There’s no doubt that Felix Hernandez is a darling of advanced stats guys. His 2010 AL Cy Young Award struck a major blow against the old-time stats, which tended to favor things stats out of a pitcher’s control — like wins.
But since 2010, he’s not been as good. Sure, King Felix threw a perfect game for the Seattle Mariners in 2012, but the overall body of work has been a bit of a step back.
Felix Hernandez: 2010-2013
Felix Hernandez Projections
We’re definitely on a similar track, here. The worldwide leader is definitely giving Felix a little more slack in relation to K’s and innings pitched, but nothing too extreme.
But how sure can we be in the four standard fantasy categories that Felix will contribute to?
As good as Felix has always been at striking guys out, expecting more than a strikeout an inning again is incredibly bold and optimistic. He’d never struck out hitters at that rate before 2013 and with the acquisitions of hitters like Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and of course Robinson Cano, you’d have to think that the Mariners will score more runs. When that happens, pitchers with Hernandez’s stuff tend to feel a little more willing to pitch to contact.
So, let’s split the innings pitched different between our projections and ESPN’s above, which means that Felix will pitch 217 innings in 2014. What would that mean for his total K’s.
- 8.0 K/9: 193
- 8.5 K/9: 205
- 9.0 K/9: 217
- 9.5 K/9: 229
For the record, 8.5 K/9 is what he averaged from 2010-2012 and I think we’ll get closer to that rate in 2014. No question that Felix can dominate a game, but over a strikeout an inning is really fantastic for a starter. Impossible? No. Improbable, especially two years in a row? Yes.
So, if he does throw 217 innings this season, don’t count on anything more than 205-210 strikeouts.
There’s not too much to say about wins because they’re so hard to predict but Hernandez should take a few more games in 2014.
In addition to the offensive moves mentioned above, the Mariners signed Fernando Rodney to close. That move moved Danny Farquhar into more of a setup role and at least on paper, making the back end of the bullpen quite a bit more dangerous.
They should score more runs and do a better job of protecting leads, which will help the W-L record of Felix. I wouldn’t draft him thinking he’ll win 20 games, but you can certainly plan on a few better than the 12-13 range.
He’s produced two seasons with such striking similar ERA’s that you’d have a hard time arguing that 2014 will see much deviation. If that’s the case, we’re looking at somewhere in the 3.00-3.10 range.
Again, it can be different, but there’s nothing to really suggest that it will be. If you want to be critical, you could point out the struggles in the final two months of 2013, but remember that he was nursing an oblique injury in that time.
Even if it wasn’t the case, Felix’s body of work — even if we’re only looking at 2012 and 2012 — certainly should grant him the benefit of the doubt that a few bad months were nothing more than a few bad months.
So, I’m putting him in the 3.00-3.10 range without much reservation.
If you look up expressions that were played out YEARS ago in the Dictionary, you’ll see “If you look up such-and-such in the Dictionary you’ll see a picture of so-and-so”, so I’ll refrain from doing that here.
Having said that, some of you may still like making comments like that. So, I would like to show you just how consistent Hernandez has been over the last two years, just in case you need to say something like that about consistency.
Felix Hernandez: 2012 & 2013 Hits & Walks
Strikingly consistent and much like ERA, it’s awfully hard to say it’ll be much different.
Personally, I don’t deviate much from what our projections or ESPN’s projections say. Still, let’s look at those again, along with what I feel you can expect from King Felix.
Felix Hernandez Projections
When it comes to ranking starting pitchers, you have Clayton Kershaw and it feels like we can draw the next nine names out of a hat to round out the Top-10. Felix Hernandez is easily one of those names and has potential to be one of the top five fantasy starters in the game.
Specifically, I agree with our rankings. That means that I put King Felix below only Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, and Stephen Strasburg, making Hernandez the eighth ranked starter heading into the draft season.