2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitcher (SP)

Check out RotoBaller's 2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings for starting pitcher. Our fantasy baseball experts are getting ahead of the game with their December edition of MLB starting pitcher rankings.

Bill Dubiel - RotoBaller

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It's 'bout that time, eh chaps? The Winter Meetings have come and gone. With it, some of the biggest offseason dominoes have already fallen. The 2017 fantasy baseball draft board is beginning to come into focus. Now it's time to delve into player rankings. We'll continue with our 2017 starting pitcher fantasy baseball rankings for December.

This first round of rankings features picks from Kyle Bishop, Nick Mariano, Bill Dubiel, and Brad Johnson. I know I've had my initial lists in place since mid-October, and my colleagues here weren't too far behind me.

This year, we'll begin by presenting our rankings then share a few thoughts round table style.

Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitcher

Ranking Tier Player Brad Kyle Nick Bill Composite
1 1 Clayton Kershaw 1 1 1 1 1.00
2 1 Max Scherzer 2 3 2 4 2.75
3 1 Noah Syndergaard 4 2 4 3 3.25
4 1 Chris Sale 3 5 3 2 3.25
5 1 Madison Bumgarner 6 4 5 5 5.00
6 1 Corey Kluber 8 6 6 9 7.25
7 2 Yu Darvish 5 9 9 7 7.50
8 2 Stephen Strasburg 7 13 8 6 8.50
9 2 Jake Arrieta 9 10 10 8 9.25
10 2 Justin Verlander 10 12 7 13 10.50
11 2 Jon Lester 14 7 12 10 10.75
12 2 Johnny Cueto 13 8 11 14 11.50
13 3 Carlos Carrasco 11 15 13 11 12.50
14 3 David Price 15 11 18 18 15.50
15 3 Chris Archer 16 14 14 19 15.75
16 3 Jacob deGrom 19 16 16 16 16.75
17 3 Kyle Hendricks 17 24 15 15 17.75
18 3 Aaron Sanchez 12 28 19 12 17.75
19 3 Masahiro Tanaka 18 20 17 17 18.00
20 4 Gerrit Cole 22 17 20 20 19.75
21 4 Cole Hamels 25 19 21 22 21.75
22 4 Jose Quintana 20 26 22 23 22.75
23 4 Carlos Martinez 24 22 26 21 23.25
24 4 Zack Greinke 27 18 24 26 23.75
25 4 Rich Hill 23 25 23 25 24.00
26 4 Kenta Maeda 30 21 28 27 26.50
27 4 Danny Salazar 32 31 27 24 28.50
28 4 Rick Porcello 26 27 32 31 29.00
29 5 Michael Fulmer 28 29 29 30 29.00
30 5 Marcus Stroman 29 40 25 29 30.75
31 5 Jon Gray 31 35 30 32 32.00
32 5 Felix Hernandez 21 43 37 28 32.25
33 5 Matt Harvey 35 33 33 34 33.75
34 5 Julio Urias 34 34 34 33 33.75
35 5 Danny Duffy 40 23 31 44 34.50
36 5 Julio Teheran 37 39 36 36 37.00
37 6 Aaron Nola 39 32 41 37 37.25
38 6 Lance McCullers 33 48 35 35 37.75
39 6 Tanner Roark 46 37 38 38 39.75
40 6 Steven Matz 51 30 39 43 40.75
41 6 John Lackey 43 36 42 45 41.50
42 6 J.A. Happ 36 49 46 39 42.50
43 6 James Paxton 38 51 43 40 43.00
44 6 Drew Pomeranz 49 41 47 41 44.50
45 6 Jeff Samardzija 50 44 48 42 46.00
46 7 Sean Manaea 53 42 40 54 47.25
47 7 Dallas Keuchel 45 45 52 47 47.25
48 7 Robbie Ray 42 57 44 46 47.25
49 7 Kevin Gausman 47 53 51 51 50.50
50 7 Adam Wainwright 48 54 53 48 50.75
51 7 Jeremy Hellickson 44 75 50 49 54.50
52 7 Marco Estrada 52 62 55 50 54.75
53 7 Jameson Taillon 54 52 58 56 55.00
54 7 Garrett Richards 57 50 64 52 55.75
55 7 Anthony DeSclafani 77 38 45 67 56.75
56 8 Matt Shoemaker 41 72 49 65 56.75
57 8 Carlos Rodon 58 61 54 55 57.00
58 8 Sonny Gray 66 47 59 57 57.25
59 8 Alex Reyes 56 64 57 53 57.50
60 8 Luke Weaver 62 59 63 60 61.00
61 8 Joe Musgrove 60 74 56 59 62.25
62 8 Jason Hammel 55 79 65 51 62.50
63 8 Jerad Eickhoff 68 58 72 56 63.50
64 8 Taijuan Walker 59 65 73 63 65.00
65 8 Vince Velasquez 74 46 62 81 65.75
66 8 Raisel Iglesias 61 71 66.00
67 8 Jake Odorizzi 79 56 67 70 68.00
68 9 Tyler Anderson 73 78 61 64 69.00
69 9 Junior Guerra 71 69 76 62 69.50
70 9 Drew Smyly 78 55 66 82 70.25
71 9 Hisashi Iwakuma 72 68 75 66 70.25
72 9 Steven Wright 69 82 61 70.67
73 9 Alex Cobb 67 98 60 58 70.75
74 9 Joe Ross 89 60 68 68 71.25
75 9 Michael Pineda 90 67 69 69 73.75
76 9 Francisco Liriano 63 96 71 73 75.75
77 9 Mike Leake 70 83 75 76.00
78 9 Brandon McCarthy 65 95 72 77.33
79 10 Jharel Cotton 86 71 77 77 77.75
80 10 Ivan Nova 76 85 80 74 78.75
81 10 Collin McHugh 107 63 70 78 79.50
82 10 David Phelps 64 100 76 80.00
83 10 Trevor Bauer 87 82 79 80 82.00
84 10 Lance Lynn 75 95 74 84 82.00
85 10 Adam Conley 83 83.00
86 10 Blake Snell 82 88 81 83 83.50
87 10 Mike Montgomery 85 85.00
88 10 Matt Moore 88 91 78 85 85.50
89 10 Yordano Ventura 83 90 84 87 86.00
90 11 Bartolo Colon 96 70 86 96 87.00
91 12 Mike Foltynewicz 80 86 96 86 87.00
92 12 Ervin Santana 106 77 87 79 87.25
93 12 Archie Bradley 81 94 88 87.67
94 12 Daniel Norris 105 73 89.00
95 12 Jose De Leon 89 89.00
96 12 Jordan Zimmermann 84 93 90 89.00
97 12 Miguel Gonzalez 91 91.00
98 12 Eduardo Rodriguez 92 85 97 91.33
99 13 Luis Severino 102 81 91.50
100 13 Ian Kennedy 110 66 101 92.33
101 13 Michael Wacha 91 93 97 89 92.50
102 13 Dan Straily 93 92 92.50
103 13 Jimmy Nelson 94 91 92.50
104 13 Gio Gonzalez 108 87 88 95 94.50
105 13 Zach Davies 109 84 89 98 95.00
106 13 Shelby Miller 95 95.00
107 13 Zack Wheeler 97 97.00
108 13 Tyson Ross 123 76 93 97.33
109 13 Rubby de la Rosa 98 98.00
110 13 Patrick Corbin 99 99.00
111 14 Robert Gsellman 101 98 99.50
112 14 Chris Tillman 122 92 92 94 100.00
113 14 Nick Tropeano 100 100.00
114 14 Tyler Skaggs 103 97 99 102 100.25
115 14 Brandon Finnegan 118 94 90 100.67
116 14 Christopher Devenski 124 80 102.00
117 14 Seth Lugo 104 104.00
118 14 Alex Wood 115 100 99 104.67
119 14 Jaime Garcia 111 100 105.50
120 14 Wei-Yin Chen 114 99 106.50
121 14 Josh Tomlin 112 112.00
122 14 Chad Kuhl 113 113.00
123 14 Clay Buchholz 116 116.00
124 14 Homer Bailey 117 117.00
125 14 Dylan Bundy 119 119.00
126 14 Chad Bettis 120 120.00
127 14 Ariel Miranda 121 121.00

