The royal we already went over all the hitters for 2015 fantasy baseball rankings.  That’s not the “royal we” as that term usually implies.  It was me writing it alone while wearing a Burger King crown.  I refuse to draft a top starter where they are usually drafted.  Unlike hitters, you need six starters, depending on your league depth.  Simple math tells us there’s plenty of starters to go around.  Simple Math, “Stop putting words in my mouth!”  In most leagues, there’s a ton of guys on waivers that can help you — all year.  Not just in April, and then they disappear.  With the help of the Stream-o-Nator, you can get by with, say, three starters while streaming the rest.  To read more about streaming as a draft strategy.  There’s also the fact that three stats by starters are difficult to predict due to luck.  Wins, ERA and WHIP are prone to shift due to which way the ball bounces and whether or not the guys behind the pitchers can score runs.  Finally, the best starters can give you four categories.  The best hitters can give you five categories.  As always, where I see tiers starting and stopping are included and my projections.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball:

1. Clayton Kershaw – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Sale.  I call this tier, “Security blankets are for bouncers who are chilly.”  If you own Kershaw or any of the guys in this tier, you’re drafting scared.  You’re scared to go into the season without a number one starter.  You’re afraid that if you don’t have an ace you’ll never find a starter off waivers or your later picks won’t pan out.  You’re chicken, as Biff would say, because there’s more pitchers than Michael J. Fox can shake a stick at.  The only people that draft a top starter want a security blanket.  They want to feel like they’re pitching staff is safe.  They want to feel nuzzled like a bug in an alpaca rug.  If you would’ve owned Matt Shoemaker, Tanner Roark, Phil Hughes, Collin McHugh, Garrett Richards and Lance Lynn last year, your ERA would’ve been 2.93 in 1071 2/3 IP.  Sure, I’m cherrypicking guys from last year…Just like you could’ve cherrypicked any of them off waivers in your league.  In some leagues, you could do fine not drafting ANY starters.  Yes, I brought out the caps.  I’m not only talking about H2H leagues where you can carry only relievers.  I’m talking 10 or 12-team roto leagues where you can stream starters.  Maybe you own one starter and stream five spots.  Maybe you own two guys and stream four spots.  Maybe you drink seven cups of coffee and stream all day.  Even if you want to draft an entire rotation and hold them (or try to), you don’t need a guy from this tier.  There’s plenty of options later to fill out your rotation so you’re competitive in leagues where you can’t stream.  I’m not suggesting you Reggie Roby starters.  I’m telling you to Reggie Roby top starters.  Concentrate on your hitting while these guys are being drafted.  As for Kershaw, I went over him in the top 20 for 2015 fantasy baseball.

2. Felix Hernandez – F-Her’s Hall of Fame speech from 2029, “I like to thank Murray Chass for never believing in me, and making me a second ballot Hall of Famer.  It’s amazing you’re still going strong at 117 years old.  My wins were wonky at times in my career, but have you seen my ERA, xFIP, K-rate and other acronyms made up by guys with a lot less of a social life than I?  When I was 28 years old, I was coming off a year where I had a 2.14 ERA, 2.51 xFIP and a 9.46 K-rate.  Nerds tell me those are beautiful.  Perhaps I’ll best be remembered as the guy that made the colloquialism ‘F-Her in the Big A’ about me pitching in Anaheim and not about anal sex, but I hope you’ll not let Kershaw’s achievements overshadow me completely and give me my just desserts.  I love chocolate lava cake.”  2015 Projections: 16-5/2.41/0.99/239

3. Max Scherzer – With the signing of Scherzer by the Nats, he went from facing major league hitters to facing NL East hitters and Giancarlo.  “Is it already time for the Triple-A All Star game?”  No, Scherzer, that lineup you’re facing is the Braves.  “Oh, fun, I get to pitch during Old Timer’s Day!”  No, Scherzer, that’s the Phils.  Let’s not shortchange the Mets.  Sure, they had the worst home offense in 2013 and the 27th worst in 2014, but they added Cuddyer, who will be 36 years old and coming off an injury-plagued 49-game season.  Oh, and let’s not forget the new-look Marlins.  They have Prado, Dee Gordon and Morse.  That’ll put the shivers into Scherzer.  “Ooh, a perfect bunt laid down by Gordon using Morse’s oblique.”  I wonder if Scherzer could win two Cy Youngs in one year.  Has that been done before?  Prolly by Joel Youngblood.  Sadly, I won’t own Scherzer, but I could easily see 250+ Ks with a sub-2.50 ERA.  2015 Projections:  18-5/2.49/1.10/248

