5 Pitchers PLV Loves for 2024 Fantasy Baseball

PLV's biggest crushes heading into 2024.

It’s been almost a month since Valentine’s Day, but Pitcher List has yet to display its affection for pitchers – PLV style. Last year, I identified five pitchers PLV loved heading into 2023. However, the process I used for that piece required comparing ATC and Pitcher List projected ERAs because the site’s projection system was ATC-based and then influenced by PLV.

With Pitcher List now boasting a unique set of projections (that you can gain access to by signing up for PL Pro), that formula must be tossed aside. Unfortunately, that necessitates a more arduous task when it comes to identifying pitchers PLV loves for 2024. On the bright side, it allows for a more subjective and nuanced look at the pitching landscape.

Considering that only one of the five pitchers identified in the debut version of this article truly panned out, the nuance of projecting pitchers becomes even more apparent. Technically, it’s a good thing that moving forward, I’ll utilize a broad scope of PLV metrics to identify the pitchers on which our metrics are crushing.

Just as was the case last year, perusing the overall PLV leaderboard and selecting the top five names isn’t useful. The fantasy community is already aware of the success of Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Tyler Glasnow, Pablo López, and Spencer Strider. Their being at the top of the leaderboards doesn’t help fantasy managers develop their draft strategy, but it does prove PLV trustworthy.

This year, I’ll identify pitchers adored by PLV based on a general, pitch-level, and subjective basis. To create a list of players that will benefit fantasy managers doing their extra research this offseason, I’ll only mention pitchers being drafted outside of the top 100. That leaves room for these players to outperform their draft stock while providing ample room for drafters to push them up their draft boards.

Without further ado, here are five pitchers that PLV absolutely loves heading into 2024.

All ADP data is taken from Draft Champions drafts on the NFBC platform since the new year.


Sonny Gray – 117.5 ADP (#34 SP)


The Cardinals made their rotation the focus of their offseason and it paid off via their most notable signing. Earning a three-year, $75M contract entering an age-34 season doesn’t come by accident. Gray finished runner-up in AL Cy Young Award voting last year thanks to a 2.79 ERA (184 IP), a 1.15 WHIP, and a 24.3% strikeout rate. With ERA estimators ranging from 3.64 (xFIP) to 3.95 (SIERA), it’s difficult to predict a repeat of his 2023 success.

PLV paints Gray in a different, more flattering light. One that accentuates the curve of his breaker and the spin of his heater. By way of overall PLV, he isn’t necessarily a standout. At 5.13, he is nearly in the top 20% of the league, but it’s the breadth of his arsenal that makes him appealing. With five pitches used at least 10% of the time (and two more to throw every once in a while), Gray keeps hitters off balance by keeping them guessing with variety.

Four of his five main pitches are above-average according to PLV. His sweeper is a devastating swing-and-miss pitch (22.2% swinging-strike rate) and earns favorable PLV grades (61st percentile) while his cutter is a multi-use weapon that earns high swinging and called strike marks (31.4% CSW) with a slightly more impressive PLV (62nd percentile). However, his four-seamer-curveball punch earns him a spot on this list.

The fastball is a called strike machine, generating takes on strikes more than 21% of the time (83rd percentile). What sets it apart, though, is that when batters do swing, they don’t do damage. His 36.9% ICR on the pitch is in the top 12% of the league and is evidence that batters aren’t doing damage when they make contact. An otherwise unheralded pitch due to its below-average 93-mph velocity, poor vertical approach angle (VAA), and lack of induced vertical break (iVB), his four-seamer grades out in the 94th percentile according to PLV because of its ability to keep batters from attacking and to limit the damage when they do. The 97th percentile spin rate he produces on the pitch also plays a factor in its movement profile and quality of contact.

If that wasn’t enough to sell you, check out his curveball. He throws it for strikes constantly (67% strike rate) and uses it to produce plenty of ground balls (56.6% ground-ball rate). The control he has of the pitch and its usage early in counts has led to its exceptional 5.24 PLV (86th percentile). With his curve and fastball being used in concert with his plethora of other weapons, Gray can carve up a lineup on any given day.

It doesn’t stop there. Observing his PLA (a PLV-based ERA estimator), there’s a clear separation between the Gray classic ERA estimators perceive and the one PLV sees. His 3.26 PLA is 0.38 runs lower than the bearish ERA estimators and indicates how Gray continuously subverts expectations by way of a pitch mix that was difficult to quantify before analysts were provided too many pitching metrics to know what to do with.

