2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Non-Closer Reliever Rankings

We finally come to the end of the integrated fantasy ranking series. We are picking the top 24 pitchers that are not exclusively closers (we will see a couple of notable exceptions). There are two schools of thought of adding setup men and middle relievers towards the end of a draft. The first has fantasy players target pitchers that are backing up weaker closers. The idea is to pounce on a guy likely to close games at some point in the year.

The second school of thought is relatively new. It involves drafting relievers that will put up dominant numbers. If you draft two really good middle relievers you will end up equaling the production of one dominant starter. In leagues that count holds you will end up coming out ahead, but even in standard five category leagues it is a good strategy. Just like with the closers, we are ranking these pitchers according to their three year projected numbers in the six categories along with their rankings in total points.

Total Points: (3) Wins + (2) Saves + (2) Inn + Holds + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Dellin Betances—New York Yankees

Points: 599 (1st)

Projection: 3 Wins, 8 Saves, 21 Holds, 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 15.42 K/9 (3rd)

These numbers are projected over 60 innings. Betances normally pitches closer to 70 innings per season, so the numbers are a bit conservative. He is the perfect example of the second strategy. Aroldis Chapman isn’t likely to go anywhere, but his 100+ strikeouts would match up well with one other dominant reliever like a Josh Hader. Imagine what those two would look like on the same fantasy roster.

Andrew Miller—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 559 (3rd)

Points: 5 Wins, 6 Saves, 21 Holds, 2.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 13.84 K/9 (1st)

Miller is the original. He was a closer at one time and when he was traded to the Indians we all thought he would become their closer. Instead, Terry Francona used him as a sort of “relief ace” like in the days of yore. If he is healthy he could reprise that role again with the Cardinals or he could return to his role as closer. Either way, he will put up dominant numbers.

Alex Colome—Chicago White Sox

Points: 563 (2nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 30 Saves, 10 Holds, 2.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9.47 K/9 (7th)

Colome fits the mold of the first strategy. Odds are really good that he will share the closer’s role with Kelvin Herrera, so you will likely see between 10 and 20 save opportunities. Guys like him can be really valuable in leagues that also include holds. His other numbers are still very good, but not elite like some of the other guys we will see.

Chris Devenski—Houston Astros

Points: 528 (4th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 2 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 9.72 K/9 (8th)

Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road. Did Devenski have a down year because he was injured or has the league figured him out? There was talk of him tipping his pitches at the end of 2017. If he returns to form he is on par with Betances and Miller. If he isn’t then he might not even be worthy of a roster spot on the Astros.

Josh Hader—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 404 (14th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 6 Saves, 15 Holds, 2.30 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.72 K/9 (2nd)

No projection or ranking system is perfect. I stay true to methodology where others will interject their opinion where necessary. Hader is the second best pitcher on this list and might very well be the best, but because he doesn’t have three years of numbers he falls a little behind. Feel free to adjust accordingly. I’d probably pick him right after Betances.

Chad Green—New York Yankees

Points: 444 (10th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 0 Saves, 6 Holds, 2.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11.79 K/9 (9th)

I’m not sure how wise it is for the Yankees to load up on relief pitching. Between their top five relievers, they are spending about 60 million dollars. That doesn’t even count Green. He definitely is a category two reliever as there are at least three or four prominent relievers in line in front of him to close games. 

Carl Edwards—Chicago Cubs

Points: 387 (17th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 21 Holds, 3.04 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12.45 K/9 (4th)

With Brandon Morrow on the shelf, Edwards actually fits both molds. The Cubs are in a unique position of having several good relievers, but none of them have closing experience. Edwards might or might not stick in that role. In leagues with holds he might be better off sticking in middle relief.

Kyle Barraclough—Washington Nationals

Points: 434 (11th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 3 Saves, 20 Holds, 3.29 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11.55 K/9 (11th)

This was an under the radar trade towards the end of 2018 that could end up paying huge dividends in 2019. Barraclough has some warts, but they might have been attributable to his team more than him. We will certainly find out. If he can do a better job of limiting base runners he could be an elite setup man.

Addison Reed—Minnesota Twins

Points: 451 (9th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 6 Saves, 20 Holds, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.09 K/9 (16th)

Reed has an outside shot of closing games in Minnesota, but he earns the spot here above Matt Barnes and Jeremy Jeffress because he has been a consistently good reliever. I always prefer guys that will help the rate statistics and add to the strikeouts than blindly chasing wins and saves.

Jeremy Jeffress—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 430 (10th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 12 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.19 K/9 (13th)

Craig Counsell is a new age general manager that likely will turn to Jeffress to close out games before turning to Hader if Corey Knebel should falter. If you take his numbers only as a Brewer you can see why he should be a prime target regardless of your draft day strategy. Arlington has a way of fudging with any pitcher’s numbers.

Matt Barnes—Boston Red Sox

Points: 422 (13th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 1 Save, 21 Holds, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 11.36 K/9 (12th)

Barnes might be the Red Sox closer if they had to pick one today. I’m betting they add someone better and even if they don’t I tend to shy away from weak closers. I say that here in order to keep from having to reiterate it later. There are weak closers that will wind up here. That isn’t by accident.

Adam Ottavino—New York Yankees

Points: 396 (16th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 6 Saves, 21 Holds, 3.36 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.96 K/9 (10th)

It’s lazy analysis to simply assume Ottavino will be dominant now that he is at sea level. His home ERA in his career is actually lower than the road ERA. Still, if you remove a rough 2017 campaign, he has been a solid middle reliever or setup man in some rough conditions. Who knows what his final role will be in New York though.

Keone Kela—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 335 (22nd)

Projection: 6 Wins, 13 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.76 K/9 (5th)

Kela was better in Pittsburgh last year than in Texas, but had a better ERA at home than on the road in his career. Go figure. He’s been really good in three out of four seasons and the one bad one came in 2016. He has closing experience, but it isn’t likely that Felipe Vazquez will vacate that role any time soon.

Jeurys Familia—New York Mets

Points: 461 (8th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 26 Saves, 3 Holds, 3.05 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.93 K/9 (19th)

Cover up his name and his saves over the last several seasons and simply look at the other numbers. Familia is a good pitcher. Is he worth huge money or the fuss that has been made over him? Probably not. This is the folly of the saves rule and the importance that has been attached to it. With Edwin Diaz in tow, he’s not closing many games.

Ken Giles—Toronto Blue Jays

Points: 489 (5th)

Projection: 1 Win, 25 Saves, 6 Holds, 3.64 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 12.02 K/9 (22nd)

Wait, isn’t a closer? Well, we can’t get everything past the reading public. The reality is that I don’t want to put Giles on my list anywhere. It is also equally obvious that he shouldn’t be left off the list because he will close games. I don’t know how long he will do it or how well he will do it, but he will do it none of the less. 

Zach Britton—New York Yankees

Points: 399 (15th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 20 Saves, 4 Holds, 1.86 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.22 K/9 (14th)

Speaking of overhyped. Britton’s ERA is artificially low. It’s hard to justify it based on his WHIP and relatively low strikeout rate. Eleven million annually is pretty pricey for a guy that will be a glorified lefty specialist. He will put up decent rate statistics, but he likely won’t log enough innings to add the counting ones.

Seranthony Dominguez—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 169 (25th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 16 Saves, 14 Holds, 2.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 11.48 K/9 (6th)

Again, having only one season under his belt is killing his ranking. He would rank somewhere near the top in reality. He and David Robertson will likely share some closing responsibilities. That means he gets both saves and holds. Guys that fill up all six categories are especially valuable.

Fernando Rodney—Oakland Athletics

Points: 479 (7th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 29 Saves, 5 Holds, 3.65 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 10.17 K/9 (24th)

Rodney has 325 career saves and counting. So, he will be on a HOF ballot someday. This is for a relief pitcher with a 48-66 record, 3.70 career ERA and ERA predictive stats even higher. He has 8.6 career fWAR. Despite all of these numbers some in the BBWAA will cast a vote for him. It won’t be many, but it will be enough to make you scratch your head. 

Archie Bradley—Arizona Diamondbacks

Points: 482 (6th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 12 Holds, 3.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.21 K/9 (27th)

Bradley’s 2017 and 2018 seasons are a lot more indicative of the pitcher he is likely to be. Still, he is in line to be the closer after having 4 saves and 14 official blown saves. The blown save statistic is more ludicrous than the save statistic. Still, you have to be concerned coming into the season if you are a Dback fan.

Joakim Soria—Oakland Athletics

Points: 385 (18th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 6 Saves, 18 Holds, 3.66 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10.24 K/9 (17th)

Soria has seen a recent uptick in strikeouts per nine innings that gives everyone cause for optimism. His FIP the last two seasons has been excellent and the A’s might be the best fielding team in baseball. At least they are individually. It all adds up to what? He gives them another potential closer if Blake Treinen goes down.