 

Are there any picks you want to defend?

Brad: Bill matched my aggressive ranking for Sanchez, but we should acknowledge there's irrationality at play. If Sanchez merely repeats his breakout 2016 season, he won't justify such an early pick. I think he's got a second breakout waiting - the result of better using his newly polished command. It's exceedingly rare for pitchers to break out multiple years in a row. When it happens, you're looking at someone like Verlander or Scherzer. In other words, I see top non-Kershaw potential in Sanchez, hence the bullish ranking.

Frankly, I haven't analyzed King Felix's 2016 season since sometime around the All Star break. I applied some simple regression to derive his ranking. Based on my colleague's placement, I assume I need to take a closer look. Similarly, I went a little overboard on the stay away from Tillman brigade.

None of my fellows ranked Montgomery. I'm really excited to see him in the rotation.

 

Kyle: We all know that pitchers can be extraordinary volatile fantasy assets, and 2016 was a pretty stark reminder of that. He's never been the sexiest option, but Lester is one of the safest SP investments you can make. He's fallen short of 200 innings just once in the last nine years. Since 2014, he's eighth in wins, third in ERA, eighth in strikeouts, and 12th in WHIP. There's a lot to be said for that kind of consistency, especially if you're like me and love speculating on high-variance upside arms later in the draft.

DeSclafani looked to have figured something out as the 2015 season ended. Unfortunately, he missed his scheduling Opening Day start last year (and then 10 or so more after that) with a strained oblique. When he came back, though, he picked up right where he left off - and validated the faith of a certain rakishly handsome writer. Nick shares my optimism, though his Disco fever isn't quite as severe.

