Fritzenhammer wrote:Don't get me wrong, Philip Hughes is a great prospect, but fantasy wise, I can't see how anyone can rank Hughes above Lincecum.
Both could be great, but Lincecum is demonstrating that his talent is another kind of special - the kid is nearly unhittable. It's time to see what he's capable of in the bigs.
Most scouts rated Hughes higher than Lincecum. 4 starts won't change their minds. I can also see why people would take Hughes over Linc considering Hughes is already in thee majors. It will be up to him to keep himself on the roster.
"Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." ~George Carlin
Lincecum was lower in scout's eyes not because of his raw stuff but because he was absolutely unproven. He had, what, 9 professional innings under his belt last year? In like low-A? But now that's he's in AAA and it's not getting any easier for people to hit him, maybe we need to start revising initial estimates about how good he's going to be. He really looks like an Oswalt-type pitcher to me. As he gets older, velocity will drop a bit just like Oswalt (down into the 91-95 range by the time he's 28-29, rather than high 90's) and then the K's will start to fall, but in early years he will probably K more than a batter an inning.
thought this was a worthy article on young pitching by Christopher Harris on ESPN.
Yes, Brandon Morrow is on my deep AL-only fantasy baseball team. And yes, Tim Lincecum is on my NL-only team.
I can't help myself. I heart young pitching.
And now that the Yankees have cast down the first gauntlet and called up uber-prospect Philip Hughes, it's a good time to revisit the wisdom of my mania.
I wrote a column last spring about my proclivities toward extravagant fantasy transactions involving heralded minor-league starters' early-career chances in the bigs. I was, shall we say, indulgent toward my habit. In fact, the column concluded this way:
"When organizations begin calling their best young arms to the majors through the rest of 2006, I'm going to be fine with snagging several and dumping the Carlos Silvas, Matt Stairses and Joe Randas of the world. Who are the high-expectation starters closest to the bigs? … Chad Billingsley, Mike Pelfrey, Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Sowers, Dustin Nippert, Jason Hammel, Cesar Carillo and Tom Gorzelanny come to mind, but I'm not limiting myself to those guys. Merkin Valdez, Anibal Sanchez, Josh Banks and Dustin Moseley could all get chances soon, and I'll be watching. You should, too."
Um, well, nice call on Sanchez, right?
It's time to revisit my mania. I'm specifically interested in midseason pitching-prospect call-ups because that tends to be where I blow so many of my FAAB dollars. For now, we'll ignore heralded rookie pitchers who made their teams out of spring training, because most were probably drafted in deep leagues. So let's do a little research. How did "high-expectation" pitchers do in '06 upon getting called to the major leagues? For the purposes of this discussion, I'll define "high-expectation" as beginning with the Baseball America Top 100 prospect list and then branching out to include a relatively subjective recollection of draft picks, minor-league reputations and "hype." Clearly, my list won't entirely agree with yours, and I'll no doubt be flooded with e-mails decrying my stupidity for including Pitcher X or excluding Pitcher Y. But here goes:
Given that the average major-league starter's ERA in 2006 was 4.70 (4.66 in the NL and 4.75 in the AL) and the average WHIP was 1.41 (NL = 1.41, AL = 1.42), one wonders if considering called-up rookie pitchers turns out to be much ado about nothing. Of course, not all starter prospects are created equally. If you were trolling the free-agent pool in your league last year, and were given the choice between, say, Weaver and Eveland and hesitated for even one moment, you probably didn't deserve Weaver. What if we limit our 2006 midseason debut pitchers to the subset of guys who made Baseball America's Top 100 prospects? That whittles our list of 23 to 13, and our elite remainders include Billingsley (No. 7), Lester (No. 22), Sanchez (No. 40), Reyes (No. 41), Loewen (No. 45), Hirsh (No. 52), Sowers (No. 53), Volquez (No. 56), Weaver (No. 57), Hamels (No. 68), Hammel (No. 79), Penn (No. 81) and Gorzelanny (No. 95). This group's aggregate?
GS IP ERA WHIP K BB 183 1030.0 4.51 1.42 771 448
The combined ERA looks better, though the WHIP is just about the same. As I did in last year's column, let's take a look a few years in arrears, and see how "high-expectation" starting pitching call-ups have fared of late.
2005 Call-Ups The Baseball America Top 100 prospects called up after the '05 season began were: Felix Hernandez (No. 2), Matt Cain (No. 13), Zach Duke (No. 34), Scott Olsen (No. 38), Brandon McCarthy (No. 49), Kyle Davies (No. 53) and Hayden Penn (No. 94). Their aggregate major-league stats were:
IP ERA WHIP K BB 428.2 3.53 1.29 314 162
That's a great group. Of course, if you made it your habit to only try and pick up BA 100 prospects, you probably wouldn't get very many of them (because they tend to be hot commodities), and you would've missed out on starters like Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Chien-Ming Wang. My list of all "high-expectation" starter call-ups from '05 includes all 10 pitchers mentioned above, as well as: J.P. Howell, Paul Maholm, John Maine, Dustin McGowan, Wandy Rodriguez, Tim Stauffer, Robinson Tejeda and Edison Volquez. Each of these eight pitchers made reasonable fantasy pickups when they came to the bigs, though obviously some did far better than others. In total, this 18-pitcher group aggregates like this:
IP ERA WHIP K BB 1129.2 4.43 1.36 776 455
That's still not terrible, and includes some '05 stinkers, like Stauffer, McGowan and Howell. Of course, across the entire league, the average starter ERA in '05 was 4.39 and the average WHIP was 1.36. Quickly, let's go back a couple more years.
