Dewan: Ranking the top starting rotations

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on March 15, 2018:

Although this has been a slow MLB offseason by most standards, some of the moves have resulted in notable starting pitchers such as Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole moving to new teams. With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day just a few weeks away, we decided to rank baseball’s top starting rotations based on Bill James’ Starting Pitcher Rankings.

The Starting Pitcher Rankings are based on park-adjusted Game Scores. Each pitcher starts his career at a score of 300, and for every game he starts, 30 percent of his game score is added to 97 percent of his previous rating. If he pitches well, his score goes up, but if he pitches poorly or doesn’t start a game for an extended period, his score goes down. The numbers below are based on the sum of a team’s five highest starters in the Starting Pitcher Rankings as of today.

The top three rotations in baseball entering the 2018 season remain unchanged from the 2017 end of regular season rankings—the Indians, Nationals, and Cubs. The order has shifted from 2017, however, with the Cubs falling from first to third and the Indians and Nationals ahead of them, respectively. In the case of the Nationals, there is room for improvement as Edwin Jackson (313) is currently slotted as the fifth starter. Cleveland, meanwhile, will be hoping for a healthy season from Danny Salazar (413).

We see a lot of the offseason’s impact on the teams outside of the top two. Despite losing Arrieta (496) in free agency, the Cubs were able to maintain a top three rotation with the additions of Darvish (448) and Tyler Chatwood (402). Replacing Mike Fiers (392) with Cole (445) accounts for the Astros’ upward movement from the eighth-ranked staff at the end of 2017 to the fourth-ranked staff as of today.

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Originally published: March 15, 2018. Last Updated: March 15, 2018.