The 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitchers hold a lot of weight when it comes to determining the overall success of your fantasy team. The five (5) pitching categories most commonly implemented in standard leagues are Wins, Saves, ERA, Strikeouts & WHIP. Thus, these selections will either help you succeed in four (4) of the five (5) pitching categories or contribute to your overall demise come the end of the season.
With the steroid-era slowly being put behind Major League Baseball, we are entering a renaissance of sorts because the advantage has gone back to the pitchers. Lets take a look at some of the facts:[custom_list type="dot"]
- In 2012 there were 7 no-hitters, tying the all-time record for a single season.
- Matt Cain and Philip Humber both tossed perfect games, marking the second time in three years there have been multiple perfecto's in a season. The only other time this occurred was in 1880!
- There have been a total of five (5) perfect games since July of 2009 and lets not forget it should of been six (6) if not for Jim Joyce robbing Armando Gallaraga.
- Since 2010, there have been a whopping 16 no-no's.
Despite the fact that pitching is on the incline, we are not seeing as dominant of pitchers as we did back in the late ‘90s, when Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were striking out 300-plus hitters a season. In 2012, there were 31 pitchers that threw at least 200 innings, and just three over 230 innings. On the contrary, in 1999, we saw 44 pitchers go over 200 innings, and nine went over 230. Therefore, while we are seeing a rise in the quality of the pitching, we are still lacking in quantity.
This has to do with the way in which pitchers are managed from high school, through the minors and into the pros. Their arms are viewed as a commodity, one in which is limited and the perfect examples are Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg being put on strict inning limitations their rookie seasons. The days of Wilbur Wood are long gone.
There are a few changes you need to keep your eye on:[custom_list type="dot"]
- R.A. Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, is headed to the American League by way of the Toronto Blue Jays. This is a new and much improved team, one in which he could help lead to the AL East division title. This bodes well for R.A. as a whole new group of hitters are going to have to face his nasty knuckleball for the first time. Also headed north of the border, are Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhrle who leave behind the disastrous Miami Marlins project.
- Stephen Strasburg will finally be unleashed for a full season, with no innings cap. Unleash the beast. Only throwing 159.1 innings last season, he managed to strikeout 197 batters. For the sake of this discussion, lets say he adds an additional four (4) to six (6) starts bumping his innings up around 200-210. We could possibly be looking at a pitcher eclipsing 240 Ks and leading the National League in that category. He is as about as nasty as they come.
- James Shields was traded from Tampa Bay to the Kansas City Royals this off-season, where he will mentor a completely different pitching staff. Shields is a true work-horse having started 33 games with over 200 innings in five consecutive seasons. He has also notched 14 complete games since 2011 and the move out of the AL East will only help his numbers. Target him in the early-to-middle rounds of your draft.
- Zack Greinke leaves Anaheim for the pitcher-friendly confines of Chavez Ravine in Dodger Stadium. Greinke once again will have the benefits of a stellar team around him, and have his best chance at his first 20-win season.
- Dan Haren, also departing the Angels, will head back to the National League joining Strasburg in Washington to form one of the best rotations in baseball.
- Tommy Hanson will try to fill their shoes in Anaheim. Hanson slots as the third starter on the Angels, and should be a late-round pick in mixed league drafts, with enough risk to drive him down to possible sleeper territory.
- Josh Beckett looks to begin the year right where he left off after being traded to the Dodgers late last season. He posted a 2-3 record in L.A., but had a sub 3 (2.93) ERA with 38 strikeouts. Consider him a viable option in the later rounds.
- Kris Medlen and Hisashi Iwakuma are two pitcher who can qualify at both the RP and SP positions which increase their value by providing them with more flexibility in your lineup. Medlen was lights-out after being shifted from the bullpen to the bump. In 12 starts he registered a 0.97 ERA and went 9-0 with three no decisions while racking up 84 of his 120 punch-outs. Medlen has everything it takes to be a Top 20 selection in this category. Check out this article on Iwakuma.
- Ryan Dempster is once again headed to a hitter-friendly park, signing with the Red Sox this off-season. Dempster was 12-8 last season, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, striking out 153 batters in 173 innings. Worth a middle-round flyer based upon his track record even with the move to the AL East.
- Edwin Jackson most likely lives out of suitcase, as he will start next season with the Chicago Cubs and mark his eighth different team in the last six years!
Here are the Top 100 pitchers for next season:
Please see the original Fantasy Baseball article which helps explain the rankings system.