2004 Call-Ups Baseball America Top 100 Prospect call-ups: Scott Kazmir (No. 12), Zack Greinke (No. 14), Gavin Floyd (No. 23), Clint Nageotte (No. 45), Jeremy Guthrie (No. 53), Denny Bautista (No. 59), Travis Blackley (No. 63), Sean Burnett (No. 64), J.D. Durbin (No. 66) and Jeff Francis (No. 93):
IP ERA WHIP K BB 434.2 5.40 1.53 305 180
Including other "high-expectation" call-ups: David Bush, Daniel Cabrera, Chris Capuano, Brandon Claussen, Matt Guerrier, Brad Halsey, Dan Haren, Ben Hendrickson, Brad Hennessy, Noah Lowry, Bobby Madritsch, Sergio Mitre and Chris Young:
IP ERA WHIP K BB 1272.0 5.02 1.49 882 527
(The average ERA among starters in '04 was 4.63, and the average WHIP was 1.40.)
2003 Call-Ups Baseball America Top 100 Prospect call-ups: Jesse Foppert (No. 5), Rich Harden (No. 29), Cliff Lee (No. 30), Dontrelle Willis (No. 43), Aaron Heliman (No. 45), Jerome Williams (No. 50), Dewon Brazelton (No. 74), Chin-Hui Tsao (No. 93), Seth McClung (No. 98) and Edwin Jackson (No. 99):
IP ERA WHIP K BB 747.2 4.47 1.43 590 356
Including other "high-expectation" call-ups: Juan Dominguez, Jimmy Gobble, Wes Obermueller, Mario Ramos, Nate Robertson, Brian Tallet, Billy Traber, Claudio Vargas, Doug Waechter, Brandon Webb and Mike Wood:
IP ERA WHIP K BB 1420.1 4.44 1.42 1084 623
(The average starter ERA in '03 was 4.55, the average WHIP was 1.39.)
I could go on. (Seriously, I've got the data.) But what does all this prove? Well, my "magic bullet" of acquiring hotly anticipated starting pitchers who get called up midseason, on average, might not be so magic. In almost every case we evaluated here (and, trust me, the assertion holds for a few years further back as well), the average performance of BA 100 and other "high-expectation" call-ups tended to be at least as bad as the average starting pitcher already in the major leagues. The sole serious exception to this assertion is the call-up class of 2005, many of whose members rocked the fantasy world.
I find this analysis a bit sobering. When you know all about the performances and abilities of most major-league players, it's easy to imbue the unknown, e.g., minor-leaguers, with earth-shaking potential, because you haven't seen them pitch very often, if at all. So you hear a report that Lincecum is tearing up the Pacific Coast League (as of last weekend, he'd thrown 18.2 scoreless innings at Triple-A Fresno), and you buy the hype. Heck, I'll admit it, I buy the hype. Every summer I head to Cape Cod and watch the amateur baseball there, and become convinced I'm watching the next superstar starting pitcher. In fact, I saw Lincecum, Morrow, Andrew Miller, Brad Lincoln and others two summers ago, and was dazzled by most of them. But of course, unless you're in a keeper league (which is a whole different ball of wax), it's hard to imagine too many of these players making a major impact on your fantasy bottom line.
Of course, it's also overly simplistic to decry picking up young call-ups simply because the aggregate stats they'll all produce will very much resemble, if not lag behind, league averages. After all, in deeper fantasy leagues, "league-average" pitchers are sometimes hard to come by on the free-agent wire, so if the worst you get is a kid with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP with big upside, maybe that's not so bad. Also, for every Volquez there's a Weaver, and if you guess right, the rewards for grabbing a star rookie starter far outstrip latching onto a celebrity call-up batter, if only because wins are relatively scarce.
So don't freak out when young starters get called up this summer, even though I'll probably write columns telling you to do exactly that. But don't dismiss the possibility that such a player can greatly assist your fantasy team. Keep reading Minor Achievements on ESPN.com for the latest news about who looks good throwing in the minors; David Srinivasan does an unbelievable job. You know most of the leading names -- Philip Hughes, Homer Bailey, Miller, Jeff Niemann, Garza -- and if/when these kids get the call, you've got to grab them, and try and catch lightning in a bottle. Heck, Matt Albers is already getting the call for Houston; he'll replace the injured Jason Jennings in the Astros' rotation and pitch Friday against Milwaukee. Why, I think I'll rush right out and make a waiver claim …
Oh, right. The lesson here is don't automatically pick up heralded starters. Nevertheless, I'll have my eye on Albers, as well as guys like Lincecum, Scott Elbert, Yovani Gallardo, Adam Miller and Kevin Slowey, each of whom has very little left to prove outside the Show. I'll just try not to blow my entire FAAB.
Hamels was pretty damn good after the all star break last year. 3.39 era, 7 wins, 101 ks, 88 innings. This season hes even better. 2 wins, 2.55 era 33ks, 1.07 whip. Not to mention his last 15k game. Im glad I kept him in my keeper league, thats for damn sure.
Can somebody please type "Lincecum" phonetically so I can pronounce it correctly? Is it Lin-sick-um, Line-scum, Line-sick-ume, Lin-seck-em...I read it differently every flippin' time I see his name...which around here is a lot! Thanks.