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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: FELIX HERNANDEZ SP SEATTLE MARINERS

2016 was set up to be a very crucial and at the same time telling year for longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.  The reason for the scrutiny was due to the fact that Hernandez was coming off a troubling 2015 campaign where he showed major chinks in his pitching armor for the first time in his stellar career.  Leading into 2015, we had already begun mentioning all the massive inning totals Hernandez had accumulated since arriving in the majors at the age of 20 and how eventually that would come back to bite him through diminished stuff.  It was only a matter of time before Hernandez' arm began to be negatively affected by all those innings and 2015 certainly looked like it was beginning to take hold.  While Hernandez got off to a good start that year, his second half was very ugly as he pitched to a 4.48 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.  His composite 3.53 mark was his higher mark there since 2008 and that season saw his fastball velocity decline for the third straight year.  Even more troubling, Hernandez' 8.52 K/9 was the third season in a row he saw a drop there as well which further called into question his future as an ace pitcher.  So as the 2016 season approached, we sounded the alarms regarding Hernandez and how we felt he was one to avoid in drafts given all of the negative trends that were developing.  As it turned out, our words of caution were prudent as Hernandez added to the concern about his stuff as his 3.82 ERA was even worse then the year prior and his K/9 dropped for the fourth year in a row to a now mediocre 7.16.  This from a guy who was an annual visitor to the 200-K club but who now is seeing his fastball dip to the low 90's as the hits really begin to pile up.  Also as we see in many cases of pitchers who begin losing strikeouts, the control falls by the wayside as well since the approach has to change to be a bit more fine.  Hernandez has not responded well to this as his 3.82 BB/9 rate was insanely high by his previously lofty standards (his previous high was just 2.58) and his 1.12 HR/9 was itself as career-worst as opposing hitters can now get around on his fastball like never before.  Finally, Hernandez' hit the DL for a large portion of 2016 with a serious calf injury and so now we also have to worry about his health going forward.  By now it is quite clear that Hernandez is a vastly declining fantasy baseball stock who needs to be avoided in all formats.  Resist chasing the name brand as Hernandez is a shell of his former ace self.
2017 PROJECTION: 12-11 3.86 ERA 1.26 WHIP 161 K 

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