Blake Parker—Minnesota Twins

Points: 340 (21st)

Projection: 2 Wins, 9 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 10.19 K/9 (20th)

The Twins will be a fascinating team this season. They are using the tried and shaky strategy of employing several setup men and hoping one of them can close. It’s not a terrible strategy really. It makes sense financially and it works some of the time. Of the candidates, Parker might be the best one.

Trevor May—Minnesota Twins

Points: 151 (26th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 3 Saves, 10 Holds, 4.50 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 12.71 K/9 (15th)

ERA is usually a good metric, but sometimes it can be deceiving. May has a decent WHIP and a very healthy strikeout rate. If you look at ERA predictors like FIP, xFIP, and SIERA they all predict ERAs in the mid threes based on his numbers. He could end up being a sleeper a lot like Ryan Pressly was last season.

Craig Stammen—San Diego Padres

Points: 314 (23rd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 0 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.94 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.17 K/9 (18th)

Stammen has a decent shot at getting some save opportunities. Kirby Yates will get the first crack at the spot, but he was very shaky last season when he got the opportunity. Stammen doesn’t have any experience there either, so he could be just as ineffective.

Ryan Pressly—Houston Astros

Points: 385 (18th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 1 Save, 12 Holds, 3.61 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.96 K/9 (25th)

Pressly was far better than this last season following his trade to the Astros. Was that a harbinger of things to come or simply a hot streak? I’m betting enough on the idea that he has taken another step forward to put him on the list over guys like Joe Kelly and Mark Melancon. In 26 games in Houston he had a 1-0 record with a 0.77 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 23 innings. Parlay that out into a full season and he would be top five middle reliever territory.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Closer Rankings 1-24

Ranking relief pitchers is difficult at best. Yet, drafting multiple relievers is become a lot more popular in season long fantasy leagues. Of course, from here it depends on the categories that count. Some six category leagues include holds. That absolutely changes the reliever landscape. So, from here we are ranking closers and other relievers separately. We are including six categories (including holds) and total points as we have in the other positions.

However, we are changing things up a bit to handle the inevitable questions that come up with relievers. Primarily, we are shifting from strikeouts to strikeouts per nine innings. All other estimates are based on 60 innings pitched. As you might imagine, some will pitch more than that, but usage is so unpredictable that there really is no other way to go. As you will see, rate statistics are a lot more valuable. Just like with the other positions, projections and total points are based on the past three seasons.

Total Points= (2) INN + (3) Wins + (2) Saves + Holds + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Craig Kimbrel—Free Agent

Points: 710 (2nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 35 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.92 K/9 (1st)

It says something that the best closer in baseball is still unsigned in mid-January. It’s not so much about Kimbrel himself although his demands for a five-year contract are definitely chilling the market. Closers just don’t have the shelf life. He looked human in the last postseason which probably also doesn’t help.

Kenley Jansen—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 775 (1st)

Projection: 3 Wins, 36 Saves, 0 Holds, 2.08 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.76 K/9 (3rd)

Grading out players according to wins, saves, and holds just seems so silly. Kimbrel is one tick better in all three categories. Predicting future performance in those metrics makes about as much sense as predicting the behavior of a rabid raccoon. I’d pay much more attention to the rate stats.

Aroldis Chapman—New York Yankees

Points: 582 (6th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 34 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.38 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 14.26 K/9 (2nd)

Again, we can throw a small blanket over the counting numbers of these three closers. Kimbrel doesn’t have a home yet, so predicting the future is cloudy. We assume he will hold the closer role even though Dellin Betances may be a superior pitcher. That’s another in a long line of peculiarities of evaluating closers.

David Robertson—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 593 (5th)

Projection: 7 Wins, 17 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.84 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 11.88 K/9 (5th)

Okay, this doesn’t make much sense. This is what happens when you rank players partially based on wins, saves, and holds. Remove holds and he drops below the next few guys. His obscene wins total probably is more responsible than anything. Wins for relief pitchers are completely unpredictable.

Brad Hand—Cleveland Indians

Points: 660 (4th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 14 Saves, 12 Holds, 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 12.04 K/9 (7th)

Let’s start with the assumption that he will be the closer. That might not be a perfect assumption given how Terry Francona uses his relievers. Cody Allen is currently a free agent. If he were to come back the job might go back to him, but those odds seem long at this point. Hand gets the nod because he has been more prolific than Diaz in terms of use.

Edwin Diaz—New York Mets

Points: 678 (3rd)

Projection: 1 Win, 34 Saves, 5 Holds, 2.64 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 14.18 K/9 (9th)

This is not an exact science, so if people really feel strongly they can throw Diaz in front of Hand. I won’t be offended. The numbers dictate my rankings so my emotions aren’t in it. What I can say is that Diaz was likely overused last season and that has a way of lingering. Look at the history of 50+ save seasons and look at the following one. It’s not pretty.

Felipe Vazquez—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 576 (7th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 16 Saves, 11 Holds, 2.85 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.95 K/9 (10th)

If we have learned anything from the Hall of Fame portion of our site it is that we learn more when we look for gaps in the data and not simply at rankings. Vazquez is a cut below the other closers. There is nothing wrong with that but every draft sees closers go and go fast. You want to resist giving into that hysteria if at all possible.

Blake Treinen—Oakland Athletics

Points: 572 (8th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 14 Saves, 8 Holds, 2.25 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.36 K/9 (12th)

We go back three years because we can drive ourselves nuts chasing single season phenoms. Treinen may have been the best closer in baseball last season, but is that likely to continue? The peripherals are not kind. He should be solid, but even if he is just as good, the A’s may not be.

Sean Doolittle—Washington Nationals

Points: 434 (16th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 24 Saves, 9 Holds, 2.53 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 11.13 K/9 (4th)

These numbers kind of jump off the page. Unfortunately, attendance is part of the grade. He just hasn’t been consistent in his durability, but he is an underrated pick at this point. The numbers after wins, saves, and holds are better predictors of future performance.

Roberto Osuna—Houston Astros

Points: 553 (10th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 33 Saves, 1 Hold, 2.86 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.07 K/9 (14th)

Can you check your humanity at the door? Osuna may very well be a scumbag and every fantasy player has to make up their own mind about whether they want to support a scumbag. On the pure numbers angle, give him his half season back and he would be a top five closer. Some fantasy players may take him off the board completely. If you can stomach it you could have quite a value pick here.

Wade Davis—Colorado Rockies

Points: 530 (11th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 37 Saves, 0 Holds, 2.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.99 K/9 (15th)

Remember when he was a starting pitcher? Chasing saves could be compared to chasing the heroin dragon. You get the saves, but what do you give up in the process? In the case of Davis you likely give up ERA and WHIP. You have to decide how much those saves are worth.

Pedro Strop—Chicago Cubs

Points: 411 (18th)

Projection: 5 Wins, 5 Saves, 18 Holds, 2.64 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.81 K/9 (8th)

Strop has been a better pure pitcher than about half of the guys above him over the last three years. He just hasn’t been a closer. This is where the debate will rage. Can anyone close games or does it take a special person? I suppose we will find out in Chicago next year. Everything is set up for him to put up big time numbers if he can handle the pressure.

Raisel Iglesias—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 554 (9th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 17 Saves, 2 Holds, 2.47 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.15 K/9 (18th)

Iglesias is a throwback to the closers of the 1970s. He was a failed starter, but has an elite enough fastball to dominate one time through the order. That gives him a few extra innings and some more counting numbers (like strikeouts) that make picking relievers an effective long-term strategy.

Corey Knebel—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 492 (12th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 21 Saves, 11 Holds, 2.96 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13.83 K/9 (16th)

Now we get to the fun part of the list. Knebel is a talented reliever and in a league with holds he is a safe pick. In saves only leagues it is a bit of a risky proposition. Will they go to Hader in the 9th? Does Jeremy Jeffress get opportunities? Knebel has the talent, but if he struggles early it could get interesting.

Kirby Yates—San Diego Padres

Points: 403 (19th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 5 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 12.75 K/9 (11th)

Yates was a brilliant pitcher until Hand was dealt to the Indians. Maybe there is something to this whole “only certain guys can close games.” In holds leagues he still has value as a high strikeout reliever.

Will Smith—San Francisco Giants

Points: 243 (25th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 9 Saves, 19 Holds, 2.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.52 K/9 (6th)

I used rosterresource.com to pick the 30 closers to compare. It’s a great site I wholeheartedly recommend, but occasionally I’m not sure how they pick certain guys. Mark Melancon has closed before and done it well. Using him would open up the Giants to use Smith more creatively, so stay tuned.

