Top 52 Starting Pitchers v2.0

Back in early November I posted my top 60 pitchers which accounted for tiers 1 and 2 of my rankings. I hadn’t really chewed on the season yet so it was never going to be final product, but now looking back is almost laughable. For starters, I foolishly forgot that Jordan Zimmerman had been injured and is slated to miss all of or at least most of the 2010 campaign making his 54th ranking a bit odd. I’m also a bit unhappy with the inclusions of Gil Meche (57) and Joba Chamberlain (59) as I feel they really stick out as not belonging.

As I knew I would, the list has been overhauled completely. I didn’t just rework the November list, I started from scratch. The new product shows eight fewer pitchers in my top two tiers and some new faces meaning even more than eight have departed from the first iteration. I haven’t put the pitchers in any order except to identify tiers 1 and 2. That doesn’t mean that all 15 in tier 1 are 100% interchangeable, just that I find them the most ace-worthy arms. The idea is that there is almost no risk (at least no overt risk, there is always a risk with pitchers) with this group anchoring your staff for 2010. Tier 2ers have at least one standing question about them that could roadblock them from an elite season whether it’s simply the uncertainty of youth, the fear of recurring injury from 2009 or just a skills hurdle (control, gopheritis, etc…) to believe they can be true aces. Tier 2 is a mix of high skills and moderate risk with some above average skill/low risk guys in for good measure.

Again, I’ve opted to just list the two tiers without ranking each because the point isn’t to debate whether Zack Greinke should be above Felix Hernandez or not. That’s largely irrelevant in the grand scheme because their value in 2010 will be too similar to be concerned about whether they’re list 4th or 5th.

Tier 1
1. Dan Haren, ARI Diamondbacks
2. Josh Beckett, BOS Red Sox
3. Jake Peavy, CHI White Sox
4. Justin Verlander, DET Tigers
5. Josh Johnson, FLO Marlins
6. Wandy Rodriguez, HOU Astros
7. Zack Greinke, KC Royals
8. Johan Santana, NY Mets
9. C.C. Sabathia, NY Yankees
10. Roy Halladay, PHI Phillies
11. Cole Hamels, PHI Phillies
12. Felix Hernandez, SEA Mariners
13. Cliff Lee, SEA Mariners
14. Tim Lincecum, SF Giants
15. Adam Wainwright, STL Cardinals

Tier 2
16. Edwin Jackson, ARI Diamondbacks
17. Brandon Webb, ARI Diamondbacks
18. Tommy Hanson, ATL Braves
19. Jair Jurrjens, ATL Braves
20. John Lackey, BOS Red Sox
21. Jon Lester, BOS Red Sox
22. Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS Red Sox
23. Ryan Dempster, CHI Cubs
24. Ted Lilly, CHI Cubs
25. Carlos Zambrano, CHI Cubs
26. John Danks, CHI White Sox
27. Gavin Floyd, CHI White Sox
28. Johnny Cueto, CIN Reds
29. Aaron Harang, CIN Reds
30. Jorge de la Rosa, COL Rockies
31. Ubaldo Jimenez, COL Rockies
32. Max Scherzer, DET Tigers
33. Ricky Nolasco, FLO Marlins
34. Roy Oswalt, HOU Astros
35. Scott Kazmir, LA Angels
36. Jered Weaver, LA Angels
37. Chad Billingsley, LA Dodgers
38. Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers
39. Scott Baker, MIN Twins
40. Francisco Liriano, MIN Twins
41. Kevin Slowey, MIN Twins
42. Yovani Gallardo, MIL Brewers
43. A.J. Burnett, NY Yankees
44. Javier Vazquez, NY Yankees
45. Brett Anderson, OAK Athletics
46. Matt Cain, SF Giants
47. Chris Carpenter, STL Cardinals
48. Matt Garza, TB Rays
49. Jeff Niemann, TB Rays
50. David Price, TB Rays
51. James Shields, TB Rays
52. Rich Harden, TEX Rangers

There is an inherent risk with drafting starting pitchers, we’re all aware of that. That’s why Tier 1 is such a small class of bankable arms capable of 200 quality innings yielding exemplary ratios and a bundle of strikeouts. Tier 2 is also mindful of risk, but there are smart risks throughout the list. Brandon Webb is returning from a completely lost season, but signs point to a fully healthy return. Generally he is a Tier 1 pitcher, but given the lost season he gets bumped down. Francisco Liriano carried a 5.80 ERA last year making his appearance Tier 2 look out of place, but had FIP and xFIP number significantly lower (4.87 and 4.55, respectively) and struck out eight batters per nine innings (122 in 137 innings). Combine that with his dominant showing in the Dominican League this winter and I like his potential for 2010. The beauty of someone like Liriano and a handful of others in Tier 2 is that they will be had much cheaper.

I’ll release the remaining tiers soon. I’ve got 210 total arms and Tier 3 is the biggest so I’ll be releasing it by itself.

SP List v1.0

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4 Comments to “Top 52 Starting Pitchers v2.0”

  1. I would think Carpenter is worthy of First Tier status (until he breaks down again).

    And while I am here, why not go with a top tier of twelve, a middle tier of 24, then a “best of the rest”.

    That would give twelve team leagues a look at who you think would be an ace, a second list of players for SP2 and SP3 on their rosters, followed of course by candidates for the back end of their fantasy rotations.

  2. Thanks, Paul. I always look forward to your lists. Your analysis is in-depth and not always conventional. Keep it up. It’ll be interesting to see if Scherzer can fulfill his potential in Detroit. I’ll be happy if he can finish under 4.00 and throw 185 innings.

  3. Not sure why Wandy Rodriguez in in tier one. I would draft him in my top 25, let alone top 15. Solid pitcher with an above average year, but if we have learned one thing from young pitching, it is that they can be very inconsistant. Look at Chris Volstad from his rookie year to last. If I’m going with one young pitcher I would take Tommy Hanson over most.

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