FANTASY BASEBALL 2022: GOOD & BAD VALUES FOR PITCHERS
The goal before every auction and draft should be to get the best values. The best values for the best players puts you ahead of everyone else and gives you the best chance to win your league. The focus should be on production not names. Most fantasy sites tell you who the best players are, but that doesn’t equal the best value, so this is what this article is focused on.
SP: They’re more likely to get injured than hitters, so it’s best to focus on good ones rather than the costly elite ones. In H2H you especially don’t need aces, as one bad or winless start could hurt you a lot, based on your investment in the player. Quantity over quality is the best option for H2H. In Rotisserie value is especially important as you ideally have multiple ace caliber starting pitchers.
RP: There’s no more volatile position than closer. Don’t bother wasting money or high draft picks. You can get good closers off the waiver wire as the season goes on and can get by with multiple cheap or low draft pick ones. Don’t believe me? This strategy led to me consistently winning saves in my Rotisserie leagues for years.
I used ATC projections and prices from Yahoo!.
1. Brandon Woodruff, MIL 181.0 IP 11 W 3.37 ERA 204 K There’s noting to really dislike about him, I guess you could say that his BABIP was too low in both seasons (.269 in 2020 and .262 in 2021), but I don’t see it as being too big of a deal. He’s worth the price just don’t overpay.
2. Zack Wheeler, PHI 196.0 IP 13 W 3.44 ERA 202 K Once again ATC seems to be pessimistic. Wheeler had a 2.78 ERA in 2021 with a 2.59 FIP and a 2.84 xFIP. He has a 97.3 mph fastball and had 10.42 K/9. I buy him as an ace going forward, just don’t pay more than his current price as he’s not a bargain.
3. Shane Bieber, CLE 180.0 IP 13 W 3.36 ERA 221 K Look at his projections and price and then at some of the more expensive options, the difference is tiny but the price is not and that’s why you have to focus on value.
4. Aaron Nola, PHI 180.0 IP 11 W 3.82 ERA 208 K Nola will likely do better than this projection. In fact, with matching 3.37 FIP and xFIP last season and a 3.28 ERA in 2020, I expect his ERA to be closer to 3.40 than 3.89. A lot will depend on the defense behind him, but he’s someone who has pitched like an ace before and can do so again.
5. Lucas Giolito, CWS 180.0 IP 11 W 3.80 ERA 204 K I almost don’t know what to do with him. He’s on a good team and he’s a strikeout pitcher. He had a lot of ups and downs last season, so the ERA projection isn’t that unrealistic, though the last 3 seasons his ERA’s ranged from 3.41 to 3.53. I think that he’s priced just about fair, but it’s easy to overpay for him.
6. Chris Sale, BOS 155.0 IP 11 W 3.50 ERA 191 K Sale is an ace and had a 3.16 ERA and a 3.35 xFIP last season, I think that he can do better than the projection. Either way he’s a great value.
7. Luis Castillo, CIN 185.0 IP 11 W 3.91 ERA 192 K Castillo is a bit of a risk, but his K/9 were 10.67 in 2019 and 11.44 in 2020. There’s also that 97.3 mph fastball. He also had a 3.18 ERA in the second half of 2021. He’s streaky and can be unpredictable, but the potential is there and the price is just right.
8. Logan Webb, SFG 189.0 IP 11 W 3.59 ERA 162 K The strikeouts aren’t impressive, but in 2021 he had a 3.03 ERA that was backed up by a 2.72 FIP and a 2.79 xFIP. I could see his ERA being in the 3.30-3.40 range, which makes him well worth his price.
9. Max Fried, ATL 179.0 IP 15 W 3.43 ERA 176 K The strikeouts are the only concern here, but he’s a bargain at his price.
10. Dylan Cease, CWS 161.0 IP 12 W 3.81 ERA 196 K He had a 3.41 FIP in 165.2 innings last season, I don’t think that his ERA will be as high as projected in 2022. Don’t be shocked if he’s the Pale Hose’s best SP in 2022.