4. Corey Kluber – Pitching is fun to rank.  Or bitching as my autocorrect wanted to write.  I think my autocorrect is being a smart ass.  It’s fun to rank because it’s easier than hitters.  There’s so many different indicators that are predictive.  Does a guy strikeout a lot of guys and not walk many?  Do they have the stuff (velocity, unhittable breaking stuff, Carlin’s stuff) that backs up their K-rate?  Do they get swings and misses?  What was their xFIP last year?  Do they chew bacon instead of gum?  Put it in a pot, mix it up and you have how good a pitcher really is, while not even considering ERA.  You just have to know where to focus your attention.  Luckily, I’m doing all the research for you so you can devote your time to more important things like ignoring my research.  With all of that said, Kluber’s 2014 wasn’t just good, it was indicative of more great things for 2015.  Sadly, we won’t own him.  Though, I fully support bringing a 19-year-old Asian with glow sticks and herbal Ecstasy to your draft so you have your very own Kluber.  2015 Projections: 16-7/2.63/1.07/252

5. Stephen Strasburg – Last year, Strasburg had a 10.1 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9.  That’s so sexy I just wrote the preceding sentence without the use of my fingers.  If you don’t understand that visual, find me on Ashley Madison, you’ll see it there.  There were three starters with a 10+ K/9 and sub-2 BB/9 (Kershaw, Kluber, Strasburg).  That could’ve been the top 3 SP ranks, and if you want them in that order, put them in that order in your rankings of guys you don’t want to draft.  You are quibbling right now, you quibbler.  2015 Projections:  17-6/2.58/1.03/247

6. David Price – His velocity drop from two years ago had me concerned last year, and I still am to the point where I almost dropped him to the next tier, but I kept him here because he seemed to make the lower velocity work for him last year and it’s not like he’s throwing Bronson Arroyo-like; he’s still throwing 93 MPH on his fastball.  If you have Siri read you the last sentence, she’s out of breath by the period.  Stop smoking, Siri!  2015 Projections:  17-8/2.69/1.07/239

7. Chris Sale – If someone came from the future and told me Chris Sale would throw 230 innings in 2015, I’d first ask them why they bring me such crap info from the future, you can’t tell me lottery numbers or something?  Second, I’d say that means Sale will challenge Kershaw for the number one fantasy slot.  Unfortch, assuming Sale throws 230 innings makes an ass out of you and Ming, the DP for your company’s low-budget commercial.  “Ming, are you getting the President’s Day Sale banner?”  “Ming is getting it.”  UPDATE:  There’s a Sale on fractured feet and Chris bought one.  It doesn’t change my ranking and projections because I originally was only assuming 189 IP.  Who’s the ass now, Ming?!  2015 Projections:  15-5/2.41/0.99/217

8. Zack Greinke – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Cueto.  I call this tier, “Still number ones, but my teeth hurt.  It might be the caveats.”  These guys are pretty much the same as the first tier, but I’m separating them because not only would I not draft them, but I also have worries about each of them.  My worries might be for naught, and it’s basically just picking nits why I don’t like these guys since you shouldn’t draft them anyway because they’re going too high.  As for Greinke, two years ago his velocity dipped.  He made it work last year, but it worries me when a guy of slight build in his thirties starts to see velocity decreases.  I told you I was picking nits.  2015 Projections:  18-6/2.95/1.13/212

9. Madison Bumgarner – Wouldn’t draft him in any way, shape or form simply due to how many innings he threw last year.  He’s young, yeah.  He’s ridunk talented, yeah.  He threw 260 IP last year, yeah, no thank you.  2015 Projections:  16-10/3.01/1.06/206

