Category Power Rankings: Week 1 – Introduction

Colin Ward dishes out the first edition of his Category Power Rankings heading into week 1 of baseball.

The fantasy baseball season is a marathon. It is a long journey between the moment you make your final selection on draft day to the morning you wake up either feeling the defeat of elimination or the success of a fantasy title. There is nothing that comes easy in fantasy baseball due to the strategic nature of the sport itself.

Well, folks, I am here to (try and) help. When brainstorming ideas or topics to write about after I applied to write for Pitcher List, I tried to simplify my thought process down to “what do I personally look for during the fantasy season to help guide me?” and “what is something you don’t find on any other fantasy site?”

The answer to the first hypothetical question is pretty simple: lists or rankings. Whenever I am faced with a tough decision of who is the preferred pick up or whom I should start over whom in a given week, my indecisive self always turns to the experts of this industry for any guidance one way or another. The easiest choice is to look for a list. Whether the list be in priority order of who to pick up off of waivers or organized on a trade value chart, rankings are simple to read and super helpful whenever you are unsure as a fantasy owner.

In order to differentiate myself from other weekly rankings or columns, I would need to come up with something that could be beneficial and structured with that simplicity mentioned previously: something that can be looked at as a guide for who to start or pick up if you are lagging in a specific category—something that can be used to determine who to seek out if you need a little more power, speed, or strikeouts. And thus, the Category Power Rankings (CPR) were born.

Before we get to the actual rankings, I would be remiss if I didn’t establish some ground rules behind the lists.

At the beginning of each fantasy week, I will be ranking players using the standard 5×5 categories (AVG, R, HR, RBI, SB and W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP) as well as on-base percentage (OBP) and quality starts (QS). For each category, I will provide a top 25 overall and a top 10 for players who are widely unowned, roughly 65% owned or less, or should be targeted in deeper leagues. The rankings will be based off of current and rest-of-season outlook and will take into account a player’s recent success as well as track record as it pertains to a specific category. Other factors will include:

  • Recent changes to a team construction (i.e. call-ups, lineup changes, trade/signing, etc.)
  • Recent changes to player batting/pitching profile
  • Injury concern
  • “Change of scenery”
  • Strength/weakness of schedule

That being said, let’s get started!


Batting Average (AVG)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Jose Altuve, HOU, 2B
2. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
3. Joey Votto, CIN, 1B
4. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
5. J.D. Martinez, BOS, OF
6. Daniel Murphy, COL, 1B/2B
7. Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B
8. Nolan Arenado, COL, 3B
9. Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
10. Justin Turner, LAD, 3B
11. Jean Segura, PHI, SS
12. Michael Brantley, HOU, OF
13. Charlie Blackmon, COL, OF
14. Robinson Cano, NYM, 2B
15. Lorenzo Cain, MIL, OF
16. Buster Posey, SF, C
17. Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B
18. Kris Bryant, CHC, 3B/OF
19. Xander Bogaerts, BOS, SS
20. Alex Bregman, HOU, 3B/SS
21. Anthony Rendon, WSH, 3B
22. Jose Abreu, CHW, 1B
23. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
24. Whit Merrifield, KC, 1B/2B/OF
25. Trea Turner, WSH, SS

It was pretty simple to start this list with the man who has hit .328 over the last four seasons. Jose Altuve is an absolute wizard at the dish and there really is not a more sure source of a .300+ AVG in the game. Daniel Murphy is a guy that I boldly predicted would hit .360 and win the batting title this year; the more I think about it, the more I think it could happen. A sleeper in this group is Jose Ramirez. After posting a very unlucky .252 BABIP last year, there seem to be some better results on the horizon, as he could easily return to his .326 BABIP from the previous two seasons, which resulted in a .315 AVG over that span.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Jeff McNeil, NYM, 2B
2. DJ Lemahieu, NYY, 2B
3. Willians Astudillo, MIN, C/3B
4. Andrelton Simmons, LAA, SS
5. Joey Wendle, TB, 2B/3B
6. Gerardo Parra, SF, OF
7. Ramon Laureano, OAK, OF
8. Matt Duffy, TB, 3B
9. Yandy Diaz, TB, 1B/3B/DH
10. Nick Markakis, ATL, OF

If he had a clear path to playing time, DJ Lemahieu would more than likely be number one on this list. Jeff McNeil sounds like he will get more than his share of at-bats this year, so he claims the top spot, as he has raked at every professional level. Also, the Tampa Bay Rays provide a bunch of low-key solid hitters in their lineup who can help your batting average in deep leagues.


