Must-click link: What does a “No. X starter” mean, exactly?
When talking about pitchers and rotations people throw around terms like “No. 1 starter” or “No. 3 starter” constantly because it serves as a sort of common understanding about ability and upside. However, one of the problems with using that terminology comes when not everyone has the same definition of how great a pitcher has to be to qualify as a “No. 1 starter” or how low the threshold is for a pitcher to fit the bill as a “No. 5 starter.” Bryan Smith at Fan Graphs crunched the numbers and put together a very interesting, detailed look at exactly how each spot in the rotation tends to perform. Bryan Smith: Numbers for the Numbered Starters Many of the results surprised me quite a bit and my main takeaway from the analysis is that people tend to dramatically overstate how good third, fourth, and fifth starters are on most MLB teams.