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Small Sample Size Hopes: Tim Lincecum

April 21, 2011

Tim Lincecum tied Christy Mathewson for a franchise record Monday night. 28 games with ten or more strikeouts. Mathewson had 16 seasons and 4480.1 innings to set that record. Lincecum just tied it in the April of his fifth season with 837.2 innings. Excuse me while my head explodes.

During the off-season, I thought this was going to be Matt Cain‘s year. Scratch that. I still think Cain will be good. I even think he’ll be better than we’ve ever seen him. But Tim Lincecum…oh man, Timmy. Have you been watching that radar gun? 94. 96. 95. 7th inning. 95.

I don’t think we have 2008 and 2009 Tim Lincecum back. I think we might have someone better. Someone with a ridiculous slider to add to an unfair change up to add to a mid-nineties fastball, all with just a liiiiiitle bit more control.

In the world of velocity, Lincecum’s fastball is averaging 92.8 mph with the aforementioned heaters at 95 and 96. That average is still a ways down from the ridiculousness he came up throwing (Remember the triple digits? That was fun.), but its better than 2009 and a mile and half up from last season.

His stats are rather shiny too, with a 10.67 K/9,  a 2.33 BB/9, and a 0.33 HR/9. Small sample size abounds of course, but the thing is, none of these numbers are ridiculously far off from what Lincecum has done in the past. Its seemingly within the realm of possibility for him to stay at these numbers, or close to them, for an entire season. And even if he does regress, which is especially likely in the home run and walk rates, Timmy has some cushion before he becomes “only” the 2009 Lincecum. He’s also collected 1.0 WAR already, and he still hasn’t gone more than 7 innings in a game.

The one big difference from any of Lincecum’s past numbers are his batted ball types. His ground ball rate is higher than its ever been and his line drive and fly ball rates are lower. With only 27.0 innings, this should be easy to dismiss. But the numbers aren’t just a jump away from his averages or any single season, they’re a jump away from any single month. His GB% is nearly 10% higher than any other of his figures on FanGraphs. Like the rest of this post, the caveat is that it could all just be a one-month long fluke, but that’s quite the significant and unprecedented fluke. Perhaps we can give credit to that slider, which he’s throwing more than ever.

Most importantly, of course, Timmy is sporting the high socks again. This is imperative to his success, and if he stops, my next post will be about how he’s doomed to implode at any second. They’re adding to his velocity after all, just ask Tejada!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 8:35 pm

    Timmy for Cy Young 2011!

    • Maiya permalink*
      April 22, 2011 1:31 pm

      I’ve got my fingers crossed!

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