Runs (R)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Charlie Blackmon, COL, OF
2. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
3. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
4. Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
5. George Springer, HOU, OF
6. Francisco Lindor, CLE, SS
7. J.D. Martinez, BOS, OF
8. Nolan Arenado, COL, 3B
9. Jose Altuve, HOU, 2B
10. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
11. Andrew Benintendi, BOS, OF
12. Aaron Judge, NYY, OF
13. Trea Turner, WSH, SS
14. Bryce Harper, PHI, OF
15. Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL, OF
16. Andrew McCutchen, PHI, OF
17. Matt Carpenter, STL, 1B/2B/3B
18. Juan Soto, WSH, OF
19. Jean Segura, PHI, SS
20. Alex Bregman, HOU, 3B/SS
21. Tommy Pham, TB, OF
22. Kris Bryant, CHC, 3B/OF
23. Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B
24. Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B
25. Giancarlo Stanton, NYY, OF

There is a theme for this list: It is primarily made up of guys hitting close to the top of elite lineups. Target the guys who get on base and hit in the upper third of their lineup.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Brett Gardner, NYY, OF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, TEX, OF
3. Ian Kinsler, SD, 2B
4. Kole Calhoun, LAA, OF
5. Jake Bauers, CLE, 1B/OF
6. Brian Anderson, MIA, 3B/OF
7. Joc Pederson, LAD, OF
8. Jeimer Candelario, DET, 3B
9. Curtis Granderson, MIA, OF
10. Trey Mancini, BAL, 1B/OF

Brett Gardner tentatively tops the list, as he will be starting the year getting full-time, leadoff at-bats in place of the injured Aaron Hicks in a stacked New York Yankees lineup. Another interesting guy on this list is Ian Kinsler, who is projected to hit leadoff for the much-improved San Diego Padres lineup and also has serious 15/15 potential.


Home Runs (HR)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Khris Davis, OAK, OF
2. Nolan Arenado, COL, 3B
3. Giancarlo Stanton, NYY, OF
4. Aaron Judge, NYY, OF
5. J.D. Martinez, BOS, OF
6. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
7. Joey Gallo, TEX, 1B/OF
8. Bryce Harper, PHI, OF
9. Nelson Cruz, MIN, UT
10. Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B
11. Edwin Encarnacion, SEA, 1B
12. Rhys Hoskins, PHI, 1B/OF
13. Manny Machado, SD, 3B/SS
14. Cody Bellinger, LAD, 1B/OF
15. Trevor Story, COL, SS
16. Javier Baez, CHC, 2B/3B/SS
17. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
18. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
19. Francisco Lindor, CLE, SS
20. Charlie Blackmon, COL, OF
21. Justin Upton, LAA, OF
22. Jesus Aguilar, MIL, 1B
23. Mike Moustakas, MIL, 2B/3B
24. Kris Bryant, CHC, 3B/OF
25. Anthony Rizzo, CHC, 1B

This one was a tough list to formulate. You could pretty much interchange anyone from rank 8 to rank 19. Francisco Lindor’s calf injury does turn me off from slotting him higher in this one, but that is pure speculation and he could very well find himself higher once he returns. Kris Bryant is another one who could easily move right up into the top 12 if he is truly over his shoulder injury from a year ago.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. C.J. Cron, MIN, 1B
2. Pete Alonso, NYM, 1B
3. Randal Grichuk, TOR, OF
4. Domingo Santana, SEA, OF
5. Franmil Reyes, SD, OF
6. Jay Bruce, SEA, 1B/OF
7. Daniel Palka, CHW, OF
8. Trey Mancini, BAL, 1B/OF
9. Maikel Franco, PHI, 3B
10. Tyler White, HOU, 1B

C.J. Cron is a very capable power source who should pretty easily run into 30 HRs now hitting in an underrated Minnesota Twins lineup. Also, how is Jay Bruce only 31 years old?! It feels like he has been in the league for decades now. If he is playing regularly, do not sleep on him if you need some dongs.


