Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

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If you follow Liriano, you should be prepared to lose your mind.

It wasn’t long ago when groups of people flocked to the performances of Francisco. In 2006 Francisco Liriano was an artist; his arm a brush, the strike zone his canvas. Liriano was so spectacular a grass roots counterculture developed in the land of 10,000 lakes. Whether it was the drugs or not, we had forgotten about the best pitcher in baseball (Santana). Later the world would forget about Johan, but it wasn’t because of the shadow cast from Liriano’s immensity, as the Cisco Kid would be taken out by the man (Tommy John). We turned on, we tuned in and six years later the fantasy baseball community has dropped out of the Franscico Liriano market. This is a mistake. As wild as he is, we can gain from Liriano. Expand your horizon with us after the jump.

Put This On Your Tongue

11.4% Swinging Strike Percentage Despite a drop in velocity Liriano still had enough movement on his pitches to miss bats. That 11.4% SwStr% was fourth best in the league behind Brandon Beachy, Michael Pineda and Brandon Morrow (min 120 IP). Beachy, Pineda and Morrow are three names I like in 2012. The names behind Liriano are nice too (Hamels, Garza, Sabathia, Kershaw, Sanchez, Halladay, Lincecum and Shields). He still has the stuff to dominate.

Coming Down

49.4% First Pitch Strike Percentage It’s easy to see where Liriano went wrong last season. He looked like Ba Ba Booey on the mound when it came to throwing first pitches. That 49.4% F-Strike% was THE WORST percentage in the league. Brad Penny was runner up at 52.3%. I had to go back to the future (2006 – Sean Marshall) to find another F-Strike% as bad as Liriano’s. Falling behind in the count is the gateway to allowing more free passes and grooving more fastballs. Allowing more free passes and grooving more fastballs leads to a 1.49 WHIP.

Beyond the Horizon

To look forward to the future we must visit the past. Liriano has shown the ability to throw first pitch strikes. He was sitting above 60% in two different seasons (’06 and ’10, missed ’07). In 2006 he posted a 60.5% F-Strike%, 10.71 K/9 and a 2.38 BB/9. In 2010 he posted a 61.7% F-Strike%, 9.44 K/9 and a 2.72 BB/9. I’ll take a strike throwing Liriano in the 19th Round (ADP 231 at MDC), please.

Currently he’s throwing in the Dominican Winter League. Per RotoWorld:

“…We’re trying to get him ready for spring training.” Liriano regretted not being able to pitch in winter ball last year, saying that it was the best way to get him ready for the season, so hopefully this will get him going in the right direction…”

Project Runaway

No Projection… Yet Crunching numbers to forecast Liriano’s 2012 season is an exercise in futility. Any numbers that I post today would be completely irrelevant when Spring Training rolls around. Instead of providing useless numbers I’m going to wait until March to see how Liriano looks on the mound. What I can tell you now is that Liriano is a prime bounce back candidate who could provide huge profits at his current ADP. In today’s game we’re drafting big production bats early and often so it’s mandatory that we have a stable of sleepers to choose from when filling our rotations. Francisco Liriano is one of these players.

OK, Just For Fun I quickly punched out three projections. One is optimistic, one is pessimistic and the other is somewhere in between. We have a ceiling and a floor. That’s about all I can give you for now. That’s why I have always urged people, “don’t draft Francisco Liriano unless you’re very well prepared; unless you’re specifically prepared to go out of your mind. Don’t draft him unless you have someone that’s very experienced with you to guide you through it. And don’t draft him unless you are ready to have your perspective on yourself and life dramatically changed, because you’re going to be a different person and you should be ready to face this possibility”.

Timothy Leary: 195 IP, 199 K, 1.22 WHIP, 3.18 ERA, 15 Wins
This projection used a 9.18 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, 9.4% HR/FB%, .299 BABIP

Hunter S Thompson: 185 IP, 168 K, 1.34 WHIP, 3.89 ERA, 11 Wins
This projection used a 8.17 K/9, 3.45 BB/9, 10.1% HR/FB% and .306 BABIP

The Dude: 180 IP, 156 K, 1.47 WHIP, 4.50 ERA, 8 Wins
This projection used a 7.8 K/9, 4.05 BB/9, 11.7% HR/FB%, .311 BABIP

This piece is a part of the series entitled, Starting Pitching Chronicles. Here, Andrew delves into the world of projections for the biggest and most difficult position to forecast: Starting Pitchers. Previous entries include:

For Those About to Draft, We Salute Yu Yu Darvish projection
Verlander Can’t Turn Left Justin Verlander outside the Top 3 SP in 2012

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