Arodys Vizcaino—Atlanta Braves

Points: 327 (22nd)

Projection: 4 Wins, 18 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.09 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.34 K/9 (10th)

Supposedly, the Braves are one of the few teams in the hunt for Kimbrel. The Braves have made finding a better closer than Vizcaino an annual affair. Every year he ends up being the closer by the end of the season. Like a bad penny he always turns up.

Mychal Givens—Baltimore Orioles

Points: 490 (13th)

Projection: 4 Wins, 2 Saves, 14 Holds, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.29 K/9 (20th)

The main upside here is that there really is no one else. The downside is that the Orioles aren’t going anywhere. If Givens is bad they will keep giving him the ball anyway. If he’s good he is likely to be dealt to a contender at the deadline.

Jose Leclerc—Texas Rangers

Points: 292 (23rd)

Projection: 2 Wins, 7 Saves, 13 Holds, 2.52 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 12.20 K/9 (13th)

I still can’t stop laughing at the Rangers rotation. Leclerc is no laughing matter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t create save opportunities out of thin air. Teams are already asking about Leclerc and if they struggle again it will become increasingly more difficult not to listen.

Kelvin Herrera—Chicago White Sox

Points: 429 (17th)

Projection: 2 Wins, 19 Saves, 11 Holds, 3.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.26 K/9 (24th)

Rosterresource.com has both Herrera and Colome as the closers. I suppose I could have included Colome, but decided to go with Herrera on the coin flip. We will see Colome in the next list. Herrera seemed to turn a corner last season before his season ending injury.

Jose Alvarado—Tampa Bay Rays

Points: 220 (26th)

Projection: 1 Win, 5 Saves, 25 Holds, 2.81 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.55 K/9 (17th)

Perhaps the Rays position in the financial hell of the game makes them freer to be more creative. Either way, they are entertaining to watch for those with a more analytical bent. Alvarado is the best relief pitcher they have right now, but whether that makes him the closer is anyone’s best guess.

Anthony Swarzak—Seattle Mariners

Points: 278 (24th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 3 Saves, 13 Holds, 3.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.81 K/9 (22nd)

Is he the best the Mariners have? Does it really matter? On the one hand, we could go with the ol’ adage that someone has to close games in the Pacific Northwest. Yet, odds are that it will be two or three guys doing it, so none of them are really all that viable. The fact that he is more viable than some closers really says something about closers.

Drew Steckenrider—Miami Marlins

Points: 215 (27th)

Projection: 3 Wins, 4 Saves, 18 Holds, 3.36 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11.64 K/9 (21st)

Steckenrider is not bad. If you removed the counting numbers he would probably fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. He allows too many baserunners, but he also strikes out more than some other pitchers. When the Marlins deal Realmuto they will seal their fate as the worst team in the National League.

Ty Buttrey—Minnesota Twins

Points: 40 (30th)

Projection: 0 Wins, 15 Saves, 23 Holds, 3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 11.25 K/9 (20th)

He’s really at the mercy of management at this point. Will they think he’s good enough to be a closer on a contending team? I could see this is a logic landing spot for Cody Allen. If that happens then Buttrey tumbles off of the board.

Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Starting Pitchers 41-60

When we get to the end of the starting pitchers list we are invariably looking at two kinds of pitchers. The first kind are the productive veterans that will never make an all-star team or win the Cy Young Award, but they consistently produce decent numbers. These pitchers can be a godsend for your team, but you can’t afford to have a staff of them. You have to have some dominant pitchers and you have to take some fliers on some guys that could take the next step.

That brings us to the next group of starting pitchers. These are pitchers that for whatever reason have not cleared the hurdle yet into productivity. However, you can see it on the horizon. We are only profiling 60 pitchers, so there are plenty of guys that haven’t made this list, but could find their way on the roster under the right circumstances. As circumstances change we can revisit some of those guys.

For those joining us for the first time, welcome. We are ranking players according to total points and how they rank in the four traditional categories. We are taking both numbers over the past three seasons and projecting them to a season over either 150 or 180 innings depending on their health history. As we did this last time, rankings were based on how pitchers ranked amongst the last 24 pitchers profiled. They may have ranked better than some of the top 40 pitchers, but ranking them amongst the final group was considerably easier and cleaner.

Total Points = (2) INN + (3) Wins + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Tanner Roark—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 772 (1st)

PPS: 8.30 (6th)

Projection: 12 Wins/3.90 ERA/153 SO/1.26 WHIP (2nd)

Teams win and teams lose largely because of inefficiency. The Nationals dealt Roark likely because they didn’t want to pay his increasing salary. So, they turned around and signed Anibal Sanchez to a sizeable contract. Notice that Sanchez is not part of this list. They jumped at recent success, but over a longer timeline Roark is the better pitcher.

Danny Duffy—Kansas City Royals

Points: 672 (5th)

PPS: 8.62 (4th)

Projection: 11 Wins/4.04 ERA/172 SO/1.29 WHIP (6th)

When we get to this point on the list we notice that everyone is deficient one way or another. In Duffy’s case, he is not quite as dominant as you might like. Yet, if put in the right situation he could flourish. Traditionalists would focus on run support and bullpen support, but we can’t sleep on the effect that the defense behind the pitcher has. Please free him from Kansas City.

Collin McHugh—Houston Astros

Points: 507 (14th)

PPS: 11.27 (1st)

Projection: 11 Wins/3.66 ERA/156 SO/1.28 WHIP (1st)

McHugh is projected at 150 innings and if he gets that many it would make the Astros favorites for the AL West again. He spent last year in the bullpen, so it is questionable as to whether he will have the endurance to get here. He did win 19 games once upon a time, so he is a great fourth or fifth starter in a real or fantasy rotation.

Jhouyls Chacin—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 673 (4th)

PPS: 8.01 (10th)

Projection: 12 Wins/4.00 ERA/149 SO/1.28 WHIP (7th)

The Brewers just signed the best pitch framer in the business in Yasmani Grandal. That is bound to have an effect on pitchers like Chacin. The difference between a 2-1 count and 1-2 count is huge. Is it enough to vault Chacin to an all-star game? Probably not. He doesn’t miss enough bats, but he could be a solid fourth fantasy starter.

Dylan Bundy—Baltimore Orioles

Points: 606 (7th)

PPS: 8.30 (6th)

Projection: 12 Wins/4.65 ERA/176 SO/1.32 WHIP (9th)

Bundy is another Danny Duffy. Both the Royals and Orioles will be terrible. Placing him here is a reasonable bet that he will wear a different uniform at some point in 2019. He started off strong last season and faded just as the rest of the team did. I suppose human nature takes over at some point.

Jake Odorizzi—Minnesota Twins

Points: 688 (3rd)

PPS: 7.40 (16th)

Projection: 10 Wins/3.91 ERA/165 SO/1.26 WHIP (5th)

The Twins were second in the Central, but with two 100+ loss teams that really isn’t all special. The upshot is that the path back to competitiveness is not as long as it might seem. They have taken a couple of steps forward on paper while the Indians have taken steps back. Who knows might happen.

Jose Berrios—Minnesota Twins

Points: 564 (11th)

PPS: 7.94 (11th)

Projection: 13 Wins/4.48 ERA/177 SO/1.28 WHIP (4th)

Berrios had only a cup of coffee in 2016, but it was like Folgers. Those numbers are driving up the overall averages in ERA and WHIP to make him look more ordinary than he has been. Still, he was a little worse in 2018 than in 2017, so it probably reflects the slippage we are seeing.

Ervin Santana—Free Agent

Points: 577 (10th)

PPS: 8.49 (5th)

Projection: 8 Wins/3.57 ERA/118 SO/1.19 WHIP (11th)

How weird to have three Twins in a row. A healthy Santana would have ranked higher and made the Twins 2018 a little more palatable. Sadly, the fantasy world and real world conspire to keep the injured on the backburner. Someone will take a flier on Santana and probably be pretty happy they did.

Jack Flaherty—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 299 (24th)

PPS: 9.06 (3rd)

Projection: 8 Wins/3.72 ERA/211 SO/1.16 WHIP (3rd)

Everyone has their own story and a reason why they wind up on the island of misfit toys. For Flaherty it is the inexplicable reason he became a late bloomer. Do you buy into one sudden season of success? These guys often turn into pumpkins far more often than they stick, but he missed a lot of bats, so maybe there is hope.

Lance Lynn—Texas Rangers

Points: 695 (2nd)

PPS: 7.47 (14th)

Projection: 10 Wins/3.70 ERA/139 SO/1.37 WHIP (16th)

A lot of jokes could be made about the Rangers approach to building a pitching staff. Why sign two quality starters when five or six mediocre ones will do? The closest analogy would be the Jake Taylor approach. In the movie Major League, the manager asks whether Taylor was an all-star in Boston. Sure, but that was four years ago. Throw Lynn, Shelby Miller and everyone else in a box and you get the pitching versions of Jake Taylor.

