Coming into 2012, Jeremy Hellickson was one of my big bust candidates. In 2011, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award based on his 2.95 ERA over 189 innings, but he didn’t boast very good strikeout (5.57 K/9) or walk rates (3.43 BB/9). In fact, a lot of his success came from a .223 BABIP and 82.0 LOB%, which would explain his very high 4.44 FIP in 2011.
Well, in 2012 Hellickson didn’t really change much. He improved his strikeouts (6.31 K/9) and walks (3.00 BB/9), but those are far from elite numbers. Again, Hellickson benefited from a low BABIP (.261) and high strand rate (82.7 LOB%), which helped him keep a 3.10 ERA despite posting a 4.60 FIP.
It’s now been two seasons with Hellickson defying the laws of luck and chances are it’s going to blow up in his face eventually, but if he can do it for a third straight season we will have to start calling it a trend rather than dumb luck. My money is on the former and that this will finally be the year where Hellickson shows his true colors on the surface rather than them lurking under the surface.
At a Glance
Strengths: IP, ERA, QS
Neutral: W, BB, WHIP
Weaknesses: L, K/9, K
Best-case scenario: Matt Cain (SF)
Likely scenario: Tim Hudson (ATL), Wade Miley (ARI), Jon Niese (NYM)
Worst-case scenario: Gavin Floyd (CHW)
Jeremy Hellickson 2013 Fantasy Projection
There is one thing that Hellickson improved on in 2012 that I liked; he improved his GB/FB ratio from 0.78 to 1.12, which is a major improvement. Even as a fly ball pitcher, he always benefited from pitching in a great pitcher’s park (1.07 HR/9 at home vs. 1.53 on road). Inducing more ground balls should help keep his home runs under control.
There’s a chance that Hellickson continues this trend of high strand rates and low BABIPs, but if by July 2013 he’s waiver-wire fodder don’t act surprised. While we’ve seen recent success in Matt Cain‘s ability to maintain a low BABIP rate, he also has great control of the strike zone. However, no pitcher in history has been able to maintain this level of success with runners on base and Hellickson’s recent FIPs (4.44, 4.60) are an image of how ugly it could get.