Blog Entry

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:13 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 5:32 pm

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So, would you rather have a King or a Freak?

Today's Would You Rather Have isn't easy, that's for sure. We're talking about two of the best pitchers in the game, two right-handers both in their 20s and two guys who lost 14 games in 2011. You want proof that wins is an overrated statistic when it comes to judging a starting pitcher? Felix Hernandez was a .500 pitcher in 2011 and Tim Lincecum was a sub-.500 pitcher. You think either of those guys is a scrub? Yeah, not so much.

The case for Linecum

Lincecum has two Cy Young Awards under his belt before his 28th birthday (this June, by the way) and has thrown at least 212 innings in each of his first four full seasons in the big leagues and he's led the league in strikeouts in the first three of those seasons.

Last season Lincecum went 13-14, but he still had a 2.74 ERA, a 130 ERA+ and a 3.36 xFIP. He also struck out better than a batter an inning and recorded a 1.207 WHIP, while allowing just .6 homers per nine innings.

The case for Hernandez

Hernandez has just one Cy Young, but he arguably deserved another. Oh, and he's not even 26 yet (his birthday is in April). Hernandez came up as a 19-year-old, so he already has seven seasons under his belt, so while young he's hardly inexperienced.

Would You Rather Have
Since his 22nd birthday, Hernandez has thrown at least 200 innings a year, including his 2010 Cy Young year when he was an out from 250 innings on the season.Last season he was 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA but saw his strikeout rate rise to a career-bet 8.6 per nine innings, while his walk rate increased by just a hair.

As for contract status, neither comes cheap -- nor is either locked up long-term. Hernandez is signed through 2014 for a total of $59.5 million, while Lincecum has two more years of arbitration before becoming a free agent after 2013. Lincecum made $14 million last season and has asked for $21.5 million in arbitration this winter, while the Giants are offering $17 million.

Our call

There's no wrong answer to this (and no right answer, for that matter), both are amazing talents. I'd expect the poll to be pretty split. Both pitchers are young, durable and dominant. Both pitchers have home parks that are pitcher-friendly and the money is nearly a wash. There have been injury concerns about both, Hernandez because of his workload and Lincecum because of his slight frame, but neither has had serious injuries. In the end, I'll take Hernandez for his youth, experience and one more year of team control (plus cost certainty).

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Lincecum or Hernandez on your favorite team?

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Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2012 5:42 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

I'll take the POT smoker.   4:20 biatchesss

Since: Jan 11, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 5:22 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

I love watching both of these guys pitch.  I saw Timmy's first batch of major league starts (when he was still clocking 99mph), and he was pure pleasure to watch.  Felix has become extremely fun to watch these last couple of years since he developed a 90mph "changeup" that actually moves like screwball.  I'm sure it's just a circle change that he grips slightly differently so he can throw it that hard.  It has the same kind of action as Pedro Martinez's circle change, except it regularly clocks 89-91.  I'd take Felix.  

I don't know if my analysis below is fun or interesting to anyone else, but I enjoy these comparisons.  I've developed my own stat, and I call it "Good Start".  

Here's how it's measured.  

1. If he pitches 5 innings or more and gives up 2 runs or less, that's a "Good Start".  
2. If he pitches 7 innings or more and gives up 3 runs or less, that's a "Good start".  

3. If he pitches 6 innings and gives up 3 runs, *and his team won*, that's a good start.  
4. If he pitches 8 innings or more and gives up 4 runs, *and his team won*, that's a good start.  

So, considering if a pitcher wins all his "Good Starts", here's what there records would look like since start of career.  (No decisions are given if they pitch less than 5 innings and also give up 2 runs or less).  

2011 - TL, 23-10 (33 starts)
2011 - FH, 23-10 (33 starts)

2010 - TL, 23-10 (33 starts)
2010 - FH, 27-7 (34 starts)

2009 - TL, 25-7 (32 starts)
2009 - FH, 28-6 (34 starts)

2008 - TL, 23-9 (33 starts, 1 no-decision) 
2008 - FH, 20-10 (31 starts, 1 no-decision)

2007 - TL, 13-11 (24 starts)
2007 - FH, 16-14 (30 starts) 

2006 - FH, 15-16 (31 starts)

2005 - FH, 10-2 (12 starts) 

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:50 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

Let's face it both are studs and any team would love to have one or both of these guys.  While Felix might be younger, Timmy has the post season experiance and was able to step it up on the big stage.  I would go with Timmy.

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:40 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

In followup to my previous post:

No, no, no, I will not add a third condition, that Timmy either cut his hair or make himself look less like a bat (the flying kind). As long as he keeps missing bats (the wooden kind)--and stays out of further trouble, etc.--he can pitch for my team no matter how silly he looks.

Since: Mar 8, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:32 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

Timmay! Gotta root for the kid from Dazed and Confused or I'd be doing a disservice to my avatar.

Since: Oct 13, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:30 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

the answer to this question is both. both have over 30 pros and both have 2 cons at most. you cant go wrong with either pitcher. as a giants fan if they both swapped teams for one season i wouldn't be upset having the king just as Ms fans wouldn't be upset with having the freak.

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:28 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

Would you rather have: Lincecum or Hernandez?
Hernandez--i.e, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona?  If so, that's a hell of a choice to have to make, considering that he and Lincecum have both been busted at one time or another for different offenses.  By and large, though, between Lincecum on the one hand and Carmona/Hernandez on the other, I'd probably still take Timmy--on condition that he accept a clause in his contract giving me the right to void it if he (a) gets busted again, or (b) is not in condition to pitch in the All-Star Game as a result of a mysterious and unexplained "illness" again, like in 2008. 

Oh, you were talking about some other Hernandez guy?  Well, I'll have to go back to the drawing board on that one . . .

Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:58 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

There shouldn't be a choice here.  They should both be Mariners.  The would be if Bill Bavasi wouldn't have foolishly skipped over hometown-kid Lincecum in favor of Brandon Morrow.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:56 pm

Would You Rather Have: Lincecum or Hernandez?

Ah finally, comparing apples to apples. Yeah I'd take either pitcher, they both are aces and give you innings, and are relatively young. But if I had to choose I'd take Felix, because his control is a bit better, he gives you more innings, and just seems so dominant when he pitches.

gmen 2012
Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:36 pm
This comment has been removed.

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