11. Trevor Rogers, MIA 154.0 IP 10 W 3.45 ERA 170 K Just like Lopez above, I don’t buy the projections being so low. Rogers’ FIP was 2.55 last season, making his 2.54 ERA legit. His BABIP was .301 so he didn’t seem to be benefitting from luck either. His xFIP was 3.54, so it’s possible that if his HR/FB% rises from his miniscule 5.0 last season it will affect him pretty badly, but his career HR/FB% is 7.7%. The bottom line is this guy could be a bargain at his price. I see him finishing with an ERA closer to 3.30 then 3.69.
12. Shane McLanahan, TBR 151.0 IP 11 W 3.63 ERA 167 K Shane had a 3.31 FIP and 3.23 xFIP backing up his 3.43 ERA in 123.1 innings in 2021. He also has a 96.7 mph fastball. He could be a legit ace in 2022.
13. Pablo Lopez, MIA 147.0 IP 9 W 3.63 ERA 145 K The projections seem a bit low to me. Over the last three seasons, his K/9 rose every season of his career, from 7.06 in 2018 to 10.08 in 2021. His FIP the last two seasons was 3.09 and 3.29. Add to that his 3.07 ERA from last season and I like what I see here. Health is a concern for him, but the price seems right.
14. Blake Snell, SDP 144.0 IP 11 W 3.80 ERA 174 K The projections seem very pessimistic to me. An elite strikeout pitcher with a track record of an ace pitching in a pitcher’s park, always gets my attention. He had a 3.24 ERA in the second half of 2021, after a terrible start. He’s a bargain at his current price.
15. Luis Severino, NYY 117.0 IP 8 W 3.94 ERA 122 K These numbers don’t look good, but I think that he can do a lot better, in a short sample size of 6 innings in 2021 he had a 0.00 ERA backed up by a 1.50 FIP, 1.97 xFIP and 12.00 K/9. For the price that he’s going for, he’s great to pick up to round out your pitching staff in case he goes back to his old ace form. Keep in mind that he’s also in his contract year.
16. Tanner Houck, BOS 114.0 IP 7 W 3.95 ERA 126 K Why is he constantly getting slept on? This guy is the definition of a sleeper. There’s a strong chance that he’ll do much better. In 69 innings last season he had a 3.52 ERA with a 2.58 FIP and a 3.20 xFIP. He also didn’t have less than 11.12 K/9 in his career in the Majors so far.
1. Gerrit Cole, NYY 187.0 IP 15 W 3.18 ERA 247 K He had some issues in recent years and the ERA is unlikely to be below 3.00, he’s just overpriced.
2. Corbin Burnes, MIL 172.0 IP 12 W 3.11 ERA 224 K Let me get it out of the way, he’s an ace and I buy his projections. The problem is his price is very high and based on the fact that cheaper SP’s are not significantly worse, he comes off as a bad value. Remember that being a bad value doesn’t mean that a player is bad, just that you’re not getting a good deal and overpaying.
3. Walker Buehler, LAD 192.0 IP 13 W 3.61 ERA 198 K The projections make him very obviously overpriced, though they may be very pessimistic as well. He did have a 2.47 ERA last season, that was backed up by his advanced metrics. The issue though is that his BABIP was .247 in 2021 and .198 (!) in 2020. His last season with an average BABIP (.290) was in 2019, when he has a 3.26 ERA, so it’s not like he can’t be an ace. The projections and his sudden massive K/9 decline (10.31 K/9 in 2020 to 9.19 in 2021) worry me and so I’d rather pass on him.
4. Jacob DeGrom, NYM 146.0 IP 10 W 2.49 ERA 210 K Are you willing to invest a lot in an injury-prone elite SP? I just think it’s safer to invest in someone healthier, but can understand the argument to get him.
5. Max Scherzer, NYM 174.0 IP 13 W 3.23 ERA 221 K He’s 37, finished last season with a dead arm and his fastball velocity declined 3 years in a row. He’s not going to be worth his price.
6. Julio Urias, LAD 185.2 IP 14 W 3.72 ERA 174 K Another ace who looks like a massive overpay based on his projections. I’m not really sure what to think about him. In 2019, his ERA was 2.49 but his xFIP was 4.28. In 2020, his ERA was 3.27 but his FIP was 3.72 and his xFIP was 5.06. In 2021, his xFIP was 3.73. Is it possible that he’ll finally crash? Who knows, but at that price it’s better to avoid the risk.
