National League Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings: Top 100 NL Starters

Rankings: C 1B2B3BSS OF SP

In my opinion there are two ways you can go with starting pitchers.  I don’t like loading up on pitchers early.  In fact for years my game plan was always to take my first starter with my 10th round pick, and load up on hitters early in the draft.  But lately I’ve been worming up to the idea of taking 1 elite starter in the 4th or 5th round just to anchor your team.  I did this last season and ended up winning my league when I took Zack Greinke with my 5th round selection.  Still I wouldn’t take anymore then 1 stater before round 10.  But hey everybody has their own plan.  Here are the starting pitcher rankings as of 2/23/2012.

1) Clayton Kershaw LAD– Last year I went out on a little bit of a limb and put Kershaw third.  Also said he would lead the NL in K’s.  Cy Young’s can come in pairs, like 11’s at the craps table.  He’s going to be 24 on opening day….. Enjoy!

2) Cliff Lee PHI – Was wrong about Lee last season when I ranked him 7th.  He’s real, real good.  You know that WHIP is going to be ridiculously low and gets about a K per inning.

3) Roy Halladay PHI – You have to try and find excuses not to take Halladay #1.  He’s going to be 35.  Doesn’t quite get the K’s per inning as the other two previously mentioned.  All those complete games have to take their toll on that arm sometime. Right?….

4) Cole Hammels PHI – As a Bay Area native its hard for me to put all these Phillies pitchers ahead of Cain and Lincecum, but I have to hand it to them.  I can’t see Lincecum having a WHIP under 1.00 like Hamels did last season.

5) Zack Greinke MIL – With Greinke I’m not really sure if the fact that its a contract year will help or hurt him.  But I think he deserves this # 5 ranking and would be a nice anchor to any NL Fantasy team.

6) Tim Lincecum SFG –  He’s not throwing nearly as hard as he did when he was winning those Cy Young’s relying more and more on the change-up to strike batters out.  220 K’s in 2011 says its working, so stop complaining.  Okay I will, just know he has more risk in 2012 then in previous years.

7) Yovani Gallardo MIL – Exactly a K per inning in 2011 to go along with a tidy 3.52 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.  Having both Greinke and Marcum on the team seems to have helped ease the stress for Gallardo.

8 ) Brandon Beachy ATL – About as dominant a debut as you can have.  169 K’s in 142 innings is just insane!  If he pitches 200 innings in 2012 the sky is the limit for this young ace.

9) Matt Garza CHC – Move from AL West to NL Central did him a lot of good.

10) Matt Cain SFG – As steady as they come.  In a contract year and I have a feeling he might thrive.  Not a “huge” strike out pitcher but gets enough to be a top 10 NL Fantasy pitcher.

11) Ian Kennedy ARZ – Not a super hard thrower, but has a $$ change-up so he gets a good amount of K’s.  Can’t see any way the Diamondbacks don’t run away with the NL West in 2012, so the wins should be strong as well.

12) Daniel Hudson ARZ – Throws harder then Kennedy but gets a little less K’s.  Also seems to be a little more erratic, although his 1.2o WHIP says he doesn’t allow very many base runners.  Diamondbacks look good to go in 2012 so wins should be in the 15-20 range.

13) Mat Latos CIN – Is he a PETCO creation?  We’ll for sure find out this year as he’s moving from the best pitchers park to the best hitters park.  2011 road ERA was about a half point worse then at home.  Should still get the K’s but wouldn’t be all that surprised to see the ERA in the high 3.oo’s

14) Stephen Strasburg WAS – Funnest pitcher in baseball to watch.  There’s no doubt about that.  Washington has said he’s on a strict 160 inning limit for 2012.  Which kills his value in H-2-H leagues as he won’t be there for you in the playoffs.  Washington, maybe more then any team in baseball babies their young starters with pitch count and inning limits and they all seem to get hurt… (Strasburg, Zimmerman off the top of my head).

15) Madison Bumgarner SFG – 191 K’s in 205 innings caught me by surprise.  I didn’t think Bumgarner had that kind of strike out stuff.  Still I would expect a decrease in 2012.

16) Cory Luebke SDP –  SLEEPER!!!! in a major way.  Wins might be hard to come by as San Diego doesn’t look all that strong going into 2012.  But his  skills are top notch.

17) Aroldis Chapman CIN – SLEEPER!!!  I love starting pitchers who can rack up the K’s.  I think Chapman will surprise with a decent ERA and WHIP as well.

