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The royal we already went over all the hitters for 2022 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. In most leagues, there’s a ton of pitchers on waivers that can help you — all year. Not just in April. With the help of the Stream-o-Nator, you can get by with, say, three starters while streaming the rest. (By the by, Razzball Subscriptions are now open. Early subscribers get Rudy’s War Room, which I haven’t drafted without in about five years, and it’s worth the price of a subscription alone.) There’s also the fact that three stats by starters are difficult to predict due to luck. Wins, ERA and WHIP are prone to change, depending on 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. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Anyway, here’s the top 20 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.

1. Corbin Burnes – Already went over him in the top 20 for 2022 fantasy baseball.

2. Gerrit Cole – Already went over him in the top 20 for 2022 fantasy baseball.

3. Max Scherzer – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Woodruff. I call this tier, “Hanging out with Neil, Patrick, Harris.” I do the rankings and write-ups in the order you see them:  top 10, top 20, then catchers and around the horn. I tell you this to try to properly express how excited I am to finally get to talk about pitchers. Imagine you’re 75 words into a blurb about Randal Grichuk and you’re like, “Can I please just write about velocity for, like, ten minutes?” I know I have the best pitcher rankings, and I wonder if it’s not slightly because I’m so eager to dig into pitching after a month of my time writing about hitting. Yes, what you read over the course of two weeks takes me twice as long. Any hoo! Pitching! *breathes in* Smell it up, baby! Smell it up! It smells great, right? It sure does! Okay, now don’t draft any of the guys in this tier. Allow me to explain.

Your buddy tells you to meet him at this place, because Neil Patrick Harris is gonna be there, and you’re like, “Holy crap, Doogie Howser, that’s amazing!” You rush over there with some memorabilia for him to sign that you plan on keeping and not immediately putting on eBay because you are a stan, as the kids say, then you get there, and it’s three guys named Neil, Patrick and Harris. That disappointment is what you will have when you draft one of the guys in this tier.

Now for a diatribe, I give every year, “If these starters were to fall in drafts to where I’m willing to draft a starter, I will draft any and/or all of them. It’s not about them as much as it’s about their draft slot. Sure, I have actual problems with some starters, which I’ll get to, but if Scherzer or Wheeler or any of these guys fell to the 50s in a draft? Sure, at that point, you have to draft one, because I would be drafting a starter and they’d be above other guys. (Thank you for not laughing too loud when I said Scherzer or Wheeler would fall to pick 50.) For unstints, I always draft a starter around 50th overall (give or take ten picks), so if I’m in a draft with eleven other Greys and we’re sitting there discussing boba and the HAIM album and just general BS’ing, and all of us forget to draft a starter, I’d draft Burnes at 50th overall, then Cole, then Scherzer, then etc. So, this is a ranking of my starters, it’s just unrealistic for me to say I’m actually drafting these guys. They’ll be gone before I’m willing to draft a starter. Yes, I love the pitchers in this tier. They are great. There, I said it. But I will never roster them. You’ve read some form of this before from me. The names change, but it’s same general gist. By the way, my high school band, General Gist, was so rocking in the general vicinity of a crowd! Last year, I told you not to draft Bieber, Cole, deGrom, Darvish, Nola, Giolito, Buehler, Flaherty and Bauer. If you can’t see how lopsided it is for top starters going belly up, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. That’s seven of nine starters who disappointed, and I’m not counting Cole, who had a 3.23 ERA and absolutely disappointed! Buehler was the only top nine starter who did better than expected. One!

Last year if you rostered Lynn, Urias, Burnes, Gausman and Bassitt, you would’ve walked away with your league’s pitching categories and not drafted any top starters. Am I cherrypicking? Yes, just like you could’ve cherrypicked last year’s pitchers based on my suggestions!

You could’ve had Lynn, Urias, Burnes, Gausman and Bassitt and not drafted one starter before 50th overall.

Yes, I brought out the bold and underline.

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 roster one starter and stream five spots. Maybe you roster 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.

