2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Debate: Tim Lincecum vs. Felix Hernandez

TheFantasyFix.comAnalyst IMarch 15, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 01:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There won't be many drafts where Roy Halladay is not be the first overall starting pitcher chosen. We know that he can blank any opponent and still has a shot for a win backed by an offensive Philadelphia roster on his off-days.

The real question though is who people should take as the second overall starting pitcher off the board. Although there are many excellent choices, only two young guns really deserve consideration: Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez

This Draft Day Debate just may not have a clear cut answer. You decide.

The Case for Tim Lincecum, by Tyler Becker

Ranked No. 2 Starting Pitcher in our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit  

Do you look for 210+ innings of work from a starting pitcher? How about more than 15 wins in a season? What does a reliable ERA mean to you? And wouldn’t you like to have more than 230 strikeouts from the ace of your staff?

Well, Tim Lincecum fantasy owners can always say yes to these questions. Not just for last season, but for each of his three full-length years in the pros.

Lincecum has been an elite starter for the past three years. He consistently provides solid and above-average fantasy production, as he is entering his prime years. Even with Lincecum’s “down” year last season (212.1 IP, 16-10, 231 K, 3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), he was baseball’s third-best in strikeouts, and finished two spots outside the top 20 fantasy starters in standard leagues. 

Looking ahead in 2011, I expect Lincecum to get back to his top-10 fantasy pitcher numbers. Especially with a strong finish to the 2010 season, he is in line to have a nice start for next year. In September, he went 5-1 in six starts, striking out 52 in 41.1 innings, while posting a 1.94 ERA and only allowing eight walks. He just seemed to turn on the gas and regain form at the end. His turnaround was pretty amazing after going 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA in August.

With San Francisco’s effective hitting providing support for Lincecum, his record will not be a concern for fantasy owners, making him an even better option in leagues with wins and losses as categories. What’s even more appealing is his consistent strikeout production. 

Despite being edged by one strike out last year, Lincecum is practically a sure thing for 230-260 strikeouts. Hernandez, on the other hand, has been a little sporadic with his punchouts. In his first full three seasons, King Felix failed to reach 200 strikeouts. 

Also, given Seattle’s lackluster offense, wins will once again come sparingly for Hernandez this season. Not to mention Felix’s desire to be the most successful pitcher in baseball, there could be heated pressure on all of Seattle this year (the best means you gotta win some games, not just have a stellar ERA).

If you take either of these guys this year, you’re getting an elite pitcher no matter what. It just comes down to security when you spend an early pick on one of them. I’d like to know I am getting a high strikeout, high win, low ERA guy with such an early pick. And I don’t think Hernandez can satisfy all three of those requirements, as long as he’s playing in that rainy, coffee infested city they call Seattle. 


The Case for Felix Hernandez, by Nick Polak

Ranked No. 3 Starting Pitcher in our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? And shouldn’t this rule also apply to say, an entire baseball team? More specifically, to one of the worst offenses in Major League Baseball history? 

If you are one of those good and just people that believe this, then you agree that the putrid Seattle Mariners 2010 offense deserves a second chance. And if you agree with that, then you are going to put yourself in great position to give yourself one of the top pitching staffs in your fantasy league this year, thanks to the dominance of “The King” Felix Hernandez.

Felix Hernandez has been trending up (and down in certain stats) over the last three years in nearly every meaningful pitching stat that you will obsess about for these glorious five months or so. One can’t argue with the following trends…

2008: 3.45 ERA / 1.39 WHIP / 175 SO / 200.2 IP
2009: 2.49 ERA / 1.14 WHIP / 217 SO / 238.2 IP
2010: 2.27 ERA / 1.06 WHIP / 232 SO / 249.2 IP

As you probably noticed however, I have left The King’s wins off of this list. Well, those have gone 9, 19 and 13 from 2008-2010 respectively.

Weird, huh? Well ,as one would expect, The King’s win totals have been very dependent on his team (most specifically his offense). 

When you take a look back at the last three years for the Mariners as a team, their win totals have gone from 61 in 2008, to 85 in 2009, back to 61 in 2010. It’s hard to win games as a pitcher when your offense refuses to score any runs for you. 

In 10 of Felix’s losses last year, the Mariners only scored him 10 total runs in those games. There were also more than a few games in which he left the game when the game was either tied, or he had a lead, only to see the bullpen blow his effort into the air. But then, even amongst the lack of support he received, he was able to put up 13 wins, including a 3-0 record against the Yankees with a 0.35 ERA in those starts.

More encouraging news for Felix is that the Mariners offense is bound to improve (because they just can’t be any worse), they managed to improve their defense yet again (with the addition of Brendan Ryan at 2B or SS, Jack Wilson returning to health and Michael Saunders in LF spelling the cancerous Milton Bradley) and they still play in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the majors, the spacious Safeco Field.

Now obviously, having Tim Lincecum is nobody’s worst nightmare. Getting either him or Felix on your team would be simply phenomenal and help your fantasy efforts. Lincecum will surely give you 15+ wins, 215+ K and a nice ERA. That being said, I think Felix presents the more upside due to the fact that if the offense marginally improves, it will add wins to his list of elite stats.


Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by Tyler Becker & Nick Polak. 


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