10. Jon Lester – This offseason, I wrote, “‘Hey, Intern, let’s get the Mayans on hold just in case we need them in a hurry.  What?  Who the hell is Ralph Mayan of the Mayan Empire and Grille in Norwalk?  Your blank stare tells me nothing.  Go buff out my El Dorado while I write this post!’  So, I’ve seen The Theory of Everything, the story of Stephen Hawking and his wife.  It touches briefly on his theorems and the universe’s push and pull.  Imagine the universe breathes in and out.  The in is gravity and the out is energy generated by particles.  However, the Cubs would breathe in, but when they exhaled it sounded like a wheeze.  For over a hundred years, people thought it was dying.  That constant wheeze of death.  Then, Theo Epstein came along, kicked the Cubs in the ass and realized it wasn’t a wheeze but there was something stuck in its throat.  The Cubs won’t breathe easy until they win a championship again, but the signing of Jon Lester should help.  Last year, Lester had a 9 K/9 and a 2 BB/9.  I just touched on this with the signing of Samardzija the other day, but a difference of 7 between K/9 and BB/9 is about the most beautifulest thing in the world, Keith Murray.  For K-BB, Lester was 11th in the majors last year.  Top ten is a who’s who that’s more glamorous than your Who’s Who of American High School Students Who Paid $75 To Be In That Who’s Who Book.  I’ll give you a little hint:  if you were to just draft based on K-BB, you’d win your league.  Why is K-BB so important?  It’s so basically basic basically basic it’s silly.  If you strikeout hitters and don’t walk them, good things will happen.”  And that’s me quoting me!  I put Lester in this tier of pitchers with caveats because Lester seems to have seasons where he randomly puts up a 7-ish K-rate and terrible ERAs.  2015 Projections:  15-9/2.92/1.08/206

11. Jordan Zimmermann – Going off what I said in the Lester blurb — the blurbster? Word up! — any time a pitcher can walk less than 2 guys per nine and throw hard, then they have a chance to be great.  Zimmermann’s 2014 shows why.  When a pitcher controls his stuff (few walks) and throws hard, there’s the thought they just need to figure out how to use that control to miss bats.  Zimmermann did that last year.  Zimmermann’s caveat comes from him never having such a high K-rate as he did last year (8.2), but unlike other pitchers in this tier, Zimmermann’s downside isn’t that scary.  After all, his worst year was a 3.25 ERA.  After All, Part II:  This Is After All The Other Alls, I think the average starter’s ERA last year was only 3.25.  2015 Projections:  17-7/2.89/1.06/186

12. Johnny Cueto – This is gonna be like a kick to the head as delivered by Cueto himself, but he’s a victim of underlying numbers why he’s not ranked higher.  His ERA is constantly terrific.  Last four years, it’s been 2.31, 2.78, 2.82 and 2.25.  If this were ten years ago, we’d think he was a top five pitcher.  It’s not ten years ago though so you can take off that Wasssssup t-shirt, and we have to look at how much he outperforms his xFIP, due to a low BABIP.  He makes hitters chase (which is different than the portmanteau from “makes hitters” that was a rejected slogan of the National Prune Association).  Cueto was tenth in the majors for getting hitters to swing outside of the strike zone.  It only follows logic:  get a hitter to swing outside of the strike zone and you’re likely to induce weak contact.  Weak contact would equal what?  Kate Bosworth’s terrible and unnecessary plastic surgery?  No, that’s not right.  It equals a low BABIP.  So, Cueto should outperform his xFIP with a low BABIP, but his K and walk rate are still merely solid, not elite.  2015 Projections:  15-8/2.89/1.08/204

13. Jeff Samardzija – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Iwakuma.  I call this tier, “Commence drafting, Drafty McDraftstein.”  I’ll go over in a later post exactly how to assemble your staff (which pitchers to get from which tiers, and how many), but this tier is the first time I can see drafting a starter.  It’s also not necessary.  You don’t need a starter from here.  It’s merely now an option.  As for Samardzija, on our Player Rater last year, Alphabet Soup ranked 32nd overall for all SPs.  Let’s compare him to Jordan ZimmermannOoh, this sounds like fun– Snooze!  Shut up, Random Italicized Voice.  Shut don’t go up but prices do so buy in bulk.  What?  Seriously, I’m going to take a nap.  Last year, Zimmermann’s numbers were:  2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 182 Ks.  Samardzija’s were 2.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 202 Ks.  Can we say that an extra 30 Ks is the same as their difference in ERA?  We could be it wouldn’t be completely true.  Samardzija was actually twenty cents better.  (Ks made Samardzija $1.50 better, and Zimmermann’s ERA was $1.30 better.  Voila, snitches!)  So, how was Zimmermann the 13th best SP last year and Samardzija the 32nd?  Was there a glitch in the Matrix?  If you said Wins were the difference, you’re quick, grasshopper.  No, I’m not talking to the Creme de Menthe you have in your thermos.  Why do you have that in your thermos?  Zimmermann had 14 wins last year and Samardzija only seven.  There’s no accounting for wins and Samardzija could easily be more valuable than Zimmermann this year.  2015 Projections:  14-6/3.24/1.12/206

