2017 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Starting Pitcher, Part One (February)

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Pitchers and catchers have reported. A lot has happened in these last four-plus months, but none of what happened was baseball! I think I figured out the problem, you guys.

Anyway, we’ve covered the position players in our ongoing February rankings update, so it’s time to move on to the mound. Today’s focus is the 2017 starting pitcher fantasy baseball rankings (part one). We’ll be looking at the top six tiers of starting pitchers. Harris Yudin will have his thoughts on the best of the rest tomorrow.

As a reminder, this round of rankings features input from Bill Dubiel, Brad Johnson, Jeff Kahtnroff, and Nick Mariano, in addition to Harris and yours truly.

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 Pitchers, Part One (February)

Ranking Tier Player Position Brad Kyle Nick Bill Harris Y Jeff Auction $
1 1 Clayton Kershaw SP 4 6 7 7 11 3 42
2 1 Max Scherzer SP 20 16 13 13 19 12 36
3 1 Chris Sale SP 23 22 24 24 23 27 30
4 1 Noah Syndergaard SP 26 15 29 29 24 25 30
5 1 Madison Bumgarner SP 32 20 25 25 20 41 28
6 1 Corey Kluber SP 41 27 36 36 31 50 26
7 2 Yu Darvish SP 39 49 45 51 44 37 23
8 2 Justin Verlander SP 60 55 37 38 56 49 23
9 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 51 50 43 37 57 68 22
10 2 Jake Arrieta SP 53 51 47 44 32 84 21
11 2 Johnny Cueto SP 63 47 46 46 58 71 21
12 2 Jon Lester SP 67 46 51 50 43 75 21
13 3 Carlos Carrasco SP 65 63 58 57 61 72 19
14 3 Chris Archer SP 84 59 59 58 59 77 19
15 3 David Price SP 83 58 73 72 42 89 19
16 3 Jacob deGrom SP 97 68 70 70 62 76 19
17 3 Kyle Hendricks SP 78 103 66 66 98 82 18
18 3 Aaron Sanchez SP 75 128 80 79 77 99 16
19 3 Masahiro Tanaka SP 89 94 71 71 106 124 16
20 4 Gerrit Cole SP 103 82 85 84 85 134 16
21 4 Cole Hamels SP 112 92 86 85 74 125 16
22 4 Carlos Martinez SP 107 97 105 104 73 101 15
23 4 Jose Quintana SP 100 114 87 86 87 123 15
24 4 Zack Greinke SP 115 83 96 95 75 135 15
25 4 Rich Hill SP 105 107 94 93 107 100 15
26 4 Danny Duffy SP 164 102 111 110 78 105 13
27 4 Michael Fulmer SP 121 131 109 108 97 121 12
28 5 Danny Salazar SP 134 139 106 105 88 153 11
29 5 Kenta Maeda SP 139 96 107 106 119 183 11
30 5 Rick Porcello SP 114 127 129 131 99 152 11
31 5 Marcus Stroman SP 117 157 99 98 129 160 11
32 5 Jonathan Gray SP 128 137 124 126 117 182 9
33 5 Julio Teheran SP 155 156 137 140 89 157 8
34 5 Julio Urias SP 145 147 133 135 161 122 8
35 5 Matt Harvey SP 149 142 130 132 86 208 8
36 5 Lance McCullers SP 137 176 135 137 118 154 8
37 6 Aaron Nola SP 159 141 136 138 151 159 8
38 6 John Lackey SP 173 150 140 142 154 187 8
39 6 Steven Matz SP 204 153 146 147 148 151 8