18) Johnny Cueto CIN –  Strikeouts are on a 2 year slide.  Which are worrisome.  But he had a 1.09 WHIP in 2011 which is amazing pitching in Cincinnati.

19) Josh Johnson MIA –  Top 5 talent….. Bottom 5 durability.  Only made 11 starts in 2011.

20) Jordan Zimmerman WAS – Gets lost in the Stephen Strasburg hype, but he might be the better pick in 2012.

21) Anibal Sanchez MIA – Might be a 1 year wonder…. Or could be a budding super star.  He had 202 K’s in 196 innings.  Health risk looms however.

22) Chris Carpenter STL –  Speaking of health risks…. Carpenter will be 37 on opening day.  Had more strikeouts then normal in 2011, so expect those to regress.  He might be one to avoid in 2012.

23) Ted Lilly LAD –  I actually think Lilly could be a little bit of a sleeper in 2012.  He consistently has a low WHIP and above average K rate.  If he slips into the middle of your draft you can find some nice value here.

24) Shaun Marcum MIL – Looked like one of the best pitchers in the NL at the start of the 2011 season and then collapsed in the second half of the season, culminating in a couple of horrible playoff performances.  Still his track record is solid so he should be all good in 2012.

25) Tommy Hanson ATL – Better then a # 25 ranking in terms of talent but that shoulder injury scares me.  He says he’s feeling “a lot better then he did a month ago” and “expects to have a normal spring” but one tweak and Hanson could miss 2012 entirely.

26) Adam Wainwright STL –  I had Wainwright ranked 3rd last season before he hurt his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery.  When Chris Carpenter came back from his surgery in 2009 he surprisingly through 193 innings.  A good bench mark for Wainwright in 2012 is probably in the 170 inning range.  He’ll be 30 years old on opening day.

27) Gio Gonzalez WAS – You know by now that I love starting pitchers that can rack up the K’s.  Gio is a bit different though because he’s pretty wild.  He led the AL in walks last season.  But he doesn’t give up many hits so the WHIP stays in the 1.40 range.  I’m just not convinced Gonzalez is in store for a good season…. Avoid.

28) Jaime Garcia STL – Good first half of 2011.  No so great in the second half.  I just haven’t jumped on the Jaime Garcia bandwagon yet.

29) Tim Hudson ATL – I always seem to undervalue Hudson, usually blaming his low strikeout total for the low ranking.  But he had 158 K’s in 2011, so I can’t do that anymore.  So why so low?….  Injury concerns due to heavy workload the past two seasons.  Sounds good anyways.

30) Vance Worley PHI – Pretty damn good rookie season.  Worley is definitely somebody I would target as a solid 3rd or 4th starter on my team in 2012.

31) Bud Norris HOU –  I feel an Astro starting pitcher run coming on.  Great 2011 out of Norris.  We knew he could get some K’s but the 1.33 WHIP was pretty remarkable considering control was the biggest knock on him.

32) Wandy Rodriguez HOU – Always gets overlooked and then always puts up good numbers… Except wins, naturally.

33) Brett Myers HOU – 2011 wasn’t nearly as good as 2010.  But he’s been up and down before.  Decent bounce back candidate.

34) Edinson Volquez SDP –  SLEEPER!!!!!! San Diego might just be the perfect spot for Volquez to get his career back to that All-Star level of a couple seasons ago.

35) Mike Minor ATL – SLEEPER!!!!!!!! Minor has a chance to be this years Brandon Beachy for the Braves in 2012.  He has good “up-side” anyways.

36) Homer Bailey CIN – Injury bug got him again, costing him 2 months.  When he pitches he looks pretty good.  Solid strikeout rate with a 4.20 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

37) Chad Billingsley LAD – As we were waiting for that big breakout, we actually received a major step backwards in 2011.  A 1.45 WHIP is almost un-rosterable.  He’s only 27, so you can speculate on a rebound… But nobody loves him anymore.

38) Jon Niese NYM – Had him ranked at this same #38 spot last season.  Fine first half terrible 2nd.  Happens to young pitchers. Breakout candidate in 2012.

39) Erik Bedard PIT – If you could promise me he wouldn’t get injured he might be top 20.  But since you can’t, and he probably will, he’s at #39.

40) Ryan Dempster CHC – Down 2011 from Dempster.  Control is starting to really become an issue.

