Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>
Name: Mitch I.
Fantasy Baseball Question: Will Tim Lincecum bounce back? My other options to keep are Mark Buehrle or a closer. So Lincecum is a must. But how do you think he will fair in 2013?
Player Pool: Mixed
# of Teams: 11-13
League Info and Categories: Keeper League; Offense: Standard plus OBP; Pitching: Standard plus QS
Roster Positions: Standard
League Host: Yahoo!
RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
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To anyone who wiped Lincecum's 2012 from their memory, this would be a no-brainer! Unfortunately, Lincecum's 2012 was very real, and there's a good chance that he cost many teams a fantasy championship because they kept rolling the two-time Cy Young winner out there. I think he'll fair better in 2013, but let's look at the numbers a little deeper to temper our expectations.
2012 was a career worst, but he still racked up the Ks (9.2 K/9) and that's right in line with his last two years. His biggest issues last year were that he walked a lot more guys (now a 4-year trend) and he allowed a lot more line drives, which consequently gave those walked baserunners the opportunity to come around to score much more frequently. At the heart of the increased line drive rate is Lincecum's diminishing velocity, which Baseball Analytics illustrates in this chart. Quite simply, batters squared up his fastball a lot more, and they were crushing it.
Was there any silver lining in Lincecum's 2012? Yes - his second half showed much better control, an improved WHIP, a normalized BABIP and LOB%, all resulting in a huge improvement in ERA (6.4 1st half vs 3.8 2nd half). He was also extremely unlucky with the long-ball, garnering an almost impossible ~17% HR/FB rate-- that's one stat that you've got to expect to regress in a bit in 2013.
All these data points are reasons to expect a more consistent and improved 2013 campaign for Lincecum. His total #'s are pushing him down the draft charts to the point where his ADP has him going with the likes of Dan Haren, Jeff Samardzija, Homer Bailey, Josh Johnson, Jarrod Parker, AJ Burnett and Tim Hudson. There's just as great a risk with some of these guys, and not as great of an upside as you have with Tiny Tim.
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The big question that everyone seems to be asking is: can Lincecum learn to pitch rather than just throw? He needs to get better at throwing to the edge of the plate and at limiting the line drives. It's important because his decreased velocity doesn't allow him to get away with mistakes like he used to. My answer about whether to keep him, therefore, is a soft yes. Here's a guy who won two Cy Young awards, and even in a down year still had the stuff to induce as many swings and misses as in past years, generating a very respectable number of Ks. Like other guys before him, he'll learn to adapt-- there were already signs of this in last year's second half, and I think that trend will continue in 2013. My rough projection for him in 2013 is: 200 IP, 210 SO, 3.75 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 12-14 W with room for upside. With 11th-12th round value, he's an easy keeper over a reliever or Buehrle.
Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!
- The RotoBaller Staff