Greetings all, and welcome to the first installment of The Numbers Game. “Boy, that title sounds about as exciting as it would be to draft Omar Infante in 2015.” Hey, quiet in the peanut gallery! Fantasy baseball is, as the title of this series makes blatantly obvious, all about the numbers. The idea behind these posts is to identify players who fit a specific set of search criteria using statistics accumulated over the past three seasons. The various criteria that I’ll be using will be established based on player comps and/or the MLB averages in key statistical categories. Some results will include data from 2014 only, while others will include some combination of the previous two seasons as well. The ultimate goal of these exercises is to provide a different perspective that will help to confirm your evaluations of certain players and perhaps reconsider your opinions of others. While I’ll be providing my two cents from time to time, it’ll be up to you to decide how valid the results truly are.

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Keeper league rankings are here (the 2014 Rankings can be found here), and I am going to absolutely shock the world with my number one. This is all about zagging when others zig. You gotta get out in front of the pack with advanced statistics and clever strategory. Sometimes you have to be bold and go against the grain to get that competitive edg…what’s that? Everybody else has Mike Trout number one too? It’s common sense? Well…crap. These are my personal rankings and take into account the 2015-2019 seasons. Don’t start flipping through your calendar – that’s 5 years. It means the senior citizen players are really going have to provide some nice statistics in the first year or two to rank highly. It also means players who are in or, better yet, just entering their prime get a bump. It’s not a hybrid list, so no prospects or Cuban rookies…sorry. It’s also not set for any specific pricing or league settings so assume a standard 5×5 roto format with no penalties to keep a player. Basically it’s a ranking of what I think these players will be worth over the next 5 years as a whole. It’s that simple. Here are my top 100 keepers for 2015 and beyond…

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Yesterday, we went over the top 20 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball and today it’s the top 40 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball. This is one of my favorite ranking posts because I usually end up with two starters from these twenty. They are the low end number one starters. To quote Lil Jon at his fantasy baseball draft, “Get low end number ones! To the Carrasco, to the Wheeler! Til Wood drop his base on balls! Til all these pitchers fall!” Is it weird I have a man crush on Lil Jon? He seems like he’d be a constant source of entertainment if you hung out with him on the day-to-day. Also, besides the low end number ones, there’s number twos and high end number threes. These are going to be your fantasy staff linchpins. So, all the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings are right in there. As with all other ranking posts, my projections and tiers are included. Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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So, here’s all that’s happened since I began the Fantasy Aftermath: Top June Pitchers write up and the July write up. I worked, I tweeted, I played Daily Fantasy Football and made the Fantasy Football playoffs in seven of my eight seasonal leagues, I wrote weeks worth of Daily Fantasy Football for @Jaywrong (he’s such a slave driver), I grew a beard, and I repped Razzball for a Fantasy Baseball mock draft.  Oh and I completed Top April and Top May pitchers prior to that. This is the off-season!?! But more to the point, I don’t remember what the hell we were talking about. Fantasy pitchers from the 2014 year? That’s so 2014! PS, that’s only funny if you’re reading it in 2015. Knowing Grey he’s gonna be a jerk and post this on New Year’s Eve just to kill the humor. So let’s not waste our time being funny, let’s get to the facts. Here’s the top July pitchers from the 2014 Fantasy Baseball season…

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It started with a simple email. Hey Grey and Rudy, wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote about the top pitchers broken down by month? And within those months, to evaluate with and without wins to ascertain who pitched well and gave good value vs. who pitched for a 90 win club and had a 4-0 month? Response was a resounding yes, of course. And of course, it was my own damn fault for having such a good idea because now I’m here giving you offseason content prior to January. Clearly the time that everyone is reading about fantasy baseball. Oh well, let’s get to it. Here’s a look back at April’s pitching to see if it holds any keys going forward to 2015 fantasy baseball:

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So, how’s everyone holding up without fantasy baseball every day? I don’t know what to do with myself! This weekend I wandered into a Starbucks and told the coffeerista about Chris Tillman for 2015. Then I laughed hysterically for a good twenty minutes until someone asked me to leave. We’ve gone over the final 2014 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters and the top 20 starters. There’s no more of these godforsaken recap posts left before we’re into 2015 fantasy baseball. You’re welcome. Well, there are Rudy’s recaps of every fantasy sites projections that are coming eventually and Sky’s “Is pitching that deep?” posts. I, my over-the-internet friend, will be talking about 2015 rookies next. Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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Around six months ago, your mother left us in the middle of the night with nothing but each other and our drafted fantasy teams. I tried to make you French toast as you stood on a stool and watched, but we got egg shell in the batter and you cried about drafting Brad Miller. I was trying to do work one night, looking for a middle infield replacement as you played with your toy airplanes and — crash! — you spilled your milk all over my fantasy team. I screamed, you cried and Prince Fielder hurt his neck. Then your mother reappeared and began a custody battle to take over our teams right as Wilin Rosario seemingly lost his job. It was the Fourth of July, and no one was available, but I frantically searched for a replacement catcher with a job. If your mother’s attorney got wind that we couldn’t even manage to have a catcher with a job, we’d lose our teams forever. With a last ditch effort, we grabbed Yan Gomes off waivers, and another crisis seemed averted. It wasn’t all smooth sailing the final stretch, like when you fell off the jungle gym, and I carried your through Central Park screaming, “We have to replace David Wright and Alex Rios!” But you just needed a few stitches and Xander Bogaerts with 3rd base eligibility and a hot schmotato for the outfield. The final test was making French toast again and seeing how well you adapted to finally cutting the cord on Jay Bruce. We did it, seemingly conquering a mountain, just the two of us, but due to a hot week from Ryan Rua we lost in the H2H playoffs. As you packed up your stuff to leave, we sat on the couch in silence. The weight of the summer on our minds when you turned to me and said, “What do you think about Dallas Keuchel for 2015?” Today, we close our fantasy baseball team window for the first time in six months. Of course, you can never remove those teams from your mind’s eye because you turned off your computer’s screensaver months ago and your team is burned into your monitor screen. Last year, Henderson Alvarez pitched a no hitter on the last game of the season, and this year he pitched against Jordan Zimmermann, who returned the favor with his own no hitter, with the help of an incredible, diving catch from Stephen Souza. Of course, a guy named after a composer known for patriotic marches secures it for the Nationals. In a season that saw seemingly every pitcher have a sub-3.50 ERA this was about as apt of a way to close out a season as any. As Bud Selig doffs his toupee, bidding baseball adieu, let us bid this season adieu too (almost stutterer!) and say hello to the offseason. Seriously, what about Dallas Keuchel for next year?! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Let’s break this down like Murray Chass would want it. Felix Hernandez has the 2nd best ERA in the AL, fourth most Ks, and 14 wins. When his team needed a win more than anything, so Grey (me) could possibly collect on a preseason bet he foolishly made for the Mariners to win the World Series, Felix choked up 8 ER in 4 2/3 IP, raising his ERA to 2.34. Felix has the 2nd best xFIP, 3rd best WAR for a pitcher and 8th best K-rate, but since we’re doing this as Murray would’ve wanted it, “What the flip is xFIP and I fought in Dubya Dubya Two and F-Her doesn’t know anything about WAR! Now stop with the Pollyanna chicken crap!” Did F-Her just lose the Cy Young award? He did if all the voters are subjected to a fifteen minute wait in a post office line with Mr. Chass. “Mr. Chass, did you print out an email to snail mail it?” “I don’t trust the internet!” Did the Mariners just lose all hope at the playoffs? F-Her, you effed me. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I wonder if Jake Smolinski had a sister that put out in high school. I could’ve swore I hooked up with an Eva Smolinski after her friend Dawn rejected me. Were my Cavariccis cuffed a little too high for you, Dawn? My B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt too faded? I still hate you! Well, enough about me! *smacks self* Get a grip, man! Smolinski is hitting .408, and crushing pink cookies in a plastic bag since his call up, going 4-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI yesterday. The Rangers are like a prisoner with a life sentence (no offense to some of our readers; I believe you’re innocent!). Rangers have nothing but time on their hands to play their guys. Is Smolinski anything but a hot schmotato? God, no, but no one is this late in the year. I’d grab him if you need a hot bat, and who doesn’t? Dawn apparently! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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“We’re more alike than we are different.” That’s what Mary Ann said of her and Ginger, but it could also be said of Marcus Stroman and a Flat-Billed Pitchypus. He needs maybe a fifteen-second ironing and a quarter-cup of starch and he’d be there. Considering the tumultuous recent years of the Flat-Billed Pitchypus, maybe it’s for the best. “You want more starch on this?” “Yes.” Dontrelle Willis reaches for his TGIF’s hat, drops jalapeno poppers on his foot and screams. Yesterday, Stroman threw a shutout in 93 pitches. Greg Maddux called and said, “You owe me a nickel.” Stroman’s sparkling like I screwed his head into my SodaStream, pushed down the level way too long and bubbles started coming into his eyes. Mary Ann’s existential quote could also be used to say there’s more similarities than differences between Stroman and an ace. He shouldn’t generate that much velocity from a five-foot-nine frame. Yet, there he is throwing 94 MPH while high-fiving his teammates on a step stool. He’s credited with a six-pitch arsenal that he can locate with pinpoint accuracy. I’m going to have a Marcus Stroman post for 2015 fantasy baseball to highlight his sensational stuff for next year, and then he’ll probably be in the top 10 pitchers for 2016. A star is born just don’t iron the brim any further; you’re good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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