Runs Batted In (RBI)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Nolan Arenado, COL, 3B
2. J.D. Martinez, BOS, OF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, NYY, OF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, SEA, 1B
5. Bryce Harper, PHI, OF
6. Khris Davis, OAK, OF
7. Manny Machado, SD, 3B/SS
8. Nelson Cruz, MIN, UT
9. Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B
10. Rhys Hoskins, PHI, 1B/OF
11. Juan Soto, WSH, OF
12. Trevor Story, COL, SS
13. Anthony Rizzo, CHC, 1B
14. Aaron Judge, NYY, OF
15. Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
16. Alex Bregman, HOU, 3B/SS
17. Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B
18. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
19. Jesus Aguilar, MIL, 1B
20. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
21. Javier Baez, CHC, 2B/3B/SS
22. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
23. Charlie Blackmon, COL, OF
24. Francisco Lindor, CLE, SS
25. Anthony Rendon, WSH, 3B

Mike Trout at number 22?! Believe it or not, he has driven in the 56th most runs over the past two seasons. I am very excited for the potential of Rhys Hoskins‘ run production this year. He could very well drive in 120 hitting cleanup in that new and improved Philadelphia Phillies lineup.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. C.J. Cron, MIN, 1B
2. Albert Pujols, LAA, 1B
3. Josh Bell, PIT, 1B
4. Jake Lamb, ARZ, 3B
5. Pete Alonso, NYM, 1B
6. Yonder Alonso, CHW, 1B
7. Mitch Moreland, BOS, 1B
8. Jake Bauers, CLE, 1B/OF
9. Jay Bruce, SEA, 1B/OF
10. Nick Markakis, ATL, OF

Runs batted in are a difficult category to target on the wire, as they are widely connected to team performance and where a guy hits in a lineup. The majority of those guys who are in good situations are already owned. Regardless of his deteriorating skill set, Albert Pujols can still provide a decent amount of RBI. Josh Bell is a sneaky source of run production as he actually has more RBI over the last two years than one Mike Trout.


Stolen Bases (SB)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Trea Turner, WSH, SS
2. Whit Merrifield, KC, 1B/2B/OF
3. Adalberto Mondesi, KC, 2B/SS
4. Mallex Smith, SEA, OF
5. Billy Hamilton, KC, OF
6. Jonathan Villar, BAL, 2B/SS
7. Dee Gordon, SEA, 2B/SS/OF
8. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
9. Jose Altuve, HOU, 2B
10. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
11. Lorenzo Cain, MIL, OF
12. Victor Robles, WSH, OF
13. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
14. Jose Peraza, CIN, SS
15. Jean Segura, PHI, SS
16. Ender Inciarte, ATL, OF
17. Tim Anderson, CHW, SS
18. Andrew Benintendi, BOS, OF
19. Francisco Lindor, CLE, SS
20. Ronald Acuna Jr, ATL, OF
21. Byron Buxton, MIN, OF
22. Garrett Hampson, COL, 2B/SS
23. Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
24. Trevor Story, COL, SS
25. Tommy Pham, TB, OF

The one guy on here who could potentially find himself in the top five in short order is Byron Buxton. The guy has elite speed, he just needs to fine tool his other skills before he can take that leap into the best of the base stealers. Ronald Acuna Jr. is another guy who could potentially be much higher, but his positioning batting fourth in the Atlanta Braves lineup gives me some reservations, despite manager Brian Snitker saying he will have the green light.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Garrett Hampson, COL, 2B/SS
2. Greg Allen, CLE, OF
3. Delino DeShields, TEX, OF
4. Brett Gardner, NYY, OF
5. Jarrod Dyson, ARZ, OF
6. Kevin Kiermaier, TB, OF
7. Kevin Pillar, TOR, OF
8. Ramon Laureano, OAK, OF
9. Adam Engel, CHW, OF
10. Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS, OF

Yeah, these are not super sexy names, but steals are really scarce these days. Garrett Hampson is an easy leading candidate considering his skill set and playing time. Keep an eye on Ramon Laureano with the Oakland Athletics. He could see some time in the leadoff spot and has a 30-steal season in the minors under his belt.