Good thing The List and I (and now you) know how to use them effectively. If my endorsement and PLV’s adoration weren’t enough to convince you to go all in on Gray, consider that The List ranked him 30th (27th on the updated Top 100) on the list of the top 400 starting pitchers for 2024 fantasy baseball, a solid four spots ahead of his ADP. With an ADP that is already easy to stomach, you should have no problem drafting him after pick 100.

The unfortunate timing of this article has coincided with Gray being diagnosed with a strained hamstring, putting his Opening Day start in serious jeopardy. That should push him down your boards a little bit. The silver lining here is that the injury news only depresses his ADP further, meaning you could get an even more significant discount on a player that PLV can’t keep out of its mind.


Bailey Ober – 142.5 ADP (#40 SP)


If PLV were the kind of lover to print out a picture of their crush and tape it to its wall, Ober would be on that piece of printer paper. He is the poster boy for 2024 PLV love, hence his inclusion in the featured image accompanying this piece.

The very tall right-hander finally got his first extended look in the rotation in 2023. After tossing a combined 148.1 IP across his first two campaigns, he increased his season-long workload north of 144 innings. With that increased workload came increased success. His ERA (3.43) and WHIP (1.07) were exceptional and were paired with an elite 20.3% strikeout-minus-walk rate, setting himself up to be one of the most coveted breakout candidates in fantasy drafts this offseason – and that’s without factoring in the endearing light PLV shines on him.

Ober checks all of the PLV boxes. Among pitchers with at least 1400 pitches, his 5.27 overall PLV was seventh in baseball (96th percentile). Pinpointing exactly what makes PLV love him is easy. He places his pitches in ideal locations and squeezes the most out of his 6’9″ frame with elite extension, often leading to weak contact.

From a pitch-level perspective, his four-seamer is in the 82nd percentile according to PLV because he locates it up in the zone better than anyone in baseball. His 79% hiLoc rate on the pitch led all heaters and, when combined with his 96th percentile, 7.3 feet of extension, and above-average VAA, rarely resulted in positive outcomes when put in play. The pitch produced a 35.2% ICR, placing it in the 92nd percentile of fastballs. That was when batters were making contact, which they rarely did. The fastball held a 15.6% swinging-strike rate (93rd percentile). I’m surprised the pitch didn’t grade out better via PLV, but that’s about the best you can do with a fastball that sits 91 mph.

His changeup was no slouch either, and despite the success of the four-seamer, the slowball might trump it. It pairs perfectly with that fastball, coming in seven mph slower and with devastating horizontal break (91st percentile), inducing both swinging and called strikes (30.4% CSW). PLV suggests it’s one of the best changeups in MLB with a 97th percentile mark in that category. It also helps that the pitch is above average at preventing batters from doing damage (29% ICR).

Accompanying that deadly duo, Ober occasionally includes a slider and a curveball. The former is considered a perfectly average pitch by PLV while the latter is used to steal strikes early in the count. With a larger workload, the baseball world will quickly learn how dependable Ober can be with his 1-2 punch. However, if he improves his slider, the North Carolina native has ace potential.

Don’t buy into the fact that the classic ERA estimators suggest negative regression (3.63 xERA, 3.87 SIERA, 4.20 xFIP) because PLA (3.05) suggests he was unlucky last year. That should make it easy to draft him at his comfortable ADP. Especially when The List has him ranked as the 34th (24th on the updated Top 100) pitcher in fantasy this year. If you’re looking for an early(ish) gamble at an ace with the floor of a reliable mid-rotation starter, look no further than Ober and profess your love by making him a member of your fantasy team this year.


Bryce Miller – 179.3 ADP (#53 SP)


This is the one pitcher on this list where PLV subverts The List’s rankings. He’s ranked 57th (44th on the updated Top 100) on Pitcher List’s top 400 starting pitchers for this year, which is later than he’s being drafted. It’s warranted given his reliance on one pitch and suggests that he should be avoided in drafts because there isn’t a discount accompanying his ADP.

Nonetheless, PLV is one of Miller’s biggest fans. It’s curious, considering he threw six different pitches last year and just a third of them graded out as above average. His sweeper, sinker, changeup, and curveball are all in the bottom 25% of the league according to PLV. His slider stood out among his secondaries with a 55th percentile PLV but didn’t shine in any particular facet. Most of its effectiveness was a result of it being a different look from his bread and butter.

