Tim Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum
Tim Lincecum 2008.jpg
Lincecum in 2008
San Francisco Giants – No. 55
Starting pitcher
Born: (1984-06-15) June 15, 1984 (age 29)
Bellevue, Washington
Bats: LeftThrows: Right
MLB debut
May 6, 2007 for the San Francisco Giants
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Win–loss record89–70
Earned run average3.46
Strikeouts1,510
Teams
Career highlights and awards
 
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Tim Lincecum
Tim Lincecum 2008.jpg
Lincecum in 2008
San Francisco Giants – No. 55
Starting pitcher
Born: (1984-06-15) June 15, 1984 (age 29)
Bellevue, Washington
Bats: LeftThrows: Right
MLB debut
May 6, 2007 for the San Francisco Giants
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Win–loss record89–70
Earned run average3.46
Strikeouts1,510
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Timothy Leroy Lincecum (/ˈlɪnsɨkʌm/ LIN-sə-kʌm;[1] born June 15, 1984) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB).

After attending Liberty Senior High School in Renton, Washington, Lincecum played college baseball at the University of Washington. Pitching for the Washington Huskies, Lincecum won the 2006 Golden Spikes Award. That year, he became the first Washington Husky to be selected in the first round of a MLB Draft, when the San Francisco Giants selected him tenth overall.

Lincecum won the NL Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009, and has appeared in four All-Star Games, from 2008 through 2011. He was a member of the 2010 and 2012 World Series champions, winning the Babe Ruth Award in 2010 as the most valuable player of the MLB postseason. He has also led the National League in strikeouts three times, from 2008 through 2010. On July 13, 2013, he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

High school and college[edit]

Lincecum attended Liberty Senior High School in Renton, Washington, where he played two seasons of varsity baseball. As a senior he won state player of the year and led his school to the 2003 3A state championship title.[2]

After high school Lincecum went on to pitch for the University of Washington. In 2006 he finished with a 12–4 record and a 1.94 ERA, 199 strikeouts, and three saves in 125⅓ innings [3] as a Washington Husky. He won the 2006 Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded annually to the best amateur baseball player.[4]

In the summer of 2004 Lincecum played for the amateur National Baseball Congress (NBC) Seattle Studs and won two games in the NBC World Series. In 2009 he was named NBC Graduate of the Year.[5] In the summer of 2005, he played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League.[6]

Draft and minor league career[edit]

Lincecum was selected by the Chicago Cubs of the NL in the forty-eighth round (1,408th overall) of the 2003 MLB Draft, but did not sign.[7] He decided to attend college instead, and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the forty-second round (1,261st overall) upon re-entering the draft in 2005, but rejected an offer including a $700,000 signing bonus.[6] The next year, he was drafted tenth overall by the San Francisco Giants, becoming the first player from the University of Washington to be taken in the first round.[2] He signed for a $2.025 million signing bonus on June 30, which at the time was the most the organization had ever paid to any amateur player.[8][a]

During his brief minor league career he was frequently named as the top pitching prospect in the Giants organization.[9]

Lincecum made his professional debut on July 26, 2006, with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (the Giants' Class A Short Season affiliate) against the Vancouver Canadians, pitching one inning and striking out all three batters he faced. After his second outing on July 31 against the Boise Hawks, in which he pitched three innings, striking out seven and allowing just one baserunner, he was promoted to the High Class-A San Jose Giants.

On August 5, in his first start in San Jose against the Bakersfield Blaze, he pitched 2⅔ innings, allowing three runs (two earned), and striking out five. Lincecum finished the year 2–0 with a 1.95 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 27⅔ innings pitched. He also got the victory in the opening game of the California League playoffs, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out ten and walking one against the Visalia Oaks. Visalia would win the series 3–2.

