Tim Lincecum has enjoyed unparalleled success throughout his remarkably young career. The Freak, now the face of the San Francisco Giants franchise, has accomplished more in his four-plus years in the majors than most pitchers ever achieve in a career.
With all the success Lincecum has enjoyed, it's no easy task pinpointing the best moments, outings and performances of his career, but let's take a stab at it.
Here are the five best moments of Lincecum's storied career up until this point. Let the debating begin...
The first three full years of Tim Lincecum's Major League Baseball career couldn't have played out much better.
In 2008 and 2009, Lincecum took home two consecutive Cy Young Awards. In 2010, he recorded a win in the game-clinching contest of the 2010 World Series, giving the Giants their first title since 1954.
One feat the Freak hadn't yet achieved was a no-hitter. But on a cool night at Coors Field of all places, Lincecum flirted with perfection.
Lincecum was dazzling early on, sitting down 19 consecutive Rockies. He showed no ill-effects from the humidor incident that occurred the previous fall. Timmy was so dialed in, it took Colorado until the seventh inning just to get a ball out of the infield.
Unfortunately for Lincecum, it was also in that seventh inning when he lost his no-hit bid on a Carlos Gonzalez single to right. Although Gonzalez was responsible for ending the no-hit opportunity, he was quick to compliment the Giants young ace.
"Well, the guy was dealing today," Gonzalez said. "That's why the guy has two Cy Young Awards.
The fact that this dominating performance occurred against the division rival Rockies in a hitter-friendly park makes it that much more special. Lincecum came up short this time, but he proved he is more than capable of sitting down 27 in a row at some point in his career.
Fresh off his 2008 Cy Young award, Lincecum was back and better than ever in 2009, eager to defend his title.
He was lights-out throughout the first few months of the season and through 20 starts, Lincecum compiled a record of 11-3 to go with a 2.30 earned run average.
On one summer night in July, The Freak accomplished a new feat: 15 strikeouts in a game.
Just weeks removed from starting the All-Star game for the National League, Lincecum put on a show in San Francisco. All of his pitches were clicking as Lincecum went the distance, throwing just 115 pitches, 80 of which were strikes.
"He was hitting his spots with his changeup, throwing his curveball, hitting his spot any time during the count. He rarely made any mistakes," remarked Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones, who accounted for two of Lincecum's 15 Ks.
As was the case a year before, Timmy finished the year strong and earned a second consecutive Cy Young award with a 15-7 record along with 261 strikeouts.
Through the first five months of the 2008 season, Tim Lincecum had already put together a Cy Young-caliber year. On September 13th, The Freak put an exclamation point on his résumé and solidified himself as the top choice for the prestigious postseason award.
It was on that night in San Diego that Lincecum earned the first complete-game shutout of his career. It took the young ace 138 pitches to do it, but the end result was a 12-strikeout masterpiece in which he yielded only four hits, all singles.
This performance scored Lincecum his 17th win of the season as the Giants went on to defeat the Padres 7-0. Even though the victory came against lowly San Diego, who fell to 57-92 with the loss, Lincecum caught the attention of many with the win.
Perhaps most impressively, this outing was the eighth time the right-hander struck out 10 or more in a game in 2008.
Lincecum would use this victory as momentum as he went on to break the San Francisco Giants' single-season strikeout record (formerly held by Jason Schmidt) with 265 and take the Cy Young in the process.
In 2008 and 2009, Lincecum spent the first two postseasons of his young career on the couch watching. In 2010, all eyes were on the Freak.
Giants fans were yearning badly for a World Series championship seeing as their team had yet to win a title since its move to San Francisco before the 1958 season. In Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, Lincecum looked to continue his postseason dominance and bring some hardware to the Bay.
For the second time in the series, The Freak went toe-to-toe with Texas Rangers ace Cliff Lee, this time in Arlington. Lincecum got the better of Lee the first time around in a high-scoring affair, and although this game was lower-scoring, the same result was earned.
Lincecum went eight strong innings, recorded 10 strikeouts, and gave up just three hits and one earned run. He helped erase the memories of the heartbreaking 2002 World Series, and if it weren't for Edgar Renteria's heroics, the two-time defending Cy Young winner would have likely taken home World Series MVP honors for his effort.
With the win, Lincecum solidified himself a place in San Francisco lore. This performance will forever go down as one of the best in Giants history.
Up to this point in his young career, Lincecum had certainly proved himself in the regular season. However, there were those who questioned whether or not the young phenom would wilt under the pressure of the postseason.
In Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, Lincecum put the skeptics to rest.
San Francisco was flying high after clinching its first playoff berth since 2003, and it was up to Lincecum to refocus quickly and keep the momentum going. He did just that and more, tossing a complete-game shutout and striking out 14 in the process.
The Braves managed only two hits, both doubles, on the night and couldn't find an answer to Lincecum's stuff.
What may have been the most impressive aspect of Lincecum's gem was that he had struggled mightily throughout the month of August by going 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA. Many questioned whether the long-haired wonder had lost his touch.
Lincecum offered a resounding response to the doubters, turning in the best game of his career considering the circumstances. The Giants would go on to take the NLDS against the Braves on their way to the 2010 World Series title.