We got fantasy starters! *rings a town crier bell* We got the top 60 starters for 2023 fantasy baseball! There’s a “So many starters to draft” theme cutting through the starters rankings, and that theme continues. Also, Razzball Subscriptions are up and running, and that comes with our online Fantasy Baseball War Room. Here’s Steamer’s 2023 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2023 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 60 starters for 2023 fantasy baseball:
NOTE I: 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 II: 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.
NOTE III: Here’s BDon and I discussing the top 100 starters:
GO BACK TO THE TOP 40 STARTERS FOR 2023 FANTASY BASEBALL
41. Logan Gilbert – This tier started in the top 40 starters for 2023 fantasy baseball. This tier goes from here until Severino. I called this tier, “Bosom buddies.” As for Gilbert, prolly selling Gilbert short by calling him a sexy number three vs. a sexy number two, but putting Gilbert in the 9+ K/9, 2-ish BB/9 tier with the top 40 starters fitted tuxedos felt wrong. Oh, I just thought of a Shark Tank idea — sell felt shirts, but not the fabric felt, but just shirts that are cheaply-made but have been touched. “Hmm, I like it. That feels felt.” Gilbert ended up here because he had the qualifications: 8+ K/9, 2+ BB/9. An 8 K/9 vs. 9 K/9 gets you knocked down a starter number from a two to three? Yes, that is what I’m saying. Gilbert has a bit of a homer-slash-fly ball issue, but that’s not bad to have in Seattle. It’s just so much hard contact. His Statcast looks a whole lot more Smurfy-blue than I’d want. At the end of the day, I came out on the side of liking Gilbert, but hard contact in the air scares me a little. 2023 Projections: 9-10/3.71/1.16/177 in 182 IP
42. Pablo Lopez – Bit of a note about the projections in this tier, and in general. If a guy is a sleeper or just “Grey is loving his upside” then I tend to be more optimistic about their projections. They still have more risk than safer starters in safer tiers. Just because Lopez or Springs or Luzardo’s projections might look amazing, they’re ranked where they are instead of, say, the top 20 starters as maybe their projections say, because they have a ton of risk. Springs might get moved out of the rotation, Luzardo has never come close to his projections before, yadda.
As for Lopez, traded to the Twins. Or I should say given away. What’s his downside? Well, he kinda sucked last year. That’s a big one. Here’s the thing: That was last year, not this year. Crazy, right? If you followed my lead, you were out on Pab-Lo last year. And now we’re going back in. Last year, he threw 180 IP, 8.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 3.56 xFIP. Was a bit unlucky on men left on base, and his command was a little wonky, but he upped his SwStr% and lowered his inside and outside zone contact. His 2nd half really hurt him (4.97 ERA) but that was based on a very high BABIP and he actually had better command. He had the 15th lowest Hard Contact% for the season, and 16th lowest in the 2nd half. That is disconnected from his 2nd half ERA. In fact (Grey’s got more!), he had the 8th highest difference in his 2nd half ERA and FIP. He was one of the unluckiest pitchers last year, and, if he hadn’t been, he would’ve ended the year with something like a 3.10 ERA instead of a 3.75 ERA, and would be ranked at least ten starters higher, and drafted about 30 to 50 spots higher in ADP. 2023 Projections: 11-9/3.24/1.14/177 in 174 IP
