by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Tim Lincecum and Homer Bailey, at least on the surface, have very similar makeups right now. They are generating strikeouts with good control and, seemingly, bad luck. However, the actual outlook couldn’t be more different. Let’s take a look:
Tim Lincecum – San Francisco Giants
We all keep waiting for Lincecum to suddenly rediscover his Cy Young form, but we all just keep getting disappointed. When will we finally learn? Now may be as good of a time as any, as despite the hope in some of the underlying metrics there is more bad than good.
When we look at a pitcher with a 9.47 K/9, 2.10 BB/9 and .395 BABIP our first instinct is that he has to be a tremendous buy. However, when you look more into the numbers you realize the first thought is deceiving.
Yes, the luck appears to be poor (especially when you throw in a 25.0% HR/FB), but then you realize that he’s simply been hit extremely hard. A 29.6% line drive rate is going to cause a bloated BABIP, and before we deem it unsustainable keep in mind that he’s posted marks of 23.8% and 23.1% the previous two seasons.
The control? The owner of a career mark of 3.45, and below 3.22 just once in his career, this appears to be a hard number to buy into as well.
He’s always been a strikeout pitcher, though, so that has to be for real. Sure, we want to think it’s so but the underlying metrics just don’t support it. First of all his velocity continues to plummet, averaging just 89.8 mph on his fastball. He also isn’t generating swings and misses, with a below average 8.9% SwStr% (league average is 9.4%).
Maybe he has reduced his velocity to help with his control? It’s possibly, though it’s been trending in the wrong direction anyways. His history indicates maintaining the rate is possible, but it’s hard to believe.
The bottom line? Don’t buy Lincecum at this point, as the risks far outweigh the reward.
Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds
Bailey, on the other hand, has a completely different makeup. Not only does he have the favorable numbers, with a 9.91 K/9, 2.73 BB/9 and .416 BABIP, but he has the underlying numbers to support a significant improvement.
He’s had a long history of control, with a career BB/9 of 2.91. In fact, he’s been at 2.33 or better each of the past three seasons. There’s no concern there.
His BABIP is truly terrible luck, considering his 22.9% line drive rate and 48.2% groundball rate. In fact, you can take it a step further with a rediculous 29.2% HR/FB. In other words things should get significantly better.
The strikeouts are also extremely reasonable, considering his 10.9% SwStr%. With a 10.7% mark a year ago, we can’t call it unmaintainable.
Everything appears to line up perfectly for Bailey to come back strong from here on in. If someone in your league has grown frustrated, don’t hesitate to pounce.