We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2011 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2011 Giants Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of The Giants Baseball Blog.
1. For Tim Lincecum, last year the percentage of pitches a batter hit outside the strike zone was 56%, compared to 48.8% the year before. He also lost a mile on his fastball, threw his slider a lot more and his curveball a lot less. Are these causes for concern? Blips on the radar?
A: I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit alarming. Lincecum went through a real rough stretch in August last season, before really turning it on for the stretch run and the playoffs, and the big reason for that was because he was learning how to pitch without the 95 mph fastball for the first time in his career. The reason for the drop in velocity, in my opinion, has to do with his large workload over the last 3 seasons. However, he really alleviated that concern after watching his performances in October, and although Giants fans will be watching his velocity and control very closely this spring, they are all pretty confident in their ace. A big reason for the drop in curveball and slider ratio was because of his evolving change-up, which is a pitch that really helped him out of his funk.
2. After the struggles of 2010, if Panda starts off slow in 2011, how long will his leash be?
A: That really all depends on the health of the guys around him, mainly Miguel Tejada and Mark DeRosa. If Tejada and DeRosa are both playing well out of Spring and Pablo continues to struggle, Bochy has shown he won’t hesitate to bench him. That said, Pablo has been a man on a mission this winter and has shed a lot of excess weight. Sandoval is still pretty young too, which a lot of people forget (not 25 until August). I would be pretty surprised if he shows up in camp and isn’t ready to go. I’m expecting something in-between his ’09 and ’10 seasons, probably a .285-18-85 line with an .800 OPS.
3. I saw the Fangraphs Database drinking down at the local watering hole, muttering under its breath “Matt Cain can suck it.” Will Cain continue to defy FIP and xFIP or will it catch up to him at some point?
A: Cain’s a fly ball pitcher/power pitcher, and will give up home runs and walk some batters, just because he’s up in the zone so much. But to answer the question, I think he will continue to defy the logic of the FIP stat, mainly because he just doesn’t give up a lot of base hits and pitches extremely well with runners on base.
4. What kind of year do we see from Madison Bumgarner in 2011?
A: I’m very excited about Bumgarner in 2011. He finished off so well in the World Series, and was very key in the Giants championship run and down the stretch in September. This guy has a lot of Matt Cain in him and is extremely mature for a 21 year-old. I’m expecting a slightly better season than his Zips projections suggest just because I think he’ll end up throwing more than 167 innings. I think the era will be slightly below 4, he’ll will 10-13 games and will pitch 180+ innings. He is strikeout pitcher with uncanny control, so I would expect a very good K:BB ratio, but he does give up some hits.
5. The Machine will make an appearance this year at 1) The opening day ring ceremony. 2) 2nd base as a defensive replacement. 3) Pat Burrell’s divorce proceedings as a character witness.
A: I’m hoping we see “The Machine” opening day! LOL, this sure is a fun team to follow!