43. Lance Lynn – Speaking of guys who sucked last year. Lynn was dreadful. Or. Dot dot dot. Was he? He had a 9.2 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and a 3.44 xFIP in a year when he never seemed healthy through 121 2/3 IP. He turns 36 in May, and just taking a mere glimpse of my body after 36 without having a medical degree, I’m gonna speculate his health isn’t going to get better. That doesn’t mean he can’t put up a roughly 140 IP season of solid Ks and excellent command as he’s done for the last four seasons, turning out one low-to-mid 3 ERA after another. 2023 Projections: 10-7/3.48/1.09/139 in 135 IP
44. Kodai Senga – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Mets. *screaming like the Sega commercial voice* Senga! He should slot in as their number three, behind Verlander and Scherzer. No presh. The crazy thing is, for his price, at least right now, Senga might be the best one for the buck. Last year, he had a 1.89 ERA in 148 IP with a 1.04 WHIP, a 9.7 K/9, 3 BB/9 and been doing it for a decade. He has a 2.42 ERA in 1340 2/3 career innings. Damn, what’s he Japanese Kershaw? Call him Clayton Konnichiwa. As we’ve learned from past segments of “This guy just came over from Japan,” NPB is more competitive than Triple-A, but less so than the majors. Quad-A? Sure, but that’s got a connotation to it of guys who can’t make it in the States, and clearly a lot of them can be stars. Senga throws hard — has touched 100 MPH, and has a cutter, slider, curve and a forkball that eats up hitters (pun point!). He could be outstanding this year with hitters completely unfamiliar with him, but, when push comes to him shoving, he won’t have elite command or strikeouts. If it’s 3.5 BB/9 and a 8.5 K/9, then he’s gonna be in trouble, and might be more like the Mets’ number four with Carrasco more as the three. If he gets out strong early on, due to unfamiliarity, he might sneak by for the first half of the year with much higher Ks and lower walks. Will be a flyer I’ll definitely be willing to take, if his price stays around 180+ ADP.” And that’s me quoting me! 2023 Projections: 10-9/3.61/1.19/143 in 152 IP
45. Luis Severino – Don’t really understand fully how Severino is being drafted as a number three. Likely has something to do with us just having so many starters available. Throw a rock and hit at least three decent starters in the first 120 overall you want to draft. Seeing people draft a guy like George Kirby over Severino and I’m like, “Oh, c’mon, that’s ridiculous,” then I rank George Kirby above Severino and I’m like, “Fine, Kirby over Severino, but I want Severino too!” There’s really an abundance of starters where I feel like I want all of them, while also knowing I don’t want to overdraft. That’s the hardest balancing act. Loving so many starters while also not prematurely drafting them all. Feels like we’re getting a present this year with Severino, specifically. He’s an ace. Everyone knows this. Only thing between him and prolly a top 12 starter overall is he can’t throw more than 150 IP this year. Or shouldn’t at least. He came back last year after missing essentially three years, but threw 102 IP last year, velocity was up and had a 9.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9. Welp, I don’t know what to tell ya, but I think he’s an ace again. UPDATE: Out with a lat strain. 2023 Projections: 12-4/3.39/1.04/134 in 120 IP
46. Freddy Peralta – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until May. I call this tier, “FAFO.” That stands for Fudge Around, Find Out, only I didn’t say fudge, I said the mother of all curse words. You can fudge around with these guys, but, and I am Charleston Chew’sing my words careful here, I would not. One quick word about the rankings, in general. In every league, a guy like Sandoval is available after FreddyKBB is drafted (or other guys in this tier), so I’m saying don’t draft these guys, but it’s pretty moot. If you get in a situation where one of the guys in this tier falls, can you draft them? Sure, you can do whatever you want. I wouldn’t draft them for reasons I will go over.
