Cardinals' Sonny Gray massively disrespected in ESPN's latest "ace" rankings

Kiley McDaniel had to have just forgotten Sonny Gray...I have no other explanation.
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals didn't go out and spend $300 million this offseason on Yoshinobu Yamamoto or go out and trade for the nasty stuff that Tyler Glasnow possesses (although, the Los Angeles Dodgers did both), but they did go out and acquire one of the most underrated aces in baseball since he debuted in Sonny Gray.

Want another reason that Gray is underrated? Well, Kiley McDaniel of just gave us a huge one.

I'm a big fan of Kiley McDaniel's work for ESPN and this isn't meant to call out his baseball knowledge, but I genuinely do not have an explanation for his recent ranking of the best starting pitchers in baseball right now (subscription required). McDaniel ranked 25 different starting pitchers and also included 27 other starters in the "injured" category for the tiers they would have slotted into, and after listing 48 different pitchers in this list, Sonny Gray's name did not come up a single time.

Rankings like this are always easy to debate, but I see zero reason that there are 47 starting pitchers better in baseball right now (healthy or injured) than the starter who finished second in American League Cy Young voting last year and has the 10th best ERA in baseball among qualified pitchers since he debuted in 2013. Everything Gray has done up until 2024 makes him one of the best-starting pitchers in baseball, and his performance thus far in 2024 doubles down on that.

Gray began the 2024 season on the injured list after dealing with a hamstring strain during Spring Training but has been nothing short of masterful in his two starts so far with the club. Gray has been on a pitch count his first two starts, but has gone 2-0 without allowing a run in 11 innings of work. Sure, one of those starts came against the Oakland Athletics, but he also was dealing against the Philadelphia Phillies lineup, shutting their lineup down in a way no one has done since last summer.

I'm not trying to argue that Gray is a top 5 starter in baseball, but after you get past the very top-tier guys, Gray's name is in the mix with anyone else in baseball. There is no reason why names like Alex Cobb, Robbie Ray, Chris Sale, Garrett Crochet, and Zach Eflin should be above Gray, and those are just some of the low-hanging fruit names from McDaniel's list.

Gray has been underrated by baseball media for a long time now, and I'm sure it doesn't bother him at all. He's a gamer with a bulldog mentality on the mound, and so all he cares about is being the very best he can be each time he takes the ball. The numbers back up that he's a top starter in baseball, no matter what rankings national media make that do not include him.