The top 40 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball fall roughly in the 75 to 125 overall for those of you who are wondering where we are overall, and, of course, when the rankings are done I will be along with a top 500 overall to show you exactly where we are. Think of this set of starters as your number twos and number threes, but, again, I will have a pitchers’ pairing tool to help with that too. I give and you receive. Ho, ho, ho, that’s me giving and you receiving. Also, our subscriptions are up and running, and that comes with our online Fantasy Baseball War Room. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections included here are mine, and where I see tiers starting and stopping are included. Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball:
NOTE: All 2022 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games, due to the CBA. Also, I’m going on the assumption the NL is getting the DH.
NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.
NOTE III: Free agents are listed as just that and not yet projected. Once a guy signs, I will write out their blurb and add in projections, or remove them, if they sign in an unfavorable place. They are ranked currently where I think they might be if they sign on for a full-time job.
21. Jack Flaherty – This tier started in the top 20 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball and goes until here. I called this tier, “Wearing flip-flops with socks.” It’s not that I don’t like Flaherty, in general, but you got dust bunnies rolling around in your noggin if you think I’m drafting him this year. Feels like Bieber, Part 2. Call him Chase Dreams. In the last two years, Flaherty has 118 1/3 IP and a 3.80 ERA. Hey, I’m the first one to say ERA isn’t everything, but the rest of the peripherals are not moving me to put up a pants tent and announce my nunca-dying love while starring on a telenovela. He ended the year with a shoulder strain, missing a month. Missed two months before with an oblique strain. Hasn’t been great in 18 months. Ya know, maybe I’m being silly for wanting guys who will be great vs. can be great, but call me silly, and paint a clown nose on my face. 2022 Projections: 9-6/3.66/1.09/159 in 146 IP
22. Logan Webb – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Castillo. I call this tier, “Bon varyäge.” The tier name is what you say when you’re taking a number two in a fancy joint. You want a cheap number one? Well, that ship has sailed, but how about an expensive number two? I will go over how to draft starters when I do my pairings post, but this tier is essentially when you think your number one might be a little weak, and you wanna bulk up on a strong number two.
Logan Webb is a big-brained bazinga. Will now explain across 45,000 words what that means, strap in. People in “smart” leagues will overdraft Webb. “Smart” leagues aren’t necessarily smart. I’ve said this numerous times before, but people in “smart” leagues overdraft guys that are hot commodities. Sometimes it works: Corbin Burnes last year. Sometimes it doesn’t: Did you forgot the 7 of 9 top SPs from the last post that I mentioned being out on last year that failed to live up to expectations? “Smart” money was saying be high on starters last year; “smart” money wasn’t smart. This year, “smart” money has Webb ranked above here. Now for the good news, in most friends and family leagues, Webb will easily be attainable at this price. That’s actually where I think the “smart” money is, and why I’m ranking Webb here. Never forget that ‘perts overdraft guys to prove a point and get engagement. They’re not always serious about some of their drafts. An example, “Wow, (‘pert name) drafted Logan Webb in the top 35 overall? Man, he must really like him!” People talk about that ‘pert for a few days, then they forget by mid-April that Webb isn’t producing top 35 value and that ‘pert faces no consequences. It’s free publicity while that ‘pert releases his fantasy football rankings early and ignores baseball after July.
