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« With Improved Fastball Command, Felix Still King | Main | The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller »
Thursday
Feb072013

The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez is an ideal example of a pitcher who has seen enormous success from locating, mixing and sequencing. For the past five seasons he’s been one of the best starting pitchers in the game because of his durability and domination of hitters. 

During the 2012 regular season opposing batters hit .241 versus Felix Hernandez.

What was the most remarkable about his 2012 season was that he was able to dominate hitters despite moving away from his fastball and its decreasing velocity. 

Felix Hernandez's Trending Fastball Velocity

Source: BrooksBaseball.net

 

Hernandez’s velocity has decreased year-over-year since the start of his MLB career. As the velocity dropped he no longer depended on his plus-plus (well above-average) fastball to get hitters out. Instead, he relied on location and the sequencing of his secondary pitches.

 

In the last five seasons he leads the league in ground ball percentage and is sixth in strikeouts per nine innings among any pitcher with at least 1,000 innings pitched. What was the most remarkable about his 2012 season was that he was able to dominate hitters despite a decline in the speed of his fastball.  

Checkout These Career Numbers

YEAR

IP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

WHIP

ERA

2005

84.3

8.22

2.46

6.51

0.53

1.00

2.67

2006

191

8.29

2.83

9.19

1.08

1.34

4.52

2007

190.3

7.80

2.51

9.88

0.95

1.38

3.92

2008

200.7

7.85

3.59

8.88

0.76

1.39

3.45

2009

238.7

8.18

2.68

7.54

0.57

1.14

2.49

2010

249.7

8.36

2.52

6.99

0.61

1.06

2.27

2011

233.7

8.55

2.58

8.40

0.73

1.22

3.47

2012

232

8.65

2.17

8.11

0.54

1.14

3.06

The table below shows the percentage of pitches Hernandez threw in 2012 compared to the four seasons prior.

Last season he threw the fastball far less and utilized his secondary pitches more. 

Pitches

2008-11

2012

Fastball

43%

23%

Change Up

12%

25%

Curveball

12%

14%

Slider

11%

14%

Cutter

1%

12%

Sinker

19%

12%

Splitter

2%

-

 

What's Felix Hernandez's Fantasy Value for 2013?

The maturation process of Hernandez from a thrower to a pitcher has largely flown under the radar. Last season was by far his most impressive season of his career because he was able to sustain his dominance without plus-plus stuff. He maintained his level of performance by relying on his command of the strike zone and incorporating more of his secondary pitches.

 

The fences are moving in this year at Safeco Field, but Colin Wyers wrote a great article that moving in the fences will only have a slight impact on the number of runs scored. King Felix pitches in a great pitchers park and the Mariners offense should be improved with the acquisition of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, but he’s still going to have a difficult time trying to get wins against the best division on the American League. 

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    The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Felix Hernandez - Baseball Analytics Blog - MLB Baseball Analytics