 

Bill: Aaron Sanchez has already been addressed, so I'll refrain from diving into that (Brad sums up my thoughts pretty well). I'm willing to bet my ranking of Stephen Strasburg is highest of the group because I foolishly believe he has another 30-start season in him. The per-game numbers are astonishing, and my ranking reflects my feeling that we may not have seen the best Stras has to offer. If he can rein in the control even a little bit (2.7 BB/9 in 2016) and stay relatively healthy, Strasburg has top-five potential. I'll likely come to my senses at some point before Spring Training, but right now I'm going to hope against hope that the phenom can reach the peak of his talents for a full season.

I'm highest on Steven Wright, and perhaps stupidly so. We all know how volatile knuckleheads can be, but the dude should still win games and stay healthy. There's something to be said for consistency in starting pitchers.

 

Nick: Looks like I should stand up for my Verlander at #7 pick, as I wholly buy into the revamped JV that we saw for much of 2016. His 12% swinging-strike rate was the highest of his career, and the 19.7% soft-contact rate was his best mark since his incredible 2011 campaign. It's hard to get excited about an age-34 season, I know, but that's also not old enough for me to knock him down after a great season. I'll take him over the snakebitten Strasburg and Darvish.

I also think Miguel Gonzalez should be ranked by everyone, but I'm the only one with a value for the guy. He made 23 starts in 2016 (plus a relief appearance), one of which was shortened due to an injury. He only gave up more than three earned runs in a start four times out of those other 22 starts. 15 of them were quality starts. His newfound confidence in his cutter resulted in some sneaky-good stats, and losing Eaton's defense won't knock him off of my board. Those in deep leagues shouldn't leave him off of their draft sheets.

 

Which picks by others look overly bullish/pessimistic?

Brad: I thought I was being bullish placing Salazar 32. Turns out I'm the least bullish. Bill tabbed him as the 24th pitcher which is probably going a little too far. If he didn't have the elbow scare looming over his head, I'd feel differently. I'll also say this, beware Duffy and Roark. They're both talented pitchers, but you're making a mistake if you buy their 2016 performances.

I had the most bearish ranking of Matz even though I like him. The obvious concern is health. The whole Mets rotation is going to be interesting. The top five of Syndergaard, Harvey, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler all dealt with some kind of health scare in 2016. Meanwhile, Lugo and Gsellman are legit, fantasy-quality starting pitchers even though they have considerably less sex appeal. They're blocked for now...

 

Kyle: I'm a longtime Strasburg proponent, but it's tough to ignore the fact that he's managed to pitch 160 innings just twice in his career, and hasn't posted an ERA under 3.00 since his rookie season. Love the talent...it just feels like there's always something that gets in the way of the monster year he should have had by now. Last year looked like it was finally happening, and then his surgically repaired elbow started barking. That issue is concerning enough that I can't join my colleagues in ranking him as a top 10 option.

Not one, but two of my cohorts have Aaron Sanchez ranked 12th. Brad and Bill see elite potential. I see a guy whose skill set, peripherals, and Statcast data simply don't support that assertion. As Brad already admitted, they've ranked him as though further gains are coming when it's not even certain that he can replicate his 2016 results.

 

Bill: King Felix's 2016 was anything but regal. The former Cy Young Award-winner posted one of his worst seasons ever, setting career highs in HR/9, BB/9 and FIP while setting a career low in K/9. He also failed to make 30 starts for the first time since his rookie season (2005). I feel as though Kyle and Nick need to cut Hernandez a little more slack though (I don't believe any extensive research on Kyle's part will improve his ranking). He is still just 30 years old, and at 100% health I think he's still a top-30 option in the MLB. He's participating in winter ball in Venezuela as we speak, trying to work out some of the kinks from the last two sub-par seasons. I certainly can see where my colleagues are coming from (the peripherals and his velocity charts are troubling), but I have faith that the former ace can figure things out and return to some level of prominence.

Zack Greinke sports a similar profile--perennial All Star-caliber pitcher coming off a strikingly unproductive season. Kyle appears to believe that Greinke can turn things around. I disagree at this point, and think Greinke's days of top-20 potential are done. I reserve the right to change my mind, but at this point I can think of at least 25 pitchers I'd rather have in 2017.

 

Nick: I'm also the high man on Manaea at #40, though Kyle isn't far behind at #42. But Brad and Bill don't even have him in their top 50. It appears the young southpaw figured it out on July 10 against Houston, which led to Manaea's final 14 appearances of 2016 yielding a lovely 2.44 ERA and a 75:17 K:BB ratio over 84 2/3 innings. I'll bite here, given that solid finish heading into his sophomore season. Yeah, the wins in Oakland likely won't pour in, but the pitcher-friendly home park is a nice counterweight.

Hellickson must have accidentally bumped into Kyle one day, forcing him to drop his pizza and fueling a hatred that resulted in a #75 ranking. The rest of us have him inside the top 50. I know Hellboy hasn't inspired confidence over the years, but he made marked improvements with his location in 2016 that resulted in a 4.9% rise in soft contact and a wild 8.6% drop in hard contact off of his pitches. Mix that with a modest step forward in swinging-strike rate (10.3% to 10.8%), and I see sustainable growth. Robbie Ray and Matt Shoemaker also appear to have helped in the ruining of Kyle's pizza, but I'll wait for the crime lab's report before opening a formal investigation.