It’s like this every year. Without fail. In the preseason, everyone will be telling you that you need a top starter, some people might even tell you that you need two top starters. What they never say, or purposely fail to mention is how every year there’s starters in the “top starters” who weren’t there a year ago, so you could’ve had a top starter without paying for one. I told you to draft Lynn in every league last year; grab Woodruff, I said; Gausman was one of my biggest bargains I drafted everywhere and Urias, Bassitt and Alcantara were all guys I loved. Every year I tell you who to draft later, then the following year all of those starters are in the top 20. You think this is an accident? Just luck? Look at my rankings from previous years. You didn’t need Cole, Bieber, Buehler, Flaherty or deGrom last year, and you don’t need these guys this year.

There’s dozens of starters to roster, and you need at most six. For whatever reason, everyone forgets how many starters are available later. I drafted Lance Lynn in one of my leagues last year, and Donkey Teeth mocked me for not taking a starter earlier, like he did with Blake Snell in the 2nd round. It’s funny to think back at the audacity of someone telling me I did poorly by taking Lynn while they did well by taking Snell, but that’s how it is every year. People always tell you that you need a starter in the 1st three rounds.

Last year, I wrote sleeper posts for Gausman, Eovaldi, Bassitt and Means (last two were both great until an injury), pointed you towards a Stroman sleeper from the year before; told everyone to grab Freddy Peralta, and DeSclafani. Those starters alone were all drafted after 100 overall, and most of them after 200 overall. If you had those seven starters on your team, you were trading away pitching because you had too much! I’m being 100% serious when I tell you that if someone tells you that you need a top starter, you should question everything they tell you. If they tell you to draft two aces, then you should make an anonymous call for help. They need it. To go further down this rabbit hole, here’s a video of me the other day — Subscribe! (I just uploaded some War Room videos too.)

As for Scherzer, already went over him in my Max Scherzer fantasy. That was written in a seafood restaurant where they kept screaming, “Ahoy, mateys!” 2022 Projections: 16-5/2.71/0.91/228 in 172 IP

4. Zack Wheeler – Could’ve ranked Wheeler (and Scherzer) in the top 20 overall with Burnes and Cole while telling you not to draft them, but I feared there would be some kind of revolt. “Grey, handsome face, but I have a real bone to pick with you! You’re ranking these starters so high and saying don’t draft them. No offense, but you are as dumb as an elephant with an ostrich brain.” Hey, I get it. It’s convoluted. To rank players and then say don’t draft them. Wheeler is being drafted on average around 22nd overall, and as high as 16, so in a lot of leagues, if I told you don’t touch Wheeler until 19th overall, he wouldn’t even be there, and then when I say, don’t draft a starter until 50 overall, and rank them before that. I understand the confusion. It’s Crystal Pepsi in my mind. Zima, to the highest order. Draft something else! If Wheeler’s ADP is 22, he’s not going to be there in 98% of leagues with my ranking, and, if he is, ignore him. If I were not ignoring him, I’d marvel at his stats. Call him Zack Wolverine.

Was surprised to see some people have Wheeler as, like, the 8th starter off the board. Super irrelevant, because I know best, and we’re not drafting any of them, but to put Wheeler and his potential 220 IP behind deGrom is a call for help. Wheeler had a top, if not the best, fastball in baseball, and his fastball produced similar results in 2018 with the Mets, when he had a 3.31 ERA, but what’s changed? His slider is now one of the best in baseball too. Kershaw always has the best slider in baseball, and Kershaw’s was a -14 run value. Wheeler’s slider was -11, and had a lower wOBA and 30% Whiff rate. Oh, and his curve, which he only throws 10.7% of the time, had a .154 xBA with a 42.5% Whiff rate. I guess there’s a concern that he just had a career year, but I’d argue he’s about to be the best starter in baseball for the next three to five years, barring injury. Of course, you still should ignore him! 2022 Projections: 16-7/2.74/0.98/247 in 210 IP

5. Brandon Woodruff – Ya know what’s kinda funny in a non-haha way about top starters and the worst starters, there’s very little to say. The top ones are great, and the bottom ones suck. It’s the middle where it gets fun, as Monie and Malcolm found. So, Woodruff, yeah, his Statcast page is hilariously great. His 4-seamer produced a .271 wOBA and a .212 xBA, which he threw on average 96.5 MPH. That was the third best 4-seamer in baseball. He also has the 8th best curve and 6th best change. (By the way, I float between Statcast and Fangraphs for pitching metrics, and they don’t always align with what they call something or how they rank a pitch, but just trust that the overall point remains.) These “8th best curve” etc. are for starters, obviously, but Woodruff’s change produces a 41% Whiff rate. The best change in baseball is Devin Williams’s, and his Whiff% is ‘only’ 47.2%. Woodruff is rocking three unhittable pitches. Will I draft him? No, but he’s fantastic. 2022 Projections: 14-5/2.69/0.98/224 in 190 IP

