Key Stats: The ratio of strikeouts for a good strikeouts pitcher to stolen bases for a good base stealer is roughly 200:40 or 5:1. Tim Lincecum had 261 strikeouts last year which gave him 57 more than Yovani Gallardo who had the 10th most in all of baseball. A lot of strikeouts for both guys, but don’t lose site of the fact that Lincecum beat Gallardo by what could be considered 11 stolen bases or a season’s worth of Brad Lidge’s strikeouts in 2009. Considering Lincecum has struck out 260 + two consecutive years, he owns this category in the same way Jacoby Ellsbury owns speed.
Skeptics Say: Jumping out of a plane or swimming with sharks is one thing, but jumping out of a plane and swimming with sharks is just too risky. Taking a pitcher this early for traditional, elitist fantasy baseball owners just seems like a terrible play. So many things can go wrong. Lincecum could go all Joe Nathan on us. He could fail to win a decision for a five or six game stretch of time. His velocity could start to tumble. He could have his schedule thrown off by the All-Star game. Everything can go wrong with a pitcher that rarely goes wrong with a hitter. The skeptics are right, but then again who isn’t blowny away by the person who makes jumping out of a plane to swim with sharks look easy.
Peer Comparison: The best way to justify Lincecum’s spot on this part of the countdown is to compare him to the player ranked one spot ahead of him. With consistency, no known health constraints, and an established reputation for dominating multiple categories, Ryan Howard certainly has all the necessary tools to be a first round pick. Then again so does Lincecum.
- In terms of consistency, Lincecum has now won back to back Cy Young Awards. He’s heading toward his age 26 season. Here’s what past multiple Cy winners did in their age 26 seasons:
Johan Santana - 2.87 ERA 0.97 WHIP 16 wins 238 K
Pedro Martinez - 2.89 ERA 1.09 WHIP 19 wins 251 K
Randy Johnson – 3.65 ERA 1.33 WHIP 14 wins 194 K
Greg Maddux – 2.18 ERA 1.01 WHIP 20 wins 199 K
Roger Clemens – 3.13 ERA 1.21 17 wins 230 K
Keep in mind that all of these games had their best seasons after the age of 26 and that only Clemens joins Lincecum as a player that won multiple Cy Youngs before age 26.
- In terms of dominating multiple stats Lincecum is there. While Justin Verlander finished with more strikeouts last year, Lincecum has more than anyone over the two year span by far. He’s also been third in ERA for three straight years and finished fourth in WHIP. While Lincecum’s win totals have never put him better than fifth in the league, he’s much more likely to dominate four categories this season than Howard.
- Finally Lincecum’s health has been phenominal since coming up in 2007. It’s been fairly well-documented that his delivery puts less stress on the arm and more on the body which bodes well for Lincecum in the future too.
Team Outlook: The Giants’ Opening Day roster is a little different than last season’s, but players like Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez, and Aubrey Huff aren’t going to provide any better run support than the cast the Giants had a season ago when the team finished 26th in runs. Even if the expected happens and the Giants finish in the bottom sixth of baseball in runs scored, Lincecum owners should expect a better win output in 2010. As the peer comparison in the Johan Santana player profile shows, only C.C. Sabathia received less help from teammates than Lincecum among the stud pitchers.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #1 Starting Pitcher; ESPN.com: #8 Overall; Yahoo: #1 Starting Pitcher and #14 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #12 Overall; Couch Managers: #13 Overall; FB 365: #1 Starting Pitcher
Projection: What if Lincecum didn’t start off the season with a thud last year? Could he have been the best player in fantasy baseball?
18 wins 2.49 ERA 1.07 WHIP 275 K in 238 innings
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