The Starting Pitchers that Baffle the Rankers: The Top 100

Last week, I discussed which hitters us rankers most disagreed on based on our consensus top 300. Today I move on to the starting pitchers. Keep in mind that innings pitched plays a major role in valuations. Aside from the boost in both wins and strikeouts that come with more innings, the ratios have more of an effect. For example, an $8.16 Michael Pineda in 155 innings is worth $15.49 in 200 innings! Now it’s on to the head-scratchers.

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Matt Harvey 202 66 176 127 121

Surprise, surprise, we cannot seem to agree on an elite arm returning from Tommy John surgery. Harvey was sensational in 2013, dramatically improving his control and showing even better swing and miss stuff than he did during his 2012 debut. Now the question is how many innings will he pitch, will his mid-to-high 90s velocity be there, will he lack control early on and how will the quality of his stuff, especially his slider, be affected?

Remember how I discussed above how important innings are to a starting pitcher’s value? Harvey is a perfect example. After reading the below tweet, I upped my Harvey projection from 160 to 180 innings, which pushed his ranking to 135th overall.

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Masahiro Tanaka 105 148 192 152 100

Speaking of TJ surgery, Tanaka has managed to avoid needing such a procedure to repair a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. For now at least. In looking at the rankings, it’s clear that no one is expecting a fully healthy and similarly dominant season. But I am personally staying far, far away. Not only do I feel like his performance could suffer pitching with the injury, but the rest and rehab route seemingly rarely works out. Surgery might be inevitable, which is why I projected just 140 innings for him this season, easily resulting in the most pessimistic ranking of the bunch.

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Hisashi Iwakuma 138 76 68 139 78

I’m not entirely sure what has led to the apparent underrating of Iwakuma. Even on the wrong side of age 30, he has upped his strikeout rate, while lowering his walk rate in each season in the Majors. His SIERA slipped below 3.00 last year. He induces an above average rate of ground balls. What am I missing?

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Gio Gonzalez 181 108 111 114 167

I’m usually the pessimist when it comes to Gio, but now I’m apparently the second most optimistic. Questions about the health of his shoulder is really the only thing I could think of that is causing the rankings disagreement. Performance-wise, he has been rock solid and has continued to improve the one weakness in his game — his control.

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Lance Lynn 111 113 157 190 157

Lynn lucked his way into a sub-3.00 ERA in 2014 thanks to an inflated LOB% and suppressed HR/FB rate. Does his ERA jump all the way up to his 3.84 SIERA or has he discovered a way to outperform his expected ERA metrics? His strikeout rate fell, will it rebound? Will the addition of Jason Heyward help keep his BABIP below the league average?

NAME Jeff Dan Mike Paul Zach
Jeff Samardzija 128 93 87 81 150

Samardzija departed the comforts of the National League, but at least moved to a pitcher friendly home park in Oakland. Now, he returns to the Windy City, this time to the South side of town. U.S. Cellular Field is one of the top hitting environments in baseball, so how much will the park wreak havoc on his ratios? For his career, he sports a HR/FB rate above the league average, just once posting a sub-10% mark. In a home park that boosts home runs, do those home run issues get even worse?





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Spa City
Member
Spa City

Iwakuma is often under-rated (probably) because he does not throw hard, and the current zeitgeist is 98mph flamethrowers. I suspect it is as simple as that. He is outstanding, with no indication of decline. Scoop him up at his artificially low price and enjoy.

Emcee Peepants
Guest
Emcee Peepants

I like him and agree he is underrated, but he has shown some decline in that he has lost about 1.5 mph off his 3 primary pitches since coming to the US, and at 34, one would expect that to continue. Obviously, he was fine last year working at those velocities, but that would be my one hesitation with picking him up over some of the younger guys out there at a similar price.

Jeff Zimmerman
Member
Member

My bias isn’t against Iwakuma, it is against pitchers. I have him as the 18th highest starter and Dan as the 22nd, but when combined with hitters, he drops for me.

me
Guest
me

Why were you so bullish on Jose fernandez in relation to the others?

Kevin B.
Guest
Kevin B.

Iwakuma may be underrated because of his performance in September last year (which separated me winning from me losing it all in my league). An era of 7.61 in 5 starts and averaging less than 5 innings out in those starts. It was a really painful time to own Iwakuma after his dominant year, makes you a little weary not to see a bounce back, but to end the season on such a sour note, plus his age isn’t exactly reassuring.

Fatbot
Guest
Fatbot

I agree the answer is because of some bias that he does not throw hard, but I also wonder what Pod’s own xK% formula says about Iwakuma going forward?