2017 Keeper Values: Starting Pitchers: Tier Two

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What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to my series on keeper leagues. Today I'll be taking a look at starting pitcher keeper values for fantasy baseball (tier two)  for those of you deciding what players to keep for your teams.

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft round in order to keep a player into the up-coming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as: the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants.

For these specific rankings, 12 team, 5x5 scoring, 23 man roster, Rotisserie league settings were used. If you play in a custom league with non-standard configurations, are thinking of keeping a player not on this list, or want to compare players on your team, follow me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB or contact me via the RotoBaller Chat Rooms.

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.

 

How My Keeper Valuation Formula Works

The Keeper Values are derived from my 15 step Keeper Valuation Formula. The product is a quanitative depiction of a players ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners needs based on the cost they payed for the player in the previous season (2016 ADP). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player, keeping him at his associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude, will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

TIER SCORE EXPLANATION
1 >75 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT.
2 50-75 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 25-49 You are gaining value with these players, but not as much as your opponents are, potentially. Consider if your options are limited.
4 0-24 Break even point. Minimal value. Only consider if you have a large quantity of Keeper selections.
5 -99-0 Keeping these players will hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding any value. Dont waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <-100 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these
players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

 

2017 Top Starting Pitcher Keeper Values: #3-11

11. Jon Gray, COL (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 52.67

We have been talking about Gray's potential ever since he was selected third overall in the 2013 draft. In 2016 we finally saw that potential begin to translate into production. In 29 starts, Gray earned the ninth best K/9 in the league, with a rather impressive 3.60 FIP. The ERA did not reflect just how effective he was thanks to some bad luck, such as the third lowest left on base percentage among starters. But we saw the hard work finally paying off, as he decreased his hard hit percentage six points from his short MLB stint in 2015, which is always beneficial when you play at Coors. Speaking of Coors, the guy had a 3.07 FIP at home versus a 4.14 away. We all know that just ain't right, so expect those road splits to even out this year, helping his overall stat line.

One of the keys to his success last year was throwing fastballs a lot less, and upping his offspeed useage. According to Pitchf/x, he earned an impressive 13.3 wSL and introduced a curveball that he did not throw in the 40 IP from 2015. We all saw the results, and should expect Gray to take another step forward in 2017 with those strong whiff numbers translating into a lower ERA and higher win total.

 

10. Julio Urias, LAD (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 55.92

Julio Urias was tabbed as the top left handed pitching prospect in baseball in 2015, and last season we finally saw what he was capable of doing against major league bats. After going 5-1 with a 9.8 K/9 and 1.40 ERA in 45 IP at Triple A, the then-19 year old was called up to the bigs. He made 15 starts for the Dodgers, finishing with a 5-2 record, 9.82 K/9, and a 3.02 FIP. But it was his last 33 IP that caused all the excitement. During that span, Urias owned the best ERA in the league (1.36).

Urias also suffered some bad luck last season, as his .349 BABIP was the seventh highest in the league among starters with at least 50 IP. That could slightly help explain the painful 1.45 WHIP. Only in his first season at Single A ball did he ever experience a BABIP over .300, so one can reasonably expect that number to even out in 2017. The sky is the limit for the 20 year old southpaw, and he has some terrific LHP role models in that Dodgers rotation to help guide him.

 

9. Rich Hill, LAD (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 60.56

Speaking of terrific LHP role models in the Dodgers rotation, here we have Rich Hill. Last season was the first time Hill has thrown over 100 innings since 2007 with the Cubs. In his 110 IP between Oakland and LA, he earned the sixth best K% among starters, the second best ERA, and the fourth best WHIP. Thanks to a devestating curveball (third best wCU) that he throws more than any other starter in the league, Hill was able to hold opposing hitters to just a .193 BAA.

Like his teammate Urias, Hill was electric for the Dodgers during their late season run to the NLCS. In his 34.1 IP in the second half, he boasted a 1.83 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and an excellent 7.80 K/BB ratio. If Hill can manage to remain healthy and pitch at least 162 innings, quite a gigantic IF considering he's only done it once, he will return elite fantasy production in 2017.

 

8. Rick Porcello, BOS (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 64.28

Your reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, with some controversy of course, Rick Porcello led the league with 22 wins in 2016. His numbers weren't as flashy as say, Justin Verlander, but the control was the best in the league. He led the league with a sexy 5.91 K/BB ratio, which returned the fourth best WHIP among starters. He seems to be drifting away from being a predominant ground ball pitcher, as he posted a career low GB/FB ratio, which is just fine considering the studs he has on defense behind him in Boston.

Following a trend so far in this article, Pretty Ricky was lights out in the second half of 2016, earning a 2.62 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. The underlying statistics show that his 3.15 ERA was quite generous, so don't expect a repeat performance in 2017. But wins do still matter in baseball, and he gets to pitch for one of the best offenses in the world, and also has one of the best changeups in the league. I mean lucky or not, if you get to keep a Cy Young winner with a late round pick, you kind of have to do it right?

 

7. Danny Duffy, KC (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 65.30

A trendy name in 2017 fantasy drafts, Duffy took on a career high workload last season, pitching 179.2 innings for the Royals. The results were easy on the eyes, as he finished with a 12-3 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 9.42 K/9. As one would expect, his production fell off in the latter part of the season as he entered a new territory of IP. That should not be the case in 2017 as his body becomes more conditioned for a full season, but he does have some other issues to work through.

