For most people, February 17th, 2016 is just another Wednesday. But for folks like me, it’s Christmas in February, as the pitchers and catchers from select teams report to camp. Because of this glorious day, The Morning Biscuit crew decided to rank all of the #1 SP and C combinations, using RotoWorld’s depth charts and FanGraphs’ WAR projections/2015 stats. It’s worth noting that some of RotoWorld’s choices for #1 SP can be debated (is Max Scherzer the #1 over Stephen Strasburg?) but we used what is currently listed and ran with it.
So what did we learn? First of all, FanGraphs sees a number of regressions from teams including the Cubs, Red Sox, Pirates and Diamondbacks. Arrieta and Price are due for a fall back to earth from their astronomical levels last year. Francisco Cervelli showed serious growth last year, but is that here to stay? And is Greinke capable of posting the same WAR levels without the firepower of the Dodgers’ lineup behind him?
Secondly, the NL West has the two best Ace and Backstop combos in the game. The Dodgers find most of the WAR coming from Clayton Kershaw (he is a beast), while the Giants find good balance between Bumgarner and Posey. With all the additional improvements the Giants made to their roster this off season, it feels safe to predict a continuation to their even-year World Series Championships.
Also, I am intrigued by potential WAR growth from the Yankees, Indians and White Sox #1 SP and C combos. Masahiro Tanaka has to stay healthy to even have a shot. Cleveland’s offense needs to support Kluber and Gomes needs to bounce back from a down year. Chris Sale is the second best pitcher in baseball, so maybe the revamped White Sox lineup can provide him with the support he needs as well.
Which #1 SP would you swap out from this chart, and who would you replace him with?