Roto SP Rankings – Fantasy Baseball

Clayton Kershaw sits atop of the Dirty Dozen this week. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It is a really weird year for SP rankings because after 20 or so guys it just becomes very messy. There are a big group of guys who are very similar in what they can offer you and then suddenly it drops off into question marks and un-interesting options. I am trying to grab to grab three from the top 20 if I can without investing too heavily. The depth of the four infield positions allows you to go after pitching a little earlier in 2017 than you normally would.

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C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

The Monster

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

Yes he got derailed by injuries last year but for a guy who has been this healthy and that much better than everyone else even downgrading him for injury risk would still make him the consensus number one.

The Elite

  1. Max Scherzer, WSH
  2. Madison Bumgarner, SF

If anyone is going to challenge Kershaw it is these two. Both pitch in good parks and both can dominate any hitter they face on any given day.

The Really Good

  1. Chris Sale, BOS
  2. Jake Arrieta, CWS
  3. Corey Kluber, CLE

All of these guys have the talent to be in the tier above but they all have a question mark. Sale has to adjust to Boston which Price struggled with last year. Arrieta doesn’t quite project for 200 innings and for him to have a shot at #1 he would need 200+. Kluber is just a frustratingly inconsistent at times and the very best just aren’t .

Solid Number Ones

  1. Noah Syndergaard, NYM
  2. Johnny Cueto, SF
  3. Jon Lester, CHC
  4. David Price, BOS
  5. Justin Verlander, DET

I have no qualms with any of these guys being my number one starter. All have shown the talent and should throw enough innings to make them a stud. The only guy who almost definitely won’t strike 200 out is Cueto but his ratios will be good enough for me to be happy with him here.

The Would You Be Surprised If………. Group

  1. Stephen Strasburg, WSH
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Carlos Carrasco, CLE

Seriously would it shock you if any of these three were top five pitchers this year? Equally it wouldn’t shock me if they only pitched 100 innings and spent the rest of the year on the DL. That’s the beauty of these three guys you just don’t know if you’re getting lights out of lights off.

Cubs Kyle Hendricks

Jerry Lai – USA TODAY Sports

The Number Twos

  1. Kyle Hendricks, CHC
  2. Zack Greinke, ARI
  3. Jacob deGrom, NYM
  4. Masahiro Tanaka, NYY
  5. Chris Archer, TB
  6. Cole Hamels, TEX
  7. Felix Hernandez, SEA

These six guys are the final six no brainers before the positions starts to descend into a bubbling mud pool of confusion. All have little inconsistencies, park factors, age or injury issues that stop them being a number one but it wouldn’t upset me if I had two of these guys anchoring my rotation.

The Intriguing but Hugely Talented

  1. Gerrit Cole, PIT

I have a fraction more worry about Cole than I do Strasburg, Darvish and Carrasco and that is why he sunk down here. I am still insanely high on him but man was he really bad last year and maybe I am a little burnt on him. I could see a reality where he is top 10 this year but unlike those other guys top 5 is too big a leap of faith.

The Maybes

  1. Dallas Keuchel, HOU
  2. Jose Quintana, CWS
  3. Rich Hill, LAD
  4. Kenta Maeda, LAD
  5. Rick Porcello, BOS

All have their floors but all should be solid contributors. Keuchel and Quintana can put up great ratios but the strikeouts won’t quite be there and oh Quintana could legitimately win just five games this year with that line-up. Hill is so good that ona  per game he could be top 5 but asking for a full season is tough and means you’re looking for higher end pitchers earlier later in the draft just in case he breaks down. Can Maeda and Porcello repeat their really good years? Was Maeda just a beneficiary of league who had never seen him before or is he a top 20 pitcher? Which Porcello are we getting because one is really good and one is really scary?

The Young Maybes

  1. Carlos Martinez, STL
  2. Michael Fulmer, DET
  3. Lance McCullers, HOU
  4. Julio Teheran, ATL
  5. Jameson Taillon, PIT

All of these have number one upsides for me as they progress but they are all young and have shown inconsistencies. Martinez and Fulmer need to back up solid first full seasons. McCullers has all the talent in the world but can he pitch 200 innings and be a true ace? Teheran is up and down t the best of times and I am not quite sure what to think for Taillon who looks good but is equally as young as Fulmer and Martinez.