I like Webb, but he’s got more buts than conjoined twins. Love me some Giants starters. That park, man and five womans, is a thing of beauty for starters. If I could draft all Giants starters, I prolly would in some deeper-slash-NL-Only leagues. It’s true love. His slider is a top 5 slider in baseball and his 93 MPH sinker (which is classified differently where you look) is top five. Someone get Chris Rock to do a Top 5 movie about sliders and sinkers, would ya? Webb’s ready for his close-up. For those that qualified on IP, Luis Castillo had the top ground ball rate at 56.6%. Webb just missed qualifying and had a ground ball rate of 60.9%. Zoinks! Or I should say, “Sinks!” So, everything is on the ground, and a great park, and what’s not to like? He was the 26th best starter last year on the Player Rater, and that’s about right, because the Ks won’t ever be obscene gorge. His Whiff Rate on the Sinker was 16%. Bleh. He’s around a 8.5-9.5 K/9 guy, which is fine, but he’s way more Kyle Hendricks than he is Freddy Peralta. 2022 Projections: 12-6/3.12/1.09/182 in 179 IP
23. Charlie Morton – Full disclosure alert! I nearly ranked Morton in the top 20 starters. The only thing that stopped me is his age, but that should’ve actually had me raising him up higher, because with each passing year, he gains a mile or two on his fastball. By the time Charlie Morton turns 45 years old, he’s going to be throwing 112 MPH. He’s gonna hit 80 years old and 200 MPH. Charlie Morton is the reverse Benjamin Button, which, I guess, would be aging normally, which isn’t right either. I don’t know what kind of elixirs Charlie Morton is drinking, but I want some! He’s outgrew his nickname Ground Chuck. He doesn’t even throw many ground balls any more. Because hitters can’t touch his stuff! Y’all think I’m having a goof, but he threw an 89 MPH fastball at the age of 28, and he’s gonna be 38 this year, and he threw a 95.3 MPH fastball last year. Oh, and his ground ball rate in that time went from 62.9% to 47.8%. Kinda hilarious. It’s clear why too. He used to pitch for the Ray Searage Pirates. The same guy and team that tried to make Tyler Glasnow and Gerrit Cole pitch to contact. Really just a brilliant organization. 2022 Projections: 13-8/3.47/1.08/206 in 178 IP
24. Max Fried – Was out last year on Fried, which sounds like a New Year’s Resolution that I actually followed through on. Didn’t love Fried’s strikeouts coming down and his walks remaining where they were (3+ BB/9). Welp, he fixed all that shizz. He’s now basically Luis Castillo on a better team. That’s a compliment, by the way. Fried also has a bit more upside than I gave him credit for previously. Not enormous, which is why he’s ranked here, instead of the top 20. He also has less downside than I originally thought. His 86.5 MPH exit velo and 5th best ground ball rate explains a lot of his profile. Terrible contact and the ball on the ground and, well, it’s hard to go too wrong. 2022 Projections: 13-8/3.36/1.08/181 in 185 IP
25. Luis Castillo – Don’t love the walk rate that went up year-over-year, and the strikeouts that went down. What I still like? To incorrectly pronounce his last name. Also, his K/9 and ground ball rate, as mentioned in the Webb blurb, is still at least a number two to three starter vs. something I would’ve touch with a nine-foot pole that had ten one-inch straws taped on its end. There’s ways to succeed in Great American, and this great Dominican is doing it by keeping the ball down. Eugenio Suarez at short prolly cost him at least 0.30 on his 3.98 ERA last year, and maybe five years on his life from the stress. “On a force-out at 2nd, where do I toss it?” That’s Eugenio to the groans of everyone and the delight of Dumb Bell. 2022 Projections: 11-10/3.67/1.25/204 in 196 IP
26. Sean Manaea – This is a new tier. This tier goes until Rogers. I call this tier, “Get fitted for a tuxedo shirt now.” After the season, there’s gonna be so much excitement and congratulations rolling in from your fantasy baseball championships, you won’t have time to get fitted for your tuxedo shirt then, so now’s the time. This tier is gonna get yo’self some championships. This is the tier where you’re going to win or lose your league. This is the tier last year where you found Burnes, Urias, Gausman, and Pablo Lopez, who was good until an injury. Okay, they’re not all gems, I also had Paddack and Luzardo in there. But these are the starters I am most excited about and will be drafting repeatedly without caution over and over again and again, same sentiment, same sentiment, same sentiment! I love all of these starters. You’ll notice some sleeper posts. In case you get the one starter this year that ends up like Luzardo or Paddack, I’m not advising it, but you could prolly just draft three starters from this tier and stream, and be fine in shallower leagues (or maybe even deeper ones). At least three of these guys will be in the top 20 starters next year. Also, you might find yourself thinking, “Yo, Grey, if I were a female or into males, you and I would snog, but some of these guys are ranked way too high.” That’s fine, draft them when you need to, i.e., look at their ADP and draft them a round or two before that.
This tier this year (listen to you rhyming!) is maybe the best this tier has ever been. To help with my pitchers’ pairing tool update, I’ve kept most tier names the same (you’ll get over your outrage), and looking at this tier of “Guys I Gotta Get!” is just exhilarating. I feel like I have Viagra rushing through every extremity. My thumbs are hard. I cannot express to you how happy each of these guys makes me. People out there drafting a fading Gerrit Cole and I’m taking Manaea and Manoah, and gonna whoa-ah all the way to the bank-ah. Hey, boyo, I’m in West Side Story and “Krup you!” if you think I care what you think of me drafting Manaea and Manoah.
