Coming into the 2009 season, many people wondered what exactly Tim Lincecum could do following a first full year in the bigs where he won the National League Cy Young Award.
It's not that we expect a drop off or anything like that, but you have to wonder what a guy can do after winning a Cy Young as a 24-year-old who is just two years out of college.
Well, we found out.
Tim Lincecum: 2009 NL Cy Young Award winner—in back-to-back fashion.
That's what you call getting it done.
He now has two more Cy Young Awards than arguably the best pitcher in Giants history, the great Juan Marichal. He joins a club of National League pitchers with consecutive awards that only has three other members—Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson.
The results didn't come in with Obama-like landslide like last year. In fact, they were far from it. Instead of the comfortable margin of victory over Johan Santana he had in 2008, Lincecum squeaked past the two Cardinals aces and win by just six points and 10 points, respectively. He didn't even get the most first place votes—that went to Adam Wainwright with 12.
If either Wainright or Chris Carpenter had won, you wouldn't have gotten much of an argument from me. They both had seasons more than worthy of winning the Cy Young. Heck, most years they would have won.
But with the smallest candidate standing tall, they saw The Freak win the award yet again.
You could even say that the 2009 version of Lincecum was better than 2008. He cut his ERA down from 2.62 to 2.48 and his WHIP from 1.17 to 1.05. He did strike out four fewer batters than last season, but he also walked less than he did in 2008 in just about the same amount of innings.
Equipped with his devastating changeup that he seemingly has evolved overnight, he again led the Senior Circuit in strikeouts with 261. He was tied with teammate Matt Cain with four complete games and a group of five for the league lead with two shutouts
Yeah, there was room to improve and he did just that.
But things weren't easy. Lincecum struggled down the stretch, going just 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in the final month and change of the season. He struggled with his command at times and he clearly had lost some zip on his oh-so-powerful fastball.
The 15 wins were the obvious outlier. Not many starting pitchers who are even considered for the award can say they had a legit shot of winning with so few wins.
The run support numbers may say he was basically even with Carpenter, but you know the Giants lack of offense hurt him on numerous occasions. I mean, how many people have shut down the Philadelphia Phillies and their mighty offense, in the City of Brotherly Love, and lost?
But that's the beauty of Lincecum.
He can overcome the obvious shortcomings of the team he plays on and stake his claim as the best in the league...again. Last year he was on one of the worst teams in baseball, with one of the worst offenses, and won it. This year the offense was just as woeful, if not worse, and he still put the team on his back time after time and got the job done.
So let's all take a step back and admire what Lincecum has accomplished after just two full seasons in the big leagues—two Cy Young Awards and he is still only 25. You think that isn't complete dominance?
Now we will all wonder what he has to do to win the Cy in 2010.
Dare we say the third time is yet another charm?
The orange and black faithful will anxiously awaiting what will happen in chapter three of this best-selling novel.