C.C. Sabathia—New York Yankees

Points: 642 (6th)

PPS: 7.47 (14th)

Projection: 10 Wins/3.76 ERA/128 SO/1.30 WHIP (12th)

Getting old is no laughing matter. Sabathia wound up in the hospital with heart problems this offseason. That’s not something you usually see from an athlete in their prime, but Sabathia hasn’t been close to that in more than five seasons. He has been a crafty veteran that is more than adequate as fifth starter. He might be better as a waiver wire pick up.

Kyle Freeland—Colorado Rockies

Points: 461 (18th)

PPS: 7.56 (13th)

Projection: 14 Wins/3.39 ERA/141 SO/1.35 WHIP (8th)

Freeland really only has two seasons, so the total points is skewed towards those with three full seasons. Maybe he breaks into the top 40 next season. Unfortunately, pitchers that don’t miss bats don’t tend to do well in Coors Field. He will have plenty of run support, so he should win more games than the average starter. That makes him viable.

Ivan Nova—Chicago White Sox

Points: 604 (8th)

PPS: 7.02 (22nd)

Projection: 11 Wins/4.16 ERA/131 SO/1.27 WHIP (10th)

Nova is a solid pitcher that every team would love to have in their rotation. In Chicago he will be a number two or three starter. That’s probably a bit above his pay grade, but he will give the White Sox quality innings. If he’s the last guy in your fantasy rotation you will be just fine.

Zack Wheeler—New York Mets

Points: 374 (21st)

PPS: 8.13 (9th)

Projection: 9 Wins/3.99 ERA/148 SO/1.30 WHIP (13th)

Hard to believe the Mets traded Carlos Beltran for him. That seems like yesterday. If Wheeler can give you 30 starts he is better than these projections. Somehow, everything in New York comes down to health. 

Jonathan Gray—Colorado Rockies

Points: 511 (12th)

PPS: 7.10 (17th)

Projection: 11 Wins/4.49 ERA/159 SO/1.35 WHIP (14th)

Pitchers in Denver should be in their whole own category. Of course, we would then have to put hitters in their own category. Gray is a better pitcher than this, but power pitchers have their difficulties in that thin air. He has been getting progressively better each season, so betting the over might be wise.

Trevor Cahill—Los Angeles Angels

Points: 353 (22nd)

PPS: 10.09 (2nd)

Projection: 9 Wins/3.89 ERA/147 SO/1.36 WHIP (21st)

The Athletics achieved the impossible when they forged a rotation around Cahill, Edwin Jackson, and Mike Fiers. Notice that only FIers is back. That is the difference between good organizations like the Athletics and ones that spin their wheels like the Angels. There is a difference between taking a flier and then paying that flier good money for catching lightening in a bottle.

Andrew Heaney—Los Angeles Angels

Points: 295 (25th)

PPS: 8.19 (8th)

Projection: 7 Wins/4.52 ERA/155 SO/1.25 WHIP (16th)

When healthy Heaney is a quality pitcher. A lot next year rests on health for the Angels. Heaney is not bad for a late round flier. Most fantasy players carry six or seven starting pitchers and simply shuttle them in and out to build innings. If that is your strategy then Heaney isn’t a bad pick.

Nathan Eovaldi—Boston Red Sox

Points: 489 (16th)

PPS: 7.09 (18th)

Projection: 11 Wins/4.27 ERA/123 SO/1.31 WHIP (16th)

I promise that I let the computer spit out the numbers and then make the rankings accordingly. I really don’t dislike Eovaldi, but I don’t get all the hype. Well, that’s not true. It’s hard not to look at his velocity and split finger and wonder how he doesn’t dominate every time out. However, sooner or later you have to accept what is there.

Carlos Rodon—Chicago White Sox

Points: 456 (19th)

PPS: 7.60 (12th)

Projection: 7 Wins/4.11 ERA/141 SO/1.34 WHIP (22nd)

Rodon looks like a star waiting to happen. In sometimes takes pitchers a few seasons to figure things out and then they only last a few more seasons after that. Gambling players would do well to take a late round flier on this guy. He is the kind of player that could take two or three steps forward overnight. 

Sonny Gray—New York Yankees

Points: 503 (15th)

PPS: 6.99 (23rd)

Projection: 11 Wins/4.60 ERA/163 SO/1.35 WHIP (15th)

Take a long look at that ERA and realize he had an ERA under 3.20 last season on the road. The Yankees are bound to deal Gray as soon as they realize they have no spot for him and won’t get a king’s ransom. They can a useful prospect or two and Gray will get to go to a team where he will almost certainly pitch better.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated 21-40 Starting Pitchers

We are handling pitchers a little differently than the other positions. We are ranking 60 starting pitchers in total, but we can’t do that all at one time. That’s actually not true. We could do it, but the article would be way too long and cumbersome to gain any real insight. With the other positions, we took the top 24 players and either selected the top 18 or top 20 players based on total points and the traditional categories.

With the first group of starting pitchers (1-20) we did that. This time we took the next 24 pitchers and ranked them. So, the rankings you see are the pitchers’ rankings within the next group of 24 pitchers. We continue to rank them in total points and the traditional categories. However, the ranking you see will not be a pure ranking. After all, in some categories, the pitcher might rank better than one of the top 20 pitchers, but overall ranks below them.

As a reminder, projections are based on the past three seasons. Statistical totals are based on a projection of either 150 or 180 innings pitched. That projection is based on past health history and the likelihood of the pitcher making a full complement of starts in 2019. Rankings there are based on the composite rankings in each of the four categories.

Total Points= (2) Inn + 3 (Wins) + SO – ER – Hits – BB

J.A. Happ—New York Yankees

Total Points: 857 (2nd)

PPS: 9.74 (6th)

Projection: 16 Wins/3.44 ERA/173 SO/1.20 WHIP (2nd)

The fantasy game is still heavily dependent on wins. Heck, even the Cy Young voters have gone away from that. Happ’s 16 win projection may seem optimistic, but that has been him the past three seasons. Being that he is the opening day fourth starter for a loaded Yankees team, there is no reason to believe he won’t do it.

Rick Porcello—Boston Red Sox

Total Points: 936 (1st)

PPS: 9.45 (8th)

Projection: 15 Wins/4.00 ERA/163 SO/1.19 WHIP (8th)

Porcello is not likely to be a first or second fantasy starter. He gets where he is through sheer durability. He takes the ball every fifth day and gives you a quality start most times out. With the Red Sox’ offense, that also gives him a win more often than not. If he’s your third fantasy starter you are in pretty good shape.

Carlos Martinez—St. Louis Cardinals

Total Points: 795 (7th)

PPS: 9.81 (5th)

Projection: 13 Wins/3.36 ERA/180 SO/1.28 WHIP (6th)

The question with Martinez is whether he will turn in a healthy campaign. The above numbers reflect that evaluation. If you are more pessimistic you can adjust accordingly. The Cards have a slightly better lineup and a slightly better bullpen on paper. That might translate into another win or two.

David Price—Boston Red Sox

Points: 791 (8th)

PPS: 10.41 (2nd)

Projection: 12 Wins/3.75 ERA/150 SO/1.18 WHIP (9th

Then, you get the other end. Price is projected over 150 innings mainly because he was hurt part of the last two seasons. He came up big in the post-season. That usually has a way of making people more optimistic. We might call it the Madison Bumgarner effect. Post-season success is nice, but it usually doesn’t translate to future results.

Jake Arrieta—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 842 (5th)

PPS: 9.15 (11th)

Projection: 14 Wins/3.51 ERA/164 SO/1.19 WHIP (4th)

There is always a tension between past performance and future projections. This is always more acute with players on their way down. Pitchers seem to have a shorter and shorter shelf life these days. Arrieta was a brilliant pitcher five years ago, but five years is an eternity for starting pitchers.

Charlie Morton—Tampa Bay Rays

Points: 610 (15th)

PPS: 10.34 (3rd)

Projection: 14 Wins/3.44 ERA/176 SO/1.20 WHIP (2nd)

I seriously toyed with the idea of having a 120 inning valuation for some pitchers. Morton and Yu Darvish might have been the only two to get such a valuation. I bit the bullet and gave them 150 innings. With Darvish, the impulse is easy to understand. Morton just feels like a guy whose arm is about to fall off. Pound for pound he might be as effective as anyone. Consider him a right-handed Rich Hill.

Jose Quintana—Chicago Cubs

Points: 857 (2nd)

PPS: 8.93 (13th)

Projection: 12 Wins/3.77 ERA/172 SO/1.23 WHIP (10th)

I had a political science professor who wanted to legally change Jimmy Carter’s name to Poor Jimmy Carter. The idea was that he was a good guy that just seemed to have horrible luck. Quintana seems like that kind of pitcher. He forever has seemed like a better pitcher than the results he gets. Eventually you just give up and go with the results.

