Today I will look at our 2014 consensus starting pitcher rankings to see if I can learn from what we got right/wrong in our rankings last preseason. This is the last in the series where I review our 2014 consensus position rankings, having completed analysis of the following position rankings:
Every year, we see starting pitchers in both leagues breaking out, and 2014 was no different, as Indians ace Corey Kluber pitched so well that he will give Mariners ace Felix Hernandez some competition for the American League Cy Young award this offseason. A few other starters who surprised us this season include Reds ace Johnny Cueto, Twins starter Phil Hughes, Angels starter Garret Richards, and Astros starter Dallas Keuchel.
With that said, aces like Clayton Kershaw, Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, Chris Sale and others performed as expected in 2014.
Here is a look at the starting pitchers we ranked 1 - 25:
And here are the starting pitchers we ranked 26 - 50:
And the starting pitchers we ranked 51 - 75:
What we got right
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Ranking Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw as our #1 starting pitcher was an easy choice, but I didn't think he could actually improve his performance when compared to 2013. Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 2.08 xFIP, and an absurd 239-31 strikeout to walk rate in 198.1 innings. He continues to be the best, and most consistent, starting pitcher in the game. One can make an argument that he could be the #1 overall pick in drafts in 2015, although it goes against the drafting philosophy of many fantasy owners here at Fake Teams.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Fernandez's season ended after only eight starts, as he was one of many pitchers to have Tommy John surgery this season. Before he went under the knife, Fernandez was pitching like the ace we thought he was, going 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA, a 2.18 FIP and xFIP, a 0.95 WHIP and was striking out more than 12 batters per nine innings.
He has already begun throwing this offseason, and it will be interesting to see if he will be ready for Opening Day. I doubt the Marlins will rush him, but he should be ready by May 2015, I imagine.
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
We ranked Wainwright as our consensus #3 starting pitcher and he did not disappoint his owners this season, going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 3.34 xFIP, a 1.03 WHIP and a 179-50 strikeout to walk rate in 227 innings pitched. He was the old Wainwright in 2014, but there are some reasons for concern, as his strikeout rate dipped from 8 K/9 to 7 K/9, his walk rate finished just under 2 BB/9 and his ground ball rate dropped from 49% to 46%.
What we got wrong
Johnny Cueto, Reds
We ranked Cueto as our 45th ranked starter in the preseason, but Cueto surprised us all by taking a big step up in 2014, winning 20 games for the first time, with a 2.25 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 3.21 xFIP, a 0.96 WHIP and an excellent 242-65 strikeout to walk rate in 243.2 innings. His ground ball rate took a dip from 51% to 46%, but his strikeouts per nine innings jumped from 7.57 K/9 to 8.94 K/9. He comes with injury risk, but he will be in my Top 10 starting pitcher rankings in 2015.
Corey Kluber, Indians
We ranked Kluber as our 51st ranked starter, but he ended the season as the #1 starting pitcher in baseball according to FanGraphs fWAR (7.3). Kluber took another step up after a breakout 2013 season, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 2.57 xFIP, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 269-51 strikeout to walk rate in 235.2 innings this season. He ranked second in MLB with 269 strikeouts this season, just two strikeouts behind Tigers ace David Price. Like Cueto, he will be in my top 10 starting pitcher rankings in 2015.
Tyson Ross, Padres
We ranked Ross way too low in our consensus starting pitcher rankings this season, ranking him as our 73rd ranked starter, but Ross proved his 2013 breakout was for real. Ross went 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, a 1.21 WHIP and a 195-72 strikeout to walk rate in 195.2 innings. He walks more than three batters per nine, but he was able to limit the damage for the most part. He could take the next step up if he can reduce the walk rate in 2015.
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