2013 Midseason Position Rankings: Starting Pitchers

Leon Halip

There's always a wide range when ranking pitchers and this group was no different. Hopefully these rankings are helpful but, if nothing else, they should stir up some good conversation.

In the final installment of our Mid-Season Rankings reactions, we're going to take a look at how the FakeTeams staff ranked the top fifty starting pitchers for the rest of the season. We had seven writers rank fifty pitchers each to come to a consensus top fifty with twenty more pitchers getting rankings. Pitcher rankings always seem to be volatile and it was no different with our group. Different people look for lots of different qualities in pitchers and it leads to large gaps in rankings. Since this article could on forever examining each of these differences in opinion and valuation, I will focus on a few pitchers that I ranked much differently from the group and few outliers from others as well.

Rank

Pitcher

Daniel

Ray

Kevin

Zack

Jason

Alex

Dan S.

Total

App

1

Clayton Kershaw

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

357

7

2

Adam Wainwright

5

3

2

4

5

3

2

340

7

3

Felix Hernandez

6

4

3

3

3

2

3

340

7

4

Cliff Lee

2

6

8

5

4

7

6

326

7

5

Max Scherzer

8

10

4

2

6

4

7

323

7

6

Yu Darvish

3

2

11

6

7

5

9

321

7

7

Stephen Strasburg

7

5

5

7

8

12

5

315

7

8

Matt Harvey

13

9

10

10

2

6

4

310

7

9

Justin Verlander

4

11

18

11

9

9

8

294

7

10

Madison Bumgarner

12

8

7

9

14

10

10

294

7

11

David Price

11

7

6

20

10

8

11

291

7

12

Chris Sale

9

17

9

8

15

11

12

283

7

13

Gio Gonzalez

18

12

13

19

11

17

15

259

7

14

Jordan Zimmermann

14

19

12

13

25

14

16

251

7

15

Mat Latos

16

22

14

14

18

15

18

247

7

16

Cole Hamels

10

18

19

17

34

18

17

231

7

17

Hisashi Iwakuma

15

23

31

12

17

13

31

222

7

18

James Shields

21

25

20

24

13

16

23

222

7

19

Anibal Sanchez

29

32

17

15

16

25

24

206

7

20

Zack Greinke

32

16

16

29

31

21

13

206

7

21

Shelby Miller

22

14

27

26

19

28

25

203

7

22

Mike Minor

20

13

25

22

38

23

22

201

7

23

CC Sabathia

28

30

24

16

21

29

27

189

7

24

Matt Moore

31

15

15

37

41

22

14

189

7

25

Hiroki Kuroda

26

24

23

50

26

24

21

170

7

26

Jeff Samardzija

30

33

37

25

12

33

30

164

7

27

Matt Cain

19

29

29

41

33

37

20

156

7

28

Patrick Corbin

25

47

34

36

24

26

26

146

7

29

Derek Holland

42

42

21

18

40

19

36

146

7

30

Jered Weaver

17

20

30

35

49

19

141

6

31

Matt Garza

46

36

26

33

23

27

32

141

7

32

Homer Bailey

38

28

21

22

31

33

138

6

33

A.J. Burnett

36

34

22

23

45

36

34

134

7

34

Doug Fister

23

46

42

38

32

35

28

120

7

35

Justin Masterson

21

38

39

20

40

44

109

6

36

Francisco Liriano

37

39

27

30

34

40

104

6

37

Lance Lynn

36

43

28

20

29

102

5

38

John Lackey

40

26

28

37

38

89

5

39

C.J. Wilson

45

28

40

35

42

35

86

6

40

Ervin Santana

24

31

47

30

50

46

83

6

41

Jake Peavy

33

45

35

42

32

41

83

6

42

Hyun-Jin Ryu

39

27

46

40

48

43

43

78

7

43

Jose Fernandez

41

41

47

27

44

39

72

6

44

Julio Teheran

48

33

34

44

47

37

68

6

45

Clay Buchholz

41

48

29

30

47

63

5

46

Jeremy Hellickson

40

45

32

45

48

48

5

47

Bartolo Colon

36

32

46

48

50

46

5

48

Kris Medlen

27

45

39

41

3

49

Johnny Cueto

44

35

43

46

37

4

50

Travis Wood

50

37

41

24

3

Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish

The first big discrepancy doesn't come between the group and me. Rather, Ray has two rankings that I find interesting. He was the highest on Yu Darvish, whom Kevin ranked eleventh, and the lowest on Max Scherzer who was my second ranked pitcher. Darvish and Scherzer were arguably the two best pitchers in the American League in the first half, so why the huge disparity?

