Blog Archives

Positional Rankings: Starting Pitcher

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Yu Darvish*
  3. Adam Wainwright
  4. Stephen Strasburg
  5. Justin Verlander
  6. Max Scherzer
  7. Felix Hernandez
  8. Madison Bumgarner
  9. Cliff Lee
  10. Jose Fernandez
  11. Chris Sale
  12. Matt Cain
  13. David Price
  14. Zack Greinke
  15. Gerrit Cole – Cole’s full season numbers may be a bit deceiving. Down the stretch he began to use his elite curveball a lot more (explained in full here), which led to 9.2 K/9 over his last nine starts. Already has really good control, two 95+ mph fastballs and three very good secondary offerings. He threw 185.1 innings last year, so there is really no reason to think he will be on any sort of strict innings cap this year. Cole’s probability of breaking out this year seems fairly high.
  16. Jordan Zimmermann
  17. Mat Latos
  18. Gio Gonzalez
  19. Danny Salazar – Had a 11.25 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 2013. His SwStr% (14.6%) would have been the best in all of baseball by 2% over Yu Darvish if he had pitched enough innings to qualify and his F-Strike% and O-Swing% would have ranked 4th and 3rd, respectively. The point is that Salazar was unreal and his peripherals suggest it was not the least bit flukey. Add in the average fastball velocity of 95.9 which would have led all of baseball if qualified and his above average SwStr% on three different pitches and there is little not to love about his profile. Salazar threw a total of 145 innings last year, so an innings cap seems likely this year. Even with expected regression and a 178 inning projection, he grades out as a top-20 pitcher for me.
  20. Masahiro Tanaka
  21. Sonny Gray – 2.92 xFIP suggests that Gray wasn’t lucky in 2013, but can he continue to pitch at that level going forward? His 9.5% SwStr% indicates that his strikeout rate is probably not sustainable, but batters only swung at 39.9% of Gray’s pitches last season, so he was probably getting a lot of called third strikes. Gray’s curveball is elite, generating 14.1% whiffs and a really low 38.7% swing rate on pitches inside the strike zone. His ability to freeze hitters with his big breaking ball and the fact that he threw it around 45% of the time with two strikes last season should allow Gray to continue to outperform his SwStr%. Regression is probable, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a top-25 starter.
  22. Julio Teheran
  23. Alex Cobb – Fluky injury prevented Cobb from truly breaking out in 2013. Plenty to like here: 56% GB rate, K/9 spike accompanied by SwStr% spike, good control, fantastic change up and a 3.02 xFIP last season.
  24. Doug Fister
  25. Michael Wacha
  26. Homer Baily
  27. James Shields
  28. Anibal Sanchez
  29. Cole Hamels*
  30. Hisashi Iwakuma*
  31. Jered Weaver – Sub-87 mph fastball a worry, but extreme fly ball tendencies and very good control should keep WHIP low.
  32. Johnny Cueto
  33. Andrew Cashner – Low K/9 in 2013 is misleading. Cashner started throwing his knuckle slider again during the middle of the season and his K% jumped from 16.2% in the first half to 20.8% in the second half. With much improved control and a high ground ball rate, Cashner could be ready to take that next step forward.
  34. Shelby Miller
  35. Hiroki Kuroda
  36. Francisco Liriano
  37. Tony Cingrani – Threw his fastball 81% of the time last year, so there are worries about predictability.
  38. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  39. Jeff Samardzija
  40. Mike Minor*
  41. A.J. Burnett
  42. CC Sabathia
  43. Lance Lynn
  44. Matt Garza
  45. Marco Estrada
  46. Ian Kennedy
  47. Matt Moore – Control issues. Really low F-Strike% and pedestrian O-Swing%, so gains here shouldn’t be expected. Velocity also down 1.8 mph and SwStr% dipped 2.3% from 2012 marks. Moore has plenty of talent, but there is no reason to pay for a breakout year that doesn’t appear to be coming.
  48. Corey Kluber
  49. R.A. Dickey
  50. Justin Masterson
  51. C.J. Wilson
  52. Jon Lester
  53. Alex Wood
  54. Tim Lincecum
  55. Jake Peavy
  56. Clay Buchholz
  57. Ivan Nova
  58. Drew Smyly
  59. Dan Straily
  60. Scott Kazmir
  61. Yordano Ventura
  62. Ervin Santana
  63. John Lackey
  64. Tyler Skaggs
  65. Chris Archer
  66. Zack Wheeler
  67. Dan Haren – Control is still elite and still has stuff to get swings and misses, but GB rate is declining and Haren has always had trouble with his HR/FB rate, which has gotten worse recently.
  68. Rick Porcello
  69. Tyson Ross
  70. Bartolo Colon
  71. Yovani Gallardo
  72. Ubaldo Jimenez
  73. Tim Hudson
  74. Taijuan Walker
  75. Wade Miley
  76. Kevin Gausman
  77. A.J. Griffin
  78. Jose Quintana
  79. Kyle Lohse
  80. Travis Wood
  81. Dillon Gee
  82. Ricky Nolasco
  83. Josh Johnson
  84. Archie Bradley
  85. Wei-Yin Chen
  86. Trevor Cahill
  87. James Paxton
  88. Jon Niese
  89. Jhoulys Chacin
  90. Brandon Morrow
  91. Edwin Jackson
  92. Mike Leake
  93. Jenrry Meija
  94. Martin Perez
  95. Hector Santiago
  96. Miguel Gonzalez
  97. Henderson Alvarez
  98. Jason Vargas
  99. Marcus Stroman
  100. Phil Hughes