Thursday, February 24, 2011

Andrew Bilbo - Head-to-Head Player Comparison - Tim Lincecum vs. Felix Hernandez

Is it me or is H2H fantasy baseball advice tough to find? Right now I'm looking at pitching and I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas which I hope can help you be successful come draft day. What I've found is a starting pitcher on a bad baseball team is not punished as badly in head-to-head leagues as it is in standard 5x5 roto leagues. Roy Halladay is undoubtedly the King of both roto and head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues, but who comes after him?

Tim Lincecum
: 16W/3.43ERA/231K/1.27WHIP

Last year was a bit of a down year for Lincecum. His ADP is one of the highest for pitchers at 20.64 and fantasy players have come to expect an ERA around the mid to upper 2's with something close to 250 strikeouts from him in return. His ERA and WHIP were up this year from the last couple of years, yet he still remained one of the more prolific strikeout pitchers in the game with his 231 K's in 212.1 innings. He is not weak in any of the basic roto categories.

Felix Hernandez: 13W/2.27ERA/232K/1.06WHIP

Lincecum's unexpected slide last season makes Hernandez, whose ADP is 29.41, look like the undisputed better pick on the surface, but those of us who have followed baseball more than just a year or two know that things like that happen every once in a while to young pitchers. Hernandez main problem over the years in standard roto leagues has been his inability to win games because of the anemic lineup fielded by the Mariners. All of this convinces me that Lincecum is the better roto pitcher this upcoming season.
Now to throw in some frequently used head-to-head stats.....

Tim Lincecum: 16-10/3.43/231/1.27/76/9.79/22/1/212.1
Felix Hernandez: 13-12/2.27/232/1.06/70/8.36/30/6/249.2

Pitching categories in head-to-head leagues vary more than batting categories. Losses, quality starts, innings pitched, and complete games are the categories most interchangeable. Some leagues rarely even include shutouts or batting average against among other categories. If your league includes any of quality starts, complete games, or innings pitched i would go with King Felix. While Lincecum has been known to go the distance as well, it is increasingly more likely with the directions the two teams have gone over the last couple of years that Hernandez will pitch more ninth innings than Lincecum. This will also have more of a direct impact on innings pitched where Hernandez will continue to be expected to shoulder a huge load. Then we come to quality starts where King Felix is in fact the King. Hernandez is the most sure thing in the league to pitch 30 quality starts which is how many he pitched in 2010. He also threw 29 in 2009. Both years he led the league which I expect him to do again this season.

If these two pitchers were on similar teams in similar situations I would expect even more identical numbers than they already have. But the fact is that they are not on similar teams at all. Lincecum's team is coming off of a World Series championship where as Hernandez is on a team that has floundered. Both are impressive strikeout pitchers, but where they are different for fantasy owners comes a lot from their surroundings.

Andrew Bilbo

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