For the second consecutive year, San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum has been named the National League Cy Young Award winner following one of the closest races ever.
When I was asked in advance to write an affirmative reaction piece to the announcement, I knew it was going to be a tall order if someone other than the Freak took home the hardware.
Not only is the Franchise the best player on my favorite team, but he clearly deserved to repeat as the recipient of the Senior Circuit's highest pitching honor. Furthermore, I've been saying that since the last month of the season, and I looked at the race up, down, and sideways.
Finally, true conviction in Tiny Tim's merit set in when fellow Bleacher Report writer PJ Ross pointed out that no pitcher has ever won a Cy Young in either league while throwing fewer than 200 innings during a non-strike-shortened season.
The 2009 Major League Baseball campaign saw no strike—no stoppages of any kind—yet Lincecum's stiffest competition (St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter) failed to hit the 200 innings pitched barrier.
Needless to say, given the likelihood of a photo finish, that little nugget sealed the deal in my eyes.
Nevertheless, both Carpenter and the Redbirds' other ace, Adam Wainwright, had strong arguments for the award, so the matter was in substantial doubt.
In many other years, Wano's final line would've taken the trophy—win/loss record is a seriously flawed reflection of a pitcher's true filthiness, but an NL-leading 19 wins is still nothing at which to sneeze. Nor are his 233 innings pitched (also led the NL), 212 strikeouts, 2.63 earned run average, and 1.21 WHIP.
A lot of Wainwright supporters are righteously pissed at the moment, and who can blame them? Their guy had a good argument—as evidenced by the fact that he received the most first place votes of anyone.
Sadly, Tim Lincecum had a better argument.
Likewise, Carpenter had a phenomenal year while coming back from Tommy John surgery—something that earns him bonus points out the wazoo.
The crafty veteran pitches to contact, so his whiff total and rates can't match those belonging to his running mate and el Gigante. However, the 2005 NL Cy Young made up for those "deficiencies" with a stellar mark of 17-4 while leading the NL with a 2.24 earned run average and a 1.01 WHIP (second to Arizona Diamondback Dan Haren).
Additionally, neither Lincecum nor Wainwright can hope to match the control of the trio's elder statesman.
Ultimately, though, the defending and still reigning champ had Carp edged out, too. Lincecum had a small but obvious winning margin, so it would've taken every iota of restraint to pen a flattering piece had the voters blown it.
Thankfully, they did not.
For the second straight year, the voters wisely overlooked Lincecum's deficit in wins and instead focused on his overall dominance. In the process, the fireballer replaced this year's American League winner (Kansas City Royal Zack Greinke) as the player with the fewest wins ever to yank down a Cy Young.
The dominating right-hander blew the field away in punch-outs with 261 (23 more than his closest rival, Atlanta Brave Javier Vazquez), posted a microscopic 2.48 earned run average and 1.05 WHIP, led both Wainwright and Carpenter in opponents' batting average and slugging percentage, and did it all while being the unquestioned leader of the Giant staff that absolutely carried the organization to contention in 2009.
When you place all three bodies of work next to each other, the excellence is almost blinding. But adjusting for the glare, you can see Lincecum's shines just a little brighter.
All this in his second full year tossing to Big Leaguers.
That's right, folks—Tim Lincecum has pitched two full years in the Show, and he's been named the best pitcher in his league twice.
After making 24 starts in 2007, the franchise broke out in 2008 and won his first Cy Young while throwing in front of one of the worst teams in all of baseball. As an encore, one of the game's most electric arms went out and grabbed another Cy Young—this time while hurling in front of one of the worst offenses in the game.
Kinda makes you wonder what Tim Lincecum will do for a third act.
One thing's for sure: The Bay Area can't wait to see.
Apparently, neither can the rest of baseball.