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A new week, a new group of players to rank!

Welcome to this week’s edition of 2023 Top Keepers. The focus this time around is on starting pitchers.

As a group, I like starting pitchers more than relievers. At least with starters you don’t get the wild inconsistency that you get from relievers. Yes, a starter can have a bad year or one can come out of nowhere to have a great season. But as a whole, there is a little more projectability with this group.

Sticking with Youth

Unlike my top reliever’s list, where talent is the top factor in determining who the top keepers are, age plays more of a factor in these rankings. When it comes to keepers, I am giving a little more weight to dynasty leagues, and age plays a huge factor in that. If 27-year-old Zac Gallen is comparable to 31-year-old Kevin Gausman, then give me the 27-year-old Gallen.

Injuries also knocked pitchers down a little more than they do in my position rankings. I’m always a little weary of pitchers coming back from injuries. I probably shouldn’t since they always seem to bounce back these days. But nevertheless, I am not one to easily change my ways. So sorry, Jack Flaherty, for being in Tier 5. But perhaps you should stop getting hurt or at least post great numbers when you return from an injury.

A quick note: ages are as of now and obviously the team is who they played for this past season. Teams may change for 2023, ages certainly will.

Anyway, enough of the banter. Let’s get rolling with the Top 2023 Keepers – Starting Pitchers edition.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I know what you’re all doing. Counting down a New York slugger to home run immortality. Great! Me too! Pete Alonso (4-for-5, 3 runs, 5 RBIs and his 39th homer) moves to within 34 of tying Barry Bonds. That is so laughably funny. You can have an insane year and still be almost half away from Bonds. That’s like Aaron Judge vs. everyone else this year. Almost. Still not quite as ridiculous, but close. Wait, Pete Alonso secured an even more important record — the new Mets’ RBI record (128). So, it’s been truly a fantastic year for Albombso, as he hits .270, and has a legit shot of a top five slot on the Player Rater. A lofty status for a guy who runs like he’s an insect in molasses, though, he does have five steals. For 2023 fantasy, I could see Pete Alonso still being underrated because there is no real speed, and his average this year might be considered fluky-ish, as he’s more of a .255 guy. Think you are selling him short though. For hitters with the most homers in his 1st four seasons, only three guys have more than Alonso: Ralph Kiner, Pujols and Eddie Mathews. 40 homers is the new 60 homers, and do you want a guy who is as much a lock for 40 homers as anyone? Then Albombso! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Guardians OF Will Brennan fits beautifully onto a playoff roster given his contact-heavy approach and solid all-around game. In 129 games between Double and Triple-A, Brennen slashed .314/.371/.479 with 13 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 69 strikeouts and 50 walks. They probably could’ve used him sooner, which would’ve given him time to adjust before the playoffs. It’s just three games so far, but he’s got three RBI’s, two stolen bases, zero strikeouts and a .364 batting average. 

As most MLB teams have moved ever closer to three-outcome lineups, Cleveland has traveled the opposite path toward roster construction, prizing low strikeout rates and all-field approaches. It’s working, and it could be a deadly brew to the fence-swinging clubs in October. Tampa gets a lot of love for maintaining a winner despite penny-pinching owners, but Cleveland is about to make its fifth postseason in seven seasons, and 2022 feels like the beginning of a dominant run through the AL Central. They’re up eight games ahead of the second place White Sox right now and eleven games up on the Twins. It’s not easy to see how those two bridge the gap next year.

