest
Jeffrey Gross
Bobbo, I’d keep Felix, Moore and Sanchez. Gallardo’s a close 4th, and the departure of Fielder/Bentacout and lack of Braun for 50 days should improve the defense behind him (albeit limiting wins upside). FWIW, here is my most up to date top 75, still subject to plenty of tinkering before I release my analysis articles: Rank   Player Name 1   Roy Halladay 2   Clayton Kershaw 3   Justin Verlander 4   Tim Lincecum 5   Cliff Lee 6   Felix Hernandez 7   CC Sabathia 8   Zack Greinke 9   Jered Weaver 10   Cole Hamels 11… Read more »
Will
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Will
I’m still wondering why Doug Fister isn’t on anyone’s top 25. His 2011 WAR (5.6) was the same as Jared Weaver’s & higher than Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain, & James Shields.  His K/9 for the year wasn’t so hot (6.07), but it improved in the last third of the season after being traded.  His Walk Rate was top-5 (1.54 BB/9), and his ERA was top-10 (2.83) for the year.  That might have been driven by his ridiculously low and typically quirky HR/FB% (5.1%), but even when that’s corrected for in xFIP (3.61), he’s still #30 for the entire 2011.  AND,… Read more »
Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder

Will: to the point in your fourth paragraph… yes. http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/the-fielder-affect-on-fister-porcello/ An excellent look by Mike Axisa. I love him before the Fielder signing but have really tempered my expectations a whole lot. His regressed ERA (xFIP) is 3.61—meh, I’d say—his strikeout rate may not even stay above 6 (which is pretty pathetic) and his WHIP might end up in very respectable territory but will no way be 1.06 next year (with more balls falling into play). As an endgame pick, I like Fister. But he’s not a top 25 starter.

Daniel
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Daniel
@Ben from waaaay back near the beginning about Halladay-Verlander-Kershaw. Halladay is 34, not 36 (turns 35 in May). Still, I understand your reasoning. I just think it’s crazy that he is still getting better, and as you say the HR/FB might be a little lucky, theres no reason to believe it’ll double back to normal in 2012. He is in a great pitchers’  park, but so are verlander and kershaw. I’d say it depends on the contract and the league on who you draft. still, as far as today and the next several years go, there is just no way… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
Daniel
Derek holland at 75…Behind chris volstad, bartolo colon, chad billingsley, tim stauffer, carlos zambrano, bedard, oswalt, cueto, mccarthy, danks, lilly, folyd, vogelsong,norris, morrow, nolasco, dempster, kuroda, burnett, lewis, chacin, garcia, hellickson, ogando, hanson, baker, jimenez and beachy, Don’t you find that a bit strange. This guy was the best pitcher on his team in the second half of ‘11, without any apparently significant source of luck; in fact his fastball’s velocity went up. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be in that form in 2012. This guy was a huge prospect that people outside of texas seemed to forget… Read more »
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