A lot of times human beings have a hard time making a decision. Sometimes the decisions we make are well reasoned. Other times our information is faulty, we make rash/uneducated decisions because of it, or we let our hormones out of the box and they cause all kinds of issues (tell me you haven’t been out on a Saturday night at 1 AM and those hormones of yours aren’t telling you to do something that you would never do at 6 PM on a Thursday night. Don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there – some of us more than others). With that as the backdrop let me toss out some information and you can tell me what you would do with it.
PITCHER A: Four seasons of 210 innings and five of 185.
PITCHER B: No season of 180 innings.
PITCHER A: Won at least 13 games on four occasions.
PITCHER B: Never won more than 11 games.
PITCHER A: Career 3.31 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2.81 K/BB, 1.41 GB/FB
PITCHER B: Career 4.10 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 2.28 K/BB, 0.88 GB/FB
Is there any person out there, given that data, that wouldn’t take PITCHER A? Of course there isn’t. Obviously, based on the data laid out PITCHER A is not only a more skilled hurler, he’s also the hurler with experience so there would be no reason to take PITCHER B. Of course, as you might have surmised from the extended build up, many this year are drafting PITCHER B first.
Why is this occurring? The prevailing thought is that PITCHER A, coming off the worst season of his career and a dreadful campaign, is no longer someone that can be counted on while PITCHER B is the upwardly mobile hurler who only needs health to excel in 2013. Is that perception reality?
PITCHER A is Tim Lincecum. I won’t go into great detail breaking down Lincecum in this piece since I’ve already done that in Is Tim Lincecum Washed Up After Years of Dominance? In that article I broke down why I believe that far too much is being made out of Tim’s loss of velocity and why just because he had a terrible season in 2012 doesn’t mean his career is over.
As for PITCHER B, that’s Brandon Morrow. I get it. Morrow is a power arm who I personally touted as a breakout star last year. He posted a 2.96 ERA and 1.11 WHIP as he was well on his way to making me look like a genius before injury struck and that ultimately limited him to being on the bump only 21 times. As I noted above, Morrow doesn’t have any big inning seasons under his belt, and while that shouldn’t stop you from targeting him on draft day it’s just a little knock against him that has to be noted. It should also be noted that despite all the success last year that is better than a strikeout an inning arm, he was over 10.15 K/9 in 2010 and 2011, fell to just 7.80 last season. That’s a significant loss (even “terrible” Lincecum was at 9.19). Morrow did further reduce his walk rate, for the first time it was under three batters per nine innings to help offset the loss of Ks, but is that a repeatable number for him? Will Morrow continue to have success keeping the ball in the yard even though his fly ball rate is constantly 5-7 percent above the league average? Does he have any chance of repeating his .252 BABIP from last season which was .039 points below his career norm?
I’m not going to say that drafting Lincecum over Morrow is the right or wrong move (more on that below). I’m merely going to point out that the numbers, and not just the last 12 months but all the numbers, suggest that while everyone out there but me might be favoring Morrow this season that it really shouldn’t be the open and shut case it seems to be for most. Remember, we all do things at times that we regret and usually the best way to avoid those decisions, other than laying off that 6th Midori Sour, is to get as much information as possible to help you to form an accurate picture of what it is that you’re trying to address.
To find out how I ranked Morrow and Lincecum in 2013, and let me tell you it’s about as close as it can be in my book, make sure you get a copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Draft Guide.
By Ray Flowers