6. Walker Buehler – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Buehler. I call this tier, “The Russian judge gave my medulla oblongata only a 9.8.” In this tier, I’m doing mental gymnastics trying to explain why I not only wouldn’t draft one of these guys, but why I think they might disappoint. You have to understand I still think these guys could be great, but there’s some real concerns. As for Buehler, something that some people might confuse, as I kinda said in a roundabout way in deGrom’s blurb, I don’t care if Buehler is good or bad. It has no basis in how well my fantasy teams do. It’s immaterial, girl. I think they’re okay. If they don’t give me proper credit. I just walk away. They can beg and they can plead–Wait, now I’m just singing Madonna. By the by, she’s aged like a fine Cougar, but her songs not so much. It’s hard to listen to any Madonna song all the way through, except for Like A Virgin. An absolute classic. La Isla Bonita is prolly number two. Thanks for joining me for my Madonna song rankings, and now back to starter rankings!

Buehler has some kinda iffy trends. Velocity down, Ks down, getting by on pinpoint command. It’s not great, tee bee aitch. Hey, I still ranked him fairly high, so I don’t think he’s gonna fall off the cliff, like if bad becomes the norm. Cheers! 2022 Projections: 15-5/2.76/0.99/226 in 211 IP

7. Aaron Nola – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Gausman. I call this tier, “Fill my holes with dry rice to reduce moistness.” I imagine by now you are moist for starters. Well, before you fill your holes with dry rice to reduce moistness, I have a special treat for you:  You can begin to draft starters. See, that wasn’t too long, was it? Great, I didn’t think so either, and I could tell you were overflowing with moistness, so I’m happy to tell you starters are now available. But you might want to chew on a sanitary napkin or rub deodrant on your forehead, because it might actually be longer before you can draft a starter. Here’s the thing, and, yes, there’s always a thing. I will absolutely draft someone in this tier, but I won’t reach for them. If they make it to around 50 overall, or under $30, then I’d happily draft one to reduce my moistness, and remove the dry rice from my holes. See, I don’t punt all starters, just the very top ones. Just don’t reach for one of these guys. Also, I’m using the same tier names as previous years so I can transfer over my Pitching Draft Tool with relative ease. You’ll get over your outrage.

As for Nola, as great as Wheeler was last year, there’s a case to be made Nola was even better for everything except ERA. I know, I know, we have that silly little ERA category in our leagues and not, say, K-BB%, but, mah gawd, Nola’s peripherals are butter on a hot piece of dry toast that’s in the desert dying from chappeditiness. Chappeditiness is totally a word, by the way, not sure why my autocorrect keeps underlining it.

Top 5 for K-BB%: Burnes, Scherzer, Cole, Ray and Nola. You don’t find “bad” pitchers with a top K-BB%. I think it’s theoretically impossible. Call me a devout follower of the Church of Saberhagenmetrics, but there is really something to bad luck just covering all kinds of wonderful, and leading to a great buying opportunity the year after. That is Nola indubitably. By the by, instead of a breathalyzer, cops should just see if people can pronounce “indubitably.” Nola was clearly hurt by the long ball, and his GB% fell to 40.5% from “never below 49%” since his rookie year, i.e., Nola needs to get the ball down. Does he know that? If I could figure it out in 45 seconds of research, I bet he knows. So, the better question is why am I so confident Nola can regain the ground ball and keep the ball down? Because he did it for six years of his professional career. He lost the feel? Messed up his mechanics? Not sure, but that’s the kind of thing a pitcher can fix in the offseason. 2022 Projections: 13-6/3.19/1.08/247 in 198 IP

8. Freddy Peralta – I admittedly love Peralta. Maybe more than others. Why “more” is truly the mint in the julep. I don’t know what anyone else is thinking on Peralta, and why I was able to draft him already in one league (15-team NFBC league recap). Peralta was the 14th best starter last year on the Player Rater, and now he can throw another 25+ IP. That’s good! Peralta’s stuff is unhittable. Maybe people haven’t seen him. Maybe they don’t like guys whose stuff is unhittable. Think it’s unfair? I don’t know.