On-Base Percentage (OBP)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Mike Trout, LAA, OF
2. Joey Votto, CIN, 1B
3. Bryce Harper, PHI, OF
4. Aaron Judge, NYY, OF
5. Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B
6. Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B
7. Alex Bregman, HOU, 3B/SS
8. Kris Bryant, CHC, 3B/OF
9. Mookie Betts, BOS, OF
10. Jose Altuve, HOU, 2B
11. J.D. Martinez, BOS, OF
12. Juan Soto, WSH, OF
13. Lorenzo Cain, MIL, OF
14. Anthony Rendon, WSH, 3B
15. Jose Ramirez, CLE, 2B/3B
16. Brandon Nimmo, NYM, OF
17. Matt Carpenter, STL, 1B/2B/3B
18. Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
19. Anthony Rizzo, CHC, 1B
20. Andrew McCutchen, PHI, OF
21. Shin-Soo Choo, TEX, OF
22. Nolan Arenado, COL, 3B
23. Rhys Hoskins, PHI, 1B/OF
24. Josh Donaldson, ATL, 3B
25. Michael Conforto, NYM, OF

Juan Soto walked at a 16% clip at only 19 years of age. Unreal. He could move swiftly up this list with ease if he can make adjustments, now that the report is out on him across the league. Alex Bregman has such elite plate discipline that he is definitely on the cusp of joining that top tier of Trout, Joey Votto, and Bryce Harper.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Josh Bell, PIT, 1B
2. Ben Zobrist, CHC, 2B/OF
3. Nick Markakis, ATL, OF
4. Brett Gardner, NYY, OF
5. Justin Bour, LAA, 1B
6. Brian Anderson, MIA, 3B/OF
7. Jake Bauers, CLE, 1B/OF
8. Jed Lowrie, NYM, 2B/3B
9. Curtis Granderson, MIA, OF
10. Jeimer Candelario, DET, 3B

The ageless Ben Zobrist has a career .357 OBP and has been higher than .359 OBP in three of the last four years. Not to mention he’s projected to leadoff for the Chicago Cubs. Jed Lowrie will begin the season in the injured list, so do not rush out to add him if you do not have the roster flexibility. Once he returns, though, he will find his share of at-bats and over the last two years has a .356 OBP.


Wins (W)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
2. Corey Kluber, CLE, SP
3. Justin Verlander, HOU, SP
4. Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
5. Carlos Carrasco, CLE, SP
6. Chris Sale, BOS, SP
7. Blake Snell, TB, SP
8. Trevor Bauer, CLE, SP
9. Gerrit Cole, HOU, SP
10. Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
11. Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
12. Miles Mikolas, STL, SP
13. James Paxton, NYY, SP
14. Noah Syndergaard, NYM, SP
15. Zack Greinke, ARZ, SP
16. Jameson Taillon, PIT, SP
17. German Marquez, COL, SP
18. J.A. Happ, NYY, SP
19. Walker Buehler, LAD, SP
20. Luis Severino, NYY, SP
21. Kyle Freeland, COL, SP
22. Jose Berrios, MIN, SP
23. Mike Clevinger, CLE, SP
24. Rick Porcello, BOS, SP
25. Jon Lester, CHC, SP

Wins are a complete crapshoot. A guy like Rick Porcello did not by any stretch have a dominant season, but still tallied 17 wins. While wins are not indicative of how well a pitcher performs, they cannot be ignored in most fantasy leagues. Always shoot for the best pitchers available, but the ones who play on the great teams should ensure you a few more wins. As you can see, the majority of these pitchers play for playoff contending teams. Luis Severino ranks so low merely due to his current injury status, but could easily rack up 12-14 wins once he returns.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Tanner Roark, CIN, SP
2. Matt Strahm, SD, SP/RP
3. Jhoulys Chacin, MIL, SP
4. Matthew Boyd, DET, SP
5. Zach Eflin, PHI, SP
6. Ryan Yarborough, TB, SP/RP
7. Sean Newcomb, ATL, SP
8. Kyle Gibson, MIN, SP
9. Sonny Gray, CIN, SP
10. Gio Gonzalez, NYY, SP

First thing’s first: go get Matt Strahm. The fact that he is only owned in 22% of ESPN leagues and 54% of Yahoo leagues is upsetting. He could be a league winner for you and is available everywhere still. The only reason he is number two on this list is because Tanner Roark has racked up 38 wins the past three years, and after all, we are talking about wins. He will be getting plenty of run support from the Cincinnati Reds and has enough of a track record to keep tabs on early in the season.