If that makes Miller sound underwhelming, I don’t blame you. The fact that he found so much success last year should be a testament to how exceptional his fastball is. Miller leaned on his heater nearly 60% of the time and it was completely warranted. It’s one of the best four-seamers in the game and is the sole reason he ranked first among all pitchers with at least 1400 pitches with a 5.31 PLV.

That heater has got it all. Above average velocity (95.1 mph avg. velocity), elite iVB (93rd percentile), and fantastic VAA (86th percentile). Those characteristics helped it hold a SwStr% in the top 7% of all fastballs. It is the root of all of Miller’s success and is the stabilizing and carrying force in what is otherwise a mediocre repertoire. With the fastball as a base to build off of, Miller only needs his average slider to succeed but could reach even higher levels if he adds a reliable third pitch or makes the slider a legitimate weapon.

As is the case with the other pitchers on this list, PLA has a much more positive outlook on the prospect of a Miller breakout in 2024. SIERA (4.17), xFIP (4.31), and xERA (4.83) all more or less suggest a repeat performance of his 4.32 ERA from 2023, but none of them can account for his otherworldly fastball in the way PLA does. With a 2.92 PLA in 2023, Miller is primed for an improvement in the run-prevention department in 2024 and could reach an ace-like level of production if everything comes together.

If there’s one pitcher where you choose to go against the grain of his ranking on The List, it should be Miller. Bank on the success of his heater continuing and dream on the possibility of a step forward in his sophomore season. Either way, he should have a sub-4.00 ERA while eclipsing 140 innings pitched in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball. It’s easy to be sleepless in Seattle with so many enticing options in the Mariners’ rotation, but even if you’re married to drafting some of Miller’s teammates, he should still be one of your draft-day targets due to the skyscraper-sized hype PLV has adorned upon him.


Cristopher Sánchez – 233.8 ADP (#69 SP)


Admittedly, Sánchez wasn’t a pitcher I was super pumped about drafting nor did I consider him a PLV darling at the outset of the offseason. After further research, I have determined that PLV does adore him, and, consequently, I’m now in on him. Sanchez had a successful, albeit brief (99.1 IP), debut that featured a 3.44 ERA, a 24.2% strikeout rate, and a postseason start. He had all of the makings of a Toby with a repertoire reminiscent of Martín Pérez.

While he does throw similar pitches to Pérez from the left side, their characteristics are much more enticing; an idea fully supported by PLV. Sánchez relies on a trio of pitches: a sinker, a changeup, and a slider. Each is thrown more than the next, with the sinker leading the way at 46% usage and the slider trailing the pack at 21% usage. Those usage rates make sense considering he utilizes his best pitches more often.

The slider is below average (43rd percentile) according to PLV, but Sanchez does a decent job of stealing strikes with it early in counts. It boasted a 74th percentile, 16.9% called-strike rate while being used early in the count 69.5% of the time. It also helped to further the (correct) perception of Sanchez as an elite ground ball pitcher as it induced grounders nearly 53% of the time. All of that is pretty darn good for a pitcher’s worst offering being thrown less than a quarter of the time.

Sánchez earns his paycheck, though, by carving up hitters with the elite combo of his two most utilized pitches. The sinker is adept at keeping hitters passive (28.3% called-strike rate) as he locates the pitch glove side (43.4% gLoc rate). His ability to command the pitch that exhibited tremendous horizontal break (89th percentile iHB) which played up with his elite extension (87th percentile), led to the pitch earning a PLV mark in the top 9% of sinkers. It’s a good thing hitters don’t swing at it, though, because it got trounced for a 42.8% ICR last year. That’s where the slowball enters the picture.

While hitters attempted to be patient with well-located sinkers, they’d turn their focus to attacking the change. That was a mistake. Sánchez did an exceptional job of locating his changeup on or just off the edge of the strike zone, leading to tons of chases (97th percentile O-Swing rate) which resulted in swings and misses more often than just 6% of changeups thrown by other starters. When they did make contact, it would generally be on the ground (67.9% ground-ball rate) or without any authority (29.5% ICR). The impressive results of the pitch and the movement traits it featured (91st percentile iHB) led to it recording a 5.11 PLV (80th percentile).

It may be too early in Sanchez’s career to tell, but with the way his sinker/changeup combo performed in 2023, he might have the best duo of that variety in baseball. Very few pitchers threw a sinker and changeup as often as he did with the amount of success he had in 2023. His only comps were Sandy Alcantara, Logan Webb, and Jhony Brito.

