I think it's pretty safe to say that Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the majors this past season. And considering the most recent award he has claimed, my viewpoint is shared by many.
The Giants' 24-year-old righty was voted by the fans as the 2008 Starter of the Year in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards presented by State Farm.
Obviously the 2008 National League Cy Young is the biggest award that Lincecum has taken home this winter, but being recognized by the fans despite playing on a team that hasn't gotten very much national media attention lately is something to be proud of.
Lincecum is already a rock star in San Francisco, but he has quickly become a household name nationally. Maybe it's his 95 MPH fastball or hammer for a curve that helped him strike out a MLB-high 265 batters, or maybe it's the fact that he seems more like a high school point guard instead of a pitcher in the majors.
But whatever it is, people seem to notice it.
He received 24.5 percent of the vote. Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees was second after receiving 16.4 percent. Toronto's Roy Halladay (10.8 percent), Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka (10.4), and Cleveland's Cliff Lee (9.9) rounded out the top five.
Lincecum also claimed National League Pitcher of the Year which was voted on by his fellow players for the Players Choice and The Sporting News honors.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
Giants place three on MiLB's Top 50 Prospects List
The Giants' top three prospects, catcher Buster Posey, pitcher Madison Bumgarner, and first baseman Angel Villalona, have all been named to Minor League Baseball's Top 50 Prospects List.
Bumgarner was the top-ranked Giants prospect has he cracked the top 10 and landed at the No. 6 spot. The 19-year-old lefty has claimed almost as many Minor League awards as Lincecum has in the majors.
We all know his stats by now: 15-3 and the top ERA in all of the minors 1.46 ERA. He also recorded 164 strikeouts in 141.2 innings to claim the South Atlantic League's pitching triple crown.
Posey arrived at No. 19 on the list despite playing only ten games in the minors this past season after being the sixth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
The former Florida State standout and Golden Spikes Award winner will more-than likely be the one who makes the most immediate impact. If his post-draft itinerary is any indication, making stops at three different levels in less-than a month after signing, than 2010 seems like a likely premier for the talented catcher.
Rounding out the threesome is the 18-year-old Villalona, who came in at No. 48 and, along with Bumgarner, led the way as the Augusta GreenJackets claimed the Sally League title.
The burly Dominican did pretty well for himself considering he played most of the season on one of the minors' most talented teams at just the tender age of 17. His numbers won't be your mind, .263 average with 17 HR and 64 RBI in 123, but as he turned 18, he turned it on, hitting .301 with five homers and 20 RBI in the final month of the season.
Giants bring in interesting infield option as minor league free agent
As reported by Baseball America Thursday, the Giants have signed 24-year-old infielder Jesus Guzman to a minor league contract.
After capturing the Texas League batting title while playing with the Midland RockHounds, the Oakland Athletic's Double-A affiliate, Guzman has continued to light things up in the Venezuelan Winter League.
What exactly would you call lighting things up down in Venezuela?
A .371 average with 11 HR, 58 RBI, and 15 doubles in just 186 at-bats.
"He's certainly shown promise with the bat the last couple of years," Giants scouting director Bobby Evans told Baseball America. "I'll admit, our information from our scouts is very positive. But sometimes you've got to see him first hand."
Despite his stats, Guzman has not had the greatest journey around the minors to this point. After two sub-par seasons at Double-A San Antonio, The Mariners demoted him to Class A. He flourished back in the California League, hitting .301 with 25 home runs and 112 RBI.
He then went on to sign as a with the A's before last season and proved that his numbers in the CAL League were no fluke, hitting .364 with with 14 HR and 76 RBI in 80 games while claiming the Texas League batting title.
"We're kind of open-minded with a player like this," Evans said. "We don't know exactly what has been the difference. We had interest in him after '07, yet we ended up not trying to sign him. But with his success this year, we thought, 'Let's bring him in here.' We're willing to give him every opportunity to show us."
Giants active in Rule 5 Draft, snag reliever Perdomo from Cardinals
Usually the Giants don't do anything during the Rule 5 Draft during the Winter Meetings, but this year, they actually used their picked, snagging 24-year-old reliever Luis Perdomo from the St. Louis Cardinals.
At three levels last season, Perdomo went 7-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 20 saves. He also struck out 82 and walked just 30 in 72 1/3 innings on his way to limiting opponents to just a .190 batting average.
Stand just six feet tall, he's not the dominating presence on the hill, but he does feature a fastball that tops out in the mid-90s and sharp slider.
In what General Manager Brian Sabean called "a no-lose situation," Perdomo will certainly be in the mix for a spot in the Giants 2009 bullpen. If he doesn't stick on the Giants' 25-man roster for the entire season, he must be offered back to the Cardinals for $25,000, which is half of the Rule 5 selection price.