Earned Run Average (ERA)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
2. Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
3. Chris Sale, BOS, SP
4. Corey Kluber, CLE, SP
5. Trevor Bauer, CLE, SP
6. Justin Verlander, HOU, SP
7. Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
8. Blake Snell, TB, SP
9. Gerrit Cole, HOU, SP
10. Carlos Carrasco, CLE, SP
11. Noah Syndergaard, NYM, SP
12. Walker Buehler, LAD, SP
13. Miles Mikolas, STL ,SP
14. Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP
15. Luis Severino, NYY, SP
16. Kyle Hendricks, CHC, SP
17. Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
18. James Paxton, NYY, SP
19. Jameson Taillon, PIT, SP
20. Zack Wheeler, NYM, SP
21. Mike Clevinger, CLE, SP
22. Stephen Strasburg, WSH, SP
23. Zack Greinke, ARZ, SP
24. Jack Flaherty, STL, SP
25. David Price, BOS, SP

It was very difficult to decide where to rank Clayton Kershaw. I am confident that when he pitches, he will be near-elite in terms of run prevention. But his lack of durability sticks him in the middle of this rank. Guys like Miles Mikolas and Kyle Hendricks can be super valuable when you pair them with some of the higher upside strikeout pitchers on this list to cancel out their 6.50-7.00 K/9.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Matt Strahm, SD, SP/RP
2. Trevor Williams, PIT, SP
3. Matthew Boyd, DET, SP
4. Alex Wood, CIN, SP
5. Brandon Woodruff, MIL, SP/RP
6. Dereck Rodriguez, SF, SP
7. Alex Reyes, STL, SP
8. Eric Lauer, SD, SP
9. Brad Keller, KC, SP/RP
10. Ryan Yarborough, TB, SP/RP

Realistically, I can see all 10 of these guys finishing with a sub-4.00 ERA. Alex Reyes is the lone name that will not spend the majority of his time in the rotation, but it has not been ruled out. He will be doing a little bit of everything for the St. Louis Cardinals and will be able to help your ratios regardless of his role. I really like Matthew Boyd this year as a guy who can take a step forward; he has a very similar repertoire to Patrick Corbin: low-to-mid 90s fastball and a filthy wipeout slider. He is virtually unowned and once you pick him up you may not be dropping him.


Strikeouts (K)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
2. Justin Verlander, HOU, SP
3. Chris Sale, BOS, SP
4. Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
5. Gerrit Cole, HOU, SP
6. Trevor Bauer, CLE, SP
7. James Paxton, NYY, SP
8. Blake Snell, TB, SP
9. Corey Kluber, CLE, SP
10. Carlos Carrasco, CLE, SP
11. Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
12. Noah Syndergaard, NYM, SP
13.German Marquez, COL, SP
14. Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
15. Walker Buehler, LAD, SP
16. Luis Severino, NYY, SP
17. Jose Berrios, MIN, SP
18. Mike Clevinger, CLE, SP
19. Charlie Morton, TB, SP
20. Jack Flaherty, STL, SP
21. Robbie Ray, ARZ, SP
22. Zack Greinke, ARZ, SP
23. Stephen Strasburg, WSH, SP
24. Chris Archer, PIT, SP
25. Nick Pivetta, PHI, SP

Man, I love strikeout pitchers. With that said, there are certain guys like Zack Greinke who will help you in the category by accumulating so many innings that their season strikeout totals will be within the top 20 or so, despite not averaging a strikeout per inning. Trevor Bauer is a guy who, before suffering a shin fracture, was on pace for about 275 Ks last year and a full season could definitely push him into the top three or four in the game.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Matt Strahm, SD, SP/RP
2. Zack Godley, ARZ, SP
3. Freddy Peralta, MIL, SP
4. Dylan Bundy, BAL, SP
5. Collin McHugh, HOU, SP/RP
6. Brad Peacock, HOU, SP/RP
7. Corbin Burnes, MIL, SP/RP
8. Matthew Boyd, DET, SP
9. Brandon Woodruff, MIL, SP/RP
10. Reynaldo Lopez, CHW, SP