As for FreddyKBB, sadly, I don’t have alligator blood to help me with this, but I have to pass on him this year. I don’t dislike anything about his stuff, but it’s simple as he had shoulder inflammation at the end of last year. Had a 7 K/9 in August in 29 2/3 IP, and lost all kinds of velocity. Might’ve finally caught up to him all the yanking and/or cranking the Brewers did with him hopping and/or skipping to and/or fro the pen. If I had to put some kind of crappy Do Not Pass bet on a player that they’d be shutdown in Spring Training, I’d do it with FreddyKBB. Maybe he’s fine, but I don’t want to fudge around and/or find out. 2023 Projections: 9-11/3.88/1.12/142 in 136 IP
47. Tony Gonsolin – The Dodgers cheat, right? I mean, there’s no way they turn literally every pitcher into Drysdale. Wait a second! How long has this been going on? I’m going to say something that could get me barred from all Jewish delis. But was Sandy Koufax just Johan Santana with some Dodgers’ pixie dust and the original “I don’t roll on Shabbos?” It’s beginning to seem like I don’t like the Dodgers. Urias? Check, as in a woof from me, dawg. Gonsolin? As Rita Wilson never said, no T. Hanks. And Dustin May is in this tier too. Why do I not love my hometown team? I do, I guess. Dodger Stadium is a hitters’ park, and Gonsolin, and Urias both overperformed by so much. Sure, the Dodgers always get their guys to overperform, but I’m not banking on it. I actually loved Gonsolin last year, but, as a expected 3.60 ERA, number five, not as a 2.30 ERA, number one. He does avoid hard contact, but not in any elite way, and not even as good as Urias. He had a BAA of .113, .137 and .130 for his splitter, slider, and curve, respectively. Or disrespectively, what the eff?! I don’t know, it just all seems too good to be true, and a general note: There’s so many pitchers! If you don’t love one or ten, it’s fine. There’s another 50 to choose from. Maybe Gonsolin is another Urias, who will outperform his peripherals, but, sigh, I don’t want to fudge about with Tony. 2023 Projections: 10-9/3.64/1.13/145 in 157 IP
48. Lucas Giolito – I’m all about the Bounce Back Bus. I’m Jerome Bettis driving that bus. My “Bettis” not on Giolito, how’sever. Velocity down, hard hit up, and fly balls down, but it doesn’t matter when most are flying out of the yard. Giolito almost singlehandedly counters my continuing tapping of the sign that reads, “The White Sox humidor is too strong and killing their hitters’ power,” because Giolito made other hitters look dope. Giolito’s Statcast is making me go brr, it’s so blue. Is that the movie poster for the stop-motion classic, Jack Frost, or is that Giolito’s Statcast? I don’t know, and, you guessed it, I don’t want to find out, and have zero fudges to give. 2023 Projections: 12-8/3.82/1.31/182 in 171 IP
49. Dustin May – Just looked at his innings per season, and he’s yet to pass the 56 innings marker, i.e., less than most closers. I like May — makes April’s showers worthwhile — but the people drafting May way higher than this have come dislodged from reality. Even May’s career high in innings if we included the minors is 134, and that was in 2017! Oh, just six years ago. May can still make a career for himself at 25 years old, and his stuff is nasty. I get the attraction to The Giant Human Carrot, but I’m a’ight on beta carotene from GNC and not the GHC. Could he be worth the draft pick? Sure, but: Say it with me now, get the fudge out of here, I don’t want to find out. 2023 Projections: 7-3/2.64/1.07/102 in 95 IP
50. Charlie Morton – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Rasmussen. I call this tier, “Dorf on Golf Presents: Fore!” This tier is filled with fourth starters who could go way wide of their intended target. I’m drafting them, but there’s a reason these guys aren’t number twos or threes.
