Strikeouts have absolutely exploded around baseball. MLB averaged 7.8 K/9 in 2015, setting a new all-time record. That broke the previous record of 7.7 K/9 set in 2014, which broke the previous record of 7.6 K/9 set in 2013. In fact, MLB has broken its own all-time K/9 and total strikeout record every season since 2008. You can find those all-time stats here. It’s actually pretty cool to look at. And the 2016 top 25 starting pitchers have all contributed more than their fair share into ushering in this new era of the strikeout. Will we see 7.9 K/9 in 2016?

2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catcher/First Base/Second Base/Shortstop/Third Base/Outfield(Top 25)/(Top 50)/(Top 75)/Starters(Top 50)/(Top 75)/(Top 100)/Closer/Top 250 Overall

1) Clayton Kershaw LAD – What can I say that hasn’t already been said? 2016 Projection: 19/2.23/0.91/249

2) Max Scherzer WASH – Will singlehandedly carry you in K’s. 2016 Projection: 16/2.88/0.99/263

3) Jake Arrieta CHI-NL – Was his 1.77 ERA low enough to convince you his 2014 breakout was for real? 2016 Projection: 18/2.69/1.02/210

4) Madison Bumgarner SFG – Bumgarner gets a slight edge over Sale due to his far superior pitching conditions. 2016 Projection: 17/2.90/1.07/221

5) Chris Sale CHI-AL – Ballpark and Chicago’s poor defense are the only things keeping him from ranking even higher on this list. 2016 Projection: 14/3.10/1.06/242

6) Matt Harvey NYM – After shaking off the rust coming back from Tommy John surgery, Harvey put up a pitching line of 2.19/0.92/79 in 78 IP after the all-star break. 2016 Projection: 16/2.79/1.05/208

7) Jacob deGrom NYM – Like Arrieta, actually improved on his 2014 breakout. 2016 Projection: 14/2.96/1.08/202

8) Corey Kluber CLE – Bad luck and poor defense might have been the reasons for his bloated 3.49 ERA vs. his 2.97 FIP. I’m betting that his FIP is the better indicator for next season. 2016 Projection: 13/3.00/1.09/227

9) Stephen Strasburg WASH – Contract year. Injury plagued 2015, but his 1.90/0.75/92 pitching line in 66.1 IP post all-star break gives you an idea of his insane potential. 2016 Projection: 14/2.99/1.08/218

10) David Price BOS – Price was right for Price this offseason, scoring a $217 million contract with Boston. Has already more than proven himself in the AL East and in hitter’s parks.  2016 Projection: 16/3.19/1.12/207

11) Noah Syndergaard NYM – Thor laid the hammer down on the league in his rookie season. Expect more of the same in year two, if not better. 2016 Projection: 14/3.09/1.10/211

12) Jose Fernandez MIA – Might be on a soft innings limit after pitching only 51.2 IP in 2014 and 64.2 IP in 2015. The fact he still ranks 12th shows how dominant he is. 2016 Projection: 11/2.76/1.08/193

13) Gerrit Cole PIT – Made the jump last season into Ace status. I wouldn’t expect a 2.60 ERA again, though. 2016 Projection: 15/3.24/1.13/198

14) Chris Archer TB – Second half collapse is worrisome, but those 252 strikeouts sure do look nice. 2016 Projection: 14/3.30/1.16/213

15) Carlos Carrasco CLE – Another Cleveland pitcher with a bloated ERA (3.63) compared to his FIP (2.84). 2016 Projection: 13/3.29/1.08/210

16) Felix Hernandez SEA – There are whispers his 2015 troubles were due to an ankle injury. Some think it was the 2,262.1 career IP catching up to him. Whatever it was, I’m not writing him off, but also not expecting a full bounce back. 2016 Projection: 15/3.25/1.16/204

17) Zack Greinke ARI – Moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park. Not overpaying for his career year. 2016 Projection: 16/3.15/1.18/192

18) Dallas Keuchel HOU – Doesn’t have the strikeout upside of the players ranked above him, but should receive plenty of run support from the strong Houston lineup. 2016 Projection: 17/3.27/1.19/181

19) Jon Lester CHI-NL – Safe pick. Started 30+ games 8 years in a row. Should enjoy strong run support as well. 2016 Projection: 16/3.25/1.15/194

20) Tyson Ross SD – Still has not overcome his control issues, but he racks up K’s and limits home runs. 2016 Projection: 11/3.32/1.23/201

21) Cole Hamels TEX – The league switch and advancing age limits his upside. Still a safe pick to be a strong #2 fantasy starter. 2016 Projection: 13/3.43/1.17/192

22) Danny Salazar CLE – Finally a Cleveland pitcher whose ERA (3.45) was better than his FIP (3.62). Has the strikeout upside fantasy owners love. 2016 Projection: 12/3.40/1.17/198

23) Sonny Gray OAK – 2.73 ERA. 3.45 FIP. Second year in a row he outperformed his FIP, so I wouldn’t expect him to fall off a cliff in 2016. 2016 Projection: 11/3.31/1.15/177

24) Adam Wainwright STL – If you have any doubt about Wainwright’s ability to make a full comeback this season, you have to check out this quick radio interview (which I discovered on Reddit’s fantasy baseball forum). 2016 Projection: 14/3.27/1.15/169

25) Johnny Cueto SFG – Fell off a cliff after the trade to Kansas City. The move back to the NL and a pitcher’s park somewhat revives his fantasy value. 2016 Projection: 13/3.30/1.12/173

By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)