It was only a year ago that everyone was in on Zack Godley as a breakout. His 2018 was the complete opposite of that, but he still maintains enough upside to take a shot on and will give a good source of Ks no matter what. I also really like the pair of Houston Astros starters, Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock, as both guys have a solid track record and should be able to give you quality innings with good strikeout numbers for at least the start of the year.


Saves (SV)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Edwin Diaz, NYM, RP
2. Aroldis Chapman, NYY, RP
3. Blake Treinen, OAK, RP
4. Roberto Osuna, HOU, RP
5. Kenley Jansen, LAD, RP
6. Felipe Vazquez, PIT, RP
7. Brad Hand, CLE, RP
8. Jose Leclerc, TEX, RP
9. Kirby Yates, SD, RP
10. Craig Kimbrel, FA, RP
11. Sean Doolittle, WSH, RP
12. Wade Davis, COL, RP
13. Raisel Iglesias, CIN, RP
14. Jordan Hicks, STL, RP
15. Ken Giles, TOR, RP
16. David Robertson, PHI, RP
17. Hunter Strickland, SEA, RP
18. Cody Allen, LAA, RP
19. Pedro Strop, CHC, RP
20. Alex Colome, CHW, RP
21. Arodys Vizcaino, ATL, RP
22. Greg Holland, ARZ, RP
23. Will Smith, SF, RP
24. Jose Alvarado, TB, RP
25. Josh Hader, MIL, RP

The Milwaukee Brewers closer situation really made the back end of this ranking a little foggy. As it stands right now, Josh Hader appears to be in line for some early season saves. Cardinal flamethrower Jordan Hicks is a super exciting option who has all the tools in the world to become one of the best closers in baseball. Also, send some feeler trades out to the Craig Kimbrel owner, as it’s only a matter of time before he signs and is once again an elite late-inning option.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Hunter Strickland, SEA, RP
2. Greg Holland, ARZ, RP
3. Trevor May, MIN, RP
4. Shane Greene, DET, RP
5. Michael Givens, BAL, RP
6. Sergio Romo, MIA, SP/RP
7. A.J. Minter, ATL, RP
8. Ryan Brasier, BOS, RP
9. Jeremy Jeffress, MIL, RP
10. Brandon Morrow, CHC, RP

This is a ranking made up of guys who appear to have the closing job for their team, ones who might have the closing job when they return from injury, or ones that I am completely speculating will be the primary closer for their squad. If you already have a couple solid RP options to get by to start the year and have the roster flexibility, feel free to stash a guy like Jeremy Jeffress or Brandon Morrow. Both should slide right back into the ninth inning role not long after returning.


WHIP (Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
2. Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
3. Chris Sale, BOS, SP
4. Justin Verlander, HOU, SP
5. Corey Kluber, CLE, SP
6. Blake Snell, TB, SP
7. Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
8. Gerrit Cole, HOU, SP
9. Trevor Bauer, CLE, SP
10. Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP
11. Zack Greinke, ARZ, SP
12. James Paxton, NYY, SP
13. Luis Severino, NYY, SP
14. Carlos Carrasco, CLE, SP
15. Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
16. Miles Mikolas, STL, SP
17. Jameson Taillon, PIT, SP
18. Mike Clevinger, CLE, SP
19. Kyle Hendricks, CHC, SP
20. Jose Berrios, MIN, SP
21. Masahiro Tanaka, NYY, SP
22. Zack Wheeler, NYM, SP
23. David Price, BOS, SP
24. Jack Flaherty, STL, SP
25. German Marquez, COL, SP