The Oh, But He’s So Safe Guy

  1. John Lackey. CHC

I mean he is so boring with so little upside that you will often find yourself forgetting him but if you’ve risked Strasburg, Cole or Hill (I’ve got all three in one league!!) then who better to take than Lackey who will give you solid number 3 production and just not make you tear your hair out.

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

The Intriguing Young Guys

  1. Aaron Sanchez, TOR
  2. Steven Matz, NYM
  3. Jon Gray, COL
  4. Julio Urias, LAD
  5. Tyler Glasnow, PIT
  6. Marcus Stroman, TOR
  7. Aaron Nola, PHI
  8. Danny Salazar, CLE
  9. Kevin Gausman, BAL
  10. Sean Manaea, OAK
  11. Matt Harvey, NYM
  12. Carlos Rodon, CWS

This is a tier with a lot of upside but also a lot of risks and that’s going to make picking your guy tough. Sanchez had a wonderful 2016 and has a lot of talent but there if he is going to start all year there is going to be a huge innings jump and that has me scared for his late season performance. Matz has been lights out when healthy but that hasn’t been consistent enough to be more bullish on him than a low end #3 option even though he has much higher potential. Gray is a great pitcher and could easily be a #2 this year but he pitches half his games in Colorado and that means you could have the odd really bad outing. Urias is a young guy who will struggle in some starts and be the awesome pitcher he can be in others. Glasnow is another young guy so expecting consistency is tough. Stroman has yo-yo’d a little for me and it’s the fact he pitches in Toronto and doesn’t strike enough guys out that has me worried. I really like Nola because he is a talented kid who cans strike people out but there is always the young guy risk combined with some injury concerns.

Trusting Danny Salazar is really tough and we discussed our feelings on him in our most recent podcast when we previewed the AL central (you can find the link at the top of this page). Gausman is now officially in post-hype sleeper discussion and anyone pitching in Baltimore concerns me for those bad outings they can occasionally have. Manaea is a young guy with talent who pitches in Oakland so I like the factors but I do have regression concerns.

Matt Harvey is perhaps the most debated pitcher right now because some people are thinking we could see the old Harvey and some think he’s done. I think we are going to see flashes of the old guy but the consistency scares me and if he has a few good starts I wouldn’t put it past the Mets to flip him given the pitching they have in their set-up. Rodon is another young guy with all the talent in the world but a massive walks problem. He has shown he can be effective and that’s why he sneaks into this tier.

The Good But Not Thrilling Tier

  1. Jake Odorizzi, TB
  2. James Paxton, SEA
  3. Danny Duffy, KC
  4. Jerad Eickhoff, PHI
  5. Garrett Richards, LAA
  6. Sonny Gray, OAK
  7. Michael Pineda, NYY
  8. Ervin Santana, MIN
  9. Collin McHugh, HOU
  10. Ian Kennedy, KC

There isn’t a name here who I will be excited to draft but that doesn’t mean it is a bad tier. Odorizzi Paxton and Duffy are the main upside of the tier. Richards and Gray have a shot to be 80-90% of the old them but there also risk they aren’t going to be 75% of those guys. Pineda is exciting in a could be really good kind of way but we have all be burned too much by him to be more bullish than a low end #4/high end #5. I am quite high on Eickhoff because I think he can just be a useful guy with decent ratios but the innings concern me. Santana, McHugh and Kennedy are all guys I think are being under drafted and are guys I am willing to mop up after this tier has gone elsewhere.

The Oldies

  1. Jeff Samardzija, SF
  2. Adam Wainwright, STL

I like that both of these guys make you feel reasonably safe in the way that they may not be great but they also aren’t going to stink and if I’ve taken risks earlier in the draft I could be tempted to go down the route of either of these guys later in drafts.

The Exciting But Dangerous

  1. Jharel Cotton, OAK
  2. Vince Velasquez, PHI
  3. Blake Snell, TB

I am not fully bought in on Cotton but pitching in Oakland he has every chance to change that. Velasquez has a ton of upside and excitement but there is concern about health and control for me that keep him down here. Snell is another guy with serious control problems throughout his career and you just don’t know start to start what you are getting but as a 5th starter I am happy to take that gamble.

