These starting pitcher rankings were a lot of fun this year. Whether it was the lack of offense in the 2022 MLB season or just a boom in the starting pitching population, there are a lot of starting pitchers I feel good about heading into the 2023 fantasy baseball season. While the elite starters are still going to be quite valuable, I think it’s going to be a little easier this year to piece together a fantasy pitching staff in the mid and later rounds of your drafts. My Rankings are below but I do believe understanding the process I use and the way I value pitchers is something you should understand. Also if you so desire, here are 13 potential pitching sleepers I’ll be monitoring this spring.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
The Rankings Process
I could lie to you and say that I created projections for all these pitchers (I’ve done it before) but I didn’t. As a base, I started with the ATC projections from FanGraphs. These have been developed by Ariel Cohen who I will be going up against in the LABR Mixed Auction at First Pitch Florida. I’m not familiar with his exact methodology but from what I understand he aggregates several other projection systems in some way to build his own. I’m confident in my personal projections, but to be honest, it’s just not worth the time when there are plenty of solid projections out there and the accuracy can only be so good.
With ATC Rankings in hand, I import them into the Automated Standings Gain Points Tool from Smart Fantasy Baseball. This is an amazing tool. Of course, it uses those projections to create rankings, but no self-respecting “expert” is going to just take their rankings from somebody else’s projections. This tool also lets you change the projected innings pitched for any pitcher and then adjusts their stats and rankings accordingly. I didn’t go crazy with this but there were pitchers like Hunter Brown who look like they’ll get more innings than previously thought.
So now the SGP tool has spit out a nice set of rankings and I could go with that and probably feel pretty good about it. BUT, as with most of you, my ego says that I know better than everybody else, so I made some adjustments.
With an abundance of starting pitchers I like, I’m much more risk-averse. If there are plenty of solid pitchers available why take risks on pitchers that we know already have injury concerns? You’ll see in the starting pitcher rankings below that I’ve bumped some pretty elite arms down my list simply due to injury concerns.
I also bumped a few down the ranks due to innings concerns.
I mean, I love Grayson Rodriguez, but he threw a combined total of 75 innings in 2022. Are the Orioles going to let him throw much more than 120? So either they shut him down at some point or, maybe more likely, he throws a lot of 5-inning starts and struggles to get wins. So while he’s going to be a great pitcher in the future, his fantasy value for this season has a very tight cap.
So, yes, these starting pitchers are based on projections like I think they have to be, but I also think there’s a bit of an art to fantasy baseball and I’ll forever insert my own bit of knowledge and opinion into the game I love to play.
2023 Starting Pitcher Rankings
I have not broken my starting pitcher rankings down into tiers but I do think there are some pretty obvious lines of demarcation. I’ve also included a field in the table to denote the pitchers that have inning or injury concerns. Now let’s be honest, just about every pitcher has some level of injury concern. I’ve only labeled the pitchers who either had injury issues as last season ended or those that are currently dealing with something. Now if you’ll help stop me from reaching way too long on Tyler Glasnow it will be appreciated.
For more of my musings please follow me on Twitter @Rotodaddy!
[Editor’s Note: Carlos Rodon is the latest pitcher who will be starting the season on the IL. He seems to be downplaying the severity of his injury and says he would be pitching if this was during a playoff run. Depending on how risk-averse you are, you might bump him further down the rankings than I have.]
|8||Jacob deGrom||TEX||Injury Concern|
|9||Shane McClanahan||TB||Injury Concern|
|14||Zack Wheeler||PHI||Injury Concern|
|22||Max Scherzer||NYM||Injury Concern|
|32||Charlie Morton||ATL||Injury Concern|
|33||Luis Severino||NYY||Injury Concern|
|34||Chris Sale||BOS||Injury Concern|
|36||Nestor Cortes||NYY||Injury Concern|
|40||Joe Musgrove||SD||Injury Concern|
|41||Tyler Glasnow||TB||Injury Concern|
|43||Clayton Kershaw||LAD||Injury Concern|
|44||Freddy Peralta||MIL||Injury Concern|
|52||Kyle Wright||ATL||Injury Concern|
|58||Jack Flaherty||STL||Injury Concern|
|60||Andrew Heaney||TEX||Injury Concern|
|61||Garrett Whitlock||BOS||Injury Concern|
|62||Alex Cobb||SF||Injury Concern|
|66||Dustin May||LAD||Injury and Innings|
|77||Michael Kopech||CHW||Injury Concern|
|80||Lance McCullers||HOU||Injury Concern|
|84||Kenta Maeda||MIN||Injury Concern|
|101||Spencer Turnbull||DET||Injury Concern|
|110||Mike Soroka||ARI||Injury Concern|
Where did Doug go wrong with his starting pitcher rankings? Feel free to throw some shade in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!
Where did you go wrong? Most of it is pretty normal stuff, but OK, I’ll point out some things.
Dustin May is not injured. Innings concern, yes. But also top 10 skills. He should be 15 spots higher, minimum. He’s one of the few players listed after 40 that could be top-10 realistically (except maybe for the innings limit).
Julio Urias is gonna make everyone eat their bad predictions… again. It’s just silly. The dude can pitch better than just about everyone.
Hunter Greene is ambitious. I think you’re a year early.
Chris Sale is very ambitious — he’s barely pitched for three years and his team is pretty bad.
Glasnow is probably a waste of a pick — he can’t stay healthy.
No one is drafting Rasmussen that high, not with all the talent you have listed after him.
Painter should be an injury risk. I wouldn’t take him in a re-draft league. The team is going to protect him. He’s off the list entirely.
Edward Cabrera is better than the ten pitchers you have listed in front of him. Like Dustin May, he could rocket up the list. Is he really riskier than Tyler Mahle? Who would you rather have?
You’re sleeping on Cavalli.
Good takes. I did not say May was injured. I labeled him as an injury risk which he clearly is if you look at his career. I may indeed move him up a bit, but the innings limit does cap his upside. I don’t project anything bad for Julio Urias. He just doesn’t get as many strikeouts as other top starters and we are talking fantasy baseball where strikeouts are a large part of the value. Greene is certainly far from a sure thing. If you look at what he did in the second half of 2022 it looks like he’s already turned the corner. He wouldn’t be the first young pitcher to take a step back though. My rankings on Rasmussen is not where he’s being taken. In fact, it’s not really where I’d take him. It’s where I think his production will be. Fortunately, I can wait a bit on pitchers like him. In general, I don’t disagree too much with your comments. My rankings have to balance out reliability and safety with upside and risk. In a 12-team league I may indeed be more in on guys like Dustin May because you can replace them a little more easily. In a deeper league, I lean more conservative.