Alex Wood—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 608 (16th)

PPS: 9.21 (10th)

Projection: 13 Wins/3.29 ERA/175 SO/1.15 WHIP (11th)

A trade like the one that sent Wood to the Reds has so many facets. It’s hard to declare a winner based on just one facet. One of them though is how the trade impacts the players themselves. Clearly, the three going to the Reds are the winners. The Dodgers could probably have comfortably had a 30 man roster without breaking a sweat. There just wasn’t enough for everyone to get a full shot. He should get 30 starts or more in Cincinnati.

Walker Buehler—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 283 (23rd)

PPS: 12.30 (1st)

Projection: 9 Wins/2.96 ERA/167 SO/1.03 WHIP (5th)

Buehler is a top 20 pitcher in terms of quality. However, the Dodgers are likely to limit his innings and with the depth they have, they are in position to do that better than any other team. So, what you see is based on 150 innings. In another season or two he could vault into the top ten.

Robbie Ray—Arizona Dbacks

Points: 797 (6th)

PPS: 9.49 (7th)

Projection: 9 Wins/3.93 ERA/196 SO/1.33 WHIP (18th)

Ray is a great risk/reward pick. Everyone that wins a fantasy championship does two things well. First, they make the best guesses as to who will break out on draft day. Secondly, they do a better job playing the waiver wire than anyone else. Ray will either be mediocre and injury prone or great. There really is no in between.

Cole Hamels—Chicago Cubs

Points: 772 (9th)

PPS: 8.77 (14th)

Projection: 12 Wins/3.72 ERA/165 SO/1.26 WHIP (11th)

Hamels was a completely different pitcher when he came to Chicago. It’s hard to imagine him pitching that well for a full season, but you never know. Hamels is a pretty safe pick when looking for a fantasy fourth starter. He isn’t likely to break out, but when comparing him to a pitcher like Ray he’d have a lower ceiling, but a higher floor.

Yu Darvish—Chicago Cubs

Points: 552 (20th)

PPS: 9.86 (4th)

Projection: 9 Wins/3.97 ERA/185 SO/1.22 WHIP (12th)

120 innings might make more sense for someone like Darvish. It’s hard to remember, but he was a top flight pitcher as recently as 2017. Like Ray, he might drop a little on draft day. It might be a good pick if he falls to the bottom of the top 60. Imagine how good your team could be with a healthy Darvish as a fifth starter.

Chris Archer—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 850 (4th)

PPS: 9.04 (12th)

Projection: 8 Wins/4.12 ERA/207 SO/1.29 WHIP (21st)

Like Jose Quintana, Archer has always felt like a guy that should be better than what he is. He has always been low on wins because of poor run support and bad bullpens. He may not have that much of a better time in Pittsburgh. Still, guys that routinely pitch every five days and get 200+ strikeouts don’t exactly grow on trees.

Miles Mikolas—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 396 (22nd)

PPS: 9.43 (9th)

Projection: 14 Wins/3.61 ERA/128 SO/1.18 WHIP (7th)

One brilliant season is hard to bet on. Hitters and pitchers get a book on each other and force the other to adjust. You have to expect Mikolas to struggle a little more his second time through the league, but if he can grab the ball every fifth day he still might be a good fourth fantasy starter.

Patrick Corbin—Washington Nationals

Points: 769 (10th)

PPS: 8.64 (15th)

Projection: 10 Wins/4.03 ERA/183 SO/1.32 WHIP (20th)

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. You cannot allow the contract a player gets to cloud your judgment on who he is as a player. He is the same player he was before he got the big pay day. He doesn’t magically become something he’s not. The Nationals overpaid Corbin, but he is still the same third starter he has always been.

Dallas Keuchel—Free Agent

Points: 698 (12th)

PPS: 8.41 (17th)

Projection: 12 Wins/3.77 ERA/147 SO/1.25 WHIP (17th)

See Corbin. These guys were ranked one and two amongst free agent starters this offseason. Keuchel is looking for five years and isn’t likely to get it. Fortunately, his 2015 Cy Young season drops off of the three-year average. These numbers represent the pitcher he really is. I’d love him in my rotation, but not at the money and years he wants.

James Taillon—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 614 (14th)

PPS: 8.19 (20th)

Projection: 11 Wins/3.64 ERA/164 SO/1.26 WHIP (13th)

It’s not every day that you come back from cancer, but Taillon did it last season. At this point in the rankings, if you find a guy that will throw 180 or more innings with a sub 4.00 ERA, that guy should go to the top of the list. 

Julio Teheran—Atlanta Braves

Points: 765 (11th)

PPS: 8.23 (19th)

Projection: 9 Wins/3.88 ERA/157 SO/1.20 WHIP (18th)

See Taillon, minus the cancer. Teheran is more hittable than most of the guys above him, so he is more susceptible to batted ball luck than most starters. So, he will be either really good or really bad. That can be year to year or start to start.

German Marquez—Colorado Rockies

Points: 560 (19th)

PPS: 8.62 (16th)

Projection: 12 Wins/4.12 ERA/187 SO/1.30 WHIP (15th)

The Rockies are an interesting team. They have one more season with Nolan Arenado, so they are rolling the dice and building a team around him to make a run. They’ve already added Daniel Murphy. Now, they are looking at Brian Dozier. Both could hit 30 or more home runs in the thin air. More runs means more run support for pitchers like Marquez.

Mike Foltyniewicz—Atlanta Braves

Points: 687 (13th)

PPS: 8.38 (18th)

Projection: 8 Wins/3.89 ERA/164 SO/1.27 WHIP (22nd)

The prize of the Evan Gattis trade finally paid dividends last season. It’s hard betting on one season, but his arrow is pointed up. Like Marquez, the team is getting better which hopefully means more wins for him. Give him a 12 wins instead of eight and he will vault himself into the top 30.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Top 20 Fantasy Starting Pitchers

Evaluating pitchers for fantasy purposes is difficult at best. We measure them in categories they largely can’t control. Obviously, strikeouts and walks are directly in their control, but wins, WHIP, and ERA (to a lesser extent) are dependent largely on the support they have from the fielders behind him, relief pitchers that follow them, and performance of the hitters on their team. Then, we get the added specter of batted ball luck.

Like with the hitters, we are marrying the four major categories (saves are obviously not a consideration) with total points. We do that by projecting their performance across either 150 or 180 innings depending on their health history. We then compare those projections with their total points from the past three seasons and total points and total points per games started over those three seasons.

Total points= (2) Innings + (3) wins + SO – ER – Hits – BB

Max Scherzer—Washington Nationals

Points: 1416 (1st)

PPS: 14.46 (2nd)

Projection: 15 wins/2.68 ERA/209 SO/0.93 WHIP (1st)

Attendance matters and there is no position where attendance matters more than with starting pitchers. Scherzer is a borderline first rounder in fantasy circles because he seems as close to a lock as any to have 30 starters and at least 180 innings this season. The projection is actually low in strikeouts and wins, but 180 innings is all I’m willing to commit across the board.

Chris Sale—Boston Red Sox

Points: 1347 (2nd)

PPS: 14.80 (1st)

Projection: 14 wins/2.85 ERA/234 SO/0.96 WHIP (2nd)

The choice between Sale and Kluber is a brutal one. Sale is pound for pound the more dominant pitcher, but he has not been able to stay healthy the past two seasons. Maybe his arm falls off or maybe he is finally able to give us the 180 innings we’ve been waiting for. If he starts 30 games this year he is a lock to win the Cy Young award.

Corey Kluber—Cleveland Indians

Points: 1336 (3rd)

PPS: 14.21 (4th)

Projection: 16 wins/2.77 ERA/203 SO/0.97 WHIP (3rd)

Kluber has come up snake-eyes the past two seasons in the playoffs. The Indians were rumored to have been shopping him around this winter. I don’t know if those two facts are related or not, but the Indians window for contention is closing as they lost a few good hitters and few good relievers in the process.

Justin Verlander—Houston Astros

Points: 1321 (4th)

PPS: 13.08 (5th)

Projection: 13 wins/2.98 ERA/212 SO/1.02 WHIP (5th)

Betting on power pitchers in their mid-thirties is a risky proposition. They tend to lose their effectiveness and they don’t do it gradually. Verlander has one more year on his deal with the Astros. Depending on how long he wants to continue to pitch, he has plenty of motivation to stay on top of his game.

Jacob deGrom—New York Mets

Points: 1094 (5th)

PPS: 12.57 (6th)

Projection: 13 wins/2.70 ERA/207 SO/1.09 WHIP (4th)

Jacob deGrom is a better pitcher than some of the guys on the list above him, but so much of a pitcher’s fantasy ranking depends on things he can’t control. The Mets look much better on paper than they have in the past, so maybe that should vault him above Verlander, but these rankings are based on past results.

