Fantasy Baseball: Zack Greinke vs. Felix Hernandez

by Tim Heaney and Cory J. Bonini on March 4, 2010 @ 03:29:27 PDT


Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City Royals

Tim Heaney

Greinke's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Kansas City Royals SP Zack Greinke
    Zack Attack will be back
    Expecting a repeat of '09 levels is insane. Look deeper, though. In each year since Greinke missed almost all of '06, his ERA and control rate have declined while his dominance has climbed. It's a trend, not a fluke.
  • Hard to bank on another 16 wins, also, but he should still post a respectable victory tally. Greinke has developed the stamina and efficiency to pitch deep into games, helped by regaining his slider and showing annual increases in first-strike percentage since '06.
  • Felix Hernandez has posted four straight seasons with 190-plus innings. He'll be 24 in April. Sure, Felix's K/9 is solid, too, but Hernandez hasn't yet shown what Greinke has in dominance and still pitches a bit more to contact. Plus, it's not like another 19-win season is a lock for a Mariners pitcher.
  • Many rave about Safeco Field's pitcher-friendly environment. Kauffman Stadium is far from a bandbox. You can't look at environment alone, but using a favorable pitching ambience as a complement to elite skills doesn't hurt.
  • Greinke, 26, is a more seasoned major leaguer who already has experienced massive ups and downs. On and off the field, he has matured and made adjustments since recovering from depression and social anxiety disorder. Don't ignore the mental development of a young arm.

Closing argument: In a keeper league, I'd tab King Felix. In a 2010 draft, I side with Greinke: more dominance and a fresher arm in recent seasons. Though his ERA will likely top 3.00 again, he boasts roto ace skills that would ease a return to earth.

Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners

Cory J. Bonini

Hernandez's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Seattle Mariners SP Felix Hernandez
    King Felix will reign
    Zack Greinke will command ridiculous value based on one big year; his homer and strand rates are much better than his averages; Hernandez has shown stability while growing into an ace in the last four seasons.
  • Keeps the ball in the park: Hernandez's HR/FB percentage has dropped three straight years, and his top-notch GB/FB rate in 2008 held up after his banner '09 year (1.77, 1.79). It used to be much higher, but it's still at league-leading levels; he added some dominance to that, so it's a productive trade-off.
  • King Felix's HR/9 dropped to 0.57, his lowest in a full season. A strong BABIP (.289) marked another major improvement and falls in line with his elite ability to keep the ball on the ground.
  • Over the past two seasons, Hernandez has been better on the road than at home. He also split his stats pretty evenly before and after the break, so you shouldn't expect to experience a rollercoaster performance.
  • He set a career high with 19 wins last year. While counting on that kind of production is very risky, the Mariners have improved - in theory - as a team and already possess an elite defense, so suggesting a huge drop-off in the W column seems unfounded.
Closing argument: After years of being lauded as the next elite pitcher, it looks like Hernandez finally made that jump. Drafters should be aware of a chance for regression since he posted such lofty figures last year, but most signs point this royal righty finally being ready (turns 24 April 8) to preside over the kingdom.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Zack Greinke Felix Hernandez
Nicholas Minnix   X
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae X  
Cory J. Bonini   X
Keith Hernandez X  

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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