As for Morton, he’s a throwback to the glorious time, that golden era of 2019 when everyone had a 10+ K/9. Morton struggled with command last year (2.8 BB/9 to 3.3 BB/9 year over year), which is pretty bizarre for a 38-year-old. Speaking of which, did I suddenly become a Cougar chaser when it comes to pitchers? Am I drafting Verlander, Kershaw, Morton and Scherzer? Yes, I am. *walking like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever into a bingo hall* “What’s up, ladies!?” Am I screaming at kids to get off my lawn and my pitching staff? Suppose so, because I see Morton’s 2nd half of 11.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 from a guy who usually has a 2.5 BB/9, and I’m strutting into the old age home. 2023 Projections: 12-7/3.76/1.17/192 in 167 IP
51. Nick Lodolo – From Methuselah to Genesis. Call Lodolo by the name Phil Collins and hope what’s not In The Air Tonight is home runs. Lodolo feels a year away still. Last year, he threw 103 1/3 IP, and 11.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, which is basically a chef’s kiss that echoes over the galaxy, and/or is headed to being an ace this year, and/or is very up and/or down, due to homers and walks Andor is solid for a Star Wars show. The big question mark for me here vs., say, his teammate, Hunter Greene, is how Lodolo was on a 60-day IL last year with a back strain. Those things linger, and even his last year injury went from a 10-day IL stint to just before the All-Star Break. He could easily be an ace, but I’m just pumping the brakes a little. As the lead character In The Air Tonight should’ve. 2023 Projections: 8-9/3.51/1.20/158 in 129 IP
53. Jon Gray – Unfortunately, the thing that is playing games on my head with Adolis Garcia, Corey Seager and other Rangers hitters is doing the same with Gray and I. Gray and me? I and I? Me and me? We learned this offseason that the balls in Texas were juiced, so Gray went from Coors, where he had a 1.27 HR/9 and saw that decrease to only 1.20. If the Rangers get to use the dead ball this year, which they should, if every team does, then Gray could finally have that career year that Gray promised us. I promised me? I promised I? If the price for Gray is reasonable enough, I’m willing to take the chance. We take the chance on us? Us chancing we? Grey on Gray, and it’s confusing. 2023 Projections: 11-10/3.77/1.21/154 in 151 IP
54. Sonny Gray – Boy, this guy is underrated. Just an absolute class act. Next to the definition of handsome, this guy’s face–oh Sonny Gray? Oh, gotcha. Gotta a little sub-tier of Grey’s on Grays. Sounds like middle school all over again. Haven’t mentioned this in a few blurbs as was most exquisitely laid out by my brain custard on the matter in Kwan’s blurb back in the top 40 outfielders. For whatever reason, some guy’s actual value and ranking just don’t match up. Gray was solid last year, had a 2.38 2nd half ERA, and has a 3.56 ERA in 1387 IP in his career. He’s solid, should be drafted as solid. Instead, from what I’ve seen, he’s a cast-off. Treated as a forgettable number five. No respect for Gray, I tell ya. *pulls on collar* 2023 Projections: 10-7/3.64/1.17/150 in 153 IP
55. Drew Rasmussen – He’s had a 2.84 ERA two years in a row across two different teams. One more year of a 2.84 ERA and he wins the grand prize and gets to sleep with Khris Davis’s wife. (Assuming she consents. We don’t care if Khris does. Sorry!) Someone get Rasmussen to pitch 150 IP on Mars vs. Oppy just to see if he can keep the streak alive. Let’s see Rasmussen pitch standing on a boogie board in the Pacific to see if he can get a 2.84 ERA. Let’s go! Time’s-a-wastin’! Enquiring minds want to know! Rasmussen is almost fully predicated on hitters chasing, but that comes with an insanely solid Zone%, i.e. Rasmussen is a cheap Gausman. Call him The Invisible Man. Because he’s wrapped with Gausman! 2023 Projections: 10-6/3.33/1.06/138 in 154 IP
56. Chris Sale – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Flaherty. I call this tier, “Chck ngin.” This tier is named after the “Check Engine” light on a dashboard of a car that is in such bad disrepair its “E” lights are out too. Chck ngin is a tier I don’t want. This tier could be ranked about fifty picks later and I still wouldn’t draft them, so why not just rank them later? Meh, what fun is that? Just ignore them when they come up in your drafts. This tier has more question marks than the Riddler’s leotards. I want to drive to the West Coast to meet up with some hot blonde, while I’m carpooling with some down-to-earth brunette that I inadvertently fall in love with, i.e., I want Sure Things. I do not want the Riddler’s leotards.
