Tim Lincecum used to be the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball. He rose to dominance when in his first two full professional seasons, he won back to back Cy Young Awards. He has become a mythological figure, a David vs. Goliath. Lincecum’s delivery is anything short of iconic and his stuff used to be overwhelmingly shocking for a man of his stature. You couldn’t help but to deem him a “FREAK”. At just 5’11 170lbs, Lincecum grew his fame by defying the odds of a prototypical power pitcher and solidified his reputation by his performances on the field.
Just two years ago, Tim Lincecum’s future was bright, but now it’s looking dimmer. Lincecum is experiencing a prolonged period of failure, especially by the standard of excellence he set forth early in his career. As he approaches 30, what lies ahead for the former Cy Young Award Winner? Can he regain his dominance? Is he destined for the bullpen? How many years can he continue to beat the odds?
The game of baseball catches up to us all as Father Time is undefeated. But the game of baseball is also about making adjustments and Tim Lincecum can make adjustments by learning from his predecessors.
The purpose of this case study was to find patterns in Tim Lincecum’s mechanics over the years and compare his patterns to former power pitchers who remained competitive over a long period of time. The results can be found in the video below.
FIXING THE FREAK: A Baseball Rebellion Film (30 min)
If we take a closer look at the numbers above, we can begin to formulate a clear picture of the positive and negative aspects of Tim Lincecum’s delivery.
- His unique delivery allowed him to consistently dominate hitters over a 5 year span (2nd in K/9, 2nd in H/9) but the delivery also yielded a higher BB/9 ratio compared to his predecessors over the same period.
- Lincecum could get away with less command in the strike zone due to the deception and FB Velocity he produced early in his career. Only David Cone had a similar BB/9 ratio.
- The increased BB/9 forced him to pitch less IP/YR.
Every pitcher will ultimately experience a decrease in their AVG FB MPH as they get older. Nature catches up with us all, and given Tim Lincecum’s small frame, nature has caught up with him sooner than later. When Tim Lincecum’s AVG FB MPH began to diminish in 2012 his numbers began to drastically decrease as a result. The velocity plays a major role, but more importantly, the pattern of Lincecum’s delivery NEEDS and relies on a quick arm. He was able to get away with mechanical deficiencies early in his career, but now they staring him in the face.
- As evident in the film and backed by the numbers above, ALL of predecessors numbers BB/9 ratio remain consistent throughout the entire duration of their career. It’s no coincidence they all exhibited similar aspects in their mechanical patterns which produced consistent results. They stared nature in the face by stepping to the mound which an efficient and repeatable delivery. A delivery that allowed each predecessor to pitch well into their 30’s.
Tim Lincecum has always had critics, skeptics, fans, and advocates of his unique delivery. However you slice it, his delivery has given him the opportunity to excel at every level of baseball in his life. Lincecum’s mechanics can still allow him to be successful, he just needs to make a few adjustments if he wants to pitch another 10 years.
Best of luck to Tim “The Freak” Lincecum!
Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Baseball Pitching Rebellion