2011 Fantasy Projections No. 28: Is Giants’ Tim Lincecum Still an Elite Pitcher?

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Prior to 2010, Tim Lincecum made tremendous strides in each of his first three seasons on his way to becoming the game’s most dominating pitcher. From 2007 to 2009, Tiny Tim improved his K/9, BB/9, HR/9, batting average against, ERA and WHIP each season.

Lincecum experienced a setback in all six categories in 2010, however, and was even relegated to spot-start status after allowing 22 earned runs in 25.1 innings last August.

So what happened to the two-time Cy Young award winner?

Two things stand out. First, his decline in average fastball velocity:

  • 2007: 94.2 MPH
  • 2008: 94.1 MPH
  • 2009: 92.4 MPH
  • 2010: 91.3 MPH

Second, and more surprisingly, is the difference in Lincecum’s curveball from 2009 to 2010:

  • 2009: 5.6 runs above average
  • 2010: 7.0 runs below average

Only three other pitchers (Randy Wolf, Dave Bush and John Lackey) had less effective yackers in 2010.

There are, however, reasons to believe The Freak can bounce back in 2011. Despite all of his struggles last season, Lincecum remained among the league leaders in “nastiness”:

  • Contact Rate: 75.1 percent (fifth), MLB average: 80.7 percent
  • Swinging Strike Rate: 11.0 percent (sixth), MLB average: 8.5 percent

Also, Lincecum’s changeup was third-best in the majors, at 16.9 runs above average.

In fact, if you throw out last August (a month which saw Lincecum fall victim to a .387 BABIP and 59.0 left-on-base rate), his season ERA would have been a cool 2.79—a far cry from his actual total of 3.43.

All things considered, it’s reasonable to expect the 26-year-old Freaky Franchise to bounce back in 2011. Draft him as the third starting pitcher, behind Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright.


2010 stats 212.1 16 9.79 3.22 3.43 1.27
3-year average 221.2 16 10.25 3.09 2.83 1.16
2011 FBI Forecast 221 17 10.00 3.00 2.90 1.16



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The latest from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:

  • Guerrero to Baltimore: Why He’s Better Off in Camden Yards than Rangers Ballpark

Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ 2011 Big Board:

  • Nos. 1-10 Is Pujols Still The Top Pick?
  • Nos. 11-20 Where Do Votto, A-Rod and Halladay Fit In?
  • No. 21: Dustin Pedroia
  • No. 22: Chase Utley
  • No. 23: Ryan Zimmerman
  • No. 24: Jose Reyes
  • No. 25: Josh Hamilton
  • No. 26: Shin-Soo Choo
  • No. 27: Adam Wainwright

MLB Trades: Fantasy Impact:

  • Frank Francisco Traded to the Blue Jays, Who Will Be The Team’s Closer?
  • Mike Napoli Traded to the Texas Rangers: Fantasy Impact
  • Vernon Wells Traded to the Los Angeles Angels: Fantasy Impact
  • Adrian Beltre Traded to the Texas Rangers: Fantasy Impact

Previous articles from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:

  • The Sub-2.50 ERA Curse: Why Five Elite Starting Pitchers May Regress in 2011
  • 2010 Batting Average on Balls in Play Leaders: What to Expect in 2011?
  • 2011 Closer’s Corner: Papelbon, Cordero & Rivera Are the Only Reliable Options
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