7. Sandy Alcantara, MIA 190.0 IP 12 W 3.56 ERA 183 K I don’t get the love for this guy. He’s not a strikeout guy, he’s on a likely non-playoff team (which will hurt his win total) and his projections aren’t that of an ace. His ERA will likely be lower, but 3.19 from 2021 wasn’t supported by his 3.42 FIP or his 3.45 xFIP. He does have a 98.1 mph (!) average fastball velocity and had a good K/9 rate back in 2017 (10.80 in 8.1 innings), but I just don’t see it. He’s way overpriced for what he brings to the table at this point, and a breakout further isn’t a sure thing.
8. Jack Flaherty, STL 162.0 IP 13 W 3.80 ERA 171 K He’s had injuries last season and now has shoulder
9. Kevin Gausman, TOR 178.0 IP 11 W 3.71 ERA 194 K He’s obviously overpriced based on these projections, but there’s also the fact that he’s moving to a hitter’s park in a hard division full of good hitter’s parks and doesn’t have much of a track record. As the kids on Tik-Tok say… Pass.
10. Freddy Peralta, MIL 162.0 IP 11 W 3.71 ERA 208 K His BB/9 are way too high (career 3.87 and 3.49 in 2021). He also benefited from a .230 BABIP last season. He’s a risk going forward and his price doesn’t reflect that.
11. Joe Musgrove, SDP 178.0 IP 11 W 3.57 ERA 195 K He was outstanding in 2021 with a 3.18 ERA, but his FIP was 3.70 and his xFIP was 3.65. It looks as if he’s more of a mid-rotation starter than an ace and his price doesn’t reflect that.
12. Frankie Montas, OAK 177.0 IP 12 W 3.61 ERA 190 K Based on his 3.64 xFIP in 2021, I think that his projection is probably not far off from his actual results. I think that he just ends up being slightly overpriced.
13. Charlie Morton, ATL 163.0 IP 12 W 3.59 ERA 181 K He was outstanding last season and his fastball velocity actually went up (93.7 to 95.5). I almost feel guilty putting him on here, but at the end of the day he’ll be 38, and it’s just safer to avoid him.
14. Ian Anderson, ATL 166.0 IP 11 W 4.01 ERA 158 K There’s no way of sugarcoating it, he looks really overpriced. His FIP last season was 4.12 and his xFIP was 3.96 so there’s precedent. A .261 BABIP was the likely reason behind his 3.58 ERA last season.
15. Clayton Kershaw, Free Agent 133.0 IP 10 W 3.63 ERA 137 K He’s just going by name value at this point, he’s in decline and his health is a serious concern. It’s best to stay away at this point.
16. José Berrios, TOR 188.0 IP 13 W 3.84 ERA 193 K He’s just not an ace and not worth the cost, it’s that simple. He has never had an ERA of one and it was never supported by his advanced metrics. He’s now in a hitter’s park.
17. Ohtani, Shohei, LAA 147.0 IP 10 W 3.53 ERA 170 K I’m worried about his health as the 130.1 innings that he pitched in 2020, was his most in his entire Major League career. The projections aren’t worth his price and his health is too big of a concern.
18. Lance Lynn, CWS 178.0 IP 12 W 3.66 ERA 193 K It all comes down to this for me, he’s 34 and overachieved the last 2 seasons: 3.32 ERA/4.19 FIP/4.34 xFIP in 2020 and 2.69 ERA/3.32 FIP/3.82 xFIP in 2021. At some point his advanced metrics will catch up to him along with his age, so it’s better to stay on the safe side.
19. Carlos Rodon, Free Agent 137.0 IP 12 W 3.53 ERA 169 K I call his projections into question, as the guy just can’t stay healthy. His own former team (Chicago White Sox) wouldn’t even offer him a QO! He only pitched like an ace in his contract year, as his prior ERA’s range from 3.75 to 8.22. Easy pass for the risk involved.
