2024 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

TDG’S 2024 RISERS AND FALLERS: STARTING PITCHERS

Every year, we at the TDG office identify Risers and Fallers from our consensus rankings. But how did we get here!? And what’s real and what’s noise? Well, the Gurus are here to help. In each “Risers and Fallers” article, the Gurus will take you on an explanatory journey as to why these players have seen a fortunate rise, or an unfortunate turn toward their demise. Thanks for reading!

RISING: Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants (AGE: 27, CURRENT RANK: 14, PREVIOUS RANK: 31)

Logan Webb comes in at #14 in our Dynasty SP Rankings. After his 2023 season, he might even deserve to be higher, maybe come the next rankings he will be. He slotted in at #31 in the 2022 rankings and was a very solid riser here. The stats definitely back up a fantasy ace, in the mold of something similar to Sandy Alcantara. 

Webb does what very few starting pitchers achieve these days, pitch deep into games. In 2023, he pitched 216 innings, with a 3.25 ERA, and 194 strikeouts to 32 walks. He was a top 20 starting pitcher for most fantasy leagues, all while being 26 years old. What stood out and fueled his rise up the rankings was the 6.5 innings pitched per game, to go along with increasing his low strikeout rate from 20.7% in 2022 to 22.8% this past season. His walk rates almost dropped in half, going from an already low 6.2% to 3.6%. 

Sometimes I think Webb gets lost in San Francisco. Looking at his numbers, he is basically a mirror copy of George Kirby, albeit one year older. The strikeout rate was essentially the same in 2023, and the walk rate was within 1.1%. Webb even had a higher ground ball rate, better FIP, much better xFIP, and pitched 26 more innings than Kirby. Webb does just about everything you want from a starting pitcher except have the top-level strikeout rates and upper-end fastball velocity. He uses his offspeed pitches to beat hitters. You have got to love the 99th percentile walk rate, 99th percentile ground ball rate, and 100th percentile offspeed run value. If he can improve his fastball velocity and generate some more strikeouts, come the next rankings, he could see another rise into the top 10 this time. 

FALLING: Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays (AGE: 26, CURRENT RANK: 122, PREVIOUS RANK: 10)

Pain, agony, defeat, and mind-numbing emptiness, hell the list goes on and on. What does this list embody though, well that would be the constant thoughts running through the brain of any fantasy owners who had the great honor of rostering Alek Manoah in 2023. With each start, the knife was being driven further and further into their backs, until ultimately on August 10th, Manoah pitched his last game for the Toronto Blue Jays for the season. The knife had been removed, but the pain still remained as the culmination of Manoah’s season was a mystery beyond all mysteries. What went wrong, was there an injury, was it the pitch clock, was it the increased weight he packed on before the season, is there a rebound coming, and what to do?

Alek Manoah came out of 2022 on a high note finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting. He had posted an outstanding 196.2 innings pitched, with a 2.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts. All of that, while being in his 24-year-old season. He was a borderline workhorse ace already for fantasy baseball teams. His strikeout percentage wasn’t the best at 22.9%, but he had a good 6.5% walk rate. The sky was the limit, but in came the 2023 season.

In 2023, Manoah came into spring training with added weight and never acclimated to the pitch clock. He struggled mighty with his command and plodded his way through 13 starts before being sent down to the minors to work on things. After a month, he came back for 6 starts and showed some improvement. That would be all the Blue Jays could handle though, before sending him down to the minors where an “injury” ended his season for good. Overall, in the majors he had 19 starts, 87.1 innings pitched, 5.87 ERA, 79 strikeouts, a 19% strikeout rate, and a 14.2% walk rate. The dive off the top of the mountain top in 2022 was complete. As such he comes in at 122 in our Dynasty SP Rankings this offseason. The jump in walk rate was vomit-inducing. He lost all command and control at times. It was tough to watch for the most part, so what might have gone wrong?

