Staff rankings: Starting pitchers, part two

We promised more starting pitchers, and below we follow through with our rankings of starting pitchers, 35-70. The following writers have ranked their top 70: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson, and yours truly.

We used to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts’. I speak for at least Josh Shepardson and myself when I say that we will continue to update our rankings on FantasyPros and Twitter, perhaps, throughout Spring Training and the coming month (and change). Keep on the lookout for updates, and, as always, assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5×5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we’ll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.

2012 Starting Pitchers Rankings
Player Name Nick
Expert Consensus
Ricky Romero 39 34 40 35 36 view
Chris Carpenter 38 37 38 36 37 view
Brandon Morrow 40 39 36 37 38 view
Ubaldo Jimenez 42 40 32 41 39 view
Max Scherzer 36 41 37 42 40 view
Shaun Marcum 37 38 49 38 41 view
Jaime Garcia 41 54 41 39 42 view
Jeremy Hellickson 45 45 43 40 43 view
Johnny Cueto 44 36 55 54 44 view
Tim Hudson 43 47 47 55 45 view
Hiroki Kuroda 49 43 48 48 46 view
Jhoulys Chacin 50 44 59 45 47 view
Derek Holland 48 58 42 51 48 view
Wandy Rodriguez 52 48 51 43 49 view
Clay Buchholz 59 61 46 46 50 view
Bud Norris 68 77 52 44 51 view
Luke Hochevar 54 73 44 52 view
Chad Billingsley 63 81 45 64 53 view
Ted Lilly 46 66 67 54 view
John Danks 56 46 64 55 view
Ervin Santana 47 63 54 50 56 view
Ryan Dempster 85 63 49 57 view
Brandon McCarthy 51 49 53 57 58 view
Erik Bedard 66 75 50 59 59 view
Colby Lewis 62 50 61 65 60 view
Roy Oswalt 57 51 57 52 61 view
Vance Worley 70 52 62 view
Jair Jurrjens 61 53 61 63 view
Doug Fister 53 55 60 64 view
Edwin Jackson 60 59 53 65 view
Scott Baker 55 57 68 58 66 view
Mike Minor 67 72 56 60 67 view
Justin Masterson 58 60 69 56 68 view
Trevor Cahill 64 56 67 62 69 view
Johan Santana 72 67 58 70 70 view

Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.

Tomorrow… Relievers

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  1. Brad Johnson said...


    Bedard and to a lesser extent Oswalt strike me as misranked. I think I’d rather have 110 innings of Bedard than 200 innings of most of the guys on this half of the list.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    I’m with you, I didn’t even see his name on the list. I wouldn’t even use him for match up plays and I typically pick up around 30 of those per season per league (which means I have to scrounge with some pretty bad pitchers sometimes).

    I haven’t done a top 100 list, but Hochevar probably wouldn’t be on it.

  3. Bill said...

    Hochevar is on there because of his strong second half.  Depending on the league, I’d probably take some much safer guys like Danks or Santana, but he does have the prospect pedigree and was excellent down the stretch (57:17 K:BB from August on, in 60 IP).

  4. Paul said...

    Morrow and Scherzer in the top 40 strikes me as a bit aggressive. What exactly have they done to warrant a ranking here other than destroying my WHIP every year? Until they show consistency I will stay far away or wait for him to fall way lower in the draft. Heck I can draft Burnett in the last round and get a similar k rate.

    Thoughts on Marcum? Ranking seems fair, but anyway he can increase that strikeout rate to move up into a better tier?

    And I am also sleeping on Minor. Any specific reasons why the consensus put him here? What stands out in his peripherals?

  5. DD said...

    R. A. Dickey finished 6th in the NL in Wins Above Replacement in 2011.  He played only 3/4ths of the 2010 season in the major leagues, so his 2010 WAR number isn’t as impressive, but he did manage to finish 7th in Earned Run Average.  Dickey pitched last year when he could barely walk, and pitched well; he is an odds-on favorite to out-perform two thirds of the names on your two lists, yet his name doesn’t appear on either of them.

    In his Historical Abstract Bill James discussed how the baseball minds of the time consistently undervalued Phil Neikro, even when he was the top performing pitcher in the National League, which he was several years.  One might have thought that such prejudice was behind us, with all the advancements in statictical analysis, but no.  Dickey can’t crack your list; and recently John Sickels listed the top pitchers by WAR, to make a point about player development, and HE simply skipped over Dickey too.