40 6 Tanner Roark SP 191 151 138 141 152 206 8
41 6 Felix Hernandez SP 118 161 143 139 128 306 7
42 6 James Paxton SP 156 185 147 148 210 155 7
43 6 Sean Manaea SP 192 160 150 151 170 184 7
44 6 J.A. Happ SP 154 179 158 159 153 207 6
45 6 Dallas Keuchel SP 189 164 182 182 130 189 6
46 7 Kevin Gausman SP 197 188 180 180 149 158 6
47 7 Jeff Samardzija SP 203 182 152 153 191 209 6
48 7 Robbie Ray SP 172 202 153 154 208 255 5
49 7 Matt Shoemaker SP 168 252 171 171 195 193 5
50 7 Carlos Rodon SP 214 223 191 192 150 190 5
51 7 Jameson Taillon SP 207 186 184 184 162 246 5
52 7 Drew Pomeranz SP 244 159 167 168 194 253 5
53 7 Garrett Richards SP 210 177 211 211 193 210 4
54 7 Anthony DeSclafani SP 270 155 165 166 209 252 4
55 8 Sonny Gray SP 243 172 198 200 169 249 4
56 8 Vincent Velasquez SP 268 169 206 206 171 251 4
57 8 Marco Estrada SP 206 230 196 198 196 248 4
58 8 Drew Smyly SP 273 197 207 207 207 195 4
59 8 Jerad Eickhoff SP 235 209 234 234 222 194 4
60 8 Adam Wainwright SP 245 191 188 197 190 326 4
61 8 Joe Ross SP 300 213 218 218 244 156 4
62 8 Alex Reyes SP 208 210 220 247 3
63 8 Jake Odorizzi SP 274 198 213 213 223 254 3
64 8 Matt Moore SP 174 314 251 251 241 150 3
65 8 Tyler Anderson SP 265 271 202 191 268 256 3
66 8 Jeremy Hellickson SP 246 264 175 175 314 324 2
67 8 Francisco Liriano SP 224 329 223 223 291 211 2
68 9 Blake Snell SP 258 309 263 263 221 192 2
69 9 Taijuan Walker SP 220 234 255 255 247 301 2
70 9 Ivan Nova SP 264 304 235 235 243 250 2
71 9 Joe Musgrove SP 325 263 197 199 269 309 2
72 9 Raisel Iglesias SP/RP 221 203 348 348 276 170 2
73 9 Luke Weaver SP 282 212 210 210 344 310 2
74 9 Junior Guerra SP 260 243 260 260 267 297 2
75 9 Alex Cobb SP 248 335 200 187 318 302 2
76 9 Hisashi Iwakuma SP 262 244 256 256 246 328 2
77 9 Collin McHugh SP 355 232 243 243 248 294 2
78 9 Michael Pineda SP 302 240 238 238 313 296 2
79 10 Jharel Cotton SP 290 249 246 246 340 298 2
80 10 Trevor Bauer SP 293 299 266 266 211 349 2
81 10 Jason Hammel SP 287 291 245 245 293 346 2
82 10 Lance Lynn SP 269 326 241 241 362 300 2
83 10 Michael Wacha SP 304 318 310 310 224 307 2
84 10 Bartolo Colon SP 317 251 275 275 277 413 2
85 10 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 326 368 273 273 377 191 2
86 11 Mike Leake SP 259 343 270 270 316 376 1
87 11 Zach Davies SP 399 303 278 278 270 308 1
88 11 Jordan Zimmermann SP 286 359 293 293 290 325 1
89 11 Steven Wright SP 250 342 268 268 420 311 1
90 11 Dylan Bundy SP 400 401 317 317 265 165 1
91 11 Chris Tillman SP 391 317 286 286 245 347 1
92 12 Ervin Santana SP 354 270 265 265 242 477 1
93 12 Ian Kennedy SP 374 237 342 342 292 304 1
94 12 Gio Gonzalez SP 357 307 277 277 289 419 1
95 12 Archie Bradley SP 279 356 298 298 375 327 1
