The List 10/13 : Ranking The Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2016 Way Too Early

After the first full season of The List, it’s time to get a quick preview of the Top 100 for 2016. Let me me make this clear off the bat....

After the first full season of The List, it’s time to get a quick preview of the Top 100 for 2016.

Let me me make this clear off the bat. These rankings are very, very premature, and will change immensely by the time the real pre-season rankings come out next year. There will be more numbers, more stats, more analysis in that article, while these rankings are more of my general feelings as the 2015 season concludes. I want to hammer in that last point. These rankings are much more of a feeling than an in-depth analysis. Deep numbers and stats will be a big part of my rankings in early 2016, but for now this is a strong emphasis on my general opinion of each pitcher after following them all through the 2015 season and how I see them continuing in 2016.

I guarantee there will be significant movements by the time 2016 arrives, but why not start the conversations early? Let’s get to it:

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– I had more trouble than I expected crafting the Top 10, but in the end it’s hard to not be on the Jake Arrieta train for 2016. Chris Sale and Max Scherzer follow up given their incredible K upside and ability to produce some of the greatest pitching lines you’ll ever see on any given night. I hesitated putting Jacob deGrom into the Top 5 since I feel that his IPG (Innings Per Game) will show a major dip compared to the rest of the crew, but his consistency through the year without the accrued millage of other pitchers near him make me a believer.

– Placing Gerrit Cole outside the Top 10 may surprise some and the numbers may not support me, but Cole is the king of “really good starts” instead of “excellent starts”, making his value lie more in consistency instead of dominance. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but he’s not a guy that wins you your league, and Zack Greinke does his schtick just a little better.

– I really didn’t want to do it, but after Stephen Strasburg’s unreal 2nd half after returning from injury, I had no choice but to slot the now goatee-less flamethrower in the Top 15. I’ll be going back and forth with this given his incredibly volatile past, and I’m curious if I’ll have the same ranking in 2016.

– I think many are sleeping on Noah Syndergaard, and he’ll most likely be the first pitcher I target in drafts next year. His stuff is simply overpowering, with a 100 MPH Fastball paired with a biting Curve, and 90 MPH Sliders and Changeups. The best part is his maturity on the hill, where he’s expressed confidence to throw any pitch in any count, while limiting walks. If you’re looking for the Arrieta/deGrom guy on 2016, it’s Thor. It really depends on the ADP and “consensus rankings” next season, but I have a feeling Thor will be your guy to grab in the 6th/7th rounds and get an ace return.

– It’s tough to place Yu Darvish right now, as we don’t really know if he’ll be healthy on Opening Day, and how he’s looking. I’m sure I’ll be watching his first Spring Training start.

– You’ll probably notice a common theme of rookie pitchers being loved in their sophomore season. There were a great number of high upside pitchers with K ability and low walk rates, such as Steven Matz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Joe Ross, and I’ll most likely be aiming to fill out my staff with many of them.

– Sitting at #44 is Garrett Richards, a ranking that will probably surprise a good amount of people. After watching his roller-coaster season, I now group Richards into a collection of pitchers who hold great upside, but can’t harness it into a complete package, such as Yordano Ventura, Carlos Rodon, and Taijuan Walker. One half of elite pitching is having the stuff to mow down hitters, but the other half is the ability to command it not just in one start, but through months at a time. I’m not convinced these players will be able to take that next step in 2016, and while they will show flashes of greatness, I expect them to frustrate owners frequently.

– In the late 60s are a group of injured pitchers whose rankings change by the next rankings depending on their recovery over the off-season. Clearly, Alex Cobb is a better stash than Hyun-Jin Ryu, but they are bunched together here for convenience. Clay Buchholz is expected to return by opening day, but I still felt he should be grouped in the same category.

– What are the Astros going to do with Vincent Velasquez? If he gets the innings, which I expect Houston to do, he can be a solid #4/5, as his Fastball reaches the upper 90s. I don’t see immense K upside as his secondary pitches need work, but they will be sneaky value if he secures a spot in the rotation.

– Rounding out the list are high upside prospects that could be solid additions during the season, with Lucas Giolito leading the way. Last season, rookies like Noah Syndergaard, Eduardo Rodriguez, Luis Severino, and Joe Ross all made significant contributions after their call ups, and we’ll be able get a better idea of who those pitchers will be closer to Spring Training.

– There are a lot of mysteries that could be resolved before these rankings are reassessed in 2016. Will Cliff Lee be healthy for 2016? Will Rich Hill get playing time? What will rotations look like after a long off-season? It’ll be fun to keep track of it all.

– There are many names missing from this List (Hector Santiago? Chris Tillman? Trevor Bauer?), and the 2016 version will be extended to include all pitchers that are rosterable for deeper leagues. Leave a comment telling me who you would include, drop, and move on the rankings to keep the discussion alive.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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