Clayton Kershaw—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 1062 (6th)

PPS: 14.35 (3rd)

Projection: 12 wins/2.26 ERA/167 SO/0.91 WHIP (7th)

Give him 180 innings and he jumps up the board into the top three. It’s hard to give him those innings after the past two seasons. He has already punched his ticket to Cooperstown after being the best pitcher in baseball over the past decade. Where he stands in the game’s history depends on his ability to stay on the mound.

Carlos Carrasco—Cleveland Indians

Points: 1019 (7th)

PPS: 11.71 (8th)

Projection: 15 wins/3.33 ERA/203 SO/1.12 WHIP (6th)

Seeing two Indians in the top seven shows how dominant the top teams in the game are. Throw in Trevor Bauer and you can see why the Indians are still the favorites to win the AL Central. Sadly, the offense and bullpen will not be as strong as they were in the past, so he might not be quite this valuable in reality.

Stephen Strasburg—Washington Nationals

Points: 910 (10th)

PPS: 12.30 (7th)

Projection: 13 wins/3.22 ERA/180 SO/1.10 WHIP (8th)

Strasburg is another pitcher that would rank higher if we could count on him being healthy for a full season. With the huge contract the Nationals gave to Patrick Corbin, it is easy to forget about Strasburg, but he has been one of the best in fantasy sports on a per start basis.

Aaron Nola—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 880 (13th)

PPS: 11.00 (11th)

Projection: 13 wins/3.32 ERA/194 SO/1.13 WHIP (11th)

Nola and Greinke are neck and neck in the rankings. Given the relative health concerns of pitchers, it seems prudent to favor the one closer to his prime. Plus, they’ve already added Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura to their vaunted offensive attack.

Zack Greinke—Arizona Diamondbacks

Points: 953 (8th)

PPS: 10.47 (14th)

Projection: 14 wins/3.50 ERA/173 SO/1.13 WHIP (13th)

Greinke has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past decade. It’s funny how a potential Hall of Fame pitcher gets relegated to barely being in the top ten. The Dbacks have been looking to deal him, but as long as he stays he probably tumbles even further down the list.

Luis Severino—New York Yankees

Points: 829 (17th)

PPS: 11.20 (9th)

Projection: 14 wins/3.60 ERA/204 SO/1.15 WHIP (10th)

Severino really only has two seasons under his belt, so that is killing his total points. Give him one more full season and he is likely to vault into the top ten in 2020. Given the Yankees relative strength, you could definitely justify throwing him into the top ten.

Trevor Bauer—Cleveland Indians

Points: 893 (11th)

PPS: 10.38 (16th)

Projection: 14 wins/3.58 ERA/194 SO/1.26 WHIP (16th)

As good as Bauer has been the past two seasons, you can’t help but feel the storm clouds are coming. For one, their lineup and bullpen has taken a huge hit this offseason. For another, he did miss a little time last season with nagging injuries. Those have a way of returning for pitchers.

Gerrit Cole—Houston Astros

Points: 892 (12th)

PPS: 10.37 (17th)

Projection: 12 wins/3.29 ERA/198 SO/1.21 WHIP (15th)

The needle for Cole is pointed up. His last two seasons in Pittsburgh are dragging him down a bit, but the Astros have as talented a lineup (including fielding) and bullpen as any in the league. Couple that with a pitching coach that can get the most out of anyone and he could be a sleeper yet again.

Kyle Hendricks—Chicago Cubs

Points: 873 (14th)

PPS: 9.92 (18th)

Projection: 13 wins/2.86 ERA/155 SO/1.10 WHIP (12th)

Hendricks’ brilliant 2016 season is still driving this average down. He probably is a lot closer to the pitcher he was the last two seasons. That’s still gives him a combined 21-16 record with an ERA below 3.50 and a WHIP below 1.20. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but otherwise he looks like an elite pitcher.

Jon Lester—Chicago Cubs

Points: 914 (9th)

PPS: 9.52 (22nd)

Projection: 16 wins/3.33 ERA/168 SO/1.21 WHIP (14th)

Lester looked better than Hendricks last season, but this is a three-year projection and three- year total points universe. The bigger the sample size the clearer the picture. Moving forward, the only way he is superior to Hendricks is in his ability to win games. Wins have little to do with the pitcher himself.

Madison Bumgarner—San Francisco

Points: 798 (18th)

PPS: 11.08 (10th)

Projection: 8 Wins/3.03 ERA/148 SO/1.10 WHIP (21st)

There is always tension involved when deciding whether to gamble on past performance or future projections. Bumgarner has been unhealthy and a lot more hittable lately. One might be related to the other, so he could either steadily get worse or rebound if it is linked to health. It’s a contract year, so there’s a lot riding on that question.

Masahiro Tanaka—New York Yankees

Points: 864 (15th)

PPS: 9.82 (19th)

Projection: 13 Wins/3.83 ERA/175 SO/1.15 WHIP (17th)

Through the all-star break last season, it looked like he would drop off the list completely, but he rebounded to post the same kind of numbers he has in past seasons. He is really a step below some other guys not on this list, but he wins consistently and puts up good strikeout numbers. That’s literally half the battle.

Blake Snell—Tampa Bay Rays

Points: 709 (23rd)

PPS: 9.58 (21st)

Projection: 14 Wins/2.95 ERA/198 SO/1.23 WHIP (8th)

Here we see the difference between projections and total points. Snell doesn’t have three full seasons worth of numbers to go on. For those that might want to discount these rankings, just look at what the Cy Young award winners have done in the subsequent season. He shouldn’t tumble out of the top 20, but he might not be top ten material again either.

Noah Syndergaard—New York Mets

Points: 682 (24th)

PPS: 11.00 (11th)

Projection: 11 Wins/2.81 ERA/166 SO/1.17 WHIP (17th)

Again, we find a pitcher that would rank much higher if we could count on him to get 30 starts. Sadly, we can’t. He has four seasons in the big leagues and only one of them saw him make 30 starts. He had 218 strikeouts in that season and won 14 games. He could easily surpass those numbers if he is completely healthy.

James Paxton—New York Yankees

Points: 755 (22nd)

PPS: 10.49 (13th)

Projection: 10 Wins/3.52 ERA/173 SO/1.16 WHIP (22nd)

Paxton was on his way to a brilliant season last year when he was struck with illness and injury in the same season. He seems to have been snake bit with nagging injuries every year. The Yankees are rolling the dice that he can turn in a healthy campaign. If he does he is a borderline top ten pitcher. 

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Right Field Rankings

The biggest issue with separating outfielders into their various spots can be seen when you look at right fielders. It is immediately obvious that right fielders are superior to center fielders and left fielders. It’s hard to explain why, but the fifth or sixth best right fielder might finish second or third at the other two spots. It might make sense to combine them all and we might do that at some point.

As we finish off the position players it is high time we go over the rules. We are integrating the different formats (five categories, six categories, total points) into one set of rankings. It can get a little messy doing that, but we are breaking it down for you so you can gleam what you want. Projections are based on the past three seasons and then prorated over either 500 or 600 plate appearances. Those numbers are based on past performance and the makeup of each team.

Total points= TB + Runs + RBI + SB + BB + HBP – SO – CS – GIDP

Mookie Betts—Boston Red Sox

Points: 1637 (1st)

PPG: 3.67 (1st)

Projection: .308/25 HR/103 Runs/86 RBI/24 SB/60 BB (2nd)

Betts has more points over the past three years than Mike Trout. He also has more points per game over that same span. Is he the number one overall pick? Well, that depends on the format. Trout probably still has him in five and six category leagues, but the margin is a lot thinner than you think.

J.D. Martinez—Boston Red Sox

Points: 1198 (5th)

PPG: 3.08 (2nd)

Projection: .315/40 HR/86 Runs/109 RBI/4 SB/62 BB (1st)

It is something that the top two players on the board here both play for the World Series champions. You could argue that they should have finished first and second in the MVP voting last year as well. Health has been the only opponent Martinez has been unable to beat and as a full-time DH, that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Christian Yelich—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 1288 (2nd)

PPG: 2.81 (4th)

Projection: .302/22 HR/89 Runs/86 RBI/14 SB/66 BB (4th)

The projection really isn’t fair. It is based on two seasons in Miami where Yelich’s power numbers were depressed. I’m not sure if he is really a 30 home run guy year in and year out, but he is definitely worth 25 home runs. Add to that a little more support in the lineup and .300/25/90/90/15 should be the basis we go on from here on out.