14. Tyson Ross – By the power of Kemp, Myers and Upton, please let Ross win 14 games, right?  Stop sour yilliness, Spooner.  He won 13 games last year.  This ranking isn’t about wins.  It’s about a 9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 from last year.  It’s about a 12.5% swinging strike rate.  That’s the percentage of strikes that were swung on and missed.  I want to break that down one more level for the noobs without boobs aka the prematurely balding men aka your daddy and you fighting over Mookie Betts’s ceiling aka you sleeping through Still Alice aka YOU!  If a pitcher throws the ball and the hitter swings and misses, isn’t that one of the best signs of stuff?  Rhetorical!  It is, dyslexic donuts!  Okay, so some of the best pitchers should have high swinging strike rates, yeah?  Yeah.  Number one last year was Kershaw.  Tyson Ross was fourth best, right in front of Kluber.  Zoinks!  Ross also had the 16th fastest fastball of any starter, the 15th best K-rate, Petco, and a whole array other reasons (not really or I would’ve listed them).  I think I’m ranking Ross higher than most, because I want to own him.  (Oh, and I say I think I’m ranking him higher rather than I know I am, because I don’t really look at other rankings until I’m done with mine.)  2015 Projections: 14-9/3.11/1.15/204

15. Jake Arrieta – We’re only halfway through this post (I can’t count; sue me!) and we’re already pushing 18,000 words (still can’t count), so I’m gonna have to be economical with my Arrieta flattery.  Flatterieta?  Off to a great start already!  I went over Arrieta so much last year and why his breakout was real that I don’t want to tread on similar ‘scapes.  I need new terrain like Reese Witherspoon cooking meth on the PCT.  (I’d say Spoiler Alert, but that’s actually a You’re Lucky You Don’t Have To See It Now Alert.  This offseason I saw so many movies because not only did I get my WGA screeners, but Cougs joined the PGA in 2014.  Yeah, I’m Ray Knight married to Nancy Lopez.  Cougs can’t golf; wrong PGA.  By the way, I went to the PGA Awards this past Saturday.  Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Bryan Cranston, etc etc etc were there, but my favorite star sighting?  Leslie from last year’s MasterChef!)  Arrieta is an ace, and there’s no reason to doubt it, but if you want reasons, search the site for last year’s articles on him.  2015 Projections:  12-9/2.88/1.06/198

16. Hisashi Iwakuma – People always compare Iwakuma to Darvish or Nomo or other Asians.  So, I guess CC Sabathia can only be compared to Fat Albert.  This might get a Braves fan to throw their laptop out the window, but you know who Iwakuma should be compared to?  Greg Maddux.  Only Maddux wasn’t as good when he was 33 years old.  Oops, yeah, I said it.  Last year, Iwakuma had a 7.7 K/9, 1.1 BB/9 and a 2.85 xFIP.  He’s simultaneously the safest number one starter you can get, and also the boringest.  Boringest isn’t bad just because it’s not in the dictionary.  Ain’t says, “Thank you!”  2015 Projections:  14-6/3.15/1.07/177

17. Cole Hamels – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the top 40 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball.  I call this tier, “Save your druthers for your mothers, these are (this is?) my druthers.”  I don’t know what druthers are; I don’t even know if they’re plural, but I like these guys.  As for Hamels, would you think less of me if I said I flipped a coin on whether I would draft Hamels this year?  What if Ellis Burks flipped the coin for me?  Okay, good to know how much I can get away with.  I don’t love Hamels’s age or team, but I’ll be a canary’s uncle’s nephew if he doesn’t continue to put up solid stats.  You can say you think Hamels will fall off this year, but you’re just going on gut, and, with what you put in your stomach, that’s not a good decision.  Please, don’t make me have Ellis flip the coin again.  He kept the last one!  2015 Projections:  12-10/2.97/1.15/192

18. Gerrit Cole – I don’t know if he’ll ever average 95+ MPH on his fastball, have a 9 K-rate and a 3.25 and under xFIP.  Oh, wait, he did all of those things last year.  Yeah, in the midst of getting injured last year, Cole had his breakout year and you didn’t even know it because he missed ten starts.  Wanna draft a guy that could jump up to the top 5 for 2016?  Cole will be that guy, and, at the end of this year, you’ll look back on it and it will be so obvious that you’ll be like, “How is Grey the only one that saw the obvious?”  All Cole needs to do is stay healthy in 2015 and he will break out– Sorry, I keep making the same mistake as you.  He will continue to break out.  2015 Projections:  15-8/3.20/1.18/198