41) Jhoulys Chacin COL – Speaking of control issues… “Orange Jhoulys” had a 3.10 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP in the first half of 2011.  Then backed it up with a 4.23 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in the second half.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

42) A.J. Burnett PIT – I like Burnett.  His personality and the Yankees never seemed to mesh.  With Bedard, McDonald and Burnett the Pirates could have a better rotation then people think.

43) James McDonald PIT – SLEEPER!!!!!  I like McDonald.  WHIP was a pretty bad 1.49 last season but he’s shown better control in the past.

44) Tim Stauffer SDP – “Stauffers lasagna” looked pretty good in his first season as a full time starter.  Might not ever be a huge strikeout guy and playing in San Diego 10 wins might be the ceiling.  But he’s a good ERA and WHIP guy to fill out your rotation.

45) Ricky Nolasco MIA – Much like Chad Billingsley, we were waiting for that big breakout year from Nolasco and instead received a major step backwards. I guess you can expect a bit of a bounce back, but Nolasco has disappointed before.

46) Jair Jurrjens ATL –  Even when he has a good year he can’t stay healthy.  Health combined with over achievement last season = Let somebody else take him in 2012.

47) Julio Teheran ATL – SLEEPER!!!!!!!! Might start 2012 in AAA.  Still have a feeling he’ll make quite an impact for the Braves in 2012.

48) Chris Capuano LAD –  Real nice 2011 from Capuano.  High strikeout guy who won’t hurt your ERA and WHIP.  Health is a concern.

49) Trevor Cahill ARZ – BUST!!!!!  Not a big Cahill guy.  Had a chance to watch him a bunch while living in the Bay Area and he doesn’t impress me.  Diamondbacks should be good so could get you some wins, but ERA and WHIP could look ugly.

50) Drew Pomeranz COL –  Major piece of the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland last year.  Left who throws hard.  Could probably use another year in the minors, but the Rockies might try and rush him to the majors.

51) Randall Delgado ATL –  Braves are so deep at starting pitcher.  Delgado will probably start in AAA, but with Jurrjens, Hansen and Hudson all being injury prone, Delgado could see some big league time in 2012.

52) Edwin Jackson WAS – Don’t really see what the big deal with Jackson is?  Throws hard gets hit hard and walks to many hitters.  Pitchers who get 140 K’s in 200 innings with a 1.45 WHIP and 4.10 ERA aren’t that hard to come by.

53) Mike Leake CIN – Solid 2011 from Leake.  A fine back end of your fantasy rotation type of guy.

54) Randy Wolf MIL –  Not great anymore.  But a lot like Mike Leake a fine end of the rotation starter.

55) Chris Narveson MIL – Last season I said I would not pick Bud Norris and just wait in the draft and take Narveson.  I’m sorry Bud…..

56) Ryan Vogelsong SFG – If the Giants are banking on getting the 2011 version of Ryan Vogelsong again in 2012 they are dreaming.  But I know Giants GM Brian Sabean, and he probably is.  You shouldn’t.

57) Juan Nicasio COL – SLEEPER!!!!!!!!!!!  Broke his neck after being hit by a line-drive last season.  But before that flashed terrific high strikeout, low walk skills.  If he can nab a Colorado rotation spot Nicasio could be a major sleeper!

58) Mark Buehrle MIA – Eats a lot of innings.  Which is apparently important to MLB teams because they only have 12 pitchers to complete 1 nine inning baseball game.  Might get you some wins, not a whole lot else.

59) Josh Collmenter ARZ – Is he having a seizure or throwing a baseball?  Funky delivery that worked pretty decent in 2011.  Fastball change up starting pitcher.  Its like watching Trevor Hoffman try and go 6 innings.  (the 40 year old version)

60) Johan Santana NYM – Even if he’s healthy its been a pretty long time since he’s seen some real game action.

61) Joe Blanton PHI – I will never draft Blanton because he screwed me a couple of years ago.  But he’s a fine last pick of the draft type guy.

62) Jeremy Guthrie COL – Traded from Baltimore to Colorado a couple of weeks ago. Won’t give you many strikeouts but the WHIP can be around the 1.30 range, which isn’t bad.

63) Jordan Lyles HOU – Rookie has a pretty tough 2011.  Playing in Houston won’t get you very many wins.  He’s one to watch this spring before you invest.

