I would love to see Felix Hernandez in a Jays uniform.
That said, I voted “no” to the poll asking if I would trade JPA, Gose, Alvarez, and Noah for Felix. As much as I like The King, I see some warning signs that I find troubling, and that impact on the price I would be comfortable paying.
In Felix’s first season in 2007, his fastball averaged 96.3 mph. In 2010, it averaged 94.4. In 2011, it declined further to 93.4. So far in 2012, he is averaging 91.7 mph and he has not touched 95 mph even once.
It is possible that the decline in 2012 is temporary – after all, we are only 81 innings into his season. But the trend is troubling.
Felix is earning $19.5 million in 2012 and $20 million in 2013. As such, he is the 6th highest paid pitcher in the majors. But his 2011 WAR of 3.4 (per baseball reference) was the 28th highest among MLB starters, and his 2012 WAR to date of 0.9 is 66th.
Rothschild once said that there are no good stocks or bad stocks – only underpriced stocks and overpriced ones. Felix is still a very good player – but at $20 million a year, based on his performance over 2011 and 2012, he is overpriced.
Felix is only 26, so it is hard to remember that 2012 is his 8th season pitching in the majors and that he has pitched almost 1,500 innings. And it is not like his workload is reducing – over the 2009-2011 seasons, his 722 innings pitched is second only to some guy named Halladay.
Beating the best
Early in his career, Felix dominated everyone. But in 2011, he struggled against the better teams. He had an overall ERA of 3.81, but had ERAs of 5.31 against Boston, 4.95 against the Yankees, and 5.04 against Texas. In 2012, he has faced the Yankees once – and lost, with an ERA of 5.40.
Against the AL East as a whole in 2011, Felix allowed 38 ERs in 66 IP – for an aggregate ERA of 5.18.
Home and away
For his career, Felix has an ERA of 3.17 at home and 3.33 away, despite Safeco being the 3rd best pitchers’ park in the majors. He was so good that the park was not a factor. So far in 2012, his home ERA is 1.95 and his away ERA is 4.63. And it is not just one terrible outing that has ballooned his away ERA – of 7 starts away from Safeco, he has allowed 4 runs or more four times.
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It is entirely possible that the above trends are just coincidence, or a temporary illness, or those d*rn Blue Jays stealing his signs. But if Seattle is demanding a Halladay-esque price for a pitcher who will be earning $20 million per year, Toronto may be better served to spend that money on a Greinke or Hamels as free agents.
My conclusion? Same as I said about Gio and about Hamels (we Canajans are so predictable!): I would love to have Felix, but only at the right price. And I suspect that may not be possible - even given A-squared's stealth magic.