As for Manaea, already gave you my Sean Manaea sleeper. It was written while getting on the Double Dutch Bus. 2022 Projections: 13-8/3.47/1.11/208 in 193 IP
28. Alek Manoah – From Manaea to Manoah, The Battle of This Man’s Mano a Manoah. Inside the front cover, signed, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. — Casey Kasem.” Is it weird that I signed my Sean Manaea/Alek Manoah book with a quote from Casey Kasem? Maybe I just like guys who are geniuses at counting down. Okay, if it’s not clear, I nearly wrote a sleeper post for all the guys in this tier, and Manoah was no different. I actually went back through my sleepers a few times to see if I didn’t miss it, because I could’ve sworn I wrote it. Guess I was thinking he was priced correctly and no reason to apply blinkers to his stats. Watched a lot of Manoah this past year, and it was mostly to ogle his cougar mom. But between random shots of his mom cheering in all her glory, I was taken by Manoah’s stuff. He had a top 7% HardHit% in the league, and his 94 MPH fastball and 81 MPH slider accounted for 63% of his pitches, and they produced BAAs of .200 and .146, respectively. Or rather disrespectively to hitters. His third pitch was a 93 MPH sinker that had a .211 BAA, and all the whiff rates were gorge. His 10.2 K/9 and 3.22 BB/9 was in 111 2/3 IP last year. That was from a 23-year-old rookie! Yo, his mom isn’t the only thing this guy’s got that’s pretty dope. Alek Manoah and Alek Mommamia can get on my team any day! 2022 Projections: 12-9/3.67/1.07/187 in 161 IP
31. Trevor Rogers – Debated myself on where to rank Rogers this year for longer than I care to admit (72 seconds). The Jeff Goldblum in the ointment is how much he was overused last year. Will be watching him carefully in spring training, but, as long as he looks fine, I’ll be drafting him. A more dangerous hedge than The Shining? P to the herhaps, but Rogers only threw 31 2/3 IP in the 2nd half last year and had a 3.69 ERA. The concern is very real though. He had one game in September vs. the Nats where he averaged 92 MPH on his fastball (down from 95) and it was one of his worst games. He bounced back nicely and had a 95 MPH fastball in the next game against the same team and tossed 10 Ks. This feels a bit granular, but that’s sorta what we’ll be looking for in the spring. It, honestly, might be too late by that point, so I could see the leap of faith, which is why I ranked him here vs. the next tier or even the one after. This is a lot about why to worry, but why we shouldn’t worry is Rogers has some of the best stuff in baseball. If he proves he can throw 150+ IP without a problem, he’s gonna be a top 12 starter next year. 2022 Projections: 10-8/3.30/1.16/176 in 151 IP
32. Nathan Eovaldi – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Framber. I call this tier, “Sideways bosom.” There’s safety in numbers. The number three, for unstints, is safe. The number 3 also looks like a sideways bosom. What’s more comforting! These pitchers should be a fantasy number 3 like a sideways bosom. This is a repeat of last year’s fantasy number three tier name, because I like to keep things samesies for when I put together my pitching draft tool. It makes things easier for me.
As for Eovaldi, let’s talk first about drafting. ADP is a crock of shizz. No one knows anything, as William Goldman once said of Hollywood. People even know less in October and November of the previous year, and that’s when a lot of ADP is formed. What makes Eovaldi, say, a good pick at 150th overall but not at 100th overall? Because a few geniuses in October of last year drafted him around there? What a joke. Then people in January look at that ADP and continue to draft similarly. Then people in March look at that and say nonsense like, “Can’t believe you reached for Eovaldi before the 10th round, and at 110 overall.” Those are the same people who get to July and are looking to see what kind of fantasy football content we have. If you can draft Eovaldi at pick 175 because, say, Yahoo has him ranked around there and you’re in a league with people who follow the site’s rankings, then by all means. Wait as long as you want, but I’ve never been in-season thinking, “Well, my team sucks, but I sure got some great draft value!” As for Eovaldi, Part II: This One’s Really About Eovaldi, he has a 9.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 in his last 230 IP, and is incredibly durable in his career. He’s about as safe a number three as you’re gonna find. 2022 Projections: 12-8/3.71/1.18/201 in 188 IP
33. Chris Bassitt – Not only do I want to draft Bassitt in all my leagues, I want to draft two more guys who are Bassitt-like. If I could have a whole rotation of Bassitts, I would. Ya know how they call the water behind right in San Fran, McCovey Cove? I’m going to write a letter to the A’s to call the pitcher’s rubber, the Bassitt Mound, and if they say no, I’ll put my finger to their lips and say, “Hush, puppy.” I love Chris Bassitt! There, I said it. Last year, I wrote a sleeper post for him (and Eovaldi too, bee tee dubya). This year, I’m professing my undying love for Chris on the Bassitt Mound. There’s safety in number threes, and Bassitt is about as safe as they come. 2022 Projections: 10-8/3.41/1.08/172 in 171 IP
