Alex Fast’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2020

Alex Fast releases his first ever Top 100 SP rankings.

After years of Nick cajoling me, I finally gave in and made my first ever top 100 list. The process was a surprisingly arduous one but after two weeks of staring at spreadsheets and creating a google doc with over 50 pages of notes (including a TL;DR for each pitcher), I think, I’m finally ready to share it with you. 

A quick word about how I made the list: I created a spreadsheet with a 10 different metrics that I felt encapsulated an SP’s performance in 2019. I used that as a baseline to dive in. For example, was there a large disparity between a pitchers SIERA and CSW? Do their SwSt and K% look like they correlate? Are there glaring issues with their BABIP or WHIP? From there I would break a pitcher down on a pitch-by-pitch basis. I looked at how pitches performed when they were put in play as well as plate discipline metrics. I took into consideration how frequently they were able to get ahead, whether they were able to get whiffs in and out of the zone, the depth of their arsenal and more. 

Two important caveats: 

This list was created with 12 team 5×5 category leagues in mind. If you want my opinion on where I’d move a pitcher up and down relative to your league, don’t hesitate to ask.

I don’t intend this list to be set in stone. If anything, I intend for it to be a conversation piece for any willing to talk to me about it. I strive to not be an analyst who is stuck in his ways, so if you disagree with one of my rankings, reach out to me in the comments section or on Twitter and let me know why I should change my mind. I’ll be revisiting the list again once spring training games begin, and then once more in the middle of March.

For a more in depth breakdown of my rankings, check out episode number 178 of our podcast On The Corner.

Alex Fast

Alex Fast is the Vice President at Pitcher List. An FSWA award winner for Research Article of the Year, Alex is the co-host of On The Corner and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch. He received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

  • Avatar Chris says:

    Thanks Alex, look forward to the podcast when it comes out.

    Do you guys talk about the Rangers new home, and the potential impact that could have on guys like Minor and Lynn?

  • Avatar Dmoney says:

    Thank you for the early rankings. Out of the limited rankings I’ve seen you seem to be the lowest on Aaron Nola. Any big concerns going into next year that might make me move off of him this off-season? Any reasons to still be optimistic?

    Thanks

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      Hey! Thanks for checking them out. Yea, I am a little low on Austin Nola but I do think there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. I’m a little perturbed by what’s going on with his Zone Rate on his FB and his inability to get ahead in the count the way he was once able to do so. With that said, I don’t expect another 3.80 ERA, I expect that to come down to the mid 3’s. Nick convinced me I’m a little TOO low on Nola, so I imagine him coming up a few spots in my next Top 100.

  • Avatar Cole Rebby says:

    Alex, thanks so much for your time and dedication to your craft it really shows in your amazing work! Congrats on your first list, it’s awesome.

    1. Sell me on this Wheeler ranking, I’m begging you! You’d really rather own Wheeler than Thor? What makes you less optimistic about Syndergaard’s future?
    2. Clev over Buehler! would like to hear more about how you came to that decision.
    3. Clearly you and Nick are Darvish believers, is it all the adjusted arm slot and 2nd half stats? I’d have a hard time taking him above The Paddack, Nola, Greinke group
    4. What pushed Paxton down for you, injuries or performance?

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, they are really appreciated!
      1. Wheeler is leaving Wilson Ramos and going to a much better defensive catcher and game caller in JT Realmuto. He’s leaving the Mets pitching coaches behind – who I’m not the biggest fans of personally – and getting the Reds old pitching coach who I’m a little more excited about. I just see more potential in this new environment for him to finally put it all together. Thor however, is staying with Wilson Ramos and while I think his raw stuff is better than Wheeler’s, he’s still just a ‘thrower’ and not a ‘pitcher’ who is going to struggle with that poor defense behind him.
      2. We get into Clev v Buehler really heavily in the podcast so I’ll point you to that for a more in depth breakdown but the TL;DR is I simply think Buehler has the higher ceiling because of the ability with which he goes to his secondary stuff more. To be fair, I am very happy with both pitchers and would happily take both (Buehler’s high floor is so tempting) but when push comes to shove I simply see a higher ceiling for Clevy.
      3. When it comes to Darvish, the 2nd half does get me very excited that he might legitimately be able to put it all together. I never own him because of the volatility personally but I feel like he’s over Paddack because I want to see if Paddack can get that CB working (if he does, he’s over Darvish), over Nola because of what’s happening with Nola’s command, and over Greinke as he’ll get you more K’s and I don’t think the ratios will kill you.
      4. There were some things that popped out for Paxton that gave me pause: FB dropped in SwSt and Zone rate and O-Swing, CB dropped in SwSt and Zone, Cutter dropped in SwSt, O-Swing (9 ticks!), and Zone rate. The overall Zone rate drops just have me a bit concerned when you put that together with his injury history.