Bryce Harper—Free Agent

Points: 1222 (4th)

PPG: 3.00 (3rd)

Projection: .267/29 HR/93 Runs/90 RBI/13 SB/102 BB (3rd)

It’s become passe to call Harper overrated. He is both overrated and underrated at the same time. He has elite on base skills and the power is elite as well. The problem comes when the contract drives the expectations. Suddenly getting 300 million doesn’t make someone the best player in baseball.

Nelson Cruz—Minnesota Twins

Points: 1233 (3rd)

PPG: 2.72 (5th)

Projection: .278/38 HR/81 Runs/101 RBI/1 SB/59 BB (7th)

Cruz will be 38 years old this year. Almost all of his production came after he was 26 years old. You have to think he will eventually show his age, but he hasn’t yet. He hit 21 home runs on the road last season, so maybe moving out of Seattle will stave off the aging process for one more season.

Giancarlo Stanton—New York Yankees

Points: 1159 (6th)

PPG: 2.66 (7th)

Projection: .265/40 HR/90 Runs/98 RBI/2 SB/66 BB (6th)

This is just proof positive of how deep right field is. You will not find a sixth ranked player this good at any other spot except for maybe first base. Everyone expects Stanton to hit 50 home runs every year. That’s not who he is. Every year something gets in the way. Sooner or later you come to expect it.

Aaron Judge—New York Yankees

Points: 793 (18th)

PPG: 2.70 (6th)

Projection: .273/39 HR/101 Runs/90 RBI/7 SB/100 BB (5th)

He only has two full seasons under his belt and the strikeouts are killing him in terms of total points. Still, he would be in Stanton territory in one more season. In a way, you can almost predict the fortunes of the AL East come down to which pair performs the best between Boston and New York.

Andrew McCutchen—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 1091 (8th)

PPG: 2.35 (10th)

Projection: .263/22 HR/77 Runs/69 RBI/9 SB/71 BB (9th)

Keep in mind that most of these numbers came with the Pirates and Giants. Neither squad has the offensive potential that the Phillies have and Citizens Bank Ballpark is a better hitting environment than either of those two stadiums. Even with that his production in total points has been pretty good considering.

Nick Castellanos—Detroit Tigers

Points: 982 (9th)

PPG: 2.32 (11th)

Projection: .280/22 HR/72 Runs/83 RBI/2 SB/40 BB (15th)

A bet on Castellanos is a bet that he will be dealt to a contender before the season starts. He seemed to take a step forward last year as well. The hitters around you don’t literally make you better, but they do give you more run producing opportunities. The Tigers are likely bound for the cellar in 2019.

Nick Markakis—Free Agent

Points: 1107 (7th)

PPG: 2.31 (12th)

Projection: .280/10 HR/64 Runs/75 RBI/0 SB/61 BB (20th)

Markakis is here based on total points. He makes consistent contact and he is always in the lineup. So, he is constantly producing positive points in that universe. His lack of power makes him a little more ordinary in five category leagues. The walks helps him play up in six category leagues, so adjust accordingly.

Mitch Haniger—Seattle Mariners

Points: 685 (21st)

PPG: 2.39 (9th)

Projection: .278/23 HR/77 Runs/77 RBI/6 SB/56 BB (10th)

Like Judge, he only has two full seasons under his belt and he has been extremely productive in those two seasons. He will likely move up a couple of spots on draft day. The Mariners are a fascinating team in many ways, so it is hard to say whether his home hurts him or helps him at this point.

Jay Bruce—Seattle Mariners

Points: 876 (12th)

PPG: 2.16 (17th)

Projection: .246/30 HR/72 Runs/91 RBI/3 SB/54 BB (12th)

Speaking of interesting players and interesting teams. If Bruce plays every day he has a chance of coming close to the power numbers that Cruz put up on a regular basis. He obviously isn’t quite as good. That makes him a pretty good microcosm of the Mariners at large.

Stephen Piscotty—Oakland Athletics

Points: 870 (13th)

PPG: 2.12 (18th)

Projection: .262/21 HR/74 Runs/84 RBI/4 SB/53 BB (14th)

Piscotty found his sea legs in the second half last season and could be a nice addition late in the draft for one lucky fantasy player. He had a .272/.337/.536 slash line after the break with 15 home runs 35 runs and 42 RBI. That came in a little more than 60 games after the break. He might be the sleeper of this position.

Yasiel Puig—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 790 (19th)

PPG: 2.07 (19th)

Projection: .264/27 HR/77 Runs/79 RBI/15 SB/54 BB (8th)

It’s hard to pick a winner of the deal between the Reds and Dodgers, but Puig is likely the biggest winner of the players involved. He never seemed to get a full opportunity in LA, but the Reds will likely have to play him for better or worse. So, his counting numbers should get a significant boost.

Adam Eaton—Washington Nationals

Points: 668 (22nd)

PPG: 2.43 (8th)

Projection: .294/9 HR/72 Runs/44 RBI/11 SB/49 BB (16th)

Eaton is the latest star of “Career Interrupted.” Coming into 2016, he seemed like a potential breakout star based on his performance in Chicago and his move to an actual contender. Three years later and he barely has more than a season’s worth of plate appearances in three seasons. A full season from him should vault him back into that conversation.

Carlos Gonzalez—Colorado Rockies

Points: 925 (10th)

PPG: 2.21 (14th)

Projection: .280/16 HR/69 Runs/66 RBI/3 SB/41 BB (23rd)

CarGo is only relevant if he stays in Denver. He seemed to come back to life late in the season this past year, but it is highly likely that the Rockies move on. If that is the case then he can latch on somewhere as a fourth outfielder type that plays exclusively against right handed pitchers. It is possible he could also move to the American League and serve as a part-time DH.

Gregory Polanco—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 867 (14th)

PPG: 2.27 (13th)

Projection: .237/18 HR/63 Runs/66 RBI/12 SB/46 BB (24th)

Obviously, this is another guy where the format determines whether he gets picked or not. He does offer a little of everything in four of the five categories, but he doesn’t offer enough of any of them to get serious consideration.

Kole Calhoun—Los Angeles Angels

Points: 885 (11th)

PPG: 1.97 (22nd)

Projection: .243/18 HR/76 Runs/65 RBI/4 SB/61 BB (19th)

Calhoun produced a .750ish OPS after the break last year. That isn’t great, but it is a lot closer to the player we have become accustomed to. So, there is no reason he shouldn’t return to the 20/80/80 guy we have become accustomed to. That’s not good enough to start, but it is good enough to be on a fantasy bench.

Max Kepler—Minnesota Twins

Points: 853 (15th)

PPG: 2.04 (20th)

Projection: .233/21 HR/73 Runs/70 RBI/6 SB/56 BB (17th)

Kepler is another great example of how deep right field really is. Yes, the batting average is low, but he draws walks, hits plenty of home runs, and produces runs. He just doesn’t do it quite as often as the other guys higher on the list.

Dexter Fowler—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 729 (20th)

PPG: 2.19 (15th)

Projection: .248/14 HR/70 Runs/52 RBI/9 SB/65 BB (18th)

There is no getting around the fact that 2018 was a brutal for Fowler. He is not at the point of his career where you would predict a downward spiral. So, some kind of a bounce back is probable. The question is how much of an opportunity he will get to prove himself.

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Integrated Center Field Rankings

Integrated rankings are difficult as best. It is impossible to be all things for all people. Some people play in five category leagues while others do six category or total points leagues. We are trying to consider all elements at the same time as considering center fielders alone along with comparing them to corner outfielders. So, what we have is a list based a lot on guess work. However, the components themselves are fairly scientific.

Total points is based on a formula based loosely on what you might see on various betting sites. It is my own since all of them do their own. The projections are based on the past three seasons prorated to either 600 or 500 plate appearances. Breakdowns there are based on health history and likely usage in the next season.

Total points= TB + Runs + RBI + SB + BB + HBP – SO – CS – GIDP

Mike Trout—Los Angeles Angels

Points: 1472 (1st)

PPG: 3.56 (1st)

Projection: .312/34 HR/106 Runs/84 RBI/25 SB/111 BB (1st)

Unfortunately, he is no longer the top fantasy player on the board based on total points. One of the reasons why I love total points is that it allows you to compare players easily. It’s not enough to simply rank players. You want to know how much better Trout is than the next best center fielder. Total points does that where standard five category comparisons do not. Charlie Blackmon is pretty close.

Charlie Blackmon—Colorado Rockies

Points: 1470 (2nd)

PPG: 3.21 (2nd)

Projection: .315/28 HR/107 Runs/74 RBI/13 SB/49 BB (2nd)

I don’t care where you produce these numbers. Fantasy doesn’t make such allowances. Sites like Fangraphs, BRef, and Baseball Prospectus will certainly cut him down a peg or two. That only matters if he ever leaves town and after signing an extension that isn’t very likely.