Thinking conceptually about Manoah’s 2023 season, I think the crux of his issues stemmed from the pitch clock and his ability to manage it at his size. He is listed at 6’6” and 285 pounds, but reportedly came into 2023 at more than 300 pounds, around 320. Because of the newly implemented pitch clock, this started a spiraling effect on his pitching. He was already one of the slowest pitchers to get the ball and make a pitch. The pitch clock forced him to be much quicker to the plate with pitches, with less time to gather himself. These two things impacted him greatly. Less time between pitches, essentially rushing compared to his normal times between them in prior seasons, and added weight making repeated mechanics tougher to be consistent with. It was obvious from the start of 2023, that Manoah was fighting his mechanics in games and that was causing an uphill battle with his command and control. Battling those led to more walks, and battling more base runners led to more hits, ending with more runs given up. 

There is a light at the end of this spiraling tunnel. Manoah came into the 2024 spring training in much-improved shape. Reports are he is already down 30 pounds and looks to be in a much more athletic state compared to last season. At 122 in our starting pitcher rankings, down from number 10 this time last year, there is still room to fall more if he tanks this season. I’m betting on a more athletic and slimmer Manoah to be able to handle the pitch clock and come out with the mentality he finished 2022 with. He might not get back to a top 3 Cy Young finisher this season, but he is still young at 26 years old and worthy of some type of bounceback in 2024. At a minimum, he should move up the starting pitcher rankings by midseason, as long as he doesn’t implode like 2023. A definite riser is likely here, which is music to the ears of anyone still rostering Manoah. 

RISING: Bryce Miller, Seattle Mariners (AGE: 25, CURRENT RANK: 40, PREVIOUS RANK: 69)

Bryce Miller has made quite the leap up our rankings over the past year. From a relative unknown to start the year, climbing up into the 60s in our midseason update and now finally into the 40s, Miller had a see-saw of a season stat-wise, but in our minds is firmly entrenching himself as one of the top-50 starting pitchers for dynasty.

Miller burst onto the scene at the beginning of May last year, plucked from Double-A and asked to bolster a Mariner`s rotation that had just suffered the loss of Robbie Ray. He had one thing in mind during those first couple of starts, throw his four seam as much as humanly possible, routinely throwing it 70% of the time. It`s a wonderful fastball, as it`s one of the top 11 four seams according to Stuff+, sitting around 96 mph with good ride and he can locate it up in the zone with regularity.

After one game, he was asked about his fastball usage and said something to the effect of “Why would I throw anything else, if they can`t hit it?” Well, turns out a Major League hitter can indeed hit a fastball, no matter how good it is if it`s thrown 70% of the time.

He ended up backing off the fastball usage and settled in around 55% the rest of year while throwing his bullet slider and sweeper more and mixing in sinker and change-up. It was reported he was working on introducing a splitter to the mix, like seemingly every other pitcher out there, and if he can get that going for strikes he may shoot up these ranks again in the mid-season update. (Ryan)

FALLING: Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (AGE: 28, CURRENT RANK: 42, PREVIOUS RANK: 11)

We decided as a group to drop Sandy into the forties, obviously due to him needing reconstructive surgery on his UCL. He underwent the surgery in early October and will miss the 2024 season completely. But the injury wasn`t the only reason we decided to drop his ranking.

It`s hard to determine if this was a gradual injury or more of an acute one, if you just look at his stat line it would seem as if the elbow was bothering him all year with his decreased strikeout rate and inflated ERA. But you usually see a decrease in fastball velocity and Alcantara`s speed never fluctuated outside the normal parameters up until the day he went on the injured list, so I have to assume it was more of an acute strain than something that was bothering him all year. So, the big question is, what led to the almost five percentage points drop in his strike-out rate from his pedestrian 24% to the 19% he had last season?

The pitch mix remained largely the same, as did the movement on the pitches. The only thing that really changed was his off-speed offerings were hit much more often than in years past. In 2022, the batting average against his off-speed pitches sat at .146 compared to 2023 where it was .282. There was some speculation that Sandy was tipping his changeup pre-pitch somehow, how else do you explain a pitch that used to be his top offering, that has the same movement and he was throwing it where he wanted to but yet was being hammered routinely?

The usual recovery time for Tommy John is fifteen months for pitchers, which would have Alcantara in line to begin Spring Training 2025 fully recovered. This could be a good opportunity to buy low on Alcantara as his value will most likely never be lower. (Ryan)

The Author

Daniel Labude

Daniel Labude

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