34. Marcus Stroman – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Cubs. Not sure who Stroman pissed off, besides Italians, but going to the Cubs right now seems like purgatory on earth. Not sure what I’m talking about? It was revealed he “liked” a tweet about an Italian-American reporter that called the reporter a WOP. As a pizza bagel, I am half Italian, and we take our insults very serious. (I’m saying this in my head with a heavy Jersey accent to help you hear it.) Maybe Stroman wanted to go to Chicago for some other reason. Maybe Stroman heard how disrespectful Chicago pizza was to Italians and couldn’t wait to get there. Hey, I’m just askin’ questions here. Any hoo! The great thing about Stroman, besides him always leaving a reservation open at an Italian restaurant, is he’s great just about anywhere, and Wrigley will put that to the test. Ground balls will ground balls wherever. Honestly, I think he could overcome Coors. An 8 K/9, low-2 BB/9, 50+% ground ball rate is what I’d take from every number three. Just don’t expect too much, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” And that’s me quoting me! 2022 Projections: 9-11/3.54/1.13/162 in 191 IP
35. Tyler Mahle – Not the prototypical sideways bosom. His command isn’t pristine, but he has way more upside than some of the others above him. He’s less a sideways bosom and more of a number three like the Total Recall bosom. There’s some sexy upside here but there’s also a bit more downside. The park he pitches in sucks dog balls, and the command was 3.2 BB/9 last year. The good news is he was long considered a high control pitcher prior to the majors, and he just turned 27. There could be another level here. T. Mahle might not cause indigestion, but could be a top 15 starter. Wrote a sleeper post for him last year, and I’m once again telling you the love is still very strong.
Find myself giving more of a benefit to the doubt for pitchers who were better in the 1st half last year than 2nd, and Mahle’s splits jump off the page. He lost velocity in the 2nd half and his K/9 went from 11.1 to 9.8. Throwing 180 IP last year vs. 47 2/3 IP the year before might’ve played the biggest factor, which isn’t related to the ‘biggest fact that’s not fiction,’ and that’s Mr. Belvedere missing a week of work because he sat on his testicles. Snopes fact checked! 2022 Projections: 10-10/3.64/1.19/206 in 172 IP
36. Framber Valdez – Okay, this might mean nothing, or maybe I’m just not sure what it means, but I found it interesting. Framber has a 27.4% chase rate and only 54.1% Contact on those pitches. That’s absurdly low. That’s basically saying very few people are chasing, but just as many people connect, i.e., hitters aren’t swinging at balls, and with good reason. Other guys who are down there for both are FreddyKBB, McCullers and The Exiled Nazi. I can think of reasons why this is a good list and why it’s not. Other guys mentioned have insanely great SwStr% and Framber does not. What’s odd about Framber is that it seems like hitters don’t swing at anything from him. His Swing% is 2nd in the league to his teammate, the aforementioned McCullers, Cullers, Cullers. What I think this is, and this is a guess, hitters aren’t picking up the ball out of Framber’s hand, so they don’t know whether it’s going to be a good pitch or not. Watching him pitch, though, and I don’t think that reason tracks. Also, like his teammate, McCullers, Framber should only throw the curve, and maybe what makes the curve effective is how well it tunnels with his sinker/fastball.
Ya know, if there’s anyone out there reading this and is good at math, there’s one equation that has yet to be written that would be very helpful, something like an xK/9 or xK% (i.e., expected strikeouts). Not sure how it would work. Something like stabilizing with the league average chase rate%, K%, SwStr%, then comparing that to each player, and, well, I just fell asleep thinking about it, but if you’re so inclined. My guess is Framber’s xK% or xK/9 would be lower than his real K% or K/9. Any hoo! There’s a lot of shrugging through this blurb, but sometimes a guy who is a career 8.7 K/9, 3.74 ERA pitcher is a 8.7 K/9, 3.74 ERA pitcher. 2022 Projections: 12-7/3.71/1.22/171 in 177 IP
37. Ian Anderson – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 60 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Raining cold water on the pants tent.” This is just a tier of guys who could be good, but Redd Foxx would call you a big ol’ dummy if you drafted any of them. Ain’t no thing in my chicken and wing combo, but, hell, if I’m paying full price for any of these guys. I am ye of little faith while listening to Faith No More after ripping Faith Evans out of my Word Up magazine, while guessing LIARS every day for Wordle.
