Welcome to this series of analyzing our site’s points league rankings, compiled by myself and Kyle Bishop. We’re good people, you should get to know us. Today we're taking a look at our tiered starting pitcher rankings for points leagues.
Points leagues abide by different rules, with walks and strikeouts usually being of notable importance compared to typical 5x5 leagues. It’s not as simple as that of course, but we’ll go off of ESPN’s default model. For pitchers, it's three points per inning pitched, five for a win or a save and one per strikeout with a point deducted per hit allowed and walk issued, as well as two points off for every earned run and five off for a loss. Let's get to the arm action.
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 Points Rankings: Starting Pitcher (February)
|364||9||Jose De Leon||SP||419||312||365.5|
|427||10||Rubby de la Rosa||SP||429||428||428.5|
Starting Pitcher Points Rankings Analysis: The Tiers
Clayton Kershaw is the god of points leagues given the pitcher-heavy tilt in most formats. His insane blend of strikeout stuff with pristine control makes him the overall No. 1 pick. Yes, even over Mike Trout. Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner all ranked within the top six in the K/BB metric, with the first three names checking in at over 5.00(!).
Yu Darvish likely deserves to be with the first-tier pitchers, but we’ve got some trust issues here after Tommy John surgery. Interestingly enough, Darvish’s control actually improved in his 100 1/3 innings last season despite worse control being a usual symptom of TJS. His control has steadily improved each year he’s been in the MLB (10.9% BB rate in ’13, then 3.43, 3.06 and 2.78 last season).
Justin Verlander and Johnny Cueto finished 11th and 12th in K/BB, respectively, and certainly make for great targets. Jon Lester should still be a strong pick but will have to adjust to life without David Ross. Jake Arrieta and Stephen Strasburg both have ace potential, but the former needs to conquer his command demons while Stras has big durability question marks.
David Price is going to visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, which means you’re knocking him down all draft boards. Chris Archer still had his stellar strikeout rate last season (27.4%), but his 0.81 HR/9 jumped to 1.34 as his ERA rose from 3.23 to 4.02. His 9-19 record and 16.2% HR/FB should regress for the better, making him a nice buy. Jacob deGrom is another nice buy due to his season-long line being marred by his final three injury-affected starts (14 2/3 IP, 16 ER, 7 BB, 14 Ks), but before then he had a lovely 2.30 ERA.
This group has plenty of firepower at the SP2 class, but those higher names also have a flea or two. Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow still scares off some. Gerrit Cole had an awful 2016, ditto Zack Greinke. Kyle Hendricks has people wondering if he can keep up the soft-contact wizardry. Cole Hamels’ walk rate is getting alarmingly high. Aaron Sanchez has shown plenty of potential but relies on a low BABIP in the dreaded AL East. Rich Hill has huge durability concerns. Carlos Martinez and Jose Quintana both had SIERAs around 4.00. Kenta Maeda needs to show he can keep up the success now that teams have had a full year to study him. Danny Duffy and Michael Fulmer are both young.
Youngsters abound! And then Rick Porcello, Felix Hernandez and John Lackey. Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, led all qualified starters with a 5.91 K/BB ratio. Everyone and their mother has him pegged for regression, but the question is really just about how far he’ll slide back. At age-28, he should still be hitting the mitt with his prime stuff. Felix needs to bounce back from a horrid 2016 that housed a career-worst 4.63 SIERA and 3.82 BB/9. I’m suspicious. Lackey has aged gracefully (career-high 11.5% swinging-strike rate) and still has the Cubbies stellar defense behind him, so I’m buying.
There’s a lot of electricity here, with two big arms looking to come back in force with Sonny Gray and Garrett Richards. While I had Gray heavily underlined on my “Do Not Draft List” for last season, I never saw such a fundamental collapse coming. He had operated with strong command for so long, posted BABIPs between .255 and .277 in each of his three MLB seasons before ’16, but then it jumped to .319 as his HR/FB rate nearly doubled from 9.3% to 17.5%. He was hurt and without pristine command, his game fails. He should be much better in 2017. Meanwhile, Richards will need to show that he can bring his control back to the ~7.5% mark and get that groundball-heavy profile going again with his plus-plus heater. It’s a worthy lottery ticket considering how strong his 2014 looked.
The Rest of the Field
I’m higher than Kyle on every pitcher in Tier Seven except for Ian Kennedy, whose terrible 4.67 FIP, 4.67 xFIP and 4.27 SIERA scream “run away” behind that 3.68 ERA from last season. Look out for Tyler Anderson this season, his peripherals were all beautiful – even more so considering he was a rookie in Coors Field. Tier Eight brings some guys who can eat up innings, with two very intriguing young arms in Eduardo Rodriguez and Tyler Skaggs and a third in Brandon Finnegan, though his metrics (4.92 SIERA) are weaker than E-Rod and Skaggs.
Tyler Glasnow just looked incredible in his first Spring Training showing as he pitched two scoreless innings and every out he recorded was via strikeout. He allowed one hit but walked nobody, which was his downfall last season. If he has finally conquered his control demons then you’re looking at a potential frontline starter.