by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Remember, just because a player is ranked in a certain spot doesn’t mean that you are going to have to draft him there. Take Alex Wood, for instance, who is ranked as a Top 15 starter but likely can be had as a SP3 or below on draft day. The owner of a 2.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.69 K/9 and 2.59 BB/9 over 212.1 innings as a starter in the Majors, it’s simply not upside that we are referencing. He has the stuff, has proven it at the highest level and now is not going to have to spend time in the bullpen or at Triple-A. Look for him to be one of the better draft day bargains.
Who else do we like better than everyone else? Who do we think is going to be overvalued? Let’s take a look at our initial starting pitcher rankings to help find out:
1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
3. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
5. David Price – Detroit Tigers
6. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
7. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
8. Max Scherzer – Free Agent
9. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
10. Jeff Samardzija – Chicago White Sox
11. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
12. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
13. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
14. Alex Wood – Atlanta Braves
15. Tyson Ross – San Diego Padres
16. Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays
17. Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves
18. Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers
19. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals
20. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
21. Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals
22. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
23. Johnny Cueto – Cincinnati Reds
24. James Shields – Free Agent
25. Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees
26. Matt Harvey – New York Mets
27. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
28. Sonny Gray – Oakland A’s
29. Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds
30. Garrett Richards – Los Angeles Angels
- Where Scherzer and Shields ultimately land will obviously have an impact on their spot on these rankings. That’s not to say that they aren’t going to be among the better options in the league, it’s just that they could move a few spots in either direction.
- Granted, Jeff Samardzija’s move to the White Sox isn’t ideal but his skill set has been evolving and improving over the past few seasons. We all know that he’s going to have strikeouts (and his 10.9% SwStr% and 34.0% O-Swing% indicate he can improve on his 8.28 K/9) and control. However the groundball rate has also been trending in the right direction, reaching 50.2% last season. With those numbers, it’s impossible not to love him.
- The perception hanging over Gio Gonzalez is that he disappointed in 2014. Did he really, though? We took a look at his numbers (click here to view) and at the end of the day the overall view was clouded by injury and inconsistency. Don’t overreact and undervalue him.
- It’s become clear that Adam Wainwright is on the downside of his career, despite still producing a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP last season. His strikeouts were down (7.10 K/9) and he also enjoyed significant luck in 2014 (.267 BABIP despite a 23.9% line drive rate). His control is going to keep him as a viable option, but drafting him as one of the better options in the league would be a mistake.
- The player who will likely be the most debated is Johnny Cueto, and we will definitely take a much closer look at him in the coming days/weeks. It’s important to keep in mind that he enjoyed significant luck last season (.238 BABIP, 82.5% strand rate), could easily allow a few more home runs (0.81 HR/9) and could see a drop in strikeouts (8.94 K/9 in ’14 vs. career 7.41 mark, plus the underlying metrics didn’t justify the jump). Make sure to check back for a more in-depth look, but the fact is you shouldn’t overpay.
- Both Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Harvey could be elite options this season, but will they be healthy? Can they stay healthy? The questions are going to suppress their ranking, but also make them worth the gamble if the price is right.
Make sure to check out all of our early 2015 rankings:
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