This is the ninth article in the series of our 2013 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of starting pitchers ranked 1-20. If you are using statistical analysis to rank starting pitchers, it is not an easy process with only four categories to use and excluding strikeouts, the other three categories (ERA, WHIP, wins) have a lot of variation from year-to-year.
That is why if you look at various sites or “expert” rankings, you will typically see the same group of 25 or so pitchers ranked in the top 20 but the order outside of the top 4-5 will vary greatly. The rankings I have put together are based on my custom formulas plus some personal tweaks where the numbers are close based on who I would take in a draft.
Here is a look at the fantasy baseball starting pitchers ranked 1-20 for 2013.
1. Justin Verlander - you knew there was regression coming in his win total, otherwise the other stats were pretty similar to 2011. I rate him slightly over Kershaw based on durability and win potential.
2. Clayton Kershaw - ground ball rate rose for second straight season but walk rate increased from 2011 as well. Just needs to improve control slightly to turn in another sub 1.0 WHIP.
3. Stephen Strasburg - upside is 20 wins, 250 strikeouts in 200 innings and a sub 3.00 ERA. Downside is he comes with an injury history, though his innings limit last year should work in his favor going forward.
4. David Price - dominant second half of the season with a 9-1 record, 2.27 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning. If he maintains large ground ball increase from last season, will post another sub 3.00 ERA.
5. Felix Hernandez - strikeout rate has risen four seasons in a row. Should get another couple of wins this season with power hitters the Mariners added.
6. Cole Hamels - win total has risen three straight seasons, the benefit of being a number one pitcher pushed back in a loaded rotation. Wasn’t quite as good as he was in 2011 but still has a little bit of upside left.
7. Cliff Lee - if you did not own him last season, you are happy he had only six wins because it may drive his price down a little this year because there was no change in his skills.
8. Matt Cain - set career high in strikeout rate and career low in walk rate in 2012. Lack of run support in past robbed him of wins which he made up for last season as well. Only blemish is his sub 8.0 k rate compared to the other top hurlers.
9. Jered Weaver - velocity dipped for the second year in a row as did his strikeout rate. Interesting that he increased his fastball usage by almost five percentage points despite it not being as effective in years past while cutting down on his slider usage. Missed starts with a strained lower back and bicep tendinitis.
10. Madison Bumgarner - first half and second half numbers were pretty close except he bumped up his strikeout rate to almost a batter per inning after the All-Star break. Should take a small step forward this year if he can handle the innings workload.
11. Zack Greinke - groundball rate up for the third year in a row, unfortunately it was not reflected as much in his ERA with a bad bullpen behind him in Milwaukee.
12. CC Sabathia - comes with a small red flag after having elbow surgery in October though he is expected to be healthy to start the season. Walk rate was down and strikeout rate was up for the second year in a row but he is a question mark to hit 200 innings.
13. Yu Darvish - U.S. debut was solid and he was consistent all season long. Only negative was his walk rate which he could improve if he cuts down on his wide assortment of pitches. Still has upside numbers wise in 2013.
14. Gio Gonzalez - move to National League boosted k rate and helped him make small gains in his walk rate. Suppressed home run rate in 2012 means ERA likely to be over 3.00 this season.
15. James Shields - turned in stellar second half with 2.81 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning. Ground ball rate and strikeout rate was up last season so if that holds up with a little bit of luck, he could turn in another 2011 season.
16. Chris Sale - a tale of two halves with 2.19 ERA and .95 WHIP first half and 4.03 and 1.34 the second half. Jump of 120 innings gives some cause for concern but there is no doubt about his skills.
17. Adam Wainwright - healthy again but for how long? Too many good young (and healthier) pitchers available to take the risk on him unless you can get him at a discount.
18. Kris Medlen - he is good, but not yet great as the numbers would suggest in 2012, but he is a second tier starting pitcher that you will likely be able to get a few rounds later than you should only because he has split time starting and relieving and some will be drafting on name recognition instead of the numbers.
19. R.A. Dickey - moves to a better team and offense so the drop in wins will likely not be as severe but the move to the American League East is going to mean a higher ERA and WHIP.
20. Roy Halladay - missed time in June and July with strained shoulder and was not the same pitcher when he returned. Age and health make him more of a risk plus his workload over last few seasons mean you want to let someone else own him this year.
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