In 2013, there were 59 qualified starters with ERAs below 4.00. In 2009, there were only 42. In 2007, there were 40. In 2006, there were a mere 28. As you can see, the starting pitcher position has grown far deeper than in years past and young electric arms continue to funnel from the minors into the Bigs as the depth only continues to increase.
For fantasy baseball purposes, this means that you can focus more on hitting up front (as a result of the influx of great pitching, hitting and especially power numbers are down league-wide) and still get plenty of value in later rounds and on the waiver wire.
Last season, countless fantasy baseball owners were rewarded with excellent numbers from the likes of Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole, and Tony Cingrani, all of whom were readily available on the waiver wire long after drafts were done.
This season, those kids are a year older and a host of similar starters, i.e. Archie Bradley, Noah Syndergaard, and Kevin Gausman, are ready to post equally impressive stats in 2014 once they get the call.
Because the starting pitcher class is so deep, owners don’t need to take risks when putting together their rotation. Sure, you could take a shot on Matt Cain bouncing back, Masahiro Tanaka breaking out, or Francisco Liriano repeating an unlikely Cy Young bid. Or, you can go with tried-and-true Hiroki Kuroda over Cain, already-established Andrew Cashner over Tanaka, and the always-consistent Matt Garza over Liriano. All of those guys should be available after the riskier picks have already fallen off the board.
Better yet, if you know your way around the waiver wire, there are countless up-and-comers and streaming options that will make themselves available throughout the season that can post equally good numbers down the stretch. Just look at what Sonny Gray did for the A’s and Danny Salazar did for the Indians in just 10 starts apiece. That means you can focus even heavier on drafting hitters, as there will be fewer options that can post elite numbers that make themselves available on the wire, knowing that you can fill any holes with a promising rookie or an unlikely veteran throughout the season.
With all that said, let’s take a look at our fantasy baseball 2014 top starting pitcher rankings. Be sure to check out our outfield rankings and projections, first base rankings and projections, second base rankings and projections, third base rankings and projections, shortstop rankings and projections, and catcher rankings and projections. Stay tuned for part two of our starting pitcher rankings coming on Wednesday.