Fantasy Baseball 2013 Head-to-Head Points League Rankings: Top 25 Starters

Kevin C. Cox

Alex Kantecki ranks his top-25 starting pitchers in head-to-head points leagues.

Last week at Fake Teams, I wrapped up a two-week stretch ranking the top hitters in head-to-head points leagues for 2013. If you're reading this, I haven't totally scared you from rotisserie's evil twin. Maybe you're thinking of joining a head-to-head league. Or maybe you just like rankings a lot -- I know I do.

I previously mentioned that Miguel Cabrera won the points title among hitters, but the overall points winner (hitter or pitcher) was R.A. Dickey, who knuckleball danced his was to 613 points, 16 points better than Cabrera. In fact, the top-five pitchers (Dickey, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Matt Cain) all beat out the second-best hitter, Ryan Braun.

Because head-to-head points leagues are still relatively new, and because there is no standard for scoring (like a standard 5X5 roto league), the scoring settings you choose to use makes a big difference in how you draft your team. In the past, it was generally accepted that pitchers carried more value than hitters in points leagues, as pitchers have historically scored more points than their hitter counterparts.

In 2011, for example, Justin Verlander outscored the No. 1 hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury, by 272 points in ESPN.com leagues. ESPN recognized the huge disparity (because who wouldn't), and adjusted their default scoring settings to better balance the value of hitters and pitchers.

For my rankings, I am using the current ESPN.com default scoring settings (as I have all along), because I believe they represent the closest thing to a perfect system in points leagues. Luckily, you can custom adjust scoring settings on other platforms, such as Yahoo!, which I personally prefer.

Scoring for pitchers in points leagues breaks down like this: one point for each recorded out and strikeout, minus-one point for every walk and hit, minus-two points for every earned run, five points for a win or save, and five points for a loss.

Here are my top-25 starting pitchers in head-to-head points leagues.

Rank

Player

Team

2012 Points

1

Justin Verlander

Tigers

607

2

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers

576

3

Felix Hernandez

Mariners

516

4

David Price

Rays

561

5

Matt Cain

Giants

542

6

Stephen Strasburg

Nationals

424

7

Cole Hamels

Phillies

529

8

Cliff Lee

Phillies

442

9

R.A. Dickey

Blue Jays

613

10

Zack Greinke

Dodgers

469

11

CC Sabathia

Yankees

464

12

Gio Gonzalez

Nationals

517

13

James Shields

Royals

487

14

Johnny Cueto

Reds

483

15

Madison Bumgarner

Giants

453

16

Yu Darvish

Rangers

419

17

Jered Weaver

Angels

473

18

Adam Wainwright

Cardinals

363

19

Roy Halladay

Phillies

269

20

Mat Latos

Reds

458

21

Max Scherzer

Tigers

444

22

Chris Sale

White Sox

465

23

Jordan Zimmermann

Nationals

403

24

Matt Moore

Rays

318

25

Kris Medlen

Braves

410

Verlander sits atop the starting pitcher throne. He's averaged 19 wins and 244 strikeouts over the last four years, pitching in no less than 224.1 innings in any year...Kershaw is Verlander's closest competition for the No. 1 spot. Expect another 200-plus innings and 200-plus strikeouts from the Dodgers' ace...Hernandez just signed agreed to a fat seven-year, $175 million contract to stay in Seattle. He's averaged just 13 wins and 11 losses over the last three years, but don't let that stop you from drafting him...Price got a big boost from his 20-5 record in 2012, but his consistency over the last three years justifies a top-five ranking... Cain isn't in the same class of strikeout pitcher as the guys ranked ahead of him, but he did raise his K/9 from 7.27 to 7.92 last year. He's pitched 200-plus innings in six straight seasons, cementing himself as a reliable ace...Strasburg has no innings limit this year. It's going to be a fun year in D.C....Hamels improved his K/9 from 8.08 to 9.03 last year, and he's good for an ERA in the low 3.00s...Lee ran into some hard luck in 2012 with a 6-9 record, but he struck out 200-plus for the second straight year and pitched 200-plus innings for the fifth straight year. Oh, and he walked a mere 28 batters in 211 innings. No concern here whatsoever...Dickey was unbelievable in 2012, but the switch to Toronto and the AL East has to be a concern...Greinke signed a six-year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers, and I think being No. 2 behind Kershaw is a good thing for him. His K/9 fell from 10.54 to 8.48 last year, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as he was pitching to contact more... Sabathia has pitched 200-plus innings in six straight seasons, but he did land on the DL in 2012, so there's a slight injury risk attached. Still, he raised his K/9 from 8.72 to 8.87 and dropped his BB/9 below 2.00 for the first time since 2007...Gonzalez is close behind Sabathia, but, like Price, he got a big boost from his 21-8 record. He dropped his BB/9 from 4.05 to 3.43, but I need to see it again...Shields is turning into the next Sabathia (if not already). He, too, pitched 200-plus innings for the sixth straight year in 2012, but I expect his GB% to come closer to his career 45.1% mark (it was 52.3% in 2012)...Cueto doesn't strike out a ton (7.05 K/9 in 2012), but he's consistently getting out of trouble. His ERA has been below 3.00 for two straight years, and he plays on one of the better teams in the NL...Bumgarner had his best season in 2012 (although not far off from 2011), but he had a rough end to the season. His fastball velocity went down in September, and I'm concerned about the potential for injury...Darvish had a stellar 10.40 K/9 in his first year, but that also came with 4.19 BB/9 attached. I still think he's a year away from real big league stardom...Weaver misses the top-15 after his K/9 dropped from 7.56 to 6.77 last year, his lowest mark since 2007. His fastball velocity also dropped from 89.1 mph to 87.8 mph, so I'm concerned...Wainwright lost more than 3 mph on his fastball from 2010, but it didn't affect his K/9, which actually went up to 8.34. I'd expect that to come down a little, but his 3.94 ERA should come down too... Halladay is probably a bargain at No. 19, but I think we're starting to see the decline of one of the decade's best pitchers...Latos really impressed me last year. I thought leaving San Diego would be a huge detriment to his value, but he adjusted to his surroundings quite well. His FB% dropped from 41.1% to 36.1%, a big point of emphasis at Great American Ball Park... Scherzer had 11.08 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9 in 2012, and I can see him shooting up this list if his GB% comes up from 36.5%...Sale was jerked around last year and it didn't faze him. What impressed me most was his 2.39 BB/9 as a starter. That's big when you play in a hitters' park like U.S. Cellular...Zimmerman is sort of like Cueto. He's not overly impressive, but he gets the job done...Moore has too much upside to pass up. I expect 200-plus strikeouts in 2013. Control is an issue...Medlen did way too much in 2012 to exclude him from the top 25. I expect plenty of regression, but he obviously knows how to pitch, and pitch well.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @akantecki.

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