George Springer—Houston Astros

Points: 1080 (3rd)

PPG: 2.44 (5th)

Projection: .269/26 HR/99 Runs/72 RBI/6 SB/64 BB (5th)

The drop off is pretty significant from number two to number three. The trouble with Springer is that the potential is clear to see. He has a 1.026 OPS in 147 postseason plate appearances. If you prorated his numbers over 600 you’d get 44 home runs. Sadly, you won’t ever see those numbers in the regular season. He’s good, but some might overvalue him.

Cody Bellinger—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 733 (12th)

PPG: 2.49 (4th)

Projection: .263/33 HR/87 Runs/88 RBI/12 SB/68 BB (3rd)

The difference between Springer and Bellinger is only a couple of years. Bellinger is at the point where he will either take a step forward or stagnate. His sophomore season saw him take a tiny step backwards. Pitchers found a hole and now it is his turn to fill it.

Lorenzo Cain—Milwaukee Brewers

Points: 923 (6th)

PPG: 2.32 (7th)

Projection: .293/12 HR/82 Runs/49 RBI/25 SB/55 BB (7th)

Back in the salad days of the Royals, there was talk of Cain winning the MVP award. He would be a poor man’s Mookie Betts today. Great defense and good offense equals greatness. Betts obviously has more power and that is the ultimate difference. This is where you have to consider the format you are playing in.

Starling Marte—Pittsburgh Pirates

Points: 827 (9th)

PPG: 2.36 (6th)

Projection: .289/15 HR/81 Runs/61 RBI/41 SB/32 BB (8th

How you feel about Marte depends largely on the format you are playing. He is great in a standard 5×5 league. The steals play up and the walks play down. In any other format you begin to see a lot of warts. Sooner or later you stop pining for the player you think he should be and accept the player that he is. Plan accordingly.

Jackie Bradley Jr.—Boston Red Sox

Points: 880 (7th)

PPG: 2.03 (11th)

Projection: .250/21 HR/85 Runs/78 RBI/13 SB/58 BB (6th)

Bradley is many things to many people. He is the guy that had a very disappointing regular season last year. He’s a guy that was the ALCS MVP with two homers and nine RBI in five games. He’s a guy with a career 93 OPS+ as well. So, picking him this high would seem to be foolish and you can probably surmise that most people don’t have him this high on the list.

Ender Inciarte—Atlanta Braves

Points: 1024 (4th)

PPG: 2.31 (8th)

Projection: .287/7 HR/77 Runs/45 RBI/20 SB/44 BB (15th)

Inciarte is a poor man’s Lorenzo Cain. He is a very good defensive outfielder (+86 runs since 2014). So, anything he produces offensively is a bonus. Fielding is not important until you start considering playing time. You want to keep guys like Inciarte on the field. So, he should get 600 or 700 plate appearances every season as long as he is healthy.

Aaron Hicks—New York Yankees

Points: 743 (11th)

PPG: 2.14 (10th)

Projection: .244/23 HR/81 Runs/75 RBI/11 SB/79 BB (9th)

Hicks exploded last season after finally getting consistent playing time in New York. It’s hard to bet completely on one season, but you don’t see too many players capable of producing 25 home runs and ten stolen bases. If you are a gambling man you can bet on him taking the next step. I wouldn’t quite yet though.

A.J. Pollock—Free Agent

Points: 596 (16th)

PPG: 2.51 (2nd)

Projection: .261/19 HR/74 Runs/61 RBI/19 SB/37 BB

Pollock wants four years and 64 million dollars (or so). It’s hard to imagine him making that kind of money when he hasn’t been healthy. The projection is based on 500 plate appearances. He could easily snap out of it and produce a 600 plate appearance season. In that case he moves up the board considerably.

Adam Jones—Free Agent

Points: 972 (5th)

PPG: 2.19 (9th)

Projection: .277/18 HR/58 Runs/57 RBI/3 SB/23 BB (19th)

No one is really quite sure what will happen for Jones from here. He really isn’t a centerfielder anymore and he probably isn’t a regular (thus the 500 PA projection). Depending on where he lands he could be a good complimentary piece. If he places on a bad team he could end up getting closer to 600 PA. So, I guess there are good and bad points all the way around.

Chris Taylor—Los Angeles Dodgers

Points: 637 (15th)

PPG: 1.92 (15th)

Projection: .267/19 HR/86 Runs/69 RBI/13 SB/53 BB (5th)

The Dodgers are a fascinating team. Every offseason they deal away multiple expensive parts in the interest of consolidating their assets. Yet, they seem to have extra pieces lying around every year. It’s like putting together the children’s bike and having parts left over. No one is really quite sure how that happens. Taylor can fit in multiple spots, so chances are he will wind up with a full allotment of plate appearances in the end.

Odubel Herrera—Philadelphia Phillies

Points: 869 (8th)

PPG: 1.95 (13th)

Projection: .274/17 HR/72 Runs/58 RBI/13 SB/44 BB (14th)

Herrera is a bridge player. He is a solid defensive player and a solid offensive one, but he isn’t good in either facet. So, when a team bridges from being an also-ran to a contender they have to decide whether to continue to invest in that player. In fantasy terms he is very similar. In a generic outfielder format he is probably a fourth or fifth outfielder in standard 12 team leagues. If he starts occasionally for you, you will be fine. If he’s playing full-time you are probably in trouble.

Kevin Kiermaier—Tampa Bay Rays

Points: 574 (17th)

PPG: 1.97 (12th)

Projection: .248/17 HR/77 Runs/52 RBI/23 SB/48 BB (12th)

For a while, there was a tee-shirt that stated, “Two-thirds of the world is covered in water, the other third is covered by (insert name here).” That might as well be Kiermaier. He is probably the best fielding center fielder in baseball. That doesn’t matter much here except that it will keep him on the field and in the batter’s box. He shouldn’t be as bad as he was last year, so he is worth a bench spot in deeper leagues.

Scott Schebler—Cincinnati Reds

Points: 645 (14th)

PPG: 1.95 (13th)

Projection: .248/23 HR/62 Runs/63 RBI/4 SB/39 BB (18th)

Rosterresource.com (a fantastic site by the way) has listed Schebler as the Reds’ Opening Day centerfielder. He spent most of his time in right field in the past. The Reds famously cut ties with Billy Hamilton. You get the appeal of the speed burner, but they are much better off with their new outfield. All three should surpass 20 HR next season if healthy.

Kevin Pillar—Toronto Blue Jays

Points: 816 (10th)

PPG: 1.85 (16th)

Projection: .258/13 HR/67 Runs/53 RBI/15 SB/26 BB (20th)

Sadly, highlight reels aren’t a fantasy category. Pillar is the kind of guy you think should be better than he is. That probably includes defensive metrics as well. He will get to play and play regularly. When you get to this point in fantasy rankings you probably are good with that.

Billy Hamilton—Kansas City Royals

Points: 692 (13th)

PPG: 1.68 (17th)

Projection: .247/4 HR/83 Runs/31 RBI/55 SB/46 BB (17th)

I really don’t hate Hamilton. After all, I don’t know him personally. I hate what he represents. His speed has kept fantasy owners enslaved for years. People draft him way too high because they want all of those steals. They are willing to sacrifice three of the five categories to get it. Total points put steals in their proper context. The Royals are going for 200 steals next season and they probably will sport an OBP near .300. It ought to be interesting to watch.

Mallex Smith—Seattle Mariners

Points: 478 (18th)

PPG: 1.63 (18th)

Projection: .277/4 HR/73 Runs/43 RBI/41 SB/52 BB (13th)

Smith is essentially Hamilton with less speed and more contact. He also walks a little more often. So, he is a better baseball player and somehow a lesser fantasy prospect. I’d rather have him on my bench because he has more potential to grow. We know what Hamilton is at this point, but Smith only has one full season under his belt.

Harrison Bader—St. Louis Cardinals

Points: 220 (21st)

PPG: 1.29 (21st)

Projection: .259/17 HR/82 Runs/54 RBI/20 SB/42 BB (10th)

We know how this story goes. First there was Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk. Then, there was Aledyms Diaz. Finally, we had Paul Dejong. All of them burst on the scene and overachieved in their first season. They also either took a step back or fizzled out altogether. Bader is a better defender than all of them and maybe he has an outside chance of turning into another Tommy Pham.

Byron Buxton—Minnesota Twins

Points: 363 (20th)

PPG: 1.40 (20th)

Projection: .230/16 HR/77 Runs/55 RBI/26 SB/39 BB (16th)

It’s hard to believe that there were some that favored him over Carlos Correa in that fateful amateur draft years ago. He will also be only 25 next season, so the book has not been closed on those two yet. Buxton clearly has upside, but the clock might be running out on his chance to establish himself as the star people thought he would be.