96 12 Tyler Skaggs SP 353 334 307 307 339 295 1
97 12 Mike Montgomery SP 289 345 353 353 347 299 1
98 12 Daniel Straily SP 309 390 330 330 342 323 1
99 13 Brandon McCarthy SP 234 346 360 360 493 245 1
100 13 Wei-Yin Chen SP 378 336 345 345 314 330 1
101 13 Miguel Gonzalez SP 450 367 284 284 380 1
102 13 Brandon Finnegan SP 389 325 283 283 454 385 1
103 13 Daniel Norris SP 376 260 427 424 338 303 1
104 13 David Phelps SP 381 337 336 336 455 305 1
105 13 Matt Andriese SP 432 324 324 1
106 13 Tyson Ross SP 409 267 385 383 365 353 1
107 13 Luis Severino SP 332 293 424 421 346 348 1
108 13 Robert Gsellman SP 331 443 315 315 345 436 1
109 13 Tyler Glasnow SP 442 429 340 340 328 335 1
110 14 Josh Tomlin SP 362 379 1
111 14 Adam Conley SP 433 300 412 409 341 329 1
112 14 Jaime Garcia SP 361 430 333 333 431 350 1
113 14 Michael Foltynewicz SP 275 306 476 476 409 322 1
114 14 Chris Devenski SP/RP 422 292 364 364 348 478 1
115 14 Shelby Miller SP 315 393 377 376 419 399 1
116 14 Andrew Triggs SP 496 431 321 321 343 1
117 14 Edinson Volquez SP 454 317 377 1
118 14 Scott Kazmir SP 443 459 328 328 363 1
119 14 Zack Wheeler SP 329 396 492 491 266 351 1
120 14 Alex Wood SP 379 410 356 356 438 387 1
121 14 Kendall Graveman SP 428 492 326 326 378 1
122 14 Jose De Leon SP 429 311 473 473 327 331 1
123 14 Clay Buchholz SP 363 438 409 406 461 375 1
124 14 Jimmy Nelson SP 314 392 491 486 432 374 1
125 14 Patrick Corbin SP 344 441 500 388 1
126 14 Lucas Giolito SP 452 442 441 329 429 1
127 14 Mike Fiers SP 458 458 373 372 437 416 1
128 14 CC Sabathia SP 403 400 460 1
129 14 Jose Berrios SP 466 453 444 443 326 403 1
130 14 Ricky Nolasco SP 401 398 477 1
131 14 Tyler Chatwood SP 465 464 381 400 1
132 14 Ariel Miranda SP 424 433 1
133 14 Rubby de la Rosa SP 380 428 482 1
134 14 Homer Bailey SP 421 439 456 455 386 1
135 14 Nate Karns SP 495 488 376 378 1
136 14 Liam Hendriks SP 395 445 444 471 1
137 14 Seth Lugo SP 342 421 494 492 450 1
138 14 Nick Tropeano SP 341 442 493 499 1
139 14 Chad Bettis SP 408 480 1
140 14 R.A. Dickey SP 483 486 421 389 1
141 14 Chad Kuhl SP 395 444 453 452 493 1
142 15 Brock Stewart SP 449 481 414 1
143 15 Reynaldo Lopez SP 459 465 430 1
144 15 Wily Peralta SP 453 1
145 15 Cody Anderson SP 463 1
146 15 Matt Boyd SP 463 1
147 15 James Shields SP 465 468 467 1
148 15 Matthew Wisler SP 467 467 1
149 15 Doug Fister SP 482 447 446 496 1
150 15 Hector Santiago SP 468 1
151 15 Chase Anderson SP 444 501 1
152 15 Mike Clevinger SP 474 480 1
153 15 Matt Garza SP 479 479 1
154 15 Kyle Gibson SP 479 1
155 15 Anibal Sanchez SP 486 474 497 490 464 1
156 15 Derek Holland SP 484 1
157 15 Tom Koehler SP 490 485 494 468 1
158 15 Wade Miley SP 475 489 489 1
159 15 Adam Morgan SP 495 493 1
160 15 Tyler Duffey SP 498 495 1