Shoemaker

Ronald Martinez – Getty Images

 

The Boring 6th Starters

  1. Matt Shoemaker, LAA
  2. Marco Estrada, TOR
  3. Joe Ross, WSH
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA
  5. Drew Smyly, SEA
  6. J.A. Happ, TOR
  7. Gio Gonzalez, WSH
  8. Jason Hammel, KC
  9. Jordan Zimmermann, DET
  10. Tanner Roark, WSH

There’s nothing in this tier that fills me with excitement but as a 6th starter they don’t fill me with a huge amount of fear either so this is a nice tier to dip into if you’ve taken some risks early. If you feel you have a fairly safe 1-5 but the upside is limited then I would steer clear of this tier and gamble on some of the upside guys below.  Smyly would be my ‘upside’ pitcher but the injury risk is a pain and Happ is probably the option which scares me the most in Toronto but if he really has figured it out then he could be more than useful.

The ‘Who Knows?’ Tier

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS
  2. Robbie Ray, AZ
  3. Trevor Bauer, CLE
  4. Michael Wacha, STL

Rodriguez can strike guys out but he also has had problems with walks in his career and his ERA last season was ugly. Hopefully he gets the chance to be the #4 or 5 in Boston all season and we can see what he truly has. Bauer is perhaps one of the most interesting guys to own because one start he will make hitters look daft and then the next he will make you look daft for ever owning him. Wacha fell apart last year but as long as the Cardinals don’t try and stick him in the bullpen I think he can have a nice bounce back and be a decent option as a back of the rotation type guy,

The If I Really Have Too Tier

  1. Mike Fiers, HOU
  2. Anthony DeSclafani, CIN
  3. Taijuan Walker, ARI
  4. Drew Pomeranz, BOS
  5. Francisco Liriano, TOR
  6. Zach Davies, MIL
  7. Jeremy Hellickson, PHI
  8. Wei-Yin Chen, MIA
  9. Chris Tillman, BAL
  10. Bartolo Colon, ATL
  11. Alex Wood, LAD
  12. Hector Santiago, LAA
  13. Tyler Anderson, COL
  14. Kendall Graveman, OAK
  15. Mike Leake, STL
  16. Matt Andriese, TB
  17. Edinson Volquez, MIA

There is no one in this tier that makes me excited to own them but I also won’t be horrified if I end up with them. These guys should hopefully give you 150+ innings and not kill your stats and that is worth something at the back of the rotation.

Shooting For Something, But I’m Not Sure What

  1. Ty Blach, SF
  2. Tyson Ross, TEX
  3. Dylan Bundy, BAL
  4. James Shields, CWS
  5. Shelby Miller, ARI
  6. R.A. Dickey, TOR
  7. Josh Tomlin, CLE
  8. Jaime Garcia, ATL
  9. Tyler Skaggs, LAA
  10. Matt Moore, SF
  11. Lance Lynn, STL

This is a group of guys who either have been really good at some point in their recent past or were predicted to do decent things. If you are taking people here you are looking for someone to reach some upside and give you a back of the rotation boost.

4 Comments

  1. Buzzard

    February 20, 2017 at 7:41 am

    This is a pretty wretched bunch of rankings. No Kyle Hendricks. And King Felix in the top 20. Is this writer paying attention? Do some homework and start over.

    • Ben Rolfe

      February 21, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Kyle Hendrick was missed when I transferred from my spreadsheet to the site. It was an honest mistake and was corrected as soon as it was brought to my attention.

      As for King Felix we are talking about one of the best and most consistent pitchers over the last 10 years. He has had a couple of tough years but he is still talented and pitches in a great ball park. This is a group full of question marks so I would rather take my chance on someone I know.

  2. dude

    February 20, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Robbie Ray doesn’t make top 100? Thought he might be someone in either of these groups; The Intriguing Young Guys or The Exciting But Dangerous.

    • Ben Rolfe

      February 21, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks for this. I initially didnt rank Robbie Ray but after we discussed him on the podcast this week I was going to put him in and ran out of time before the article posted. He has slotted in the who knows tier because I am not that high on him but I think he could be useful

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