2024 Best Ball Fantasy Baseball Values: Pitcher

In best ball, the most valuable pitchers carry a lunch pail every day

“There is no set numerical value you can put on a pitcher. They’re all different”

-Tom Seaver

The above quote, attributed to the fifth pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts, speaks to an inconvenient truth that should be acknowledged before projecting fantasy value at the most precious position in professional sports.

The truth is that “values at pitcher” is one of the most difficult things to predict (just ask Seaver’s Mets how paying a combined $88 million for Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander worked out). Still, in attempting the impossible, we may accomplish the improbable — this is “fantasy” after all.

But first, a brief disclaimer on best ball fantasy baseball: The biggest differences with this format is that managers do not set their daily lineups and that they’re stuck with the players they draft. Teams compete on a points system, as in most fantasy football formats, and the CPU optimizes lineups each week. There are no trades, drops, or pickups.

In terms of strategy, this format necessitates an ability to find more value in the draft than the competition. And it calls for significant depth, particularly at the pitcher position.

Most best ball formats emphasize starting pitcher stats and overall usage. For this article, let’s assume we are playing in a 12-team league on Fantrax, with a 40-round draft and nine pitchers per team, where the scoring system is as follows:

So, with all of that out of the way, let us respectfully defy Tom Terrific. Here are the pitchers poised to bring their best ball fantasy baseball managers the most value in 2024:


Pablo López, Minnesota Twins


Pitcher List darling Pablo López had the strongest mix of strikeout volume and durability in 2023 and he projects to be a high-upside ace in best ball formats for 2024. He saw more innings than any 200-plus strikeout starter last season except for Gerrit Cole or Luis Castillo.

And as many fantasy managers know, López’s 2024 could make him a more valuable pick at his projected 36 ADP than the likes of Spencer Strider (with a projected 9 ADP) or Gerrit Cole (13 ADP). Among all starting pitchers, FanGraphs’ ZiPS has him projected at 10 for 2024, Eno Sarris’ Stuff+ system has him at 12 and El Jefe Nick Pollack has him at number six. In a format that gives more weight to IP and season-long dependability, López might offer the most value of any pitcher in 2024 if he logs a third 32-start season in a row. Though he struggled with injuries early in his career, which might hurt his fantasy value in the eyes of some managers, there’s reason to believe he’s put that behind him. Since returning from his last serious injury, a strained rotator cuff, at the end of 2021, he has seen the 12th most innings of any pitcher in MLB and avoided any significant time on the IL.


Chris Bassitt, Toronto Blue Jays


If you’re wondering why the best ball format is becoming so popular with convicted baseball fans, look no further than Chris Bassitt, whose value in an age-34 season with 16 wins and a career-high 200 innings pitched was much more impactful for best ball managers than for those playing in standard formats.

While he probably profiles as an SP3 in roto leagues at a projected 121 ADP, his durability and age-defying ability to net 20-plus quality starts bring outsized value to best ball. Bassitt is aging like a fine wine — but instead of polymerizing tannins, he’s perfecting a seven-pitch arsenal that keeps batters guessing even as his exit velocity dips:


Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays


After taking a leap from 13 starts with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2022 to 31 starts with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2023, Zach Eflin has announced himself as a high-value pitcher for best ball teams in particular. In a career-high 177.2 IP last season, Eflin logged 186 strikeouts and 17 quality starts, top-25 marks for both categories in all of MLB.

He does have an injury history that kept him from retaining a starter’s role up until his eighth big-league season. Betting on his value in 2024 is a bet that he will stay on the mound, and the durability he showed with a new team last season suggests there’s high upside in that. And as his improved swing-and-miss and walk rates show, you can certainly take his stuff to the bank.


Zach Eflin, Career SwSTR%, BB%


Seth Lugo, Kansas City Royals


After transitioning from the bullpen to a starting role last season, Seth Lugo has the kind of upside that can bring considerable value in the best ball format. He went 146.1 innings in 26 starts, maintaining a 3.57 ERA and netting 140 strikeouts, with an impressive 17 quality starts. Lugo has developed a sinker and sweeper that generate whiffs, even without a particularly strong four-seamer or changeup (though he did add some vertical movement to that last offering in 2023). Last season, he demonstrated an above-average ability to induce weak contact.

Moving to the Royals from San Diego for 2024 likely solidifies Lugo’s spot in a starting rotation and gives him a better chance at earning wins in a weaker division. He has the chance to eat up even more innings as a potential number two after Cole Ragans. With an ADP near 300, he can be scooped up late into drafts.


David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates


Although the best ball format places emphasis on wins, total strikes, and innings pitched, saves remain an important category and there is value to be had by targeting the sleeper options at closer.

After logging a top-100 closer season in 2023, David Bednar may not be a traditional “sleeper” but best ball managers should note that he pitched more innings than any other reliever in baseball except for Emmanuel Clase and Camilo Doval. Only Clase had a higher saves total, but he also blew 12 of his chances while Bednar blew just three.

Bednar has a projected ADP of 87, while Doval’s is 71 and Clase’s is 58, making Pittsburgh’s closer undervalued among his fellow shutdown leaders. The question with Bednar — always a critical one for pitchers, but even more so in the best ball format — is whether or not he can stay healthy for 2024. Bednar was fully healthy in 2023 after dealing with oblique and back problems in the previous two seasons, suggesting he has put serious injury bugs behind him.


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Peter Chawaga

Peter Chawaga is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor for newsrooms and publications around the country. His baseball coverage and analysis has been featured in Heavy, Yardbarker, Last Word on Baseball and more.

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