Fantasy players were very disappointed by the mostly awful regular season performance of Tim Lincecum last year. Drafted as a No. 1 or No. 2 Roto starter in many cases, Lincecum struggled for most of the season and found himself on fantasy benches for extended periods. He pitched much better out of the bullpen in the postseason, though, drawing some whispers of optimism for 2013.
Lincecum’s Average Draft Position in the National Fantasy Baseball Championships, however, is 128th overall, and his consensus staff rank in the RotoExperts.com Xclusive Edge Fantasy Baseball package is 32nd among starting pitchers. So thereseems to be a lot of lingering skepticism about whether Lincecum can actually rebound this year. Yet talk to most fantasy experts about him, and they’ll have some positive things to say about how he is still the same pitcher overall and he is too good not to bounce back.
Still, most won’t move to officially rank him among the better starting pitchers or take him among their Top 15 or so starters in mocks. So there seems to be a approach of waiting until the middle rounds of a draft to grab him while hoping for Lincecum’s past form to return. Lots of fantasy types will encourage you to take the shot on him, but won’t recommend it until double figure rounds. That’s because no one is truly confident in their Lincecum scouting reports for 2013.
Such uncertainty is not limited to the fantasy types, either. Talking to those inside the game, there seems to be widespread confusion about what troubled Lincecum last year and if he can dominate – or at least be more consistently competitive – again. There are several theories about what ailed Lincecum last year. He may have been injured, and the Giants never publicly said so. Some think that even the team could not figure out what was wrong with him. Another hypothesis is that Lincecum was pitching with some extra weight last season, and I have heard that suggestion trotted out more than once.
When speaking to Lincecum himself last year, he seemed somewhat stunned by his own struggles. His fastball location was certainly off, and he worked diligently to correct his season path. By the postseason, he seemed to have straightened himself out, but pitching out of the bullpen is certainly different from starting. No one knows what to expect from Lincecum for sure this year, and even at his current ADP, you are taking a risk. I’m not getting any solid assurances that he is due for a true bounce-back campaign.
My advice? Pass on Lincecum and let someone else worry about the unknowns in 2013. I’m sure you will have other starting pitchers queued up in the 13th or 14th round, and there’s many other upside performers I would rather take a chance on. Give me Matt Harvey a few rounds later. I am a fan of Lincecum as a baseball observer and truly hope he turns it around. I’m just not confident enough that he will turn it around to spend a fantasy draft choice on him.
Getty photo, by Jonathan Daniel