I wrote a similar post last year. The first paragraph describing the methodology is pulled right from that post.
When describing starting pitchers, people often say things like "he's an ace" or "he's a #4 pitcher". A pet peeve of mine is the wrongful labeling of a pitcher to a certain rotation spot, based on subjective perception rather than objective fact. Poll a group of baseball fans about this topic and you will likely receive a vast array of opinions. My take, which is similar to the ones shared in this post and this post, is that if a pitcher is in the top 1/5 of starters in his league, then he should be called a #1 starter. The next 1/5 are #2's, the next 1/5 are #3's, etc. I pulled some statistics from FanGraphs to devise a quick and dirty way of classifying National League starters at this point in the season.
A total of 8,047.2 innings were thrown by 123 different NL starters through Wednesday. I put together a spreadsheet of all these pitchers, their innings pitched, and their FIP (fielding independent pitching). Dividing 8,047.2 by five, I created five groups of 1609.2 innings. Beginning with the pitcher who boasts the best FIP ( , 1.77 FIP through 36.2 innings pitched), I summed innings until reaching 1609.2 to determine #1 pitchers. I did the same all the way through the bottom spot on the list, filled by and his 15.63 FIP. Standard caveats apply here -- FIP doesn't account for batted balls like tERA, it isn't park adjusted, etc., but it's better than ERA for evaluating a pitcher's performance. Here are the results, showing pitcher classification, the number of pitchers that fit that classification, and the corresponding FIP:
Of the top 23 pitchers, only 12 have thrown 90+ innings. Here is how Mets starters stack up:
|R.A. Dickey||58.1||3.01||Mid #1|
|Johan Santana||120||3.67||Mid #2|
|Mike Pelfrey||108||3.82||Low #2|
|Jon Niese||89.2||3.95||High #3|
|Hisanori Takahashi||49||4.72||Low #4|
|John Maine||39.2||5.83||Mid #5|
|Oliver Perez||33.33||6.07||Mid #5|
|Fernando Nieve||2||15.63||Low #5|
Check out the spreadsheet for the rest of the league's starters.