Going into 2007 Lincecum was ranked as the #1 prospect in baseball and the #1 prospect in the San Francisco Giants by Baseball America.[10] He spent the first month of the season pitching for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. In five starts (31 innings), he allowed just one run, twelve hits, eleven walks, while striking out forty-six and going 4–0.[11] During his 2006 and 2007 minor league campaigns, Lincecum struck out the highest percentage of batters (minimum 100) of any minor league pitcher in the last ten years: 30.9 percent.[12]

In the spring of 2007 Colorado Rockies prospect Ian Stewart called Lincecum "the toughest pitcher [he] ever faced", adding "Guys on our club who have been in the big leagues said he's the toughest guy they ever faced too … I’m not really sure why he's down here, but for a guy who was drafted last year … that guy is filthy."[13]

Major league career; San Francisco Giants (2007–present)[edit]

2007[edit]

With an injury to the Giants' fifth starter, Russ Ortiz, Lincecum was called up from Fresno to make his first major league start on May 6, 2007, against the Philadelphia Phillies. He earned a no-decision; the Giants ultimately lost the game, 8–5. In his first career inning, Lincecum gave up two hits and two runs, and struck out three.[14]

He earned his first major league win in his next start, on the road against the Rockies.[15] Lincecum, who is often compared to Colorado Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt,[16][17] faced him in each of his next two starts, Oswalt with the Astros at the time. After the first match-up, Astros third baseman Mike Lamb said, "The stuff he was throwing out there tonight was everything he's hyped up to be. He was 97 mph (156 km/h) with movement. You just don't see that every day. He pitched very much like the pitcher he is compared to and out-dueled him throughout the night."[18] The pair dueled to a no-decision the first time, and Lincecum pitched eight innings and got the win the second time.[19]

In his first four starts in June he allowed twenty-two earned runs in 18⅔ innings, for a 10.61 ERA. He failed to make it to the fifth inning in any of the last three starts, against Oakland, Toronto, and Milwaukee.[20] In July, he went 4–0 with a 1.62 ERA.[21] On July 1, in a seven inning performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he struck out twelve, the fourth highest total ever by a Giants rookie.[22]

Lincecum pitched into the ninth inning for the first time on August 21 against the Chicago Cubs. He had allowed just two hits and one walk through the first eight, while throwing only eighty-eight pitches. He took a 1–0 lead into the ninth, but allowed three consecutive hits before being pulled. The Cubs scored several times against the Giants bullpen and Lincecum took the loss. Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said after the game, "He's got electric stuff. The best stuff I've seen all year."[23]

Lincecum was shut down in September as a precaution, due to his high inning count in his first full year of professional ball.[24] Between the minors and the majors, he pitched a total of 177⅓ innings.[25][26]

2008[edit]

The Giants asked Lincecum not to throw the bullpen sessions typical of other pitchers during the off-season. Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle that they were being careful with Lincecum because studies have shown that pitchers who throw 200 innings early in their career are more susceptible to injuries.[27]

On May 15, after Lincecum struck out ten Houston Astros in six innings, Houston first baseman Lance Berkman offered his view of Lincecum: "He's got as good of stuff as I've ever seen. ... He's got three almost unhittable pitches."[28] After falling to Lincecum and the Giants 6–3 on May 27, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Conor Jackson gave his impression of facing Lincecum: "He's got good stuff", Jackson said. "From what I saw tonight, that's the best arm I've seen all year, no doubt. You've got to almost hit a ball right down the middle. You're going to pop up the ball at your bellybutton, which we all did tonight, and the one down, it's coming in at 98 mph (158 km/h), you're not going to put too much good wood on it. Even the ones down the middle are coming at 98. He's good, man."[29]

Lincecum pitching on August 1, 2008, in San Diego

Lincecum was on the cover of the July 7, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated,[30] and on July 6, he was selected to play in his first Major League Baseball All-Star Game. However, he was hospitalized the day of the game due to flu-like symptoms and was unavailable to pitch. In a July 26 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he struck out thirteen batters in seven innings while allowing seven hits, two earned runs, and no walks.

Lincecum pitched his first shutout, against the San Diego Padres on September 13.[31] In nine innings he threw 138 pitches, gave up four hits and struck out twelve batters.[32] On September 23, he broke Jason Schmidt's San Francisco single-season strikeout record with his 252nd strikeout of the season against the Colorado Rockies. He finished the season with 265 strikeouts (54 of them three-pitch strikeouts, the most in the majors), making him the first San Francisco pitcher to win the National League strikeout title, and the first Giant since Bill Voiselle in 1944.[33] His 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched were the best in the majors, and his .316 slugging-percentage-against was the lowest in the major leagues, as was his .612 OPS-against—but his seventeen wild pitches tied for the most in the major leagues.[34][35] His 138 pitches on September 13 were the most by any pitcher in a game in 2008.[36] He finished the season with an 18–5 record.[37] On November 11, 2008, Lincecum was awarded the NL Cy Young Award, making him the second Giant to win the award, after Mike McCormick.[38]