Had Ian Anderson at exactly the same spot last year saying not to draft him, and here we are again. If Ian Anderson were cold, he’d be playing 3rd base for the Marlins, because he’d be Brrian Anderson. I’m so sorry. I will walk through a car wash and let it wash the dad jokes out of me. I’ve shamed myself! Okay, let’s keep this simple like your uncle, Burl, who thinks you can use the word “mayo” to shorten the word “mayor.” This is the 2nd year in a row I’m out on Ian Anderson, and I just can’t get past the deflated BABIP. Maybe he really can produce such janky contact that hitters’ BABIPs are suppressed. I don’t think so, which is why he’s in this tier of guys I don’t want. His HardHit% is pretty average; his BAAs are pretty average; his Ks are average; his command is average, and he’s, well, pretty average. 2022 Projections: 10-9/3.89/1.27/160 in 161 IP
38. Yu Darvish – One way to look at Darvish is: Charlie Morton, who was drafted much higher so he came with disappointment. Darvish’s fastball is 94.5 MPH, and the K/9 was 10.8 with a 2.4 BB/9. The letdown shouldn’t matter. Yet, Darvish screwed us good last year. Or rather Yu screwed you, as I told everyone to not draft him. (Side note for full disclosure: In one auction league, I was going by Rudy’s values and Darvish went for under where he was supposed to go, so I drafted him for, like, $23 last year, and, honestly, I’d do that again. If Darvish got 13 wins last year, he would’ve been about the 25th best starter overall.) With all that said and why I’m still out on Darvish, I don’t know the bottom. He lost Ks and velocity last year. Was still plenty usable, but what if that was the first year of rapid decline vs. just a new Darvish that is still usable? I don’t know, which is why I’m out. As I’ve said a billionety times before, there might be roughly 50 starters overall I’d draft. You need five to six starters, and in shallower leagues, you can stream, so less starters is fine. You don’t need headaches if there’s so many options. With shortstops, there might be ten total you have to get. Starters are similar to outfielders, there’s dozens of options. 2022 Projections: 12-9/3.89/1.11/196 in 171 IP
39. Shohei Ohtani – Already went over him in the top 10 for 2022 fantasy baseball as a hitter and pitcher with projections for both. Small explanation, this ranking is for Ohtani, the pitcher. If you have a league where it treats him as two separate players and you’re looking at drafting the starter, and starter-only Ohtani, then I’m not on board. As the hitter and pitcher? Sure! As just the hitter? Giddy up on your mop dressed like a pony! As just the pitcher? I’m not down, ya jive? He’s an impact bat, and the Los Angeles of not Los Angeles Angels have to know how special he is as a hitter. They can’t possibly be that dumb, can they? So, if it’s ever between hitting and pitching, they’re gonna go with him as a hitter. I think he can get a full season of at-bats, but innings are different. He could get anywhere from 60 IP to 120 IP as a pitcher with the brakes coming hard if he ever tweaks anything. I don’t know if there’s any leagues that treat him separately still, so this might be irrelevant. His projections in the top 10 for 2022 fantasy baseball.
40. Pablo Lopez – With much regret, I need to be out on Pab-Lo this year. As anyone knows who’s followed me for a long time and had to duck away from the cops when I called 9-1-1 on them for stalking, I’ve been liking Pab-Lo, but I can’t get me head around his shoulder issue from last year that had him missing time from July 17th thru the last week of the season. He did get on the mound before we tucked in for the long winter, but it was for 1 2/3 IP and the Marlins said this offseason that he was the “most available” via a trade. Oh…*walks around the globe until my FitBit quits on me*…kay. Pab-Lo could be fantastic, but not worth the ulcer. Random Prediction Alert! Bet Pab-Lo looks great for, like, April, May and June, and we’re like, “Damn, Grey, I’m gonna start calling you LL Cool Grey, but not for ‘Ladies Love’ but for all the L’s you take,” then Pab-Lo will collapse after the break and no one will remember I warned them. 2022 Projections: 9-10/3.21/1.09/138 in 127 IP