Mar 26, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings VI: Quick Hits-Starting Pitchers

Below is my fantasy rankings for starting pitchers. The tiers refer to similar groupings of players. I haven't specified rankings within the tiers...that I leave up to the individual drafter. Starting pitching has a lot of similarly projected players within their midsts. Also, there is a much higher risk of injury compared with other positions. There are three schools of thought when drafting starting pitchers:

1) Hoard the aces: Draft two or more guys who you consider an ace by choosing two starting pitchers in your first 4 picks. It is risky in that pitching has more depth than other positions and when you choose pitchers so early, you sacrifice for the chance to draft real stars at other, less deep positions. I've used this in a head-to-head league before.

2) Apply the anchor: Get one "ace" and then draft a lot of pitchers in the middle to late rounds. I tend to use this strategy most often. I like the comfort of having a guy who gives you consistent stats from year to year (or at least should without an unanticipated falling apart or injury).

3) Skip the pitching until round 8 or later. This is the preferred strategy for head-to-head leagues especially because pitching stats, in general, have more fluctuation from week to week. This can also be used to advantage in rotisserie leagues because you can have 3-4 solid starters drafted in rounds 8-14, while filling in the rest of the staff with closers and middle relievers.

Typically, the only pitchers to draft as aces are those listed in tier 1. Tier 2 guys have talent and can be an anchor if the all the tier 1 players are gone, but they may have some question marks . Tier 3 pitchers are middle round finds with some potential to perform just as well as tier 2 pitchers, but have other questions. Tier 4 pitchers I consider unreliable because of inconsistency or uncertainty of repeating positive performances. Tier 5 pitchers are intriguing young guys with potential who easily can be drafted at the same level as Tier 3 and 4 pitchers. I separate them out so I know who to target post-round 15. I tend to draft younger pitchers who haven't yet reached their peak near the end of drafts because if they work out, they are really good and if they dont work out, they are easily expendable. I only ranked those whom I considered to be "draftable" in a 12 team 5x5 draft. Concerns are listed in parentheses after the pitcher's name.

Tier 1 (rounds 1-4)

Roy Halladay

Brandon Webb

Tim Lincecum

Johan Santana

Jake Peavy

Cole Hamels

CC Sabathia

Tier 2 (rounds 4-8)

John Lackey (HR allowed)

Roy Oswalt (team is terrible)

Carlos Zambrano (inconsistency)

Rich Harden (injury risk)

Dan Haren (home ballpark)

Cliff Lee (regression?)

Felix Hernandez (BB/9)

James Shields

Josh Beckett (injury risk)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (BB/9)

Francisco Liriano (previous injury)

AJ Burnett (injury risk)

Tier 3 (rounds 8-14)

Ervin Santana (injured)

Justin Duchscherer (injured)

Javier Vazquez (HR allowed)

Derek Lowe (age)

Yovoni Gallardo (previous injury)

Adam Wainwright (inexperience)

Ryan Dempster (regression?)

Chad Billingsley (innings overload)

Matt Cain (HR allowed)

Erik Bedard (injury risk)

Ricky Nolasco (previous injury)

John Maine (K/BB ratio)

Brett Myers (headcase)

Scott Kazmir (BB/9 and P/IP)

Matt Garza (innings overload)

Jon Lester(innings overload)

Edison Volquez (regression?)

Zack Greinke (team)

Scott Baker (run support)

John Danks (HR/FB ratio)

Joba Chamberlain (injury risk)

Tier 4 (round 10 and above)

Joe Saunders

Jered Weaver

Jesse Litsch

Manny Parra

Chris Carpenter

Ted Lilly

Randy Johnson

Fausto Carmona

Brandon Morrow

Josh Johnson

Anibal Sanchez

Oliver Perez

Chris Young

Jaimie Moyer

Joe Blanton

Aaron Harang

Aaron Cook

Justin Verlander

Kevin Slowey

Mark Buehrle

Gavin Floyd

Chien Ming Wang

Tier 5 (round 10 and above)

Gio Gonzalez

Sean Gallagher

david Purcey

Jair Jurrjens

Todd Wellemeyer

Sean Marshall

Max Scherzer

Clayton Kershaw

Chris Volstad

Andrew Miller

Mike Pelfrey

John Lannan

Jeremy Guthrie

David Price

Johnny Cueto

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