2009[edit]

After winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2008 Lincecum continued his dominance in the NL. On July 3, Lincecum was announced as the NL Pitcher of the Month for June.[39] In his six June starts he went 4–1 with a 1.38 ERA, and pitched three complete games. Lincecum was announced as an NL All-Star along with his teammate Matt Cain. He was also the starting pitcher for the NL. Lincecum went two innings in the All-Star Game, giving up two runs, one earned, and striking out one.[40]

Lincecum in 2009

Through twenty starts in 2009 Lincecum had amassed an 11–3 record with a 2.30 ERA, 183 strikeouts, four complete games, and two shutouts. Lincecum also had a twenty-nine scoreless inning streak, third-best since the Giants moved west in 1958.[41]

On July 27, 2009, Lincecum pitched a complete game and had fifteen (15) strikeouts against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a career high. He is the first Giant pitcher to strike out fifteen since Jason Schmidt fanned sixteen (16) on June 6, 2006.[42] On August 3, 2009, Lincecum was named National League Player of the Week.[43]

Lincecum in June 2009

Lincecum missed his first game since coming up to the big leagues on September 8 against the San Diego Padres.[44] Madison Bumgarner took his place that day, making his major league debut. Lincecum was healthy enough to make his next start on September 14, pitching seven innings with eleven strikeouts lowering his ERA to 2.30, and picking up his fourteenth win of the year.[45] Lincecum finished the 2009 season with a 15–7 record, 2.48 ERA and 261 strikeouts. Following the season, Lincecum was named Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive year.[46] He was later cited during a traffic stop on October 30 for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.[47] On November 19, Lincecum was awarded his second consecutive Cy Young Award, narrowly edging out St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, who actually had the most first place votes.[48] In doing so, he became the first pitcher in history to be awarded the Cy Young in each of his first two full seasons in the Major League Baseball.

2010[edit]

Lincecum continued his dominance in the league by starting 5–0. His strikeouts piled up quickly and was atop the Major Leagues in the category through the early season. However, issues concerning Lincecum's control over the movement of his pitches arose when he walked five batters for the fourth consecutive start on May 31.[49] Although the early struggles have been mostly dismissed as a "lack of confidence" or "mental" issues,[50] Lincecum himself admits that the slump lasted "longer than I was hoping it would".[51]

Lincecum in September 2010

Lincecum eventually recovered somewhat from his slump and made the 2010 National League All-Star Team. As of the All-Star break, Lincecum was 9–4 with a 3.16 ERA over 116.2 innings pitched. One of his great first half accomplishments was that Lincecum defeated Houston's Roy Oswalt three times in three months. All three games were pitchers' duels.[citation needed]

On July 15, 2010, in his first start after the All-Star game, Lincecum pitched a six-hit, complete game shutout against the New York Mets.

After a disappointing August, Lincecum came out of his slump on September 1; pitching against one of the league's top pitchers, Ubaldo Jiménez, Lincecum pitched 8 strong innings of 1 run ball. This was Lincecum's first win since July 30. Lincecum continued to improve throughout September, finishing 5–1 with 52 strikeouts and 6 walks as compared to the 20/13 ratio in August. Lincecum managed to win his third consecutive National League strikeout title, he also set a record for most strikeouts by a MLB pitcher in his first four seasons.[52] Lincecum finished the 2010 regular season with a 16–10 record, 3.43 ERA and 231 strikeouts.

On October 7, 2010, in his first postseason game, Lincecum pitched a complete game two-hit shutout, striking out 14, against the Atlanta Braves in game 1 of the NLDS, breaking the all-time record for strikeouts in Giants postseason history.[53] In his next postseason start, he outdueled Roy Halladay by pitching 7 innings and giving up 3 earned runs, while striking out 8 in the Giants' 4–3 victory over the Phillies in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.[54]

Lincecum pitched in both Games 1 and 5 of the World Series, earning a win in both. Game 1 of the 2010 World Series saw Lincecum contribute to an 11–7 win over the Texas Rangers. After presenting a strong start, he sat out the final 3 1/3 innings as the San Francisco bullpen preserved a comfortable win. On November 1, 2010, Lincecum started Game 5 of the World Series with an opportunity to clinch a world championship for San Francisco. Lincecum utilized all his pitches in throwing 8 solid innings, collecting 10 strikeouts while giving up only 3 hits, including a home-run, en route to a 3–1 victory. His victory in Game 5 ended the Giants' 56-year drought between championships and also gave San Francisco its first baseball world championship in history. Lincecum also became the franchise leader for wins in a single post-season with 4.