64) Aaron Harang LAD – Harang is a fringe roster-able player at this point in his career.

65) Chien-Ming Wang WAS – A couple of years ago my friend Adam said his fantasy teams struggles could be summed up in 3 words….. Chien Ming Wang.

66) Paul Maholm CHC – Not going to pitch for the Pirates for the first time in his career.  About 4 years ago it looked like he could be a helpful fantasy contributor.  In 2012 he’s probably waiver wire fodder and good for a spot start or two against the Astros.

67) Kyle Lohse STL – BUST!!!!  How the hell did Lohse pull that Houdini act in 2011?

68) R.A. Dickey NYM –  He’s not all that bad… Maybe I have something against knuckle ball pitchers.

69) Jeff Karstens PIT – BUST!!!!!!!! I have a feeling that when my “1 year wonders” post comes out, Karstens will find his way onto it.

70) Dillon Gee NYM –  Remember he started out like 8-0 last season.  Finished 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Somebody will draft him.  Probably shouldn’t be you however.

71) Bronson Arroyo CIN – He used to rock the cornrows.  Now he just has long straight hair, and doesn’t strikeout anybody.

72) Chris Volstad CHC – Hasn’t had a WHIP under 1.40 in three years.  Let the 3rd generation Cubs fan in your league take him.

73) Jake Westbrook STL – Good for a spot start or 2, but that’s about it.

74) Clayton Richard SDP – Can’t stay healthy and can’t keep that ERA at a respectable level.

75) Guilermo Moscoso COL – Colorado has about 10 starting pitchers who will all battle it out this spring.  Moscoso is one to watch.

76) Joe Saunders ARZ –  Good 2011 from Saunders.  Wouldn’t bet on a repeat.

77) Nathan Eovaldi LAD – Most likely to spend year at AAA with a September call-up.

78) Alex White COL – Part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  Will need a good spring to earn a rotation spot.

79) Trevor Bauer ARZ – Top prospect likes to mimic Tim Lincecum’s delivery.  Might see some action in 2012.

80) Taylor Skaggs ARZ – Arizona traded away Jarred Parker in the Cahill deal but still have Skaggs and Bauer coming down the pipes.

81) Wily Peralta MIL – Hasn’t been a hyped up pitching prospect like this in Milwaukee since Manny Parra..  Who is that again??

82) Carlos Zambrano MIA –  “Big Z”eltdown might be a little more comfy in Miami instead of Chicago.  But I’m still not touching him.

83) Randy Wells CHC –  He doesn’t do a whole lot for me.

84) Esmil Rogers COL – Word is the Rockies are trying to trade Rogers.  If he lands in a good situation maybe he’ll be decent.  But probably not.

85) John Lannan WAS – Doesn’t strike anybody out and had a WHIP of 1.46 in 2011. Avoid.

86) Wade Leblanc MIA – 6th starter at the moment in Miami.  Crafty lefty who won’t kill your WHIP.

87) Charlie Morton PIT – Copies Roy Halladay’s motion….  That’s where the comparison ends.

88) Brad Lincoln PIT – Time is running out for the once promising prospect to make an impact.

89) Barry Zito SFG – Don’t think he’s having a whole lot of fun playing baseball.  Giants cut Rowand last season.  If Zito has an atrocious spring they might just cut Zito too.

90) Kevin Correia PIT –  I think he was an All-Star for the Pirates last year.  Yeah, he fell apart after that.

91) Mike Pelfrey NYM – An ERA around 5.00 and a WHIP around 1.50 will get you ranked in the 90’s real quick.

92) Travis Wood CHC – Step back for Wood in 2011.  He’s 25 years old so he needs to kick it into gear.

93) Jorge De La Rosa COL-  De La Rosa was having a real nice season last year before hurting his elbow.  Ended up needing Tommy John surgery and will miss most, if not all of 2012.

94) Anthony Bass SDP – Might be good for a September call-up.

95) Eric Surkamp SFG –  Surkamp doesn’t impress me much.  He’s like Barry Zito with less money.

96) J.A Happ HOU –  Last year I said I wanted to see Happ throw 200 innings.  Okay that’s enough.

97) Jeff Francis CIN –  Will need a good spring to make the Reds roster.

98) Dustin Moseley SDP –  Was decent at times last year.  He’ll be hard pressed to duplicate the success of 2011.

99) Livan Hernandez HOU –  If he’s on your team your in trouble.

