I enjoy fantasy baseball and even won a little money playing it last year, but I’m far from an expert. So if you’re here for some really in-depth analysis, I’m going to rip the band-aid off and disappoint you right away. All I really wanted to do was to aggregate the rankings from some of the more well-know fantasy sports sites out there to see where Jake Arrieta shakes out. And while there’s at least as much margin for error in these lists as you’ll find in the predictions of your local meteorologist, it gives us a good picture of just how the experts view last year’s performance in terms of repeatability.
I’ll give you a moment to peruse the various rankings below (total MLB rank next to name), after which I’ll provide some brief commentary.
The first thing that really jumps out is that AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel doesn’t appear in the top 10 anywhere. In fact, we only would have seen his name once even if we pushed these all out to the top 13. MLB.com’s list had the magnificently bearded hurler at 11, but he was listed at 15, 16, and 14 on the other three. To me, that speaks to the fickle nature of pitching and also how people feel about the 28-year-old’s ability to duplicate his performance.
Likewise, Zack Greinke is being viewed as though he may drop off slightly from the form that has had him in the Cy Young conversation on an annual basis, though having an average ranking of 7th among all pitchers isn’t necessarily a serious regression. Max Scherzer is looking really strong, as is Madison Bumgarner. Chris Sale has remarkably consistent rankings, remaining between 23 and 26 on all four lists.
Arrieta actually has quite a bit of fluctuation, with MLB.com’s rank of 16 sitting a full 10 spots ahead of Yahoo’s prediction. Of course, it must be noted that each of these platforms is using a different algorithm to determine their values. Most of the different outlets don’t list projected stats, but MLB.com has Arrieta posting an 18-9 record with a 2.48 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 230 strikeouts. I’d buy that for $31 (his projected auction-league cost).
Again, I’m not here to provide fantasy advice or to conflate the rankings above into some sort of legitimate predictive tool, but I do think there’s some value here for both the pretend GM and the Cubs fan in general. The message I’m taking away is that the experts believe there’s a strong likelihood that Arrieta’s 2015 was not a fluke. And given their stat line, MLB.com is very bullish on the Cubs ace having another relatively dominant season.
So what do you think: is Arrieta too high on these lists? Too low? If you’re a fantasy baseball player, would you take him in the 1st round or let someone else stretch for him?