19. Carlos Carrasco – I already went over my Carlos Carrasco fantasy.  I wrote it back in November and posted it in December and a funny thing happened on the way to posting it.  Carrasco’s perceived value went up without pitching in any games.  The only thing I’d change about my Carrasco sleeper post is removing the word sleeper.  Even in that post I say he seems overhyped already.  That’s not likely to subside in the next few months.  Whatevs!  I’ll draft Carrasco if he’s around in this draft slot, but if he’s not then SoBe* it.  *This blurb was brought to you by our good friends at PepsiCo, which is not related to CarrasCo, to my knowledge.  ‘To my knowledge’ is also the best way to assuage anything you ever say.  “You’re a total douche, to my knowledge.”  See, softens it.  Okay, I just typed 87,000 words and need to Calgon.  2015 Projections:  13-6/3.27/1.09/192

20. Alex Wood –  I wanted to move Wood into the top 20 starters post and give him his own tier named, “Wood,” but I was afraid of being arrested for moral turpitude.  I’m wicked!  And not wicked like it would be used by a Masshole, but wicked like Elphie.  I want Wood on every team.  Likely someone will get hurt in the top 20 during spring training and I’ll move guys up one and Wood will at long last make it to my top 20.  Shoot, I may just boost him into my top 10 because I have lots of love for Wood; please don’t take that out of context.  Not there’s anything wrong with that out of context.  Wood is a 9 K/9 starter with a low-2 BB/9.  That’s a number one starter.  Now way around it.  Last year, he had a 2.78 ERA in 171 2/3 IP.  That alone makes me wonder why I even have to go into depth why I like him.  He doesn’t throw very fast (90 MPH fastball), but he doesn’t throw his fastball very often.  His knuckle-curve is dominating and his swinging strike rate on that pitch was 15.3%.  To give you an idea, Kershaw’s curve produced a swinging strike rate of 16%.  My only real concern with Wood is twofold, he’s never pitched 200 IP in a year (171 2/3 IP last year was his high), and Fredi Gonzalez occasionally thinks the Braves best pitcher should be the long man in the bullpen.  Assuming Fredi doesn’t give me an aneurysm this year and Wood gets 30 starts, he will be a number one starter.  2015 Projections:  13-7/3.12/1.21/192

 
  1. Joe L says:
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    These articles are just awful. They are literally exhausting to read. I may have to go to one of the 3000 other sites that offer a ranking of fantasy baseball players.

    • Wake Up says:
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      @Joe L: Cool insight, brah…

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Wake Up: A real thanker.

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Joe L: And i would now like to invite you to my league

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Joe L: That’s why you’re at the site right when the article goes up, reads it first and comments first… If I were at the mall signing Hancocks, you’d just happen to be in Spencer’s gifts for fake vomit but really to see me…

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @Grey: Ha Ha

      • kingforaday151 says:
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        @Grey: Haha. Joe stands outside Golden Corral waiting for the buffet to open just so he can complain about the poor quality of food he gets for $7.99, so don’t take it personal Grey.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          HA

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Grey: it’s looking like last year’s Bill James guy is back.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Ha

      • K Clown Baez says:
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        @Grey: zap!

    • Hawk says:
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      @Joe L:

      If you want someone else to do all the thinking and just spit out a list of “draft him, then him, then him”, go enjoy ESPN.

      If you want some background on WHY these are the right guys to draft along with high school / college age humor, stick around.

      In any case, don’t tell your league mates about this site. They’ll use it to crush you.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Hawk:I take offense to that, this humor is more geared toward adult children, I dont even know what high school kids laugh at anymore.

    • Cram It says:
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      @Joe L: Why are you reading it the blurbs then if it hurts your brain? Just look at the blue highlighted names. See how they’re in order with #’s next to them? Oh hell why are we bothering, he’s not coming back.

    • Natty Boh says:
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      @Joe L: I love the articles.

  2. The Theory says:
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    I had a rough year last year. My once-sparkling keeper options now feels like a crunchy tissue that I found underneath my bed.

    We keep (up to) 4, replacing the first four rounds of the draft.

