Tim Lincecum Player Projection No. 30

Key Stats: Tim Linecum did not finish with a winning record last year despite having an ERA under 3.00. It’s unusual, but far from unprecedented. Since 2000, there have been 92 pitchers that have had an ERA under 3.00 and qualified for the ERA title. Six of them (including Lincecum last season) have had a losing record. The others were Doug Fister (2011), Jake Peavy (2008), Kevin Millwood (2005), Ben Sheets (2004), and Curt Schilling (2003).

Lincecum had 7 quality starts result in losses and also had three no decisions that he gave up 1 or fewer runs.

Skeptics Say: For the third straight season the cumulative strikeout total dropped for The Freak. He still has a strong strikeout rate, but that has also dropped four straight years. His average fastball actually was 1 MPH quicker last year and his average change up did not change. It would appear he had the stuff to get more strikeouts, but the numbers didn’t work that way. Hitter adjustments and pitch movement are likely reasons, but in any case Lincecum doesn’t possess first round stuff anymore with his K rate where it is.

Peer Comparison: I thought it was interesting to note where Lincecum was going in expert mock drafts versus where he is going in general mock drafts on MDC. In the general mock drafts he has been going about 10 picks higher on average. This is a trend not just for Lincecum, but all starting pitchers. The stereotypical answer that all the “experts” will give is that starting pitchers are inherently more risky, so take great hitters early and grab pitchers later where an injury won’t hurt as bad. I actually don’t like that strategy this season.

Here is a list of the top ten starting pitchers coming off the board on Mock Draft Central expert drafts. Next to that is their average starts per season since their first full season.

Player

Starts per season

Innings/Season

Seasons

Justin Verlander

33

217

6

Roy Halladay

30

219

10

Clayton Kershaw

32

203

3

Cliff Lee

30

197

8

Felix Hernandez

32

217

6

Tim Lincecum

33

220

4

CC Sabathia

32

215

11

Jered Weaver

32

212

4

Cole Hamels

31

206

5

David Price

32

216

2

Where is the risk in taking these players? Sure some of them are young, and the jury is still out, but I’m not any less comfortable than I would be with a hitter. Aren’t Carlos Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Ian Kinsler, and Jose Reyes injury risks? And looking at pitchers 11 through 20, there aren’t any real significant injuries either aside from Stephen Strasburg (though I’m choosing to ignore his as we’ll see in a few days). The problem with the starters in that group is that there is much more uncertainty with regards to consistency going forward (Ian Kennedy, James Shields). More reason to feel good about taking an elite starter sooner rather than later.

Team Outlook: Lincecum had his bad luck in the win column, but what’s to say that it will change? The Giants were last in the NL in runs scored last year and did not sufficiently replace Carlos Beltran. The return of Buster Posey will certainly be welcomed, but aside from the Padres and maybe the Dodgers this lineup is the weakest in the NL.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #9 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #8 Starting Pitcher & #30 Overall; Yahoo: #5 Starting Pitcher & #28 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP:  #6 Starting Pitcher & #37 Overall; RotoChamp: #50 Overall

Projection: Not that he has to win more with the lineup and the possibility of Aubrey Huff in a large outfield, but odds are that he will.
16 wins 2.70 ERA 1.17 WHIP 223 K in 216 innings