One of the great unknowns heading into the 2009 season is how fantasy players will treat reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. On the one hand, we have the top fantasy hurler in the National League, one who led the league in strikeouts, finished second in wins and ERA and eighth in WHIP. On the other hand, Lincecum led the majors in Baseball Prospectus’ Pitcher Abuse Points and he topped Tom Verducci’s magical line of an increase of 30 IP for a starter under 25.
There is enough of a backlash against strict adherence to pitch counts from all corners of baseball that Lincecum’s value would probably not be hurt by that alone. But when combined with his innings pitched increase of 49.2 from his combined majors + minors total in 2007, there are going to be more than a handful of people wary of investing too much in the Giants’ ace.
The Bill James projection system has Lincecum with another outstanding year in 2009, nearly matching his wins and WHIP from a year ago, showing a slight increase in strikeouts but a 0.40 drop in ERA. James even predicts 13 more innings pitched from Lincecum in 2009. But James is one of the critics of the Pitcher Abuse Points system.
The Marcel projection for Lincecum does not show him coming anywhere close to his 2008 numbers. But the Marcel projections are not particularly reliable for players with his experience in the majors.
Ultimately, each fantasy player will have to decide how much to weigh Lincecum’s obvious talents versus the systems that predict bad things for him based on how comparable pitchers have fared under his work load in the past.
However, it’s always nice to get an ace starter at a reduced cost.