    -Giacarlo Stanton (obvs. getting kept)
    -Bryce Harper (Getting kept, I guess, but I keep feeling like I’m just entering the potential star/underperformer loop from hell)
    -Robinson Cano (I wouldn’t draft him, but since I have him, I guess I have to keep doubling down?)
    -Jacoby Ellsbury (So unexcited about this. Throwing him back would be a steal for whoever drafts him, but I just really hate drafting guys for speed.)
    -Michael Brantley (Thank you for last year, but I don’t trust him to avoid transforming back into a pumpkin.)
    -Corey Kluber (I know, a pitcher, but he would technically be kept at 4th round value, which feels pretty good to me.)

    h2h each cat, 10 teams, 8×11 (9 of which are relevant to starting pitchers).
    About 80-90 pitchers are owned at any given time.
    (For frame of reference, 12 starters went in the first 4 rounds last year. 14 the year before.)

    So I’m thinking Stanton/Harper/Cano/Kluber. Insane?

    • CMUTIMMAH says:
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      @The Theory: I think your hands are tied to those 4 and you know it. It’s like that TV show where the women don’t know they are pregnant and then they find a baby in the toilet when they thought there was a poop coming.. They knew, they just didn’t want to admit it to themselves.

      Basically what I’m trying to say is that your keepers are comparable to toilet babies. I hope you can scramble at the draft and pull out a good roster. However, if I’m you, with only 10 teams and that weak of a start, I’m looking to wheel and deal for 2016 already.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @The Theory: Stanton, Harper, Cano, Brantley

  3. Robert D says:
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    Love the ranking, I like guys from the Cobb, Samardzija, and Cole ranking a lot. I’m a huge fan of Jake Arrieta, the best part is he’s getting ranked late 20’s in most other rankings. Meanwhile Adam Wainwright is still being valued in top 10 for many people (hilarious) and he has huge question marks. I like Alex Wood a lot and Marcos Stroman plus Hyun-Jin Ryu. Heck there are probably 10 good pitchers who will fall in the low to mid 100’s.
    I think I’m not going to draft first pitcher at earliest in the 7th-9th round this year.

      • kingforaday151 says:
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        @The Theory: @Grey: Curious about your guys’ opinion of Wainwright. Are you concerned with the surgery last fall? Are there other question marks? Pitching is now a joke in baseball, so I’m not knocking your opinions, would just like to know more…

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          I promise to go over Wainwright tomorrow

    • RobbyRobDu says:
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      @Robert D:

      Can you elaborate on why Wainwright being a top 10 SP is “hilarious” for someone that isn’t (yet!) a part of this circlejerk going on here…

      Naturally one can be cautious of aging players, but I like to pay attention to a players mental makeup and intelligence well, and I believe that Wainwright as much as or more than ANY SP can compensate for declining stuff and continue to grow into savvy which will allow him to keep his excellent ratios low and not completely demolish his K rate…

      My dynasty uses MANY more cats than the leagues most here play in….Wainwright finished as the #15 player overall and #4 SP….he also had a CG (SO) in his 2nd to last start….his last three starts were all QS…he wasn’t breaking down.

      I used to own Wood, his awkward arm motion certainly won’t lend itself to health and will always carry that risk, why do you like him exactly? Over Wainwright for just next year?

  4. Robert D says:
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    To the Theory:
    I would throw Kluber back, there is a ton of pitching out there.
    in the top 20 that Grey did only 3 guys I thought were off. Bryce Harper’s ranking too low, Hanley Ramirez (overrated), and Nolen Arendo. I want Arendo on my team just not at 20. I feel could easily get in 4th round. But Grey’s point is well taken. I have Cano 16, Tulo, 17 and Ellsbury 19. Keep Ellsbury, although the closer it gets till April I’m sure I’ll rank Ellsbury in mid 20’s. I have Corey Dickerson 18 by the way.
    Hope that helps.

  5. Jeremy Brewer

    Jeremy says:
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    Have a keeper decision that I keep going wavering on. 5×5 12 team roto (2 catcher). We keep 6.

    I am planning on keeping:
    $10 Gomez
    $1 Arrieta
    $1 Carrasco

    I have the following for three slots;
    $5 A Wood
    $1 Calhoun
    $12 Hamels
    $8 Frazier
    $2 D’Arnaud
    $15 Wainwright

    I have been leaning towards the first 3 as I see Wood as a potential breakout, Hamels as reliable and Calhoun as a great value. The remaining 3 all seem to have substantial risk.

    Thoughts?