As for Sale, and as for all the guys in this tier, in fairness to them, Verlander was in this tier last year. They’re all vets who could turn their good vibes and bad farts into good vibes, and a summer breeze…ah, makes me feel fine. It wouldn’t shock me to see one of these guys bounce back and skyrocket to the top of the starters, but if you know which one, you are a time-traveling witch, and you’re using your foreknowledge for fantasy baseball, which is just sad. Buy a Powerball ticket or something, you giant loser witch! “Hey, look at me, I’m a time traveling witch and I’m using what I know to win a 12-team fantasy league.” That’s you, and you need to get a grip! Speaking of getting a grip, grab that broom, and ride your butt outta here, you witch! So, Chris Sale hasn’t pitched in so long, the last time he did, Spider Tack was legal. Now, homeboy’s doing smash and grabs on clubhouse TVs and Dollar Store’s scissors. If Sale throws 150+ IP, he will be a top 15 starter. If Sale throws 150 IP, what a waste of a wishing well wish. Wish for Powerball! You should hang out with the time-traveling witch, you terrible waste-of-wishes! 2023 Projections: 5-3/3.26/1.02/98 in 84 IP
57. Jack Flaherty – Another name for this tier is, “Hey, I remember that guy being good. I’m not wrong, am I? I’ve taken three years away from fantasy baseball, so it’s hard to remember.” Yeah, if you’re drafting for 2019, I totally get the allure with this tier. If you were in a coma since 2019, you think when someone says MeToo, it’s fun to blurt out, “Me three!” And you think Flaherty is a no doubt ace. Unlike a lot of the guys in this tier, Flaherty only had one moment in the sun as a bonafide ace. Also, unlike all the other guys, I can envision Flaherty, at 27 years of age, bouncing back and still having a solid career. On the other hand, he also seems most unlikely to bounce back. Flattery might get you everywhere, but Jack Flaherty, I fear, won’t get you anywhere. 2023 Projections: 7-7/3.57/1.23/119 in 130 IP
58. Merrill Kelly – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 80 starters for 2023 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Broken emergency anchor glass.” This tier is usually filled with safe number five starters who you can get cheap and they anchor your staff. In the past, this was a condom tier. Something that could glue the team together. A Dollar Store condom, so there was some risk, but the wrapper says it’s safe. Not this year. No one is safe. These guys are the closest guys I can find to anchor your staff, but the emergency glass is broken and the anchor is hanging out on the floor. You can see I’m very familiar with ships, thinking anchors are behind emergency glass. Usually this tier is cheap, older guys, and this year is no different.
As for Kelly, this tier should be broken emergency anchor glass on a yacht, because so many pitchers were so elite last year. If you’re drafting right at least, i.e., the rest of your staff (the yacht) is so good that you kinda don’t care about the broken glass, and your cabin boy can investigate and order some new glass. “Cabin boy, you ordered shatter-proof glass. As in glass that proves it does shatter. You moron!” That’s me about to fire my cabin boy, which is more interesting than the movie Triangle of Sadness. I kid, but it did fall apart in the third act. Any hoo! Kelly’s absolutely fine, and a solid back-of-the-rotation guy. None of the guys in this tier will likely get you elected mayor of Horn Town, but hopefully their floors aren’t bad either. 2023 Projections: 12-8/3.61/1.15/163 in 192 IP
59. Grayson Rodriguez – Grayson Rodriguez gave you my Grayson Rodriguez fantasy. It was written while secretly eying DL Hall’s minor league stats. UPDATE: Lowered with news he will start the year in the minors. 2023 Projections: 8-3/3.37/1.07/127 in 106 IP
60. Miles Mikolas – So, Merrill Kelly and Miles are like the Hunter Dozier/Christian Walker of pitchers, before Walker went and got good. You heard of 2 Live Crew? You know the Juice Crew? This is the 14% K-BB% crew. Mikolas and Kelly enter stage right; they’re wearing nurse sneakers, and they’re here to jam out about their meh strikeouts but solid command. Woo-hoo! They’re opening their show with their number #1 hit in Asia, “Boring But Reliable Starter!” This is my favorite song by them. 2023 Projections: 13-10/3.66/1.09/141 in 187 IP
CONTINUE ON TO THE TOP 80 STARTERS FOR 2023 FANTASY BASEBALL