    Prejudice is a weakness.  Free your mind!  Isn’t that the point of all this analytical effort?

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    I feel like I’ve been playing that Hochevar game for 3 years. There’s always something you can squint at and like, but come the end of the year, I’ve used him for 3 starts, 12 IP, 8 R, and 4 K against 3 very bad offenses.

    If a guy can’t reliably perform against terrible teams, then he’s not worth my time. Maybe I’ve just caught all the outliers, but that would be quite the coincidence.

    On Morrow/Scherzer –

    Morrow still has that underlying breakout potential which is dragging up his ranking. I’m looking to pay under $10 for him fwiw.

    I didn’t like ranking Scherzer 42, but I find that if I manage my k/9, then I can make the rest of the stats follow suit. He’s essentially at the top of a mediocre tier based purely on his K rate.

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    Forgot to comment on Minor. He strikes out a lot of guys and has decent control. That’s enough to make up for the large amount of uncertainty surrounding his opportunities and ability to prevent runs.

    DD – If I were building a real life roster, I might like Dickey a lot more. But we’re talking about a 37 year old who is a medical freak, pitching without a one of his elbow tendons. That’s worrisome on the injury front. Then take his fantasy peripherals – bad strike out rate, terrible supporting cast in a tough division (read – no wins), newly shortened fences, and a mediocre WHIP. The total package isn’t worth any investment.

  8. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Brad- I don’t think you can even count on 100+ innings of Bedard. Even if you take out his missed 2010 season, he has only averaged 94 innings in the last three seasons he’s played. Granted that he can be talented when he actually plays, and I don’t usually care about an injury risk. I just can’t justify an injury certainty. That’s why he’s so low on my list. I’d rather have A.J. Burnett for strikeouts or a talented middle reliever like Tyler Clippard or Sean Marshall for consistent greatness. I’ll get my strikeouts elsewhere.

  9. Ben Pritchett said...

    @DD- I’m with Brad on Dickey. He’s a far better real-life pitcher than a guy you can count on in fantasy. I will say, however, that he has tremendous value in NL Only leagues where owners will undervalue his skill set.

    And, I totally agree with Bill in regards to Hochevar, but I don’t think that his August/September merits an extremely high rank. I have him at 73 which I think is fair considering he is showing some promise and is 27-years-old. But you can’t disregard his checkered history and the fact that he is the ace and will have to match up with every team’s best pitcher.

  10. Mark Himmelstein said...


    I do see Marcum upping his strikeout rate.  Check out these two articles.

    The first one is the source material from 2009, the second applies it to 2011.  Basically matthan at draysbay built a formula based on SwStrike% (separated into in-zone and o-zone), C-Strike%, Foul%, and InPlay% that correlates VERY strongly to strikeout rate, as a way of trying to identify over/under performers.  Marcum falls solidly into the “under” category last year. 

    I think he’s undervalued.  Should also benefit from the Brewers’ improved defense.  Actually, to be more precise, I’m not sure he’s vastly superior to some of the guys ranked ahead of him on these lists—there are a lot of arguments to be made that there are tons of potential bargains in the ~30-40 range—but at the very least, I see a pretty steep dropoff from Scherzer/Marcum/maybe Garcia to Hellickson/Cueto/Hudson.

  11. Brad Johnson said...

    Ben, #1s barely face other #1s more frequently than than other pitchers. I think that research was done by a THT writer but it could have been BPro too.

  12. Ben Pritchett said...


    Scherzer/Morrow- Agree with Brad 100 percent, but I’d probably pay a little more than 10 dollars for Morrow, and I think Scherzer has a taller ceiling that he may.

    Shaun Marcum- Marcum is an oddity. He has that elite potential, but I think people worry about his health. I also worry about his career BABIP seems due to correct in a negative manner (WHIP gets inflated). He faded down the stretch in 2011 and forgot how to be dominant. With all that said, he still a steady, consistent pitcher that is still in his prime years. If his fade wasn’t injury related, he could very well crack the top 30 SP list by season’s end. I probably won’t be targeting him.

    Mike Minor- He’s a smart pitcher that should get every opportunity to succeed even though the Braves are very talented at starting pitcher. He’s the only lefty they have, and I have to think they want him in that rotation. He has gained a tremendous strikeout upside even though he didn’t exhibit that in college. I like his skills, but he may or may not put it together in 2012. I think he’s a speculative play which is why he’s outside my top 70, but you can’t sleep on him.