20. Alek Manoah, TOR 155.0 IP 11 W 3.84 ERA 172 K His 2021 FIP was 3.80 and his xFIP was 4.17. He won’t even pitch that many innings.
21. Lance McCullers Jr., HOU 153.0 IP 11 W 3.60 ERA 166 K The guy just can’t stay healthy, so it’s best to look elsewhere. I also don’t see him breaking out as an ace.
22. Framber Valdez, HOU 176.0 IP 13 W 3.62 ERA 165 K The strikeouts just don’t cut it in fantasy. There’s also the fact that he had a 4.01 FIP in 2021. He’s borderline an OK value, but I’m just not a fan.
23. Justin Verlander, HOU 146.0 IP 10 W 3.68 ERA 167 K I’m actually surprised at the projections as they seem very optimistic. Verlander is 38 and missed all of 2021 and all but 6 innings of 2020. He’s a terrible gamble in my opinion.
24. Shane Baz, TBR 118.0 IP 9 W 3.60 ERA 132 K He’s very good but just won’t get enough innings for the price thst he’s going for. He also will likely have times of struggle in his first full season.
25. Darvish, Yu, SDP 166.1 IP 10 W 3.96 ERA 190 K He’s in decline and is in his mid 30’s. Coming off an inconsistent couple of seasons and a 4.22 ERA in 2021, that was backed up by a 3.90 FIP and a 3.75 xFIP, he’s not worth the price tag.
26. Chris Bassitt, OAK 170.0 IP 11 W 3.68 ERA 161 K He’s not a strikeout pitcher and in fantasy that’s an issue. Add in his projections, lack of a track record and last season’s 3.93 xFIP and it’s best to avoid him.
27. Luis Garcia, HOU 138.0 IP 8 W 3.91 ERA 144 K All that I see is his 3.63 FIP and 3.93 xFIP from 2021 along with that strikeout rate. Add the projections and he should be an easy pass at his price.
28. Marcus Stroman, CHC 173.0 IP 9 W 4.04 ERA 140 K The projections are pretty down on him and I’m not convinced that he’s going to crash like this. I do believe that his low strikeout rate makes him pretty useless outside of the H2H format.
29. Sonny Gray, CIN 159.0 IP 11 W 4.15 ERA 170 K I really like his strikeout rate (he didn’t have less than 10.31 K/9 in the last 3 seasons), but not his BB/9 (3.16 or higher since 2016). I feel that he’s just an overpriced waiver wire player at this point.
30. Hyun Jin Ryu, TOR 159.0 IP 11 W 4.00 ERA 139 K Put a fork in him he’s done. He’s 35 and injury-prone and those projections match his 2021 results.
1. Sixto Sanchez, MIA 85.0 IP 5 W 3.94 ERA 74 K He’s coming back from an injury but has a 98.8 fastball velocity. If he gets his strikeout rate up he can have a breakout season.
2. Logan Gilbert, SEA 145.0 IP 8 W 4.18 ERA 152 K Ignore the projections, there is a chance that this top prospect can be significantly better this upcoming season. He was absolutely dominant in the minors and could take steps forward in 2022. He had a 3.51 ERA in the first half of 2021 and a 2.70 one in September and October combined.
3. Michael Kopech, CWS 127.0 IP 8 W 3.73 ERA 159 K Kopech’s projections are in line with expectations for him as a top prospect who showed potential in the Majors already. He’s another great value to round out your pitching staff.
4. Joe Ryan, MIN 134.0 IP 8 W 4.19 ERA 141 K ATC is very pessimistic on this guy. He had 10.13 K/9 and 1.69 BB/9 in 2021, which is pretty impressive in my opinion. He also had a 3.43 FIP. It was all in 26.2 innings, but he was great in the Minors and it seems that it carried over to the Majors. The fact is he’s always been a high strikeout pitcher and perhaps could do well over a longer stretch.
5. Aaron Ashby, MIL 69.0 IP 5 W 3.69 ERA 89 K If he gets a rotation spot, snatch him immediately.
6. Triston McKenzie, CLE 134.0 IP 7 W 4.49 ERA 146 K McKenzie has shown flashes of potential and that strikeout rate is tempting. He’s definitely worth a flyer in case he figures things out.