In 2016, Duffy allowed the second highest Hard% in the league, which allowed a career high 13.0 HR/FB%. He threw his two seam fastball more often than any other previous season, and according to Pitchf/x, he should definitely rethink that strategy (-5.9 wFT). Luckily, his second go-to pitch is a nasty change up, which limited the damage and helped earn the fifth highest swinging strike percentage. A strikeout-or-bomb type of pitcher is certainly entertaining to watch, but not when he is on your fantasy team. If Duffy can manage to keep the ball off the heart of opponents bats this year, that high strikeout upside will flourish into SP1 production.

 

6. Michael Fulmer, DET (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 67.59

Despite being a first round pick in 2011, Fulmer still surprised the baseball world with his Rookie of the Year performance last season. He finished the year with an impressive 3.06 ERA in 159 IP. He is not a high strikeout guy, but rather relies on a mix of offspeed pitches to keep batters guessing. He threw his slider 25.6% of the time, and has a great change up that helped limit opposing hitters to just a .228 BAA in his first MLB season.

Like Duffy, Fulmer was not quite ready to endure a full season. He owned the third best ERA in the first half of the season, picking up nine wins along the way. For the rest of the year he only managed two wins with a 3.94 ERA. But the good news is he will still able to keep his WHIP below 1.15, which proves he has a relatively high floor heading into the 2017 season. Even without a flashy strikeout total, the production in the other three categories will more than help your fantasy rotation.

 

5. Justin Verlander, DET (10th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 70.21

After an awful 2014, and an injury shortened 2015 campaign, Verlander returned to his filthy ways last season. He pitched the third highest innings total in the league, winning 16 games while boasting a 3.04 ERA and an even 1.00 WHIP. Many fantasy owners were ready to pull the plug on the veteran for good after he accrued a 4.07 ERA over the first half of the season. But he repaid the faithful few who stuck with him, and he absolutely ran through opposing hitters after the All-Star break. For the second half, he owned the third best ERA, lowest BAA, and second best K% and WHIP.

Verlander has always lived on a thin line regarding his flyball rate, but last season saw a career low GB/FB ratio and a career high HR/FB%. But luckily, he was able to lean of his slider which he threw at a career high rate, which led to the fourth best K% and a career high 12.0 SwStr%. He has returned to his dominant ways, and is a sure-fire bet for another 200 IP in 2017. RotoBaller ranks Verlander as the eigth best SP for 2017, and thanks to those two down years, is an absolute steal in keeper leagues this season.

 

4. Noah Syndergaard, NYM (Fifth Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 70.49

The all-powerful Thor is truly something special with his beautiful blonde locks and massive 6'5" 200 lb frame. He pitched his first full season in 2016, reaching a career high 183.2 IP. He owned the leagues best FIP among starters, 2.29, along with the third best strikeout percentage. He consistently throws the fastball harder than any SP in the game, and has recently introduced a filthy slider into the mix. His SL% rose from just 2% in 2015 up to 23.4% last year. This unfair combination led to the second highest swinging strike percentage, and the fourth lowest contact percentage allowed among starters.

Syndergaard was fantastic in 2016, and is only going to get better. He suffered a bit of bad luck according to the fourth highest BABIP (.334). That number will even out, and considering his low amount of walks issued, we can expect an even lower ERA and WHIP in 2017 along with the elite strikeouts. He is currently the number four starting pitcher in RotoBaller's pre-season ranks.

 

3. Kyle Hendricks, CHC (17th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 71.04

What a pleasant surprise Hendricks was for fantasy owners, and Cubs fans, in 2016. The National League Cy Young Award finalist finished the season with a 16-8 record after pitching a career high 190 innings. His 2.13 ERA was easily the best among starters, with the runner up 30 points behind. Unlike Verlander and Syndergaard, Hendricks does not overpower hitters, as his fastball averages 89 mph. But instead, he heavily utilizes a sinker and change up that helped produce the weakest contact percentages in the league. According to Pitchf/x, he owned the second best sinker and by far the best change up ratings in baseball.

Hendricks .250 BABIP and 3.59 xFIP suggest some solid regression in 2017, but with the kind of soft contact that he consistently produces, I expect the BABIP and HR/FB% to always remain low. I can't imagine his ERA rising above a very low 3.00, and the win totals will continue to be elite considering the supporting offense and defense surrounding him. If you miss out on the top aces in your draft, I think Hendricks is an excellent high-floor option that will allow you to take some of the riskier high strikeout guys like Robbie Ray and Jon Gray in the later rounds. Thanks to the boost in three of the five pitching categories that Hendricks will give your fantasy rotation, as a late round keeper selection in most leagues, the World Champion just misses a tier one tag by less than four points.

 

Keeper Value Articles: 

Catcher Rankings: Tier 1

Catcher Rankings: Tier 2

Catcher Rankings: Tier 3

First Base Rankings: Tier 1

First Base Rankings: Tier 2

First Base Rankings: Tiers 3-4

Second Base Rankings: Tier 1

Second Base Rankings: Tier 2

Second Base Rankings: Tier 3

Third Base Rankings: Tier 1

Third Base Rankings: Tier 2

Third Base Rankings: Tier 3

Shortstop Rankings: Tier 1

Shortstop Rankings: Tier 2

Outfield Rankings: Tier 1

Outfield Rankings: Tier 2