    • AL KOHOLIC says:
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      @Jeremy: you have to keep frazier there

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Jeremy: Agree to keep frazier….you dont have any other bats worth keeping?…Id have a hard time keeping 4 pitchers and only 2 bats

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Jeremy: Agree with others

      • Jeremy Brewer

        Jeremy says:
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        @Grey: @Grey: I see decent regression potential for Frazier especially with his SB total, however you are correct it could be foolish to pass on that power potential at that price.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yup

  6. One Man Crusade says:
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    Gray, Ventura or Lee as final keeper. At the top of the rotation I have Strasburg, Kluber and Lester

    • AL KOHOLIC says:
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      @One Man Crusade: id keep a hitter with your other sp keepers

      • One Man Crusade says:
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        @AL KOHOLIC: I agree on hitters, but after the ten I am keeping it would be lawrie or laroche

      • One Man Crusade says:
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        @Grey: thanks Grey

  7. Nittanychris says:
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    Hey January Grey, no worries at all about Iwakuma’s poor second half? Will June Grey be saying, “Wow, that was the start of a decline and I should have seen it coming.”?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Nittanychris: I think he was nursing something, seemed pretty uncharacteristic from every other larger sample size he’s shown

  8. The Thumb says:
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    You no trust Yu?

    • The JoGarza says:
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      @The Thumb: Got to assume it’s the injuries, which is probably why Tanaka isn’t up there either. If Yu is going low enough, I’d definitely gamble, but odds are he’s going way higher than whatever Grey ranks him.

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @The Thumb: No…do YU

  9. Bocephus says:
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    Thanks, Grey! I know you say strategy doesn’t change much for H2H leagues (still don’t need an ace, just a ton of SP) but the last 4 years in our keeper league, the team with the best SP has won the league. Is drafting a ton of top SP and RP, and then building an offense that hits for average, runs and SBs a terrible strategy? Thanks.

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Bocephus: it is so much easier to find pitching than bats…I won my league last year and had about 4 guys who werent even drafted on my staff….you need a few reliable guys but dont need an ace…bats bats and more bats

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Bocephus: It was probably more to do with it being H2H that the guys with pitching happened to win…its a coin flip when your in H2H playoffs…one off week and your out.

    • The JoGarza says:
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      @JeF With 1 F: @Bocephus:

      I always find some way to trade for a strong starter before the deadline. In H2H, it’s really nice to have an ace to fall back on during the playoffs, especially if it was someone you traded for. I wouldn’t draft one, I’d just trade for one eventually using a keeper of yours as bait.

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @The JoGarza: I dont know…i wouldnt give up a good bat for a good pitcher

        • The JoGarza says:
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          @JeF With 1 F:

          Well, theoretically, if you follow Grey’s strats, you should have a nice surplus of bats. Trading one away, even an above average one for a pitcher who’s dominating 2015, is worth it if bolsters your playoffs. Few things are more deflating than heading into your next playoff matchup and realizing your opponent has all three of his best SP starting twice.

          Streaming matchups is definitely an option, and last season I probably streamed the best 48 innings of my life in the first round (shout out to Yusmeiro Petit), but it can also be very risky. I’d rather a strong SP that yes, can still blow up, but is more of a sure thing than a streamer.

          • JeF With 1 F says:
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            @The JoGarza: If you have a surplus i agree…the key is picking the right one to move…sell high on someone at the right time.

    • jay says:
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      @Bocephus: my H2H is pretty much the opposite. The teams that drafted the better pitching almost always traded them off to make up for a lack of offense.
      I do see some logic in your theory though especially in H2H. If you can dominate the pitching cats consistently and squeak out a win in SBs and runs you have a pretty good chance if getti.g to the playoffs. Once there you just have to win your match ups to advance so who cares how you do it.

  10. Matt says:
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    I enjoyed Price’s 2014 season, but you don’t have any worries about Price’s full season in DET? The run support (should) be there, but the Tigers defense was definitely worse than TB’s and seemed to hurt him.

    • Fastpitch says:
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      @Matt: Detroit will be better at defense at SS,LF and CF.

      • CMUTIMMAH says:
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        I was expecting to see all four of my keeper pitchers on here… but I’m surprised that Waino was the one that didn’t make the cut and Zimmermann was that high! I know Wainwright has some concerns coming into the year though, so I can understand that. We keep 6, and on top of that I’m calling up Rendon and Abreu from my minor league roster, so Wainwright is essentially a 8th round pick for me, I’m good with that. In a league with Complete Games, Shutouts, and Quality Starts, Waino and Zimmermann have slightly more value.

        If Waino is healthy this season, he could be top 20, if not, he’s only my 8th best player.

