Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitcher Rankings – Points

Clayton Kershaw

After taking a detailed look at the hitting market, it is time to turn our attentions to pitchers with the starting pitcher rankings for 2015 points leagues. Now, ranking pitchers for points leagues is more difficult than roto, for me, because wins and losses play a massive part in points leagues compared to roto. In many leagues, wins are worth between five and 10 points (I’s used 7.5 here to try and account for that) and losses can be nothing or they can be -5 or more. Therefore, I am not going to go into as much detail about why I ranked one guy here and one guy there. What I will do instead is highlight why I feel there is a new tier starting and particular guys I feel could outperform their position.

The pitching projections to make these rankings are a hybrid of steamer and rotochamps combined with my own tweaks as I simply haven’t had the time to do both hitters and pitchers in my first season doing projections! Next season I will complete the set, but I didn’t want to rush pitching projections and screw them up and give bad advice but I also didn’t want to just rip off someone else’s rankings (hence the hybrid).

Each position will not only be ranked, but will be split into tiers as if I was drafting tomorrow. If you haven’t used tiers before it is a very helpful way of looking at how talent pools at that position and whether it is worth drafting a player right at the spot you are considering him. My general rule of thumb is I don’t want to take the first guy from a tier, if I can avoid it (unless there is only one guy in said tier!).

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The Untouchable

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

I’d love to be detailed and descriptive here but he is just the best across the board. And whilst others come close in areas, they don’t have the whole package like he does.

The Elite

  1. Max Scherzer, WSH
  2. Chris Sale, CWS
  3. David Price, BOS
  4. Madison Bumgarner, SF
  5. Jake Arrieta, ChC
  6. Corey Kluber, CLE
  7. Jacob deGrom, NYM
  8. Zack Grienke, ARI

A very good group that are all fantasy aces and are fairly safely in that region. Perhaps my biggest concern is deGrom, as I am worried about the injuries that two or three other young Mets pitchers have had the last two years.

The Potential Bridge

  1. Jose Fernandez, MIA

I would not be at all surprised if I had Fernandez ranked in his own tier at number two next year. He is the closest to Kershaw in terms of ratios that you will get. However, he is still young and had an injury hit 2015, which is enough to concern me about a potential innings limit in 2016 capping his value.

The Fantasy Aces

  1. Felix Hernandez, SEA
  2. Gerrit Cole, PIT
  3. Matt Harvey, NYM
  4. Carlos Carrasco, CLE
  5. Stephen Strasburg, WSH
  6. Noah Syndergaard, NYM
  7. Chris Archer, TB
  8. Cole Hamels, TEX
  9. Dallas Keuchel, HOU
  10. Jon Lester, ChC
  11. Sonny Gray, OAK
  12. Johnny Cueto, SF

This tier is a massive group of pitchers which I would be happy for any of them to be my number one. However, I feel you need to have at least two of these guys if you are going to stand a chance of competing this year. They don’t enter the season at quite the studly level of the top ten, but I could easily see a few of them elevating themselves. Carrasco had all indicators pointing up from last year and I think he can continue to grow this year. Strasburg had a rough time in parts of 2015 but he is an extremely talented young pitcher who could end the season a top five option, or, could also struggle to make the top 20 if he has another tough year. Syndergaard is a really exciting young pitcher but there was a lot of usage on that young arm so the injury question mark is enough to keep him outside the top 15. Keuchel had a tremendous season last year but his numbers scream regression. However, I can’t see him falling off a cliff either. Cueto snuck in here when he signed for San Francisco. Pitching in that ball park in the NL is a tremendous advantage and one I think boosts him into being an ace come years’ end.

The Number Two’s

Can Salazar build ona  great 2015 and join his fellow Indians in the top 20 this year?

Can Salazar build ona great 2015 and join his fellow Indians in the top 20 this year?

  1. Jordan Zimmermann, WSH
  2. Garrett Richards, LAA
  3. Danny Salazar, CLE
  4. Michael Wacha, StL

These guys differentiate from the guys above because I can see any individual player in the tier above ending the season top 8-12, but I think this is beyond this group. Salazar is perhaps my favourite in this group to end up top 15, but I also can see him struggling to make top 25 as well if things don’t go his way.

The Intrigue Group

  1. Tyson Ross, SD
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Lance McCullers, HOU
  4. Adam Wainwright, StL
  5. Marcus Stroman, TOR
  6. Francisco Liriano, PIT
  7. Taijuan Walker, SEA

I like the upside of all of this group but they also have issues that come with drafting them separating themselves from the tier above. Darvish has ace-like potential on a points per innings pitched basis, but you can’t draft him that high if he isn’t going to throw 150-plus innings. Stroman showed his class in the playoffs last year but he had a tough injury last season and he has the pressure of being the Toronto ace this year.

The Upside Group

  1. Raisel Iglesias, CIN
  2. Masahiro Tanaka, NYY
  3. Michael Pineda, NYY
  4. Mike Fiers, HOU

I love the potential of all of these guys to be top 20 if they put their stuff together, but equally they all have concerns. Tanaka and Pineda have big injury concerns and play in a tough division. Fiers and Iglesias have control concerns which limit my ability to rank them higher.