 

Starting Pitcher Rankings Analysis: The Tiers

Tier 1

The half-dozen players in this tier are all fantastic options for the ace of your fake baseball team. Let’s be real, though – there’s Kershaw, and then there’s everyone else. Great as Max Scherzer and company may be, nobody’s trying to make a case for taking any of them first overall. Last season’s back issues are certainly something to keep in mind, but assuming health, Kershaw is the only pitcher who’s a slam-dunk first-round pick. Scherzer’s renewed vulnerability to the longball is what maintains the gap between him and this generation’s answer to Sandy Koufax. Of course, even allowing 31 bombs didn’t prevent him from posting excellent ratios and a gaudy strikeout total in his third straight season with 220+ innings.

Chris Sale saw his K% drop by over six points, but he still finished fifth in baseball with 233 punchouts, so…y’know. Noah Syndergaard is incredible, even if it seems like only a matter of time before his arm explodes. That he only finished eighth in the Cy Young voting just speaks to the incredible pitching talent in the game right now. To wit: We haven’t even talked about Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner yet. Their metronome-like dominance and durability is even more valuable when you consider the volatile nature of pitching as a fantasy asset.

Tier 2 

Full of guys who could make solid cases that they belong in the top tier. Yu Darvish returned from Tommy John surgery and didn’t miss a beat – in fact, he was arguably better than before. Justin Verlander returned to form after a couple of down years had many of us wondering if being a workhorse for so long had finally caught up to him. Stephen Strasburg was making a strong case for the Cy before his elbow crapped out. Jake Arrieta’s ERA nearly doubled from the previous year…to 3.10. He also won 18 games and posted a 1.08 WHIP despite some bouts of wildness. Teammate Jon Lester continued to be one of the most reliable arms in the game while enjoying fantastic defense behind him that made his numbers even better. The Giants’ even-year reign finally, mercifully came to an end, but not because of anything Johnny Cueto did. The veteran was fantastic in his first year in San Francisco and has now posted a 2.86 ERA this decade. That’s second to Kershaw among qualified starters during that time.

Tier 3

Here’s where we start getting into “RIGBY” territory. Carlos Carrasco has been a fantastic late bloomer, but he’s yet to pitch more than 185 innings in a season. He also gave up too many homers and allowed a lot of other hard contact last season. Chris Archer maintained the jump in his strikeout rate, but likewise had a homer problem that led to a 4.02 ERA and nearly made him the first 20-game loser since Mike Maroth. David Price’s first season in Boston was identical to his previous two in many areas, but he also saw a sharp increase in longballs. Jacob deGrom was his usual awesome self until his elbow flared up. He’s expected to be healthy this spring, but surgery naturally makes folks nervous.

Speaking of nervous, I’m less enamored of the other guys in this group than my colleagues. I loved Kyle Hendricks as a value pick last season, but his breakout wasn’t entirely real. His underlying numbers were eerily similar to 2015, he just benefited from a low BABIP and high strand rate. Now, some of that is attributable to his skill at inducing weak contact, and some is due to what should still be an excellent Cubs defense. But he’s got a Dallas Keuchel vibe to him. Similarly, Aaron Sanchez’s improvement last year still left him with uninspiring peripherals. He’s young and further improvement could certainly be in the cards, but paying an expectant price seems unwise. Lastly, Tanaka seems to have successfully pitched around the specter of Tommy John, but his strikeout rate has declined each of the last two seasons and 2016 was his first time pitching more than 154 innings.

Tier 4

I’m fully on board with rebounds for Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, as well as Danny Duffy’s breakout. Rich Hill can’t be counted on for a full season – then again, if he could, he’d be in the second tier at worst. Individual owners will have to decide if the brilliance is worth the likely injury headaches. Cole Hamels, Carlos Martinez, and Jose Quintana are this group’s Steady Eddies, though the fantasy community seems to be paying slightly expectant prices for CMart. Michael Fulmer won Rookie of the Year honors in the AL despite peripherals that were good rather than great. His minor league track record suggests further strikeout upside, which he’ll need to tap into to offset the likely rise in his ERA.

Tier 5

Kenta Maeda belongs in a higher tier than this, but Jeff hates him for some reason. Maeda proved the skeptics (myself included) wrong last season, striking out more than a batter per inning with solid ratios. None of us are totally buying Rick Porcello’s Cy Young season, which reflects the trepidation of the community at large. I’m the low man on Marcus Stroman, having fallen decidedly out of love after a lackluster showing last year. I haven’t stopped giving Julio Teheran a healthy dose of side-eye, either. The rest of this group is pretty high variance, whether due to injury issues (Matt Harvey, Danny Salazar), youth (Jon Gray, Julio Urias) or both (Lance McCullers).

Tier 6

Aaron Nola is being criminally overlooked in drafts this year. He was mid-breakout before arm trouble and a laughably low strand rate torpedoed his season. As a result, he’s being drafted in basically the same spot as last year. Steven Matz is similarly situated, but hasn’t been dinged as much by owners so far. John Lackey will be 39 in October, but he’s on a great team and has excellent ratios (3.35 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) over the last four years. I’m buying Sean Manaea’s second half performance more than James Paxton’s, though both lefties have had trouble staying healthy. J.A. Happ and Tanner Roark don’t have the strikeout upside to be true stars, but either is a fine mid-rotation option. Y’all can take your chances with former Cy winners Felix Hernandez and Dallas Keuchel; I don’t expect to come away with any shares.