Name Sinker Usage Sinker PLV Changeup Usage Changeup PLV
Cristopher Sánchez 46% 5.15 33% 5.11
Sandy Alcantara 29% 5.26 27% 5.22
Logan Webb 34% 4.98 42% 5.35
Jhony Brito 32% 5.20 29% 5.02

With Alcantara out for the season, Webb is Sánchez’s sole competitor for the title of best sinker/change merchant in the game. Webb might be the perfect comp for Sánchez. He throws all of the same pitches but does so from the right side of the rubber. Webb does have a leg up on Sánchez with one of the highest projected innings totals in baseball and a slider that grades out well according to PLV. However, if you’re looking for a peak scenario for Sánchez in 2024, a Webb-like season should be conjured in your mind.

With an elite called strike pitch and an even better whiff pitch, not to mention a somewhat reliable third option, Sanchez has all the tools to set the league on fire in 2024. You don’t just need PLV to prove that suggestion true, as his 3.13 PLA is right in line with his xFIP (3.09). Being drafted outside of the top 200, the reward greatly outweighs the risk of betting on him being more of a Holly than a Toby in 2024. You can even count on his innings to be north of the 136 projected by ATC as he tossed a combined 151.1 IP between Triple-A, the Majors, and the playoffs last year. Profess your love of beautifully executed pitches with armside run just as PLV has and add Sánchez to your fantasy team this offseason.


Ryne Nelson – 580.8 ADP (#179 SP)


This is for you deep-league sickos who are looking for a super sneaky pick at the back end of your 15-team and NL-only drafts. You’ll be hard-pressed to find fantasy managers in on Nelson following his arduous first full campaign in which he struggled to a 5.31 ERA (144 IP) and a 1.42 WHIP while striking out just 15.5% of the batters he faced. There is still hope for the 26-year-old locked into a rotation spot in Arizona.

His arsenal of weapons is three deep but lacks polish. The four-seamer, carrying an 89th percentile PLV, has excellent properties with an 88th percentile iVB but is located poorly. With its characteristics, it should be spotted at or above the top of the zone more often (49.1% hiLoc rate in 2023). He failed to do so last year, leading to loud contact (44.9% ICR) and few whiffs (9.1% swinging-strike rate).

Both his slider and cutter are in the top 20% of their respective pitch classifications according to PLV, yet don’t produce results indicative of their promise. Nelson does a great job of keeping the latter pitch low (55.8% loLoc rate) and utilizes the former pitch to induce weak contact (23.7%). Both pitches also exhibit elite horizontal break, furthering the notion that he needs to focus on spotting them to his glove side.

He also throws a changeup and curve every once in a while as well, but those should be scrapped or utilized even more sparingly. However, with his three main pitches grading out so well, he boasts an overall PLV (5.19) that was 12th in all of baseball (min. 1400 pitches), sandwiching him between George Kirby and Freddy Peralta on the leaderboard. The complete package is there, it’s just about putting it all together.

With all that being said, it should excite you that he has displayed improved velocity during spring training which will make his arsenal stand out even further. If you’re looking for a ceiling for Nelson to attain, look no further than his 3.33 PLA which was miles ahead of classic ERA estimators (5.24 SIERA, 5.30 xFIP & xERA). A step forward in his command and his velocity should also pull his strikeout rate out of the doldrums and north of 20%.

The best part about drafting Nelson is that you can grab him with your final pick and not feel the least bit of stress. In shallower leagues, his potential is enticing, but he’ll be an easy early drop if his command hasn’t improved and his velocity doesn’t stick. In deeper leagues, the volume he provides while pitching to better numbers should be enough to have you bought in. It’d just be icing on the cake if he also took a huge step forward and became a legitimate breakout. The List is even on my side with this selection, as Nelson is ranked as the 135th (76th on the updated Top 100) starting pitcher, more than 40 spots ahead of his ranking via ADP. If you didn’t have a Valentine in February and missed out on PLV’s other crushes, let this article change your mind and take a chance on Nelson in 2024.


Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Asbury

Jake Crumpler

A Bay Area sports fan and lover of baseball, Jake is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in English Literature. He currently writes fantasy articles for Pitcher List, is the lead baseball writer at The Athletes Hub, and does playing time analysis at BaseballHQ. Some consider his knowledge of the sport to be encyclopedic.

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