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Injury Agnostic SP Rankings for 2023 Fantasy Baseball

It's hard to project injuries. Therefore, it's hard to project how many innings a pitcher will throw in a given year. Am I rocking any boats yet?

Sure, Jacob deGrom is more likely to hit the IL this year than Gerrit Cole. There's no questioning that, and that should matter when you are drafting your team. I do think we tend to get bogged down with innings projections, and we let that steer our draft strategies a little bit too much at times.

Players are only "injury-prone" until they are not (remember when that Aaron Judge guy would fall past pick 40 because he was "injury prone"?). Mostly every pitcher has a shot at making 30 starts this year, so I wanted to make this post to look into pitchers that could be sweet values on draft day if they do run into a healthy season in 2023.

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The Process

I averaged out two projection systems here, ATC & The Bat. I personally hold these in higher regard for pitcher projections than Steamer or my own projections, so that seemed like a good path forward. I averaged out each pitcher's projection in:

  • Innings Per Start
  • Win Rate
  • Strikeout Rate
  • ERA
  • WHIP

And then I brought every pitcher to 170 innings pitched for the year and did the math from there.

Sticking to the standard rotisserie league scoring system (W, K, ERA, WHIP), I then ranked all of the pitchers based on the results. After that, we can compare this rank with the ADP rank and see where the biggest differences lie.

Before I just give you the goods, allow me to keep your attention for a bit longer and go over some of the highlights myself.


The 200 Strikeout Club

This exercise is quite helpful in getting our minds to realize that innings aren't always the most important thing when you're playing in a roto league with raw strikeouts being a category. Last year, for example, Spencer Strider finished 11th in the league in strikeouts with 202. He did that while throwing just 131.2 innings. He struck out just five fewer hitters than Sandy Alcantara in 97 fewer innings. That's quite, quite useful in a roto league - especially considering the fact that you're allowed to replace pitchers during weeks they aren't pitching!

Here are the pitchers that project for more than 200 strikeouts over 170 innings:

  1. Spencer Strider (233)
  2. Jacob deGrom (233)
  3. Tyler Glasnow (217)
  4. Carlos Rodon (217)
  5. Blake Snell (212)
  6. Gerrit Cole (210)
  7. Shohei Ohtani (210)
  8. Hunter Greene (208)
  9. Max Scherzer (204)
  10. Cristian Javier (204)
  11. Corbin Burnes (203)
  12. Andrew Heaney (202)
  13. Dylan Cease (201)

Above 190: Nick Lodolo, Brandon Woodruff, Justin Verlander, Robbie Ray, Chris Sale.


Biggest Gainers

Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins

His value here makes him the #43 SP, but his ADP rank is way down at #96. Obviously, you're going to have massive doubts about health when a 34-year-old is coming off of Tommy John surgery, especially a guy that has had such an inconsistent career in terms of fantasy value. However, he has looked quite capable when on the mound in recent years, and the Twins signed him to be a traditional starter for them. Couple that with the fact that all the news is positive about his recovery (he had his surgery way back in September 2021), and we really have something here.

James Paxton, Boston Red Sox

He's an exception here as a guy with three consecutive completely lost seasons. He's essentially free in drafts, but yes - there's no reason to believe he can come anywhere near 170 innings at this point, and we have no idea if he's even anywhere near as good as he was in 2018-2019 after all that's gone on with him, so I'm certainly not recommending anybody draft him this season. There are a few more names near the top of the "Diff" list like this, but I'll leave that to your own prudence to interpret.

Alex Wood, San Francisco Giants

He really has put up solid numbers when on the hill over the last few seasons and has been pretty close to the 160+ innings we want (138 and 130 last two seasons), so we could certainly see Wood run into some luck, make 30 starts, and have a very nice fantasy season.

Andrew Heaney, Texas Rangers

Heaney is a little bit closer to Paxton than to Wood, but it's definitely not insane to think he could find his way to a 25+ start season, and with what we saw from him last year, that could be the jackpot. The field really isn't buying in, as he's the 62nd SP off the board on average this year, and he's a top 30 SP by this exercise even with some more laid-back projections. He's someone I'm interested in taking a shot on if I get some innings guys I'm confident in early on in the draft.

Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

Even before the Tommy John surgery, we had questions about how many innings the Rays would let Glasnow go for. He recovered and returned to action late last year, so we can be confident in the health of the arm. Because of all of that, his price is probably about right as he's the 27th SP off the board. Extrapolating to 170 innings, though, and he's a top 10 SP - which is hard to argue with given how dominant he's been since 2019 when on the bump. I'll even go ahead and say he's a bit too cheap right now.

Other potential SP1s standing out for cheaper price tags:

The Full Results

Alrighty, here you go. The full interactive table. Have a go at it, thanks for reading!

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