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February 27, 2014

Dynasty League Positional Rankings

Top 175 Starting Pitchers

by Bret Sayre

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To read the previous articles in this series, follow the links below:

The Primer:
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETA’s down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.

Even with Matt Harvey’s elbow explosion, 2013 will go down as the year of the young pitcher breakouts. And that leads to a lot of new faces toward the top of this list. Of course, it’s not all wine and roses for all of these young players, as people are getting a little overexcited about some relatively small samples—but more on that later. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was were a number of “stable” and “low-risk” pitchers who took a tumble down this list in the last 12 months, which goes to show you that those words only mean so much when it comes to those who occupy the mound. In the prospect world, we have a few choice guys with front of the rotation upside, but many more of the strong number three starter variety. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as a many high-end dynasty rotations have been built using a Costco-sized group of number threes.

And now, your top 175 starting pitchers in dynasty formats

It may surprise some to see King Felix sandwiched in between the current aces and the future aces, but his consistency and track record speak for themselves. He has the whole package: the durability, the skills and the ballpark. We know what these other guys are. Fernandez and Strasburg could compete for Cy Young awards for years in the National League, but Fernandez gets the slight edge for both age and (fair or not) the injury association for Strasburg.

I love both of these guys. Wainwright has the skill set to continue his run of success well into his 30s and Cole has the stuff to be mentioned alongside Fernandez and Strasburg in short order.

More aces. Pitching is thick at the top in both redraft and dynasty leagues.

Here’s the thick no. 2 starter tier, before we get into the high-end prospects and major leaguers who either have too much risk or not enough upside to reach this point. Harvey would have been no. 5 on this list if he hadn’t gone under the knife, and even though I don’t think this changes his long-term value much, the lost year gives him a good hit. Consider me in the camp of people who aren’t losing sleep over Homer Bailey’s velocity—even if he gives a little of it back, he’s a better pitcher than he was three or four years ago. And also throw me in the camp of people who can’t figure out why more people don’t love Alex Cobb. Though with his skills, you probably knew I’d say that.

These are the three best fantasy pitching prospects in the game. Learn their names, for they will take you places.

These players are strong pitchers or prospects but don’t have enough to break into the tiers above. I’m still a pretty sizable believer in Jarrod Parker—he started off 2013 on a terrible foot, but had a 3.22 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his last 24 starts of the season. This is a reasonable spot to have Michael Wacha, who opened a lot of eyes in the playoffs last season, but is still pretty easily the third best option in his own rotation.

You want risk? This group has it in spades. Two Tommy John recoverees, a big-time starter with a big-time injury history, and the undefeated legend from Japan who will have to contend with both major-league hitters and the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

There’s not much of a wrong order you can put these 16 guys in. Danny Salazar has a lot of hype, but has a lot to prove both in performance sustainability and health. Martin Perez gets knocked for being a “failed” prospect, but his strikeout rate improved as 2013 went on and he’s adding a cutter this spring. R.A. Dickey may seem awfully high for a 38-year-old coming off a down year, but he’s due for a rebound and you can’t put knuckleballers into boxes (or if you do, at least cut holes in it).

So many names. Josh Johnson and Ian Kennedy will get some helium as the season draws closer, but both should be nice value bounce backs in San Diego. Niese will get knocked down substantially if there’s anything even slightly disturbing in his MRI. I still believe in Trevor Cahill, even though he keeps giving me more reasons not to. Porcello is a guy to watch, especially with Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler now presiding over the middle of the infield.

Just because we’ve all been unsuccessfully waiting for Anderson to fulfill his promise doesn’t mean that we should give up all hope. Coors Field be damned, he still has the skill to do this.

Don’t question my love of Edwin Jackson, you’ll only get hurt. Duffy has the raw stuff to be a top-50 player on this list, but he can’t harness it the way he needs to in games to throw real innings. Add Chacin to the growing list of pitchers with injury concerns. I’m not a big Tyson Ross believer, as is obvious by this ranking, and he’ll have to show it to me again this year before I change my mind. Watch out for Sean Manaea—when this list comes out again next year, he could be dangerously close to the major leagues if he’s as healthy as the Royals claim this spring.

This is such a hedge here. We don’t know what’s going on inside of Garcia’s shoulder, but it’s not a prairie filled with unicorns dancing under rainbows. If he needs surgery, he’s practically off the list. If he were perfectly healthy, with returning velocity, he’d be on the verge of the top 50.

This is a lot of names. Some of them pitch better than others. Some even throw with their left hands. Three names in this group to keep an eye on: Brandon Maurer, Casey Kelly, and Taylor Jordan. All three are young and have more upside than they’ve been able to show in their brief major-league careers.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

34 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

boatman44

Great column Bret,

my one reservation with your rankings (YES only one)would be your ranking of Erik Johnson.I would have had him in the Nate Eovaldi , A.J Griffin bracket , as I think he is a true mid rotation fantasy pitcher in the making.

Great job though.

Feb 27, 2014 05:41 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Thanks! I don't love the profile combined with the park--and I think his fantasy value (outside of deep leagues) suffers because of it. I think he's a better real life pitcher than fantasy one.

Feb 27, 2014 09:51 AM
 
JHicks22

Bret, Love the column. Did Jose Quintana not crack the Top 175?

Feb 27, 2014 06:25 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Nope. Not a believer that he'll stick as a starter long-term and in the short-term, he's just not all that valuable.

Feb 27, 2014 09:52 AM
 
Nojsztat

Hate to nitpick, because you do such great work, but that seems a bit low for Robert Stephenson. To me, he's not far behind the Bradley/Syndergaard level of prospect, and it seems odd to have him behind some of the older guys like Kuroda, who may only play for one more season.

