2013 Rankings: An Extremely Early Look: Top 25 Starting Pitchers

I am going to start with some extremely early 2013 positional rankings, just so we can all get an idea of where people currently sit.  Keep in mind these rankings are preliminary and before I have done any of my projections.  That means that there is going to be a lot of room for fluctuation between now and draft day.

  1. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
  2. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
  4. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
  5. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
  6. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
  7. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
  8. Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants
  9. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
  10. Jered Weaver – Los Angeles Angels
  11. Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Angels
  12. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals
  13. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
  14. Johnny Cueto – Cincinnati Reds
  15. R.A. Dickey – New York Mets
  16. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
  17. Mat Latos – Cincinnati Reds
  18. CC Sabathia – New York Yankees
  19. Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
  20. Yovani Gallardo – Milwaukee Brewers
  21. James Shields – Tampa Bay Rays
  22. Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals
  23. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
  24. Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
  25. Kris Medlen – Atlanta Braves


  • Where to rank Stephen Strasburg is going to be one of the biggest questions facing fantasy owners heading into the 2013 season.  We all know how good he was prior to being shutdown, posting a 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 K over 159.1 innings of work.  He has the potential to be the top option in the game, but it’s hard to rank him ahead of Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw.
  • Adam Wainwright got off to a slow start due to a lot of poor luck (ended with a .315 BABIP and 67.8% strand rate), so we need to take his 3.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with a slight grain of salt.  He once again showed strikeout ability (8.34 K/9), good control (2.36 BB/9) and the ability to generate groundballs (50.8%).  In other words, he should be viewed as one of the elite heading into 2013.
  • While no one is going to argue that Jered Weaver is among the best pitchers in the league, his 6.77 K/9 does knock him down a peg.  I know he posted a 9.35 K/9 in 2010, but with a career 7.63 mark that appears to be the aberration not the rule.
  • Gio Gonzalez had an amazing season, going 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.35 K/9.  There was a little bit of luck on his side (.267 BABIP despite a 21.9% line drive rate) and he always poses the threat of walking the ballpark (4.17 career BB/9 despite a 3.43 BB/9 mark in ’12).  Is he a very good option?  Absolutely, but it’s easy to expect a regression in 2013.
  • Cliff Lee won 6 games in 2012…  Does anyone really expect that to replicate itself?  Outside of that, the numbers were solid so it’s easy to go into the year viewing him as a Top 10 option once again.
  • We all know how good R.A. Dickey was last season.  I also know everyone wants to say he’s a knuckleballer, so there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to pitch at a high level despite his age.  However, he’s not your typical knuckleballer (throwing it harder than most) and he also benefited from an 80.0% strand rate.  There’s going to be regression and it is hard for me to consider him a SP1 for ’13.
  • Chris Sale impressed in his first year as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues, with a 3.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 9.00 K/9 over 192.0 innings.  There’s going to be concerns, having thrown 120 innings more than he did in ’11 (71.0 innings as a reliever) and he also benefited from an 80.0% strand rate and was hit hard (23.0% line drive rate).  He’s obviously worth owning, but you need to be cautious.  We’ll talk about him in much more detail as the offseason progresses.
  • The occasional struggles of Yu Darvish definitely caused some fantasy owners to sour on him.  He needs to fine tune his control (4.19 BB/9), but he posted a 3.90 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 10.40 K/9.  He also has the potential for improvement, given his .295 BABIP and 70.5% strand rate.  In other words, the chance is there to have a huge 2013 campaign.
  • I have Kris Medlen on the Top 25, but his spot is not secured.  There was a lot of lock in his 2012 performance and there is good reason to think that he could regress significantly.  We’ll take a much closer look at him as the offseason progresses.

Make sure to check out the rest of our extremely early 2013 rankings:


  1. Bill says:

    Given your comment about Sale, how concerned would you be about Parker and Milone?

  2. jmax says:

    What’s your take on Scherzer and his numbers heading into 2013? After looking at his BABIP of .337 and his LD% of 19 (which is league average), it suggest to me he was a little unlucky this yr. He also seemed to keep the walks down in the 2nd half. However his K9 jumped by 3 up to 11 which makes me think he could regress in that cat. What do we make of this? Your ranking suggests caution heading into next season.

    • jmax says:

      As a man who is still getting to know advanced stats such as UZR, how much does the Tiger’s poor UZR affect a guy like Scherzer and his slightly inflated BABIP. Im guessing some……

  3. Marky Mark says:

    I’ve got Kershaw, Hamels, and Wainwright on my roster, but only enough room to keep two of the three. So between Hamels and Waino, which would you rather keep?

    Hamels is a couple years younger, and since we can keep players forever, that’s certainly worth something. But Waino’s offensive support should be better, and he gets to beat up on the Cubs and Astros in the NLC.

    Whichever one I decide to keep…I’ll be looking to package the other one (maybe with someone like Ellsbury) for a big UTIL bat, so another factor is which of them holds the biggest trade value.

  4. Sats says:

    Any thoughts on Brett Anderson going forward,I would think he has the potential to be top 20, maybe top 10?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I don’t think I would put him into the Top 10, though emerging as a Top 20 option this season isn’t impossible. At the same time, for him to be in that class I would like to see a bigger strikeout rate at this point (which he hasn’t shown in the Majors pre or post injury). If he gets there, it is a different story.

      I would say Top 30 is realistic for 2013.

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