Felix Hernandez and Small Windows of Opportunity
Since his 2005 debut, Felix Hernandez has been an elite Major League pitcher. From 2008 through 2013, “King Felix” has been top five in innings pitched, ERA, FIP, HR/9 and WAR. We throw the word ‘ace’ around too often, but Hernandez is one due to his combination of skills and consistency.
2013 was Felix Hernandez’ second best year in terms of WAR value (6.0). In general, a six win season is considered to be Hall of Fame worthy. He posted a career-high 9.51 K/9 and a career-low 2.04 BB/9. With those numbers, one can imagine my surprise when his name appeared on the trading block in a keeper league. I can only think of two reasons — declining fastball velocity and the injury bogeyman — as possible explanations.
Felix Hernandez has lost velocity on his fastball. Once clocked at 95-96 MPH, he now sits at 92-93 MPH. This drop has been well-documented, causing more than a few fantasy owners to question whether Hernandez is showing signs of decline. This line of thinking is crazy! Hernandez isn’t a thrower anymore. He’s a pitcher. That’s why his K/9 has increased steadily while decreasing his BB/9 at the same time. to offset the velocity decline, Felix Hernandez has featured a strong curveball, slider, and changeup more often.
Outside of a DL stint in 2008 (ankle), Felix has been the definition of durable. The fear of him losing time to an injury because of age and innings pitched makes little sense. After all, Hernandez is just 27 years old. With no injury history and excellent mechanics, predicting an injury is pure speculation. All pitchers break down at some point, but it’s the nature of pitching. That fact is not going to stop me from buying. Chris Sale is built like a strong wind would take him over the outfield wall at US Cellular. No issues. On the other hand, Dylan Bundy looks like the prototype pitcher created in a science lab. Tommy John.
Felix Hernandez For Francisco Lindor?
The cost to acquire Hernandez in this league was a paltry prospect. The owner had depleted his farm chasing a title and had a ‘surplus’ of pitching. With quality arms like Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg on his roster, Felix Hernandez was expendable. I was in the opposite situation. With no true ace on the staff (but a well-stocked farm) I dealt Francisco Lindor straight up or Hernandez. Lindor is a consensus top-10 prospect, but this was a no-brainer since Lindor’s high ranking has as much to do with his defense as his bat (Baseball America #13, MLB.com #10). Sparkling defensive plays do not receive bonus points in fantasy baseball.
You might not be able to flip a prospect for Felix Hernandez. But you might be surprised at what he’ll cost with all this velocity scuttlebutt. It’s worth a knock on his owner’s door — especially with Seattle’s lineup improving this winter. Outside of Clayton Kershaw, there is no pitcher I’d rather own than Felix Hernandez.
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27 Feb 2014 / Mike Buttil /
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