2013 Fantasy Starting Pitcher Rankings
This is the conclusion of our 2013 Fantasy Rankings. For our previous rankings, you can find rankings for relief pitchers, catchers, first base, second base, shortstop, third base,outfield 51-101, and outfield top 50
As is true with a real-life baseball team, starting pitching often represents the backbone of a strong fantasy contender. However, a strong starting rotation and little else will lead you to a comfortable low-middle finish. While the bulk of your rotation can be filled out after round six or seven in most drafts, if a player seems too cheap or is still there in the very early rounds that has good value, grab him and don’t look back.
The key to filling out a rotation for fantasy involves finding a balance between ratio and counting stats. Innings are critical to accumulating strikeouts and starters with a tendency to stay in the game longer are more likely to win games. However, if starters wreck your ratios, no amount of innings will save you. A standard public Yahoo! League uses two SP, two RP and four P. I like to carry three or four RP, four fixture SP and have a spot for streaming a starter — especially in weekly leagues where a two-start starter is very valuable.
With all this in mind, my top 100 SP ( for standard 5×5 mixed- league roto and redraft leagues) for 2013 are presented:
|A. J. Griffin||OAK||76|
|RHP Cory Luebke||SD||DL|
*These rankings were written before Greinke’s elbow was a concern.
Players to Grab: Brandon Beachy/Cory Luebke
Beachy and Luebke (not an accounting firm) are two promising pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. Beachy should be back around the All-Star break (or shortly thereafter), while Luebke may return in June.
Beachy is the high upside member of the pair as he has shown the ability to rack up strikeout in his limited (237.2 IP) big league time. Beachy got a three-start cameo in 2010 and entered the rotation full time in 2011. He logged 141.2 IP of 28.6 K% ball, while walking only 7.8%. He was on pace for ~190 IP, which would have earned him 226 strikeouts, but his season was truncated by an oblique injury that cost him 39 days (35 games/7 starts). His 2012 season featured a 3.8% year-over-year drop in swinging strike rate and a K/9 drop of over 3. His pitch velocity dropped 1-2 MPH and his walk rate spiked by 0.3 BB/9. Something appeared amiss, and there was. Beachy was listed as day-to-day with elbow soreness on June 12, before being placed on the DL June 16 and undergoing Tommy John surgery a few weeks afterward.
Command is typically the last skill to return upon recovery from any type of arm surgery and it is likely Beachy will not be fully effective until 2014. However, two months of Beachy’s strikeout potential is too strong to ignore, even at just a tick above 8 K/9 (Steamer projection). If you participate in a league with multiple DL-spots, he is a must grab in the last round of a draft, as that spot would typically otherwise go to a fungible piece anyway.
Luebke is another Tommy John patient, who should return about a month earlier than Beachy. He has less of a potential in strikeout rate, but the extra month should cover at least part (if not all) of the bulk gap. Playing in (now somewhat less but still-) cavernous PETCO Park should also serve to partially alleviate command shortcomings, as he exhibits fly-ball tendencies (40.0 GB% as SP). Luebke should be treated similar to Beachy, but is likely the safer, lower upside play. Since Luebke was essentially a non-factor last year (five starts), snagging him in the draft isn’t as critical (he is more likely to be present on the wire upon return), although for the mere cost of a DL spot, why not?
Players to Pass – Rockies SP
Scanning this list, one will have likely noticed that two clubs are not represented: the Colorado Rockies and the Miami Marlins. The Marlins, having gutted the club (see what I did there?), have a rotation made out of prospects, and non-factor retreads. The Rockies also have a rotation with two potentially useful pieces in Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin. However, they are strictly stream options (road only), since they aren’t worthy of pitching in Coors Field. Coors Field is a nightmare, where the dimensions and environment produce many extra base hits. A game in Coors can spiral out of control and damage your ratios severely. That said, I am sitting all but the top tier of pitchers at Coors, and even if someone wanted to play it safe and sit an ace, I would see no problem with that, especially down the stretch.