You’ve heard of doing more with less? Lincecum does more with
By Marcos Breton – McClatchy Newspapers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – No matter the naysayers. No matter the haters. No matter the Philadelphia Phillies fans who whistle at him like drunken sailors eyeballing a young woman.
Tim Lincecum, baseball’s little big man, deserves to be in the Cy Young award conversation as a leading contender – not just as an afterthought.
You’ve heard of doing more with less? Lincecum does more with almost nothing.
His 12-10 won-lost record proves that some numbers lie. But how about these numbers for conveying a larger truth:
In 10 of his 27 starts, the Giants have failed to score a run for Lincecum. According to ESPN.com, only one National League pitcher – Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm – has had less run support than Lincecum this season.
In his last stellar start on Wednesday, a tense 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres, Lincecum had to drive in the winning run himself because his teammates couldn’t.
Considering he hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in a game since the Fourth of July, you have to wonder how many wins this 5-foot-11 Giants pitcher would have on a team that could hit.
“Shoot, Timmy could be 20-3 with the Yankees,” first baseman Aubrey Huff told the San Jose Mercury News.
Though he’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum lacks the national stature of Roy Halladay, the Phillies ace and the reigning National League Cy Young award winner.
The 6-foot-6 Halladay is leading many of the critical categories used to quantify pitching excellence. But Lincecum is right there with him, or even him, in more than enough metrics that matter.
Lincecum’s 2.46 ERA is second only to Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto, who has the benefit of starting seven fewer games than Lincecum.
The Giants ace with the rock star persona has allowed fewer hits, runs and earned runs than Halladay.
Lincecum has struck out more batters than Halladay and only Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers strikes out more batters per game than Lincecum does.
Clearly, Cy Young awards are not won in August. And for a team-first traditionalist such as Lincecum – a pitcher who never moans publicly – the most desired prize is not the Cy Young.
It’s a chance for the Giants to defend their World Series crown against all odds and baseball mathematics. But Lincecum’s Cy Young prospects are illustrative of solitary excellence amid team-wide failure.
The Giants are the worst offensive team in baseball and for a few weeks this column has made the case that the Giants are the worst-hitting good team in baseball history.
Despite being playoff contenders, the Giants have scored the fewest runs of any team in baseball.
Equally curious – and adding more weight to Lincecum’s status this season – is that the Giants have gone from being a solid defensive team to a poor one.
Last season, the Giants made only 73 errors, among the lowest in the league.
Going into Thursday’s game, with more than 30 games to go, the Giants already had made 92 errors, putting them among baseball’s worst.
The result has been Lincecum equaling Halladay with 20 quality starts. While Lincecum is barely above .500, Halladay is 15-5.
It was an omen when Lincecum lost a 2-1 game on Opening Day against the Dodgers, in which he yielded no earned runs.
What does it all mean?
Lincecum was still throwing pitches in the mid-90 mph range when he came out of Wednesday’s game after a whopping 124 pitches.
He was getting stronger. Last September, he dominated and with September nearing again, somehow the Giants are very much alive.
If the team gets healthier and prevails in the National League West with Lincecum leading the way, the Cy Young award still might not go to the little big man.
But it should.