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Fantasy Baseball: An Early Look at the Top 25 AL Starting Pitchers for 2013

September 13, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brett Anderson (49) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
September 13, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brett Anderson (49) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Bret did a fine job with his early take on the Top 25 NL Starting Pitchers for 2013 yesterday, and here is my take on the Top 25 AL Starting Pitchers for 2013. Like all of our other early rankings pieces, these rankings are subject to change, especially since I have not done any in-depth analysis on any of the starting pitchers listed below. But there is one pitcher on this list that made huge strides in 2012 and he could move up a few slots in my rankings later in the year. There is another pitcher on the list that could move down several spots as well.

Ranking the #1 AL starting pitcher was pretty easy as Tigers ace Justin Verlander got the nod over Felix Hernandez, and the next two starters are the next tier, if you are into tiers. Enough of the nonsense, let's take a look at my rankings after the jump:

Top 25 AL Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2013:

1. Justin Verlander, DET

2. Felix Hernandez, SEA

3. David Price, TB

4. Jered Weaver, LAA

5. Zack Greinke, LAA

6. Chris Sale, CHW

7. Max Scherzer, DET

8. CC Sabathia, NYY

9. Brett Anderson, OAK

10. Yu Darvish, TEX

11. Doug Fister, DET

12. Phil Hughes, NYY

13. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY

14. James Shields, TB

15. Matt Moore, TB

16. Matt Harrison, TEX

17. Jon Lester, BOS

18. Jarrod Parker, OAK

19. Brandon McCarthy, OAK

20. Jake Peavy, CHW

21. Brandon Morrow, TOR

22. C.J. Wilson, LAA

23. Colby Lewis, TEX

24. Dan Haren, LAA

25. Clay Buchholz, BOS

25. Ryan Dempster, TEX

Yankees starter CC Sabathia is the one starter who could get knocked down a few spots in my rankings should his elbow injury prove more serious. He hasn't been the same pitcher in September, and there is some cause for concern amongst Yankee fans and keeper league owners alike.

Tigers starter Max Scherzer seems to have figured things out on the mound this season. He leads the majors with his 11.21 K/9 and if you take away his horrendous April, where he gave up 21 runs in 24 innings, his ERA would be 3.14. His ERA has dropped in every single month this season, and his strikeout rate has exploded from 8.03 to 11.28 this season. He is having his best season as a major leaguer and

There are a few guys on this list that I want to move up in the rankings, and they are Yu Darvish and Matt Moore, and maybe I will later in the year. These two pitchers are so close to jumping to the next tier of starting pitchers, but have to improve their command to do so.

If you look solely at FIP, Darvish is the 4th best starter in the AL this season, with a 3.38 FIP, and he is second in K/9 at 10.44 per nine. He has 16 wins despite having an ERA north of 4.00 in four of the six months this season, and most of that can be attributed to his 4.43 walks per nine, because he is keeping the ball in the ballpark, and limiting those who do hit him to singles. Take a look at his monthly BA/OBP/SLG allowed:

April: .238/.342/.317

May: .226/.344/.404

June: .215/.306/.349

July: .233/.345/.376

August: .240/.343/.415

September: .096/.154/.153

Rays starter Matt Moore hasn't performed as well as I expected, but looking back, I was too optimistic on the young starter. He has struggled with the walks, and this is something he dealt with in the minors as well. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw had similar struggles in his first taste of the big leagues as well. In the minors, Moore made the necessary changes and reduced his walk rate, and I think he will do the same in the big leagues next year. He had three very good months -June through August-where his monthly ERA didn't break 3.50, but also had three months where his ERA was north of 4.50. I think he evens things out in 2013, and I will probably move him up my rankings accordingly.

I might have Athletics starter Brett Anderson ranked a little high, but I think he can be a top 10 AL starter in 2013. He strikes out almost 7 batters per nine, walks less than 2 batters per nine and induces ground balls at an elite rate, so what's not to like? I know all about small sample sizes, but Anderson has always kept the ball on the ground at a 50%+ clip in his career, and his home ballpark is one of the better pitchers parks in the majors.