I spent the start of last week’s column espousing my wonder at how good the Angels’ Mike Trout is. Yet, one could make the argument that he should not be the top pick in a fantasy draft.

Hitting is only half the game in a rotisserie league, after all, so a good starting pitcher could be just as valuable as a good hitter, and potentially more so since the position is more volatile. And as good as Trout is at the plate, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is that good on the mound.

In 2014, Kershaw won 21 games with a 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 239 strikeouts. That was good enough to earn his third National League Cy Young in four seasons and the NL MVP, as well. And those accolades came after he missed about a month of the season.

So even if there is some argument over whether you should ever select a pitcher first, there is no argument over which pitcher you should select first. Heck, on Friday Kershaw got hit in the face with a batted ball and stayed in the game. This guy has superpowers.

Last season’s American League Cy Young Award was nowhere near as clear, though it is difficult to argue that the Indians’ Corey Kluber didn’t deserve it with his breakout season (18, 2.44, 1.09, 269). He did that starting 34 games, though, while the White Sox’ Chris Sale only had 26 and went 12-2.17-0.97-208. A foot injury already has Sale slated to miss at least a couple starts to begin the season, but that could just again make him a bargain pick.

Anyone who can be that good may be considered a bargain among starting pitchers. The elite level of hurlers may only go 11 deep, after all — OK, it probably does and I’m just holding on to resentment that Jon Lester’s home games will now take place in Wrigley Field. Even with that allowance, however, that means that not every fantasy team in a standard 12-team league will get a top ace. That makes it imperative to pinpoint some players further down with chances to outperform their draft slot.

The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright was a 20-game winner last year with a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He has since had surgery to trim up some elbow cartilage and only saw his first spring training action this weekend after battling an abdominal strain. Those are big enough concerns to force him down some draft lists, but could also be little enough to make him a steal.

Unless you’re in a keeper league, however, I would let someone else bite on the Mets’ Matt Harvey and his injury recovery. I have no reason to think he won’t be fantastic next season, but after missing all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery, it is probably still going to take some time for him to again reach phenom level. That promise is probably going to push someone to make him a top 20 pitcher, though.

Things go much better for pitcher a bit further removed from that procedure. A case in point is Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, who missed a season in 2012 following it. He then only got in 15 games in 2013, but found his way later in the 2014 season, finishing it with a 2.55 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 134 innings.

Beyond that, Harvey may not even turn out to be the best starter on his own team. Jacob deGrom started 22 games last season, got nine wins out of it, while posting a 2.69 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He also struck out 144 batters in 140 1/3 innings.

From the “really?” file comes the fact that James Shields has posted double-digit wins in eight straight seasons. That’s a long enough stretch to already feel comfortable drafting him, and his situation only improves this season by bringing his game to San Diego’s cavernous Petco Park.

Although he is expected to spend some extra time in Arizona further rehabbing from a blown-out patellar tendon, the Angels’ Garrett Richards could make a good roster stash through the first few weeks. He started 26 games last season and posted a 2.61 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Richards won 13 games and struck out 164 batters in 168 2/3 innings.

Houston may not be the place you always want to go to find top talent, but Collin McHugh started 25 games in 2014 and finished with a 2.73 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. His strikeout total of 157 is also admirable coming in 154? innings and he somehow pulled off 11 wins — remember, as an Astro.

Finally, the Nationals’ Tanner Roark may be destined for a bullpen spot, but keep an eye on his situation. He sneakily finished last season with 15 wins, a 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and opponents only batted .239 against him. It’s not a bad situation if you are Washington when that guy may not get a starting slot, and it’s a good one to have in a fantasy league to realize what he could do if he does obtain one.
Contact Josh Bousquet at jbousquet@telegram.com.