The Solid Number Four’s

Can Verlander recover some of his past glories in 2016?

Can Verlander recover some of his past glories in 2016?

  1. Shelby Miller, ARI
  2. Jose Quintana, CWS
  3. Colin McHugh, HOU
  4. Jeff Samardzija, SF
  5. Justin Verlander, DET

A couple of big names in this group but I don’t think they have the top 20 upside of the group above. Miller is another prime regression candidate moving to a tough ball park. Verlander isn’t going to recapture old glories on a consistent enough basis.

The Interesting Number Four’s

  1. Patrick Corbin, ARI
  2. Jake Odorizzi, TB
  3. Gio Gonzalez, WSH
  4. Ian Kennedy, KC
  5. John Lackey, ChC
  6. James Shields, SD
  7. Drew Smyly, TB

I think there is a good ceiling on these guys but I think there is a bigger floor than the solid group above. Corbin and Gio really stand out to me here. Gio is a former top 20 pitcher and Corbin was really good in limited time last season but Corbin pitches in Arizona and Gio has had a couple of down years. Kennedy should get a massive boost from signing in KC and I think you will get him at a bargain on draft day.

The Excitingly Scary Group

  1. Steven Matz, NYM
  2. Carlos Rodon, CWS
  3. Kenta Maeda, LAD
  4. Yordano Ventura, KC
  5. Carlos Martinez, StL
  6. Julio Teheran, ATL

I love a lot of names in this group but they all scare the crap out of me. Matz was impressive but struggled with injuries last year. Rodon, Ventura and Martinez are young and extremely talented but are prone to bad days. Maeda is a total wildcard that could start out hot in a league that’s never seen him before or he could struggle to make the step up. Teheran is the prime example of why there is caution around this group after failing to live up to early career glories.

The Unexciting but Solid Group

  1. Kyle Hendricks, ChC
  2. Jason Hammel, ChC
  3. Scott Kazmir, LAD
  4. Jimmy Nelson, MIL
  5. Andrew Heaney, LAA
  6. Wei-Yin Chen, MIA
  7. Anthony DeSclefani, CIN
  8. Jaime Garcia, StL

This group just doesn’t get my juices flowing like the guys above but they are all solid serviceable starters to fill out the back end of your rotation.

The “I Like It” Group

Can Gausman break into our fantasy hearts in 2016?

Can Gausman break into our fantasy hearts in 2016?

  1. Trevor Bauer, CLE
  2. Kevin Gausman, BAL
  3. Kris Medlen, KC
  4. Luis Severino, NYY

All talented pitchers but all four have concerns over consistency, innings limits or both. As a number six starter, though I love these guys as a gamble upside play.

A Big Group of Meh

  1. Marco Estrada, TOR
  2. Mike Leake, CIN
  3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD
  4. Anibal Sanchez, DET
  5. Edinson Volquez, KC
  6. Wade Miley, SEA
  7. Phil Hughes, MIN
  8. Chris Tillman, BAL
  9. Clay Buchholz, BOS
  10. A. Dickey, TOR
  11. Kyle Gibson, MIN
  12. Danny Duffy, KC
  13. A. Happ, TOR
  14. Jake Peavy, SF
  15. Andrew Cashner, SD
  16. Taylor Jungman, MIL
  17. Brett Anderson, LAD

The title says it all. No one thrills you but no one strikes fear into you either. If you need back of the rotation innings, then this is your group. Ryu is the biggest risk here as he could easily find himself in the bullpen at some point in the season in LA’s stacked pitching unit.

The “What If “Group

Can Hill build on the fantastic end to 2015 or will the injury bug strike again?

Can Hill build on the fantastic end to 2015 or will the injury bug strike again?

  1. Rich Hill, OAK
  2. Alex Wood, LAD
  3. Alex Cobb, TB
  4. Zack Wheeler, NYM
  5. Mat Latos, FA
  6. Tyler Glasnow, PIT
  7. Dylan Bundy, BAL
  8. Hector Santiago, LAA
  9. Kendall Graveman, OAK
  10. Archie Bradley, ARI
  11. Chris Heston, SF
  12. Daniel Norris, DET
  13. Matt Shoemaker, LAA
  14. Aaron Nola, PHI

I love the potential of this group when you weigh it out against the cost. Rich Hill at the top is the perfect example; he was lights out last year but his injury concerns limit his projections to 75-ish innings this year. Wood is slated to start the year in the bullpen, but if he fights out could be top 40 if he captures former glory. Cobb and Wheeler are coming off injuries and will be good PPIP guys but may struggle to be much more than 120 IP’s. Latos had the most stunning decline of any pitcher I have seen given his age and the way he pitched in 2014. I hope he signs on somewhere because I think he is better than what we saw last year. Glasnow, Bundy, Bradley, Norris and Nola have all been highly touted and a couple will shine this year and a couple will struggle but are well worth the ride. Santiago, Graveman, Heson and Shoemaker have all shown flashes but have concerns enough to pin them right down here.

The “I Need to Rank Two More” Tier

  1. Joe Ross, WSH
  2. Ubaldo Jimenez

These are the best of the rest. I think I am low on Ross but hey this is just what the projections played out when I did my rankings.


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