        • CMUTIMMAH says:
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          @CMUTIMMAH: …. not sure why last comment posted here, but to actually reply to this:

          Detroit’s defense is going to be leaps and bounds better, but their offense will suffer due to this.

          First, Gose in CF for the large side of a platoon is a big step up from the post Austin Jackson CFs from last year.
          2nd, Torii Hunter was replaced by Cespedes’ cannon in the OF.
          3rd, Jose Iglesius, who is one of the best defensive SSs in the league, will be back.

          I wouldn’t be concerned about Price. He’s pitching for a contract, he’s in a good pitcher’s park, and he doesn’t have a weak offense behind him. He’s going to be top 10 barring injury.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Matt: I wouldn’t draft him either way

  11. Blue says:
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    Just gotta say this–you’re far more likely to blow up your team drafting the the Tier 1a guys than the Tier 1 guys. At least with the top ones you’re going to get something like the value you paid for them. You could burn a 4-6 Round pick/$20 bucks on the Greinkes of the world and get a $5 starter performance, easy.

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Blue: So lets say you spend 50+ on Kershaw…he gets injured (not far fetched most pitchers do)…now the rest of your team is thin because you paid top dollar for guys who always get hurt…that being said i wouldnt pay for Greinke either…This is what i won with last season…
      Carrasco
      Wheeler
      Fiers
      Gausman
      J.Zimmerman
      A.Wood
      Tillman
      L.Lynn
      You have to be on top of it and adjust/stream through out the season but you get the point….not one Ace

      • Blue says:
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        @JeF With 1 F: Yeah, I’m not arguing for drafting an Ace–I generally target the 8th round for my first SP. I’m just saying if you’re gonna draft an Ace draft an ACE not a guy who kinda-sort looks like an Ace.

        • JeF With 1 F says:
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          @Blue: Gothcha

      • Matt says:
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        @JeF With 1 F: yeah I gotcha, last year I finished top 3 in every pitching category minus saves with Price, Kluber, A.Wood, Smyly, Richards, Anderson, McCarthy and Latos. Only Price cost me $30+ at the auction and everyone else was a $1-5$ flyer

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Blue: and by the same logic a batter can blow up in your face like many top ones did last year. I draft on value and if an elite arm drops where you’re paying 75 cents on the dollar then I grab them. Drafting is fluid not rigid.

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @J-FOH: Agree …sometimes something falls in your lap too good to pass up

  12. Fastpitch says:
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    I love the write up. Grey, just wondering if you have caveats for Cobb, Cole and Carrasco concerning last years injuries. To debate with myself each of the 3 had great 2nd halves.

    • Blue says:
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      @Fastpitch: Cole is a tough one for me. I have him as an 8th Round keeper, but I’d have to not keep A. Chapman in the 9th or Starlin Castro in the 12th to do so.

      I’ll have to watch his ADP and see where I can pick him up this year, I guess.

    • Cram It says:
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      @Fastpitch: Cobb’s oblique injury in April? I think you answered your own concerns.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Fastpitch: I wrote on Cobb in the post, the other ones seemed to return fine

  13. Allan says:
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    Grey,
    Thank god its time for baseball again. If you’re playing in a points league instead of roto does that change your thinking on when you draft pitchers at all?

    • The JoGarza says:
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      @Allan:

      That’s a difficult question to answer without any information on the points system. It’s not uncommon for leagues to be structured so that SP are either extremely valuable or average. I’ve seen leagues where Victor Martinez was the #1 player last year, more than 200 pts ahead of Kershaw. If your league values pitchers (just look at the top fantasy players from last season in your league), then you’ll know if you need to spend a pick on an ace.

      • Allan says:
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        @The JoGarza: it’s a variation on ESPN standard scoring. We make a few small tweaks but nothing major.

        • The JoGarza says:
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          @Allan:

          Guess it depends on what those small tweaks are. If it’s more or less status quo like you said, then Grey will probably tell you to stay away from the aces and use those picks on hitters.

          Again, looking back at how pitchers fared with your system is a good way to guage just how important they are in your league.

  14. Charles says:
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    Per ESPN’s rankings, you can comfortably get Samarzjia, Ross, Iwakuma, and Arrieta in the 6th-9th rounds, respectively. Perfect time to grab your first pitcher, I presume?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Charles: Yup, 6th round is about right

  15. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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    did i miss something, or did joyce not make top 100 OF? i’m reading he’s batting 2nd for LAA and on good side of platoon.