2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Rubber, Rest-of-Season SP Rankings
It’s about that time for updated starting pitcher rankings. Below you’ll find my top 60 starters from here on out. To compile the rankings I calculated fantasy value above average by running the Steamer RoS projections through the Zach Sanders method for calculating fantasy value and looking at K-BB% for 2014. I basically averaged each player’s Steamer ranking and their K-BB% ranking. And then I made a few adjustments just based on personal preference. The players are listed below in groups of 12 along with their Steamer RoS projections, 2014 K-BB% and ESPN.com ownership percentage.
The aces of your staff. Moving along. Nothing to see here.
I cannot escape Ian Kennedy. Three of the five most recent articles written about him on Fangraphs were written by yours truly, and I’ve covered him here a couple times as well. Kennedy was great in 2011 thanks to a dominant fastball and a slightly above average curveball. But the next two years his curveball was below average and he couldn’t survive on one plus pitch. In fact, his fastball wasn’t plus the last two years either. But this year his fastball velocity is at a career high, almost 2 mph higher than his career average.As you can see below his velocity is holding, so I’m buying to some degree. I don’t think he’s quite a top 20 pitcher like the model I used does but top 30 is reasonable.
Phil Hughes, man. Top 30 starter? That’s absolutely what he has been so far. He ranks 13th in K-BB% among qualified starters, and he’s 19th among SP on ESPN’s player rater. Steamer is buying him to some degree as he came out 45th in the Steamer RoS projections, which is surely higher than he ranked in the preseason. Given that I see no obvious signs of regression, I think this may be a situation where the projections continue to catch up to the improvements he has made as the season continues as opposed to the regression monster eating him up. Add him if he’s out there, and don’t sell high if you own him.
That is a bizarre group of players. We’re living in a world where a model likes Jake Arrieta more than Justin Verlander. I’m not telling you to go and drop Verlander for Arrieta, which is something almost all JV owners could do. But we do have to accept that they’re in the same class at the moment. We’re easily in the territory of guys you can’t start in every matchup depending on who the opponent is. For example, I’d be sitting Verlander this week against the Indians who crush right-handed pitching. But I’m rolling with Arrieta against the Reds. The league average ERA for starters is 3.91, and you can see that, for the most part, Steamer projects these guys to have an ERA in the high threes from here on out. They’re above average, but only slightly.
We’re officially in spot starter territory now with the exception of Jered Weaver and Gerrit Cole, who ranks this low primarily because of his injury issues. But none of the other guys on this list have to be owned. As for Weaver, you could likely sell him for someone in tier 3. His velocity and swinging strike rate are down, and his first pitch strike percentage is at a career low level which has caused a spike in his walk rate. He’s long been a guy who outperforms his peripherals, but the gap is narrowing.