      Hope this helps!

  • Avatar John says:

    Everyone is always “down” on Paddack and Soroka but early everyone ranks them in their top 20-30. So why the negativity when discussing?

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      With Paddack there is just so much potential that I personally believe hinges upon how much success he can have with that CB. If I see in ST that the CB is starting to get some whiffs then I’m all aboard that hype train but if he remains just a FB/CH guy, the ceiling is a little bit more limited. Also curious to see what the IP total will end up being for him though I anticipate a lot less “phantom IL” stints and trips to the minors (don’t see any of those happening) this year. In terms of Soroka, I get a little worried about guys who are so sinker dependent. He does a great job limiting hard contact and has a good defense behind him but I see a path for some regression hence any negativity you may hear in discussions.

  • Avatar Peter says:

    Is Pineda missing because of missed time in the spring or are you not optimistic about his per-start value?

  • Avatar Mel vanhorn says:

    Well done. Very nice conversation piece. As an Indians fan love to see your high opinion of their staff

  • Avatar Derek says:

    Juicy list Fast! Whats your case for Scherzer over Verlander? Are you not worried about the injury bug Scherzer has fought over the past few years?

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      Thanks! I spoke to a Dr. about Scherzer’s injury and he didn’t seem too concerned about it so I figured I shouldn’t be either. Considering it was his 1st sub 200 IP season since 2015 I’m not too worried. Also Scherzer had a career high BABIP while Verlander had a VERY low BABIP and LOB. Both regress towards the mean and I see Scherzer coming out on top. But obviously super close.

  • Avatar Yants says:

    6 Rays ranked in the top 100 seems kinda lit. 🔥

  • Avatar Upton Funk says:

    Love the high Glasnow ranking. So, I take it you don’t think he’ll be on too much of an IP limit + aren’t too concerned about the forearm strain?

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    I am the biggest Scherzer supporter/apologist around and I am expecting a decline this year. He was not good after he went down with an injury last year and he is getting older. I think he could/should have won the last two Cy Youngs but I think that run might be over… which makes it a shame that he wasn’t seriously considered. In the playoffs he looked like he was really emptying the tank – I thought the look on his face was kind of sad and sickening. He did what he did to help win that WS at any cost so it was a good trade.

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      It’s a valid point. I would just be surprised if we saw a recurrence of the injury; spoke to a doctor who said it wouldn’t be likely for it to come back. It’s a valid point though.

  • Avatar Alex says:

    Just curious what limited Puks rank. Was it control, pitch mix or role?

    • Avatar Alex Fast says:

      Hey! It was a mixture of control and role. I feel good about the pitch mix but A) I don’t see him getting more than like 130 IP at most. B) In that time frame he’d need to be really consistent with his command C) I think he’ll be a management headache for owners. We’ll see him get scratched for Bassitt every once in a while or maybe sent down to the minors for a bit. If I see great command in ST ill jump him up but for now, there are a lot of question marks.

  • Avatar rainmaker says:

    Is there any method to the madness of ranking Severino, Kluber, and Carrasco (and Glasnow to a smaller degree). I see you have them pretty much lumped together. Is that something of a Top 10 Minus Injury Risk tier?

    • Avatar rainmaker says:

      Also, I see 2 of my favorite pitchers are basically disregarded (Stripling UR, McKay 95). Is this purely do to playing time concerns?

  • Avatar rainmaker says:

    Also, I see 2 of my favorite pitchers are basically disregarded (Stripling UR, McKay 95). Is this purely do to playing time concerns?

  • Avatar Huff says:

    How is Stripling not on this list?

  • Avatar Jeff says:

    Hey Alex,

    So you are among those who think Gallen will continue to have success despite a so-so fastball that is straight and not very fast?

    Is McKay so low because you are down on his stuff or does it have more to do with the Rays, innings, etc? FanGraphs ranks him as a 60 versus 50 for Urquidy, Cease & Canning. Do you agree with these rankings long-term?

    Speaking of longer term, I am curious how you’d rank these guys, not for 2020 but for, say, the next 1-4 years: Gallen, McKay, Cease, Urias, Canning & Urquidy (they’re all available in my upcoming Strat draft!).

    And finally, curious about your thoughts on 2 guys not on the list (but available in my draft!): Alex Young and Elieser Hernandez.

    Thanks.

    Slappy

  • Avatar Tokyobackpack says:

    Hi Alex, would you move Bieber up or down in a 12 Team H2H Points League?

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