Here’s the expected batting averages for all his pitches: .177, .163, .167, .203, .204. His actual batting averages against are even better! For his top three pitches, which account for 89% of his pitches, his BAAs are: .156, .158, .122. I’m sorry, huh? Those are pinball numbers if “pinball numbers” mean absurdly special and make my brain go bingbong.

The only pause one should have with Freddy Peralta is he just threw 144 1/3 IP, and might only be good for 160 IP. But here’s something that no one else tells you: 90% of all fantasy baseball leagues are 12-team or shallower. In a 12-team or shallower league, 160 IP of an ace and 40 IP from someone off waivers is more than doable. It’s actually preferable. 2022 Projections: 12-7/2.72/1.01/221 in 164 IP

9. Lucas Giolito – Knew last year was a down year for Giolito, but I didn’t know how much of a down year it was until I started digging in and it wasn’t a down year, he just had an up year for expectations going into last year. Kapeesh? Yeah, unlikely! So, last year people were drafting Giolito in, like, the top 15 overall, which was stupid, as pointed out by me. Not sure what kind of rip-roarin’ good time people were expecting from Giolito. Did you think he was one of those old timey piano players that plays The Entertainer? Not to beat up drafters from last year and make this a ragtime, but drafting Giolito that high was dumb, and now he’s priced correctly again. He’s a 10-11 K/9, 2.5-3 BB/9, 3.20-3.55 ERA pitcher, who has great durability, and likely run support. That’s not a top 5 overall starter, but it definitely is a top 55 overall guy. 2022 Projections: 13-6/3.34/1.05/218 in 191 IP

10. Robbie Ray – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Mariners. From Justin Dunn to Just In Pants: The Story of the 2022 Seattle Mariners Rotation. From Kelenic To There’s No Way They’re Hiding A Colonic In Those Pants, My Seattle Mariners Are All Back. From–Sorry! I was working on possible titles for my Seattle Mariners 2022 yearbook. New fan just dropped! That’s me! Love this signing for the M’s and Ray’s fantasy value. The concern that Robbie Ray would have nowhere to go but down after a Cy Young year, and he landed in literally the best pitchers’ park, for last year, at least. T-Mobile tied with Oakland for runs, and was 20th for homers. The one possible bugaboo still left in Ray’s game is homers allowed. Prior to last year, he struggled with command, said Mr. Exposition, and has always struggled a bit with the long ball. Was down to 1.5 HR/9 last year, but that still feels high for a guy with 11.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and just absolute filth and I don’t mean his pants after a game. Seattle is going to help with those homers. Since I had the page open for Scherzer, Ray had the 8th best fastball (when sorting back to a full season), and the 10th best slider. If Robbie Ray is still on the board around pick 45, I’m in.” And that’s me quoting me! 2022 Projections: 14-8/3.12/1.06/257 in 202 IP

11. Kevin Gausman – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Jays. Still love Gausman, so take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt. Last year, I called him a sleeper, and drafted everywhere I could. He then took his ceiling, removed it, floated up 350,000 feet, placed his ceiling on the moon, and talked like he sucked helium for six months. It was an insane year. You can’t expect insane years, especially not from someone who has one pitch. Okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight. He throws a splitter about as well as Earl Anthony on a 7-10. As I’ve said before, when you have one pitch that’s a top five pitch in baseball, you only really need one pitch. He’s improved his fastball too, so it really has all come together for Gausman. “Come Together” was brought you by The Beatles documentary, and this is now a sponsored post. Gausman throws his splitter 35% of the time, and hitters have a .133 BAA with an xBA of .155. Honestly, nuff said, said a Nuffin.” And that’s me quoting me quoting a Nuffin! 2022 Projections: 13-9/3.16/1.07/219 in 189 IP

12. Jose Berrios – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Montas. I call this tier, “Eat your ideal lover’s weight in cookie dough.” The tier name is a self-help tip. Much like any pizza can be a personal pan pizza with some dedication. Or wait until midnight on Valentine’s Day, go to Wal-Mart and buy 50% off candy so you can gorge yourself. Another self-help tip for a person is drafting a starting pitcher. So, stop reading, Who Moved My String Cheese, get off your butt and draft a starter! Now!