100) Kyle Kendrick PHI – He’s ranked last…. That’s all you need to know


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11 Responses to “National League Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings: Top 100 NL Starters”

  1. You recommend not drafting an SP until the 10th or 1 in the 4th and 5th for a H2H also? I can see it for 70/30 % hitting to pitching but curious if this also works for H2H. Sounds interesting.

    • Tim,
      First off thanks for checking out the site and leaving a comment. I actually think the heavy hitting strategy works better for H-2-H then roto, but it works for both. Its not so much that your punting pitching, its just I believe you can find good/average pitching later in the draft then you can good/average hitting. In a H-2-H league if you can sweep the hitting categories you only need to win 1 pitching category to win the week 6 to 4. But I think you’ll find your winning most weeks 8 to 2 or 9 to 1. I still draft closers in there normal spot (rounds 7-9) I try and pick up 2 closers out of those 3 rounds. You can usually pick up another closer via injury during the year as well.

  2. Thanks for the reply. I’ve mocked your strategy on ESPN and have been getting great O and ending up with the following SP’s consistently using your rankings:Kennedy, Minor, E. Jackson, Dickey, and upside sleepers Volquez and Teheran. I’m getting Betancourt and Street for RP’s. Would you skip Street go for another SP or offense and wait(and gamble he’s still available) another round for Jensen?

    • Tim,
      Glad your giving it a try. Kennedy is a fine anchor. Don’t love Jackson or Dickey. Depending on where your drafting them I might go with A.J. Burnett or Capuano instead. Love both those closers. I think Street can be a top 5 closer this year. When is Jensen going in these mocks? I’d love to have Street, Betancourt and Jensen. Minor is tricky. I love his upside but wouldn’t reach for him because the Braves are so deep at starter.

      I’m going to get on ESPN tomorrow and do a mock draft. I’ll post the results.

  3. Thanks. I see other SP’s I could’ve had instead of Jackson and Dickey. Unfortunately you cannot pre-rank players and then you only have 30 seconds in between picks and a lot picks go autopick so suddenly its your turn again. Once I do a real draft I’ll have a little time to pick my nose and look through the players. Look forward to your mocks.

  4. Had a real nl draft this weekend. 12 team h2h with 2 catchers. Used your system and sp rankings. here’s what I got:
    c Hundley
    c Mesoraco
    1b Davis
    2b Murphy
    3B A. Ramirez
    ss Gonzalez
    2b/ss Theriot
    1b/3b Arenado
    of Cargo
    of Bruce
    of Heyward
    of Pagan
    of Pierre
    ut Bernardino
    bench Kennedy

    Sp Beachy
    Sp Worley
    Sp McDonald
    Sp Nicasio
    Sp Narveson
    Sp Richard
    Sp Detwiler
    Rp Hanrahan
    Rp Street
    Rp Casilla
    After the draft, I noticed a guy with a lot of Washington players and traded Detwiler for his Teheran. Then tried to get his Heisey for my Bernardino but that was declined. I think I got a good mix of power, speed and avg and serviceable pitching. There is a 10 inning limit so I think if I get a good era and Whip out of my 1st two starters for the week, I sit the rest of my starters for the week and hope the rest of his starters don’t go lights out. I also got the best closers of any team so I got the offense and one pitching category sewed up. What do you think of my(your) guys?

  5. Today, I dealt Bloomquist and Kennedy for Gamel and Bedard. My team is Upside City. I’ll either totally suck or dominate.

    • Tim your team looks pretty good. Just stay active this pre-season and keep making trades like that! Great trade especially with Arenado being a bit of a question mark. You can now put Gamel at CI while Arenado has his role play out. I really hope Nicasio has a good spring because he has great upside. I have a 10 team Roto draft tonight. I’ll post the results afterwords.

  6. John, did you ever post your mock draft results from a week ago or your 10 team Roto draft mentioned above? Just wondering if there is another bunch of nl fantasy stuff I’m missing out on because I’m not looking in the right place.

  7. Ryan Vogelsong ends in top 25!

    you heard it here first
    808 knbr

  8. just wanted to point out that Vogelsong was easily in top 25 pitchers including both AL and NL!

    go sharks

    56) Ryan Vogelsong SFG – If the Giants are banking on getting the 2011 version of Ryan Vogelsong again in 2012 they are dreaming. But I know Giants GM Brian Sabean, and he probably is. You shouldn’t.

    808 knbr