Sunday, March 23, 2008

FSE Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings - Starting Pitching

With our infield positional rankings complete, it is time to tackle the starting pitchers. We will breakdown the top 40 starting pitchers into four tiers while highlighting some honorable mentions and sleepers.

Top 40 Starting Pitchers

The Elite

The Elite is reserved for guys who can carry a fantasy team. They will collect numbers across all 4 of the most regularly used fantasy stats for starting pitchers W, K, ERA and WHIP. If your league counts them against you, then these are also guys who limit the amount of losses they have as well. These are the pitchers you should never bench for any reason, and never worry about match ups. Just put them out there and let them work their magic.

1 Johan Santana
2 Josh Beckett
3 Brandon Webb
4 CC Sabathia
5 Jake Peavy
6 Roy Oswalt
7 Dan Haren
8 Carlos Zambrano
9 Erik Bedard
10 Justin Verlander

A Notch Below

Our second tier features guys who could be in the top tier, but for a variety of reasons cannot be placed there. They might need to prove themselves with more solid seasons of stats (Fausto Carmona, Dice-K Cole Hamels) they maybe injury prone (Roy Halladay, Brad Penny) they maybe getting older (John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez) or they just might have maxed out their talent and will never be a top tier pitcher (Lackey, Hudson). Regardless these are guys who will offer solid starts, and put up fine numbers over the course of a long season. They won't put up the dominant numbers the tier 1 guys can and might be prone to the occasional rocky outing or missed start due to injury. Some guys, like Hamels, Dice-K or Hernandez might actually pitch their way off of this list season, and into the elite status.

11 John Lackey
12 Roy Halladay
13 Cole Hamels
14 Fausto Carmona
15 John Smoltz
16 Felix Hernandez
17 Brad Penny
18 Tim Hudson
19 Pedro Martinez
20 Dice K

The Show Me Pitchers

It is with the tier 3 list we begin to see more injury prone pitchers, guys who really need to show something this season and pitchers on the cusp. The only pitcher who probably shouldn't be on this list is Aaron Harang, who gets a bum wrap tossing for a mediocre Cincinnati team. Guys like Scott Kazmir, Brett Myers, Ben Sheets, AJ Burnett and Chris Young all show flashes of brilliance, but can't manage to stay healthy all season, and therefore can't be counted on when you need them. They are useful to own if you have the depth to minimize their missed starts, or inconsistent play at times. Most of these guys can at least collect a bunch of Ks when they are out there on the hill. Adam Wainwright, Fransisco Liriano and Rich Hill are probably the best bets to be able to take the leap into the second tier of pitchers. Chien Ming Wang is great for W, but doesn't dominate any other category, and collects few Ks.

21 Scott Kazmir
22 Francisco Liriano
23 AJ Burnett
24 Aaron Harang
25 Brett Myers
26 Chris Young
27 Adam Wainwright
28 Rich Hill
29 Chien Ming Wang
30 Ben Sheets

Underrated Aces & The Next Wave

This group consists mostly of pitchers on the cusp who need to show consistency before making the leap. The top candidates are John Maine, James Shields, Ian Snell, Oliver Perez, Matt Cain, Gil Meche Tim Lincecum and Jeff Francis. In addition, there are some guys who were subject to bad luck last season that hurt their value going into this season (Mark Buerhle, Andy Pettitte). The good thing about these guys is that they aren't injury risks and should be healthy all season. The bad part is, they aren't as much of sure thing as the top 30. That said, there is something to be said for healthy, consistent players.

31 John Maine
32 James Shields
33 Jeff Francis
34 Ian Snell
35 Mark Buerhle
36 Oliver Perez
37 Tim Lincecum
38 Andy Pettitte
39 Gil Meche
40 Matt Cain

Honorable Mentions

Guy who could have had a couple of down seasons headline the list in Willis and Bonderman. They could turn it around and go back to their old winning ways, or they could continue to struggle and be mediocre. Ted Lilly was much more consistent last season, for the Cubs, pitching in the NL, but needs to show he can do it again. Garza and Hughes are both young pitchers with upside, but have yet to deal with the ups and downs and rigors of a full MLB season.

Jeremy Bonderman
Ted Lilly
Matt Garza
Phil Hughes

Sleepers

These are guys who could really step up in the 2008 season. I actually like some of these guys more than I do out Honorable Mention guys. Pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Baker, Dustin McGowen and Yovani Gallardo all have the potential to take their games to the next level and become consistent, trustworthy starters.

Ubaldo Jimenez
Scott Baker
Dustin McGowan
Brian Bannister
Franklin Morales
Micah Owings
Yovani Gallardo
Shaun Marcum
Ian Kennedy
Edinson Volquez

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