Tim Lincecum Wins National League Cy Young Award: You Earned It, Kid

Danny PenzaSenior Writer INovember 11, 2008

For everything that went wrong for the San Francisco Giants in 2008, there was one model of consistency that stood alone as the best pitcher the franchise has seen quite some time.

Tim Lincecum, in his first-full season in the majors, let it be known he will be the anchor of the team's hopes in the future.

Lincecum was rewarded for his outstanding performances with the National League Cy Young Award by a landslide Tuesday, something that he so rightfully deserves. He recieved 23 of the 32 first-place votes, seven second-place votes and one third-place vote, for 137 points total.

Brandon Webb finished second with four first-place votes and 73 points. The Mets' Johan Santana was third with four first-place votes and 55 points.

It's hard to believe that Giants general manager Brian Sabean imagined a Cy Young coming to San Francisco just two years after drafting him No. 10 out of the University of Washington in 2006.

"In Obama-like fashion it wasn't close. I wonder what we were even worrying about," Sabean said at a press conference following the announcement.

"I thought it was going to be a lot closer," Lincecum said. "I definitely don't want to say I had it in the bag. I was thinking somebody else would have it, Johan Santana, CC or Webb. Those guys are all great players. I think they're all three Cy Young winners previously. I figured they had a better shot, or as good a shot as I did."

We all know his stats: 18-5 record with a 2.62 ERA.

The remarkable thing about the kind of season he turned in is that he was playing on not only one of the worst teams in the NL, but also a team that had one of the worst offenses in all of baseball. The Giants were just three runs ahead of the San Diego Padres for least amount of runs scored and were the only team in the majors to not hit 100 home runs in 2008.

He compiled a league-best .783 winning percentage to go along with his 18-5 record. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the .339 difference between Lincecum's winning percentage and the Giants' was the seventh-largest in Major League history among pitchers with at least 15 victories. He also becomes only the 12th pitcher in the history of the game to win the Cy Young Award on a team with a sub-.500 record.

To steal a line from a previous article, "How many pitchers would get 18 wins on a team that has Bengie Molina hitting cleanup?"

But such a small man blowing away professional hitters with such ease is something to take notice of, no matter what the team is doing in the standings.

His 265 strikeouts, a Giants single-season record and the first ever Giant to lead the league in that category, were by far the most in all of baseball. While he did only win those 18 games, they were 30.5 percent of his team's. And while Webb had 22 wins, Lincecum would have had that many, if not more, if it wasn't for a sub-par bullpen letting him down.

Lincecum led Webb in all but one major category, walks. And other than innings pitched and WHIP, The Franchise had him beat with a considerable margin.

But while people seemed to rule him out of the race at times, much like ESPN doubting that the Tampa Bays Rays would stay in the race, Lincecum put it in their face, dealing gem after gem and racking up the strikeouts in the process.

When the pressure was on, Lincecum came through, going 14-3 after a Giants loss. Down the stretch, he did nothing to hurt his position as one of the top contenders, going 6-2 in his final ten games.

The 24-year-old shaggy haired wonderkid now joins Mike McCormick as the only Giants pitcher to win the award. McCormick, a two-time All-Star, won the award in 1967. Gaylord Perry (1970), Bill Swift (1993), and Jason Schmidt (2003) are Giants who finished as runners-ups in the voting.

Not only is this a great achievement for Lincecum, but also for a team that is rebuilding around younger players.

This solidifies Lincecum, if hadn't been known already, as the face of the franchise. Barry Zito may be making $126 million, but we all know that Lincecum is living up to his nickname.

So enjoy this one fans, but with talent this kid has, this might not be the last time San Francisco is celebrating a Cy Young winner.