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The White Sox have been homer-less all season. Not literally. But it’s been bad. Andrew Vaughn (1-for-3) hit his 16th homer. It is so wild that he leads the White Sox in homers. White Sox all went to the offseason seminar at the Ramada titled, “Arraez and Shine,” hosted by Luis. This September Eloy Jimenez (0-for-3, 1 run) became the first White Sox player in a month with five or more homers. On the reals, that’s awful. Is it the humidor? Tony La Russa muttering, “Bunt” from the hospital bed he’s had them tow into the dugout? Or something else? I’m not sure, but it’s comically bad. Though, yesterday was a reprieve. Yasmani Grandal (2-for-3) hit his 5th homer. Yasmani is generous, more like Yasbarelyani. Yoan Moncada (4-for-5, 2 runs) hit his 10th homer. I’m not joking when I say it looked like the White Sox were taking batting practice vs. Hunter Gaddis. Gaddis sounds like gibberish for “Got his ass,” and they did, indeed. Elvis Andrus (1-for-5) hit his 14th homer, and will once again be in this afternoon’s Buy column, because otherwise would be malpractice, and you’d sue me, and I’d have to relocate to Mexico under an assumed identity, and get mixed up with a bunch of anarchists. Finally, Gavin Sheets (1-for-4, 2 RBIs) hit his 13th homer. Fun fact! I call my toilet, “Havin’ Shits.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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“Hologram Harry Caray leading the nation, nay, the world in Take Me Out To The Ballgame at the Field of Dreams game, wait, what’s this? Hologram Tupac, Hologram Babe Ruth and Hologram Barbara Bush have joined him, embracing. It’s East Coast, West Coast, Midcoast and Southcoast coming together, as only holograms can! If holograms can come together, then why can’t we, as people, come together? Rob Manfred has done it again!” *wavy lines* Oh my God, we’ve been inside a Rob Manfred’s dream sequence! It was a Field of Dreams dream! AHHH!!! I need to shower! So, the Field of Dreams game went off again without a hitch. Oops, I mean without a Hitch, meaning Will Smith and Kevin James both were not in attendance. For some reason, MLB thought the Reds and Cubs should be rewarded that showcase. If you’re going to have two teams who are trying to lose games, and dismantle its stars, then why not do a Major League theme in Cleveland? One thing baseball has is decent movies. Why not do a different one each year? Bull Durham theme one year in a MiLB park; The Natural theme one year in a lightning storm; The Rookie theme one year with all old players. The possibilities are endless! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Here’s where the introductory words would go, if I thought any of us really wanted to see some introductory words. 

1. OF Corbin Carroll | Diamondbacks | 21 | AAA | 2023 

2. SS Gunnar Henderson | Orioles | 21 | AAA | 2023

3. OF Jackson Chourio | Brewers | 18 | A+ | 2024

4. 3B Jordan Walker | Cardinals | 20 | AA | 2023 

Corbin Carroll lived alone in his own tier at the top early in the process, but the other three have such strong cases for the top spot I had to include them.

Gunnar Henderson quickly found his rhythm after a rough start at Triple–A and has been arguably the best player at the level since the break. 

If you want to rank Jackson Chourio first, don’t let me stop you. He’s slashing .333/.396/.476 with a home run and a stolen base in 10 games at High-A. He’s also posting a 10.4 percent walk rate and 16.7 percent strikeout rate, shushing the whispers around his 28 percent K-rate in Low A.

I had Jordan Walker in the tier below at one point, but you can only watch so many multi-homer games from a 20-year-old in Double-A without moving a dude up the list, even if he’s already at the summit. Is this ETA light on Jordan Walker? The Cardinals added pitching at the deadline and moved an outfielder. Lars Nootbar is playing well, but Walker would be following a long tradition of elite players joining their clubs late in the season to push for the playoffs. 

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Welcome, prematurely balding men and five women who are married to PBMs and decided if you can’t beat them, join them! Make yourself comfortable, this is gonna be a long post. Here, enjoy some coffee. Oops, you just drank rat poison. I should’ve used different mugs. Don’t worry, it can’t be worse than rostering Jonathan India in the 1st half. Oh, you rostered him, and that’s why you drank the poison? Now, I’m following! Hey, I’m supposed to be leading! *does a teapot with both hands on hips and shakes head* Before we get into the top 100 for the 2nd half of 2022 fantasy baseball, let’s just be glad our 18-year-old selves can’t see us now, we’d get beat up! But our twelve-year-old selves would think we’re the coolest! So, as with all of the other 2022 fantasy baseball rankings, slop this up with a grain of salt. If you need a 2nd baseman, but an outfielder is above him that doesn’t mean you can’t trade that outfielder for that 2nd baseman. Also, things change in fantasy baseball. Daily. I could put Aaron Judge number one, and he could pull a–Well, we won’t even mention an injury with the top players after we lost Tatis this preseason. As I say about the Giancarlo underwear I bought off eBay, why soil a good thing? This list is a road map for where I think guys are valued. It’s not the Holy Grail in the Church of Grey, that would be my mustache. This list is NOT (caps for emphasis, not aesthetics) where I see guys ending up if you were to take their first half and combine it with the 2nd half. This is simply a list of the top hundred fantasy baseball players if you were to pick them up today. So while Juan Soto did not have the greatest first half, he will appear on this list because, well, we have to believe in miracles — my 12-year-old self would want that, and to sleep with Cher. 12-year-old Grey loved Cher. The projections are not their combined 1st half and 2nd half numbers; these are their projections for the 2nd half of 2022. I also liberally used our rest of the season Fantasy Baseball Player Rater. That’s right, we have a Player Rater that tells you what players will do. It’s like that camera from The Twilight Zone. Welcome to the future! Anyway, here’s the top 100 for fantasy baseball for the 2nd half of 2022:

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Happy Saturday, Razzball Folks! The All-Star break is upon us, and we have a record low number of bodies that have hit the floor due to injury. However, we have a record number of folks on the IL because of COVID-19 in the “vaccine avoidance” category. Specifically, the Kansas City Royals have 10 unvaccinated players, […]

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Max Meyer is being called up. *does a highly-choreographed handshake with self that ends with me miming putting food in my mouth* We eating tonight! Three of the last four on Itch’s prospect stash list was Esteury Ruiz, Vinnie Pasquantino and Max Meyer. With Meyer’s promotion, they’ll all be up. Where you at, Miguel Vargas?! I already gave you a Max Meyer fantasy when it appeared like he’d be called up in May. Then he was sidetracked with an injury, but he’s healthy now and, like I said, we’re eating! Will he stay up if Edward Cabrera or Luzardo get healthy? If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d be diabetic squirrels. Meyer might be good for another 50-60 IP, which is nearly a full 2nd half, I grabbed him in my 15-team mixed league immediately, then hemmed-and-hawed for fifteen minutes, and finally grabbed him in my 12-team mixed RCL, too, but we’ll see if I hold him there. Pitchers are pretty plentiful to be holding a possible roofie. He could be the best starter call-up we see this year. *mimes filling a dog bowl, puts it by feet, gets on knees and sticks face in bowl* We eating! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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This weekend Wander Franco hit the IL, and will see a doctor on Monday for his wrist and hamate bone and I want to die. Put me in a grave, shovel dirt on my head, and say your farewells. To be less histrionic and more just that down-home Grey that you’ve come to know and love, I want my woobie! Here’s Kenneth Cashman, the man behind Rotowear, mocking me:

Okay, Wander Franco was barely a top 250th overall player this year on the Player Rater, so, while I expected more, if you’ve survived this long with (aka without) him, you’ll be fine moving forward. I have faith in youse, my large adult sons, and five adult daughters. Taking his place will be Jonathan Aranda, who was recalled. I will say this about Rays prospects, they roll right off the fingertips. Aranadaadadadadadadada, McClanahananananananananananan…Though Lowe’s a hard stop. Aranada was tearing up Triple-A. Hey, kinda like Brujan! And Josh Lowe! And literally every Rays prospect who comes up and fizzles. Aranda is a decent power guy with a solid hit tool. Think a young France. Call him Tintin. In most leagues, you can prolly find better guys on waivers. Now, get lost while I try to cure my Wander lust. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, the Nats’ GM Rizzo put his feet up on his desk, rolled up a million dollar bill and used it to lit a cigar filled with million dollar bills, saying, “And that’s why I gave Patrick Corbin $140 million eight years after his prime.” Patrick Corbin went 8 IP, 1 ER, 7 baserunners, 12 Ks, ERA at 6.06. You can think to yourself, “Damn, I should’ve streamed Patrick Corbin yesterday because the Streamonator loved it,” but I’d prefer to think, “I ain’t ever starting a pitcher with a 6+ ERA.” His last three years of ERAs are…I’d ask for a drum roll, but they deserve a sad trombone…4.66, 5.82, 6.06. If we were in Bizarro World, you’d be collecting your crown from America’s Next Top Model and Patrick Corbin would be an ace. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Well, we had a rough go of DFS last Tuesday, but hopefully can right the ship today. We hit on both pitchers, but the bats were in hiding. My Orioles stack produced zero runs, and Goldy ended up getting the day off. Elsewhere around baseball we have seen some prospect call-ups finally happening with Oneil […]

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