  13. Dave Shovein said...

    I can understand the arguments for not liking Fister, but his ranking here is absurd. I have him 45th on my SP list, and I thought that might even be a bit too low.

    To have Dempster and Bedard higher than him is mind boggling to me

    I’m also buying Scott Baker and Johan Santana this year and have them much higher on my board.

  14. Brad Johnson said...

    The nice thing about SP is that the rankings are always very diverse.

    I wouldn’t pay more than a $1 for Fister.

    Baker I could see buying, although he’s inconsistent year to year. If we’re talking minimal $5 type investment, I could see jumping on the Johan train. There’s maybe a 10% chance he makes you look very smart, a 40% chance that he’s serviceable over 100-150 IP, and the remaining 50% covers the outcomes where he never pitches a useful fantasy inning.

  15. Randy said...

    I like the ranking of Romero ahead of the rest of this bunch. I think he has the ability to make the top 30 fairly easily, and he has more breakout potential than teammate Morrow. His K’s aren’t quite high enough, but he’s shown flashes and has performed particularly well against division foes, which is often cited as a knock against him (that he pitches in the AL East). If he can get the K rate up a bit and sustain it, it will be enough given how well he performs in other categories.

  16. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Updated tentative top 75 (breaks indicate tiers):

    Rank   Player Name
    1   Roy Halladay
    2   Clayton Kershaw
    3   Justin Verlander

    4   Tim Lincecum
    5   Cliff Lee
    6   Felix Hernandez
    7   CC Sabathia
    8   Zack Greinke
    9   Jered Weaver
    10   Cole Hamels
    11   Dan Haren
    12   David Price
    13   Madison Bumgardner

    14   Stephen Strasburg
    15   Matt Moore

    16   Jon Lester
    17   Mat Latos
    18   Adam Wainwright
    19   Yu Darvish
    20   Michael Pineda
    21   Matt Cain
    22   Brandon Beachy
    23   Anibal Sanchez
    24   James Shields
    25   Max Scherzer

    26   Yovanni Gallardo
    27   Daniel Hudson
    28   Ian Kennedy
    29   Josh Beckett
    30   Jordan Zimmerman
    31   Chris Carpenter
    32   Matt Garza
    33   Cory Luebke
    34   Shaun Marcum
    35   Gio Gonzalez

    36   Ubaldo Jimenez
    37   C.J. Wilson
    38   Josh Johnson
    39   Scott Baker
    40   Tommy Hanson
    41   Alexi Ogando

    42   Ricky Romero
    43   Jeremy Hellickson
    44   Jaime Garcia
    45   Jhoulys Chacin
    46   Colby Lewis
    47   A.J. Burnett
    48   Hiroki Kuroda
    49   Mike Minor
    50   Ryan Dempster
    51   Ricky Nolasco

    52   Brandon Morrow
    53   Bud Norris
    54   Ryan Vogelsong
    55   Gavin Floyd
    56   Justin Masterson
    57   Ted Lilly
    58   Tim Hudson
    59   John Danks
    60   Wandy Rodriguez
    61   Brandon McCarthy
    62   Johnny Cueto
    63   Edwin Jackson

    64   Doug Fister
    65   Roy Oswalt
    66   Erik Bedard
    67   Clay Buchholz
    68   Carlos Zambrano
    69   Tim Stauffer
    70   Ervin Santana
    71   Chad Billingsley
    72   Bartolo Colon
    73   Jake Peavy
    74   Chris Volstad
    75   Derek Holland

  17. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I like a pair of Santanas more than most here. For most of the 5-8 guys in front of him, there are fair arguments against Santana, but at the same time, I think you could also make an argument for him being as many as 10 or slots higher. Wandy Rodriguez and Jhoulys Chacin have a way of consistently finding their way onto my teams; this year I have a feeling Ervin Santana might too.

    Also, I think you have to willing to gamble much more highly on Johan Santana. I’m buying! I can understand if you don’t want to project him ahead of many of these guys, I’d actually draft him ahead of several of the guys ahead of him simply for the ceiling.

  18. Ron Washington said...

    Without looking at any stats, it makes no sense that Vogelsong, Jackson, Bedard, Zambrano, Stauffer, Colon, Peavy, and Volstad are ranked ahead of Derek Holland.  How can that be? Can some explain?