Lincecum's strikeout milestones

2011[edit]

On May 4, he struck out twelve Mets becoming the Giants franchise record holder for the number of games pitched with 10 or more strikeouts with 29, surpassing Hall of Fame "first five" inaugural member Christy Mathewson. Mathewson accumulated his 28 ten-plus-strikeout games in 551 starts over seventeen seasons of pitching for the Giants; Lincecum collected his 29 in 129 starts over five seasons.[55] On May 21, he threw his 8th career complete game and his 5th career shutout against the Oakland Athletics. Lincecum almost threw his first no-hitter on April 18, giving up his first hit after 6 1/3 innings. On June 6, he recorded his 1,000th career strikeout against the Washington Nationals, striking out Jerry Hairston, Jr.. He accomplished this during his fifth year in the Major Leagues, becoming only the eighth pitcher in history to do so.[56] He is the second player ever to have 1,127 strikeouts by his 5th season in the Major Leagues.[citation needed] He was only 29 strikeouts short of passing Tom Seaver for having the most strikeouts in the first five seasons as a Major League Baseball Player, which was 1,155. In 2011, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Lincecum matched up four times, evoking memories of the rivalry between Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal in the 1960s.[original research?] In those four games the scores were 2–1, 1–0, 2–1, 2–1, all in the Dodgers' favor. On September 10, 2011, they struck out a combined 20 batters. The two appeared together on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 2012 baseball preview magazine.[citation needed]

Lincecum finished the 2011 season 13–14, despite a top-tier ERA of 2.74 (4th in the NL) and a stellar second-half ERA of 2.31. Lincecum's win-loss record was largely due to his receiving the worst run support in all of Major League Baseball; the Giants scored no runs in ten of his outings and scored two runs or fewer in 21 of them, leading to Lincecum becoming one of only six pitchers in modern major league history to have at least 200 strikeouts, an ERA of below 2.75, and a losing record.[citation needed]

2012[edit]

Lincecum signed a two-year, $40.5 million deal with the Giants, making him eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. He rejected their offer of a five-year, $100 million extension. Lincecum's knees started to get sore in 2011, and he felt he needed to lose weight. He spent the offseason swimming and gave up eating at In-N-Out Burger. He lost 30 pounds (14 kg), and pitching coach Dave Righetti felt he "showed up too little." He pitched poorly in spring training, but the performance was considered meaningless.[57]

On July 8, after a second consecutive start where Lincecum was chased out of the game in the fourth inning by the opposing team's lineup, giving up 6 runs and allowing 2 home runs, Giants manager Bruce Bochy stated, "It wasn't good. You saw it. He was off. The ball was elevated. He couldn't get on track." [58] Lincecum lamented, "You never want to say, 'Hey, I've hit rock bottom' or anything like that. When things are going as bad as they are right now, you kind of got to go out there feeling like you've got nothing to lose."[58] Heading into the All-Star break, his overall record was 3–10 with a MLB-worst 6.42 ERA.[59] He allowed 72 runs after allowing 74 in the entire 2011 season.[60] Lincecum finished the season with a 10–15 mark and 5.18 ERA, both well off his career norm.

Despite his struggles, fans continued to support him. One fan even created Support Timmy, a social media movement dedicated to supporting Tim through thick and thin.

Due to his struggles in the regular season, Lincecum was converted to a relief pitcher in the 2012 MLB playoffs. On October 7, Lincecum made a relief appearance during Game 2 of the 2012 National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Cincinnati Reds and threw two shutout innings. On October 10, in Game 4 of the NLDS, Lincecum made an important long relief appearance when his 4 1/3 innings helped the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds to force a decisive Game 5 in their NLDS and Lincecum was named the winning pitcher. Counting his start against Atlanta in the 2010 playoffs and his two relief appearances in this series, Lincecum is 2–0 with an 0.59 ERA in NL Division Series play. He allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out 22 in 15 1/3 innings. Lincecum was second on The Giants in innings pitched during the NLDS, allowing just one earned run over 6.1 innings in two relief appearances and striking out eight batters without issuing a single walk.[61]

Lincecum won his second championship title in three years with the Giants, pitching effective relief in the 2012 World Series 4-game sweep over the Detroit Tigers, in which he struck out eight of the 16 batters he faced, including the heart of the Tigers' order (Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young).

