Tim Lincecum Is the Best Pitcher in Baseball

Harold FriendChief Writer IJuly 28, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  National League All-Star Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Tim Lincecum is the best young pitcher baseball has seen since Dwight Gooden joined the Mets in 1984. Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and Josh Beckett never dominated immediately as Tim Lincecum has.

Only time will tell if Lincecum has a career comparable to the best pitchers of the modern era, but he is well on his way, as was Dwight Gooden.

Where Would Gooden Have Ranked?

No one knows where Gooden would have ranked if he had not used banned substances, but a young Dwight Gooden was better than a young Roger Clemens, and unlike the chemicals Roger has been accused of using, the substances Gooden used did not enhance his performances.

Tim Lincecum has the chance to have the