Max Scherzer is on another level. He just completed his fourth consecutive season of a sub-1.00 WHIP. In fact, he has not posted a WHIP higher than 0.97 over that span. The majority of these guys on this list are typically posting a walk rate of below 8%, which helps keep that WHIP down. The guys from the top of the list down to about Corey Kluber are more than likely going to be interchangeable throughout the year.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Matt Strahm, SD, SP/RP
2. Marco Gonzales, SEA, SP
3. Jakob Junis, KC, SP
4. Mike Minor, TEX, SP
5. Jhoulys Chacin, MIL, SP
6. Anibal Sanchez, WSH, SP
7. Joe Musgrove, PIT, SP
8. Matthew Boyd, DET, SP
9. Zach Eflin, PHI, SP
10. Pablo Lopez, MIA, SP

More Strahm love here. But besides the Padres lefty there are some pretty decent options in terms of limiting baserunners. While none of these names are the sexiest, a couple of them come with some decent upside. Mike Minor has done a great job the past two seasons of keeping guys off base. Jakob Junis and Zach Eflin are two arms that could flirt with 9.00 K/9 while keeping a low walk rate in the process.


Quality Starts (QS)


Top 25 overall:

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
2. Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
3. Justin Verlander, HOU, SP
4.Corey Kluber, CLE, SP
5. Chris Sale, BOS, SP
6. Trevor Bauer, CLE, SP
7. Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
8. Gerrit Cole, HOU, SP
9. Zack Greinke, ARZ, SP
10. Blake Snell, TB, SP
11. Carlos Carrasco, CLE, SP
12. Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP
13. Noah Syndergaard, NYM, SP
14. James Paxton, NYY, SP
15. Jameson Taillon, PIT, SP
16. Mike Clevinger, CLE, SP
17. Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
18. Miles Mikolas, STL, SP
19. Luis Severino, NYY, SP
20. Stephen Strasburg, WSH, SP
21. German Marquez, COL, SP
22. Zack Wheeler, NYM, SP
23. Kyle Freeland, COL, SP
24. Charlie Morton, TB, SP
25. Jose Berrios, MIN, SP

A lot of the same names are here, but I am sure that will change as the weeks go on. Not much needs to be said about a lot of these guys. The decision between Scherzer and Jacob deGrom was a mere coin flip. They are both absolute horses and are almost a guarantee for 6+ innings and three earned runs or less.


Deep League top 10 (>12 team leagues/65% owned or less):

Name, Team, Pos.
1. Reynaldo Lopez, CHW, SP
2. Matt Strahm, SD, SP/RP
3. Tanner Roark, CIN, SP
4. Matthew Boyd, DET, SP
5. Mike Leake, SEA, SP
6. Kyle Gibson, MIN, SP
7. Julio Teheran, ATL, SP
8. Steven Matz, NYM, SP
9. Jakob Junis, KC, SP
10. Dylan Bundy, BAL, SP

Quality starts are typically earned by guys who are innings eaters. The vast majority of the guys listed above are more or less going to be given the ball every fifth day as long as they do not completely implode. Reynaldo Lopez made some adjustments down the stretch last year and was actually able to tally 19 QS last year. And while the thought of owning Mike Leake in any format is pretty off-putting, he has 52 QS over the last three seasons including 18 in each of the last two.


Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire

Colin Ward

Colin currently resides in the Buffalo, NY area and studied at SUNY Fredonia earning a degree in Sport Management. He is a former Assistant Athletic Director and Sports Information Director at the collegiate level. Baseball is his passion and he bleeds Pinstripes.

10 responses to “Category Power Rankings: Week 1 – Introduction”

  1. King Donko says:

    This looks like a great in-season resource. Pleased that you included OBP and QS categories. Well done, Colin.

  2. Jared says:

    LOVE this! Great new feature, guys.

  3. Steve says:

    Replace Trea Turner with Adam Eaton at the top of the Runs list.

    • Steve says:

      (edit) not Turner, wrong list…..but Eaton should definitely be near the top of the Runs list leading off for the Nats.

      • Colin Ward says:

        You’re 100% right, Steve. Eaton was on my short list of guys who I had just outside the top 25. Mainly just because of the health risk. I’m gonna take a wait and see approach with him, but there’s a real good chance he’s right up there within the coming weeks. Stay tuned

  4. Doug says:

    Starling not on sb list? An oversight, I hope.

    • Colin Ward says:

      Wow, yeah good call. Definitely an oversight on my part. He should be in there right around top 8 or so

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