As for Berrios, ya know what’s interesting (perhaps to only me)? Everyone sneers at ERA, but only when it’s convenient. If you were to just take the 9.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and plopped it on a 2.75 ERA pitcher, then where would Berrios be ranked by people? Five spots higher than he currently is? Ten spots? Ya know what? I’m gonna answer for you: See Walker Buehler. That’s your answer. Walker Buehler does a tad less on Ks, and a tad worse on command, but is currently going around the top five starters in just about every draft. Berrios bests him, but can’t get his ERA lower, through very little to do with him, and is drafted about twenty starters later (for most, not me, obviously).

Jose Berrios was the 15th best starter last year, and, at 27 years of age, no one wants him. Oh…*counts to a million using foam fingers bought off eBay*…kay. Is it the Toronto-slash-AL East thing? He already pitched for them last year and was nearly identical in his time with the Jays as he was with the Twins. Not compelling enough for you? Okay, not sure what to tell you. Across the board, his numbers for fantasy were easily better than Alcantara, and still are, but I see Berrios being drafted way after Sandy. 2022 Projections: 14-8/3.47/1.05/211 in 202 IP

13. Sandy Alcantara – In the drafts I’ve seen so far, Sandy’s gonezo before I’m willing to go gaga. Here’s something that is lost on so many people. You only need one starter from this tier, or the previous one. If you can get two from this tier or the last? Then great, terrific, adjective! You don’t need two though. Will go over in detail how to draft starters at a later time. So, while I like Sandy and would draft him, I can miss out on him. Why I’m not higher on him is easier for me, so let’s go down that path.

Sandy Alcantara is not elite in any category, except maybe control. If a guy has elite command, and isn’t getting elite strikeouts, it means they can’t. To break down the logic: A guy can throw the ball anywhere, then logic follows he’d throw it where a hitter will swing and miss if he could. Last year, he had an 8.8 K/9, which was his MLB high, and coupled with his MLB high of 2.2 BB/9. So, he finally figured out how to hit his spots and hitters were still hitting him. Not well, mind you. He had a 3.19 ERA and has a career 3.59 ERA in 487 1/3 IP, because he’s a low-3 ERA pitcher. He limits walks and/or damage well. How did he do that, his pinpoint control was aimed off the plate. “That ain’t dirt, that’s Sandy.” That’s a 6-year-old playing in a sandbox, and the Marlins’ catcher talking about his positioning. 2022 Projections: 12-9/3.08/1.05/195 in 201 IP

14. Joe Musgrove – Here’s one of those guys who appears in literally every top 25 list of stats that you want to see to signify a pitcher is good. The results aren’t always as good as they should be for Musgrove, but the “stuff” is so ridiculous I refused to rank him any lower. Don’t even care if he trailed a bit in the 2nd half. Here goes, because people are gonna wanna know the good stuff:

Chase rate — 19th best
Chase rate contact — 10th
Contact in zone — 21st
Contact% — 9th
Zone% — 22nd
First pitch strike% — 13th
K/9 — 15th
BB/9 — 27th
K-BB% — 17th
GB% — 19th
HardContact% — 22nd
Slider wins above value — 1st
Curveball wins above value — 5th

Just one or two of those and my antennae go up. All of those? Give me all your Musgrove shares. 2022 Projections: 13-8/3.10/1.06/207 in 184 IP

15. Frankie Montas – Last year, Montas had a 10 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9, and 3.37 ERA. How is he even available to me here? He’s got a career ERA of 3.86 with a 9.4 K/9, and he’s just now coming into his own and getting better! It takes guys a little while to figure out their correct pitch sequence, and now Montas has revived his splitter (22% of the time) and it sets up his fastball. Both now have real results: .214 BAA on the 96 MPH fastball and .126 on the 88 MPH splitter. His sinker, which he throws 29% of the time, gets hit a bit (.311 BAA), but that could be slightly held at a high BABIP’s feet. Not all, but maybe some, as it had a .278 xBA. The more he trusts his splitter, though, and its 51.4% Whiff Rate (!!!) the better the Montas results are going to keep getting.