Feb 27, 2014 06:49 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

On the contrary, I think the Stephenson ranking is very strong. He's ahead of other similar pitching prospects in Kyle Zimmer and Mark Appel and pitching prospects are risky. That's why none of them crack the top-28. And the extra year of development time puts him a good amount behind Walker/Bradley.

Feb 27, 2014 10:04 AM
 
Nojsztat

Fair points.

Feb 27, 2014 12:57 PM
rating: 0
 
sbmarik

It's easier to keep your eye on Casey Kelly when he's listed at both 149 and 156. (Great list of course, I'm devouring it in prep for my auction.)

Feb 27, 2014 07:19 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I have finally solved the Casey Kelly mystery. The second Casey Kelly should actually be Nick Kingham. Huzzah!

Feb 27, 2014 09:51 AM
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Fixed, thanks.

Feb 27, 2014 10:37 AM
 
organizedfamine

Thanks again for a great column, I love these dynasty rankings. I'm not quite as high on Parker as you are though. Looking at his last 24 starts appears to capture his two best months (low 2 ERA's in June and August). But the overall picture (3.95 ERA, 1.19 WHIP first half, 4.01 ERA, 1.27 WHIP second half) doesn't seem to show much improvement. He also doesn't have much upside in the strikeout category, his FIPs are meh (FIP, xFIP, SIERA all 4.40 or above) and he doesn't have the high groundball rates that make me think he'll outperform his FIP's longterm (although pitching in Oakland helps).

Feb 27, 2014 07:48 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Thanks! I think you're underselling Parker's potential in strikeouts. He has much better stuff than his K-rate would indicate. Fun fact about Parker--his changeup had the highest whiff rate among any starter who threw it more than 200 times. I think the strikeouts are coming.

Feb 27, 2014 09:56 AM
 
organizedfamine

Thanks for the insight Bret. I'll check the price on him in my dynasty league.

Feb 27, 2014 11:55 AM
rating: 0
 
organizedfamine

I did some more digging on Parker and his health history scared me away. His velocity was very inconsistent at the end of last year and he complained of forearm strains and elbow tightness.

Feb 28, 2014 19:15 PM
rating: 0
 
BERSMR

I understand that you reasonably decided to exclude players who haven't already been drafted. If eligible though, I would guess Rodon in the 50s or 60s and maybe a couple of the other likely 2014 1st round draftees towards the back end of this list. Thoughts?

Feb 27, 2014 08:31 AM
rating: 0
 
Nojsztat

I don't know of any dynasty league that includes amateurs. Why not just wait until next year when Rodon is a professional to worry about it?

Feb 27, 2014 08:41 AM
rating: 0
 
78ron14

ummmmmmm ours has since 1993...............

Feb 27, 2014 09:57 AM
rating: 2
 
ramtax

Someone in my dynasty league actually picked up Rodon last year. It's hard to stay ahead of the curve in this group.

Feb 27, 2014 13:40 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I actually play in two. I'd have Rodon in the top-50, right around Tanaka and Cashner, but he's got his work cut out for him to keep it there this spring.

Feb 27, 2014 09:58 AM
 
bobbygrace

Love the column, love the list. Verlander's ranking vis-a-vis Wainwright's is striking, though. What's written about Wainwright applies equally to the year-younger Verlander, don't you think?

Feb 27, 2014 08:56 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

It's a slight separation, but I believe Wainwright has the better skill set for a pitcher as he ages. Plus, Verlander's 2014 mild injury concerns factor in.

Feb 27, 2014 10:05 AM
 
laynef

Why no Smyly?

Feb 27, 2014 09:23 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

See next week. Smyly is ranked with the relievers for consistency across eligibility (he'd be between Sanchez and Crick at #100 on this list were that not the case).

Feb 27, 2014 10:02 AM
 
digiderek

Small correction: Scott Kazmir is now an Oakland Athletic.

Feb 27, 2014 09:58 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Fixed, thanks.

Feb 27, 2014 10:38 AM
 
huztlers

Cole is way too high, and I don't mean that in a nit-picky sense either. He is nowhere near elite. You can agree with me after the 2014 season. He has an entire career or teasing and regressing. Last year represented the tease and it wasn't elite by any measure other than ERA.

Feb 27, 2014 10:21 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Oh man, you really don't want to read Paul Sporer's 3-year ranking piece then..

Feb 27, 2014 10:32 AM
 
shakyhands

Entire career? He's had about 20 starts. He has 2 plus plus pitches, and 2 plus pitches. He strikes hitters out, doesn't walk a lot, keeps the ball on the ground, and plays behind a great defense in a good pitchers park.

I would want that guy.

Feb 28, 2014 07:03 AM
rating: 1
 
LetsGOakland

Hey Brett, love your work. Would u consider taking Alfaro over Jonathan Gray in my prospect draft tomorrow??

Feb 27, 2014 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Todd Stevens

Gray is a much safer pick IMO, and has an extremely high ceiling. I would recommend him.

Mar 02, 2014 09:02 AM
rating: 0
 
JakeDev

Is Carlos Martinez being listed as a reliever as well? Where would you rank both he and Smyly if they were listed as starters? Thanks Bret!

Feb 27, 2014 11:20 AM
rating: 0
 
grandslam28

Think you are very low on Medlen. Would rather have a guy that has posted some terrific numbers and is relatively still pretty young than some of the prospects you have above him.

Feb 27, 2014 11:31 AM
rating: 0
 
Todd Stevens

Scott Feldman has to be somewhere here, right? At least above Drew Hutchison, come on.

Mar 02, 2014 09:00 AM
rating: 0
 
smcfee

Peralta seemed a tier or two higher than I expected. Curious what Bret's thoughts are on him; does he project to be a solid mid-rotation? Chance at #2?

Mar 08, 2014 15:06 PM
rating: 0
 
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