2013[edit]

Trying to put his poor 2012 season behind him, Lincecum "maintained an offseason conditioning program that he knew would help him coordinate the many moving parts in his delivery." [62] After a series of lackluster performances in Spring Training, many seemed to worry.[63] He said, "Mechanically, I felt really good."[62] He started the season 3rd in the rotation behind Cain and Bumgarner.[64] On April 3, he made his first start of the season; he threw 5 innings, struck out 4, tied a career-high in walks with 7 batters, and allowed 2 runs (0 earned) on three hits while en route to the win.[65] In his second start, there were signs of better control; despite walking 4 batters, he struck out 7 while allowing just 4 hits over 6 innings, eventually getting no decision.[66]

On July 13, 2013, Lincecum no-hit the San Diego Padres 9-0 at Petco Park, the first no-hitter ever pitched in that stadium and the first of his career. He struck out 13 batters, walked 4, and hit 1 while throwing a career-high 148 pitches, which were the second most number of pitches ever thrown in a no-hitter, after the 149 Edwin Jackson threw in his June 25, 2010 no-hitter.[67] The 13 strikeouts were the second-most by a Giant in pitching a no-hitter, after the 14 in Matt Cain's perfect game a year earlier. Lincecum, the losing pitcher in Homer Bailey's second career no-hitter only eleven days earlier, became the first no-hit pitcher to also be the losing pitcher in another no-hitter during the same season since the Giants' Juan Marichal in 1963.[68]Lincecum finished the first half of his season with his no-hitter making his first-half stats 5-9 with a 4.26 ERA and 125 strikeouts. This is a giant improvement compared to Lincecum's pre all-star stats the year prior. His first game after the no-hitter didn't go as well, as he gave up 8 runs in 3.2 innings in a loss to Cincinnati in his shortest start of the season. He had an average finish to the season. In 32 starts in 2013, Lincecum went 10-14 with 15 quality starts and a 4.37 ERA, striking out 193 in 197.2 innings.

On October 22, Lincecum signed a two-year, $35 million contract through 2015, avoiding free agency.[69] Lincecum will earn $17 million in 2014 and $18 million in 2015.

Pitch repertoire[edit]

Lincecum throws a four-seam fastball at 89–93 mph, but mostly uses a two-seam fastball grip which he throws around 88–91 mph for more sinking movement to get more ground balls. This pitch has little lateral movement, due to his overhand delivery and the speed at which the pitch is thrown. He has a big breaking curveball that is thrown at a range of 75–80 mph and breaks away from a right-handed hitter. Lincecum uses a changeup that he grips similar to a splitter with sinking two-seam action. His changeup appears similar to his fastball for the first 30 feet (9.1 m), but then dives down sharply tailing away from a left-handed batter (82–85 mph).[70] The majority of his strikeouts are recorded with this pitch. Lincecum also has a hard slider that breaks down and away from a right-handed hitter at a speed similar to his changeup (82–85 mph). With his fastball and strong secondary pitches, he has established himself as one of the elite pitchers in the game.[71]

Lincecum is known for his long stride, unorthodox mechanics, and ability to generate high velocity despite his slight build: originally listed as 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[72] and 165 pounds. In part to add strength and durability, Lincecum put on about 15 pounds prior to the season.

Accomplishments[edit]

Records[edit]

Personal[edit]

Lincecum's father, Chris Lincecum, worked at Boeing and Tim held out for a large signing bonus so his father could retire.[6] Chris was largely responsible for his son's interest in baseball at a young age, and that is the origin of his unique and extravagant windup.[who?]

Lincecum is Filipino-American. His mother, Rebecca Asis, is the daughter of Filipino immigrants.[85][86]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Giants gave Angel Villalona a $2.1 million bonus a little over a month later.[8]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Chris Young
NL hits per nine innings
2008
Succeeded by
Clayton Kershaw
Preceded by
Chris Young
NL opponent batting average
2008
Succeeded by
Clayton Kershaw
Preceded by
Ben Sheets
National League All-Star Game Starting Pitcher
2009
Succeeded by
Ubaldo Jiménez
Preceded by
Homer Bailey
No-hitter pitcher
July 13, 2013
Succeeded by
Henderson Álvarez