For those of you who are like, “Grey, first off, I love your face, but you are a very dumb person. Montas is ranked how high?! Or, better yet, are you high?” What if I told you he already had a solid season? What if I said it wasn’t just last year? Would that calm your nerves about drafting him this high? He was the 19th best SP last year on the Player Rater. Like an Eskimo’s quadratic equation on the side of an igloo, that’s just cold, hard math. If Montas had Wainwright’s win total last year (17), Montas would’ve been the 14th best SP last year. This is one thing I never understand each year. People are like, “You’re so crazy to rank (player’s name) that high,” but always, and I mean always, the top 20 or 40 starters are never as you see them here. This is as much art as it is science. I already told you seven of the top nine starters didn’t return value, but am telling you about Montas, a guy who did return value, and you want to fight it. Think why that is. I think it’s because you’re paying too much attention to other sites. Also, here’s Coolwhip’s Frankie Montas 2022 fantasy. 2022 Projections: 12-7/3.41/1.10/214 in 190 IP

16. Julio Urias – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 40 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Wearing flip-flops with socks.”  There’s just no excuse for wearing socks with flip-flops unless you are a Polish immigrant or you just took off your shoes and were asked to take out the garbage. Anywhere else with socks and flips-flops is strictly prohibited. That’s this tier, strictly prohibited. As for Urias, he’s a saucy spoonful of sass with his curve. He’s like the Kevin Gausman of Uriasses but with a curve. Urias doesn’t need to throw more than one pitch, and he doesn’t always. His curve was thrown 34.2% of the time and registered a .155 BAA. That’s cackle worthy, if you so desire. His change was pretty nasty too, registering .194 BAA, but only thrown 17.3% of the time. My concerns for him come from his setup pitch. The 4-seamer is thrown 47.8% of the time and had a .277 BAA, which is wildly meh. Last year, he finished 3rd on the Player Rater for starters, but that was obviously bolstered by his 20 wins. Give him the 14 wins that Wheeler had, and Urias plummets to 11th best SP, because his Ks are solid (9.5 K/9), but far from earth-shattering. Urias’s 1.8 BB/9 made his previous year possible, and if he loses only 0.5 BB/9, then he’s going to struggle to be under a 3.30 ERA. He’s likely fine, but off my sheet, for s’Urias. 2022 Projections: 13-6/3.56/1.04/203 in 194 IP

17. Shane Bieber – Seeing people project Bieber for 193 IP is already in my top 10 for the funniest things I will see all year and it’s only February. Bieber’s had 174 IP in the last two years combined. There’s rules set out at the Geneva Conventions that say Bieber can’t throw 193 IP, even if he’s healthy. Oh, and that “if” has its own time zone! In this example, the IDL isn’t the International Date Line; it’s the Injured Day-to-Day List. Bieber missed three months last year with a right shoulder subscapularis muscle strain. Oh, just one of those pesky things! Who hasn’t had their share of shoulder subscapularis muscle strains? Maybe he’s fine, but if you used your confidence to draft him in other facets of your life, you’d be strutting around like a peacock with a smoking cougar on your arm. Not ‘smoking’ as in hot, but one taking a pull off a Benson & Hedges 120. Also, I go over Bieber in the video at the top of the page. Then, when you’re done watching that, you can reread this whole post again and again for infinity. 2022 Projections: 9-3/3.09/1.01/187 in 146 IP

18. Jacob deGrom – People get the wrong idea sometimes that I am an out-and-out hater. Hundred percent venom from the fangs to the fingers.

*running onto a basketball court as spotlights flash left to right giving epilepsy to unsuspecting fans* PA Announcer, “The man behind the fingers of anger…He’s notorious from the fangs to the fingers, call him…Grey…The Fanger!” I high-five fellow six-foot guys, because I have on very high heels.

Wrong! I am not a hater, and don’t call me The Fanger. I’d love to see 200 IP from deGrom as he puts together a season for the ages. See, because I know what I’m doing, I can draft starters later and do well. I don’t need top starters to fail to live up to expectations. They simply do. If deGrom does well, great! I’m happy for him. The problem, as I see it, is there’s about a 5% chance he makes it through 180+ IP. To return great value, he might only need to throw 85 IP, which is why I have him ranked so high. Still not drafting, but I get the appeal. My, uh, appeal to you is if you have to google “(insert pitcher name) + arm injury” before drafting them, don’t draft them.

Specifically about deGrom, well, you know how great he is, but this made me laugh, so I thought I’d share. His career numbers: 2.50 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and he’s 34 years old. Not young. Guess his win-loss record. Too late! It’s 77-53. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Dude’s arguably a Hall of Famer and he’s got 77 career wins. UPDATE: Stress reaction of the scapula, and shut down for at least four weeks. I said don’t draft him before this, now I’m saying please. 2022 Projections: 6-2/2.19/0.83/89 in 60 IP

19. Logan Webb – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until top 40 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Bon varyäge.” The tier name is what you say when you’re taking a number two in a fancy joint. You want a cheap number one? Well, that ship has sailed, but how about an expensive number two? I will go over how to draft starters when I do my pairings post, but this tier is essentially when you think your number one might be a little weak, and you wanna bulk up on a strong number two.

Logan Webb is a big-brained bazinga. Will now explain across 45,000 words what that means, strap in. People in “smart” leagues will overdraft Webb. “Smart” leagues aren’t necessarily smart. I’ve said this numerous times before, but people in “smart” leagues overdraft guys that are hot commodities. Sometimes it works: Corbin Burnes last year. Sometimes it doesn’t: Did you forgot the 7 of 9 top SPs from the last post that I mentioned being out on last year that failed to live up to expectations? “Smart” money was saying be high on starters last year; “smart” money wasn’t smart. This year, “smart” money has Webb ranked above here. Now for the good news, in most friends and family leagues, Webb will easily be attainable at this price. That’s actually where I think the “smart” money is, and why I’m ranking Webb here. Never forget that ‘perts overdraft guys to prove a point and get engagement. They’re not always serious about some of their drafts. An example, “Wow, (‘pert name) drafted Logan Webb in the top 35 overall? Man, he must really like him!” People talk about that ‘pert for a few days, then they forget by mid-April that Webb isn’t producing top 35 value and that ‘pert faces no consequences. It’s free publicity while that ‘pert releases his fantasy football rankings early and ignores baseball after July.

I like Webb, but he’s got more buts than conjoined twins. Love me some Giants starters. That park, man and five womans, is a thing of beauty for starters. If I could draft all Giants starters, I prolly would in some deeper-slash-NL-Only leagues. It’s true love. His slider is a top 5 slider in baseball and his 93 MPH sinker (which is classified differently where you look) is top five. Someone get Chris Rock to do a Top 5 movie about sliders and sinkers, would ya? Webb’s ready for his close-up. For those that qualified on IP, Luis Castillo had the top ground ball rate at 56.6%. Webb just missed qualifying and had a ground ball rate of 60.9%. Zoinks! Or I should say, “Sinks!” So, everything is on the ground, and a great park, and what’s not to like? He was the 26th best starter last year on the Player Rater, and that’s about right, because the Ks won’t ever be obscene gorge. His Whiff Rate on the Sinker was 16%. Bleh. He’s around a 8.5-9.5 K/9 guy, which is fine, but he’s way more Kyle Hendricks than he is Freddy Peralta.  2022 Projections: 12-6/3.12/1.09/182 in 179 IP

20. Charlie Morton – Full disclosure alert! I nearly ranked Morton in the top 20 starters. The only thing that stopped me is his age, but that should’ve actually had me raising him up higher, because with each passing year, he gains a mile or two on his fastball. By the time Charlie Morton turns 45 years old, he’s going to be throwing 112 MPH. He’s gonna hit 80 years old and 200 MPH. Charlie Morton is the reverse Benjamin Button, which, I guess, would be aging normally, which isn’t right either. I don’t know what kind of elixirs Charlie Morton is drinking, but I want some! He’s outgrew his nickname Ground Chuck. He doesn’t even throw many ground balls any more. Because hitters can’t touch his stuff! Y’all think I’m having a goof, but he threw an 89 MPH fastball at the age of 28, and he’s gonna be 38 this year, and he threw a 95.3 MPH fastball last year. Oh, and his ground ball rate in that time went from 62.9% to 47.8%. Kinda hilarious. It’s clear why too. He used to pitch for the Ray Searage Pirates. The same guy and team that tried to make Tyler Glasnow and Gerrit Cole pitch to contact. Really just a brilliant organization. 2022 Projections: 13-8/3.47/1.08/206 in 178 IP