  19. Brad Johnson said...

    The one thing I’ll say about Marcum is that I don’t like investing in guys with skill sets that usually fail. I’m all over guys like Marcum and Duchscherer when they’re relatively free, but if I have to pay, he can be someone else’s burden.

  20. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Ron Washington

    I can see Jackson and Bedard, maybe Vogelsong Stauffer if I squint, but agree on the others.


    Yeah I can see that. He’s another one of those guys who I like a lot when I’m thinking about it in the abstract, but don’t really find myself pulling the trigger on. I think in his case its because there are usually other guys I like more available at the same price (usually for the same kind of Duchscherer reason), even though there are also guys I like quite a bit less at the same price too, so in my head I can justify liking him but in practice I’m not too crazy about him.

  21. Daniel said...

    Derek holland at 75…Behind chris volstad, bartolo colon, chad billingsley, tim stauffer, carlos zambrano, bedard, oswalt, cueto, mccarthy, danks, lilly, folyd, vogelsong,norris, morrow, nolasco, dempster, kuroda, burnett, lewis, chacin, garcia, hellickson, ogando, hanson, baker, jimenez and beachy, Don’t you find that a bit strange. This guy was the best pitcher on his team in the second half of ‘11, without any apparently significant source of luck; in fact his fastball’s velocity went up. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be in that form in 2012. This guy was a huge prospect that people outside of texas seemed to forget the potential of after a slow breaking-in process. I can maybe understand a few of the listed players being ahead of him if you want to be really sceptical, but Colon?? Zambrano?? Oswalt?? Norris? Dempster?? Lewis?? Ogando?? ridiculous. Colon had a good year in 2011, at least im comparison to expectations. Still, it was not as good as Holland even with some early inconsistency from holland. Carlos Zambrano may benefit from a change of scenery and ozzie guillen, but lets face it; he’s carlos zambrano and hasn’t had a good year in several years. Roy oswalt is a former ace and star, but is in his later years and shouldn’t improve from his very holland-liike season in 2011. He will likely continue trending downward in 2012, but even if he doesn’t, if you hand him a 3-5 year contract you are not likely to get more from him than a up-and-coming holland. Bud Norris cut down on his ERA by more than a whole run, but other than that his numbers did not greatly improve. His strikeouts decreased, while is walks got better, and his home run rate increased a little. He also managed a not-so-productive 1.8 WAR compared to holland’s 3.6. There is no more reason to believe norris will get better than holland, and as of 2011 Holland is the better pitcher. ryan dempster had a great year in 2008. But, since then his war had decreased constantly, and his walks and home runs have gone up. Still, he had a good year in 2011, posting a nearly identical tERA, SIERA, and xFIP to holland. He is, though, 35 while holland is ten years younger. Who would you prefer: An upward trending young fireballer or a 35 year old who has decreased in value consistency since turning 30. Colby Lewis, a fellow pitcher in texas, Raised eyebrows with his year in 2010 when he got off running after a trip to Japan. He became the clear #2 on the staff, but in 2011 suffered the worst season on the rangers. The only pitcher with an era over 4, he allowed the most home runs in the american league. He also lost 30 strikeouts in nearly the same amount of innings. I’m not saying that 2010 was a fluke, but if you compare the seasons of Holland and Lewis in 2011, the only excuse for ranking lewis 30 places higher is that you think Holland will suffer collapse in 2012. Alexi ogando is another pitcher on the rangers staff. This is the craziest of all of the rankings, as I won’t even go into how Holland had a better 2011 season, but the fact is…he is very likely going to a relief pitcher for years to come! You don’t rank a relief pitcher in the top 50 starting pitchers. I have objections to more players being ranked ahead of Holland, but those are the most substantial. At least move the guy a couple of tiers up, will ya Jeff?

  22. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Hochevar haters

    As you can see, I’m buying into him.  I’ve written about him as a sleeper in a few locations this offseason including here:

    In short, he was a different pitcher post All-Star break.  The biggest notable change he made was ramping up his slider usage, and the gains he made were massive.  He jumped from a 4.57 K/9 in the first half to a 7.71 K/9 post (79.1 innings, so it is still a small sample, but it’s not tiny).  He’s always shown good control and a plus groundball rate, the only thing missing was strikeouts.  Now that he’s throwing a pitch that generated a 22.6 percent whiff rate, those strikeouts should be here to stay.

  23. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Daniel,

    I’m talking about Hochevar, but I also love Holland.  He had an excellent summer.  My lone concern is his huge leap in usage.  Otherwise, I like Holland a lot.

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