In short, I don't know. The table below shows each pitcher's rank in strikeout rate and swinging strike percentage for the last two years. As you can see, Scherzer and Darvish have been two of the top strikeout pitchers in the game in 2012 and 2013. Scherzer has also been above average in terms of walk rate both years and, this year, Darvish's BB% is hovering right around league average at 8.5%. Scherzer pitches in a neutral park while Darvish pitches in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks but both induce ground balls at a decent rate and are able to limit hard contact as well as home runs. Both of these pitchers have xFIPs under 2.90 and I think they will both finish the year with ERAs under 3.00 and WHIPs around 1.00. I think that makes both pitchers top ten guys who are closer to the front of that than the back.

Rank Among SP

2012

2013

Pitcher

SwSt%

K%

SwSt%

K%

Max Scherzer

2

1

4

3

Yu Darvish

7

2

1

1

** Take a look at Matt Harvey as well. He could very easily fit into this group.

Justin Verlander

Oh how the mighty have fallen. In my opinion (or for all you tweeps, IMHO), Justin Verlander has been the best pitcher in the game for the last three years or so after taking the torch from Roy Halladay. From 2010 to 2012, Verlander led the league in wins and strikeouts, was second in innings pitched and third in ERA. After his latest start in which he gave up seven earned runs in six innings, Verlander's ERA sits at 3.99. He's striking out fewer batters on a percentage basis and walking more at the same time. I still think Verlander is one of the better pitchers in the league but I can't help but think he's going through a year of "dead arm". As I mentioned, Verlander was second in the league in innings pitched the past over the past three seasons, averaging 238 innings per year. His average fastball velocity has dropped almost two miles per hour since 2010 and batters are chasing fewer pitches while making more contact against him. Having said all of that, a somewhat depreciated Verlander is still better than a lot of other options.

David Price

I was wrong, ok? I know it. Go ahead.

Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40. I'm not a kid.

I said David Price was the twentieth best pitcher going forward. That's not true! Get your facts straight (I said to myself). Price has gone at least seven innings in five starts since returning from the disabled list with three complete games with twenty six strikeouts against only one walk.

That's all I got to say. Makes me wanna puke.

Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels is my number one buy low starting pitcher for the rest of this season. Instead of constructing sentences, I'm just going to list why. Hey, Alex Rios doesn't run out ground balls. Why should I have to hustle?

1. Hamels' BB% is 6.4% - his career rate is 6.2%

2. Hamels' BABIP is .304 but his LD% is only .04% higher than it was last year

3. Hamels' SwSt% is 11.8% which is sixth in the league among qualified starters

4. Hamels' HR/FB is 10.6% and his HR/9 is 1.01 while his career numbers are 11.5% and 1.07, respectively

5. Hamels' LOB% is 69.9% - he's normally well above average but is currently below league average

6. Hamels' average fastball velocity is .2 mph lower than his career high and .6 higher than 2012

7. Hame's first pitch strike percentage is a career high

Yes, I know that's cherry picking statistics but I really don't see many metrics that point to his continued struggles. Hamels' xFIP is a half run lower than his current ERA and I expect him to pitch closer to a three and a half the rest of the season.

CC Sabathia

You can pencil Sabathia in for 200+ innings with somewhere between 7.5 to 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He doesn't walk many, generates a good number of ground balls and normally doesn't show drastic platoon splits. This year, CC is getting hit hard by right handed hitters but if he can find a way to get back to his old self against righties, we're looking at the same ol' reliable guy. I think sometimes, because of his size, Sabathia is pegged as a thrower but even as he loses velocity I believe CC will have continued success because he is much more than that.

Hiroki Kuroda

He's 38. He doesn't strike out enough batters. He throws 90 mph and pitches in Yankee Stadium. I'll take my chances somewhere else. It may be to my detriment but I think the decline is coming.

Jered Weaver

One of my bold predictions to start the year was that Weaver would finish with an ERA over 4.00 this year. His fastball velocity has dropped for the third straight year and is currently 86.9 mph. He's starting only 54.4% of hitters off with a strike and his batted ball profile doesn't look great. Weaver's xFIP is 4.13 and I just can't help but think that, at some point, it will catch up with him.

Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson is striking out more than a batter per inning and is only fourteen strikeouts away from tying his career high. Masterson has always issued his share of free passes but his increased strikeout rate has made them more palatable. He's an extreme ground ball pitcher with a GB% above 57% and he pitches in front of a very good defense. He's had success before and this looks to be the year that's been able to put it all together.

Francisco Liriano

I believe in him. What's it gonna take for you to believe? He moved from the AL to the "weaker league" and into a ballpark that is one of the toughest for right handers in terms of hitting home runs. That's important because over his career he's given up only six home runs to left handed batters while giving up eighty one to righties. His 25.2% strikeout rate is the highest it's been and opponents are making less contact than they have since his awesome 2006 season. His walk rate is the lowest it's been in four years and he's among the league leaders in swings and misses every year. I know there are a lot of jaded Liriano owners out there but I believe this is legit and if he's still available for some reason, you should go get him.

Jose Fernandez

Fernandez would be much higher on this list, I'm sure, if he wasn't on an innings limit and/or if he wasn't on a terrible team. Next year, he will be one of the top pitchers in the league.

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