Please see our player page for John Means to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

I’ll be honest: a lot of the job of a fantasy sports writer is constrained by search engine optimization and giving audiences what they expect. This article, for example, is ostensibly about starting pitchers. But what *is* a starter, anyway? So many teams are using openers now. So many teams are letting pitchers go 4.2 IP, or piggybacking, or bullpen games, or long reliever, or, or, or. And tee-bee-ache (pronounce that last word softly, like you’re staring longingly into its eyes waiting for the next clause), starters don’t require a mass of innings pitched to be effective for fantasy baseball. In 2021, Corbin Burnes finished SP5 with 167IP, Carlos Rodon SP10 with 132IP, Jacob deGrom SP13 with 92IP (!), Freddy Peralta SP14 with 144IP, and so on. Unless you’re in one of those quality starts league — which I established in the pre-season were just different ways of slandering a Win — you could really roll with any number of “pitchers,” broadly speaking, and do fine.

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In November, White Sox front office contacts Eloy Jimenez to discuss his offseason conditioning, and he’s like, “Conditioning? Yeah, of course, I’m doing offseason conditioning,” then he looks in the mirror in his shower and smiles, hair filled with conditioner. Eloy Jimenez gets himself ready for each game with a very special pregame warm-up. He warms up and opens a button on his shirt. Warms up more, and opens another button. I was curious why Statcast said Eloy Jimenez’s exit velocity was “one to three weeks into each season,” but now I see what they meant. Seriously, though, what is going on?! Last year, he jumped for a home run ball that was 75 feet past his reach, and knocked himself out for months, and this weekend he strains his hamstring by running like an absolute madman through 1st base. Someone needs to pull him aside and be like, “Yo, my main man, you’re here to swing hard and hit homers. You can’t run fast, you don’t have Inspector Gadget arms to catch home runs. Just swing hard. That’s it.” I love this guy so much and he causes me so much pain. Almost as much pain as he causes himself. So, he will be out for six to eight weeks, and Tony La Russa will still find reasons to bench Andrew Vaughn! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The truth about a lot of the big-name fantasy sports touts is that they argue incessantly in the comments section. Right now on the Tweeters there are two major projectionists — actually three because two of them are fighting over the interpretation of the third projectionist — about how much of a sample size you need before making definitive statements about improvement. The short answer: it’s inconclusive. The long answer (which is me summarizing a decade of data collection): about 400 IP worth of pitching. This is why you see the ol’ standards like Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole always appearing at the top of the Streamonator and other Razzball tools — we know how to expect Scherzer and Cole to perform, but we don’t know how to expect Nestor Cortes to perform. You simply can’t know the wild card pitchers when there’s no data on them. Like I pointed out last week, if you based your team on Week 1 SP returns in 2021, you would have abandoned Max Scherzer after his 4 HR allowed outing and dropped him for Kyle Gibson, the eventual SP4 for most non-winning fantasy teams.

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The left side of the mouth:

“Due to a pitch count of 80, Clayton Kershaw would not get a perfect game, but he would become the perfect symbol of his generation. Babied to the point where pitchers can no longer throw, they ‘pitch’ — whatever that means! When did we, as a society, get to the point where a pitcher can’t throw the ball? A participation perfect game, that’s what Clayton Kershaw got yesterday.”

The right side of the mouth:

“Clayton Kershaw has been battling injuries for years. His last year was cut short, due to injuries. He couldn’t pitch much in the preseason, because of the lockout and this was his first start of the year. Who cares about a perfect game? This is about keeping Clayton Kershaw healthy for as many innings as possible.”

The left side of the mouth:

“You’re a sissy.”

The right side of the mouth:

“What are you talking about? We’re just different sides of the same mouth!”

So, Clayton Kershaw (7 IP, 0 ER, 0 baserunners, 13 Ks) threw seven perfect innings, and nothing about him has changed since my preseason thoughts on him. He could be fantastic, but not even for a 9-inning game, let alone a full season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Hidey-ho neighborino! Is that phrase trademarked or just very, very old? Fine, let’s dismiss the formalities and get straight to the nitty-gritty: men who throw balls. Hard. We’re at the point in the pre-season where we understand that the MLB and MLBPA are definitely far, far away from any sort of agreement on a contract. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s actually a “realistic” contract that’s been shared between the groups and we’ll see that contract appear the first week of March, just in time for a shortened spring training and perfectly-timed Opening Day. But that’s just me spitballing labor negotiations, and what do I know other than the chords to every song on Green Day’s Dookie album? I suppose I know pitchers somewhat well, and wouldn’t you know it — I’ve got a pitcher listicle for you! A Pitchsticle!

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Looking at the overall 2022 fantasy baseball rankings, the top 80 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball is from around 225 overall to 275 overall, which is just about the end for 12-team mixed leagues.  This is your late fourth, mostly fifth thru the beginning of the sixth starters. This is just about it for 12 team leagues, though the last tier in this post is still in 12-team league territory, so you’ll have to wait until the next post to finish off that tier. Don’t worry, on that next post, I’ll be by with another 70-ish pitchers for those in deeper leagues, and/or dynasty and keeper leagues. Or for those that just like to read about fantasy baseball while the world burns around them. I fall into that latter camp. Our subscriptions are up and running, and that comes with our online Fantasy Baseball War Room — now for auction drafts, AL-Only, NL-Only, Best Ball and more. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections included here are mine, and where I see tiers starting and stopping are included. Anyway, here’s the top 80 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball:

NOTE: All 2022 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games, due to the CBA. Also, I’m going on the assumption the NL is getting the DH.

NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.

NOTE III: Free agents are listed as just that and not yet projected. Once a guy signs, I will write out their blurb and add in projections, or remove them, if they sign in an unfavorable place. They are ranked currently where I think they might be if they sign on for a full-time job.

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Yes, I’m a Baz-leiver, and I couldn’t leave him if I tried. OK, I’m dating myself with a reference to a Monkey’s song but this guy IS the real deal. SP Shane Baz, $6900, gets the Marlins at home and this is TOO good to pass on.  While taking on a fearsome Toronto lineup in his first-ever MLB start, Baz captured the win and struck out five and walked none over five innings, with the only base runners he allowed on the night coming on a pair of solo home runs.

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All I ever wanted for Christmas was to see Robbie Ray get all worked up. And Santa brought me my gift early this year! Maybe you casual fans just want to see Lance Lynn get worked up, but when Robbie Ray and the Orioles manager get into a tongue-lashing, that’s the kind of baseball I want to see! Yeah, things are getting pretty slow here on the baseball side. On the plus side, I’m in the top 20 in RazzSlam. On the downside, the cutline only sends the top 10 to the playoffs. So, it’s kind of like I’m the benevolent tight-pants-loving lord of a small fiefdom that resides outside of Coolwhip’s kingdom. I beg thee, King Coolwhip, let Luis Severino pitch! How are all of your teams doing? Still active? Let’s see if we can find some pitchers for your fantasy playoffs!

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“Ranger Suarez is the greatest Suarez in the history of this country.” That’s me leaning into a store microphone in the freezer department at Costco before getting chased from the store. It’s drama, guys and five girls, and I like drama. *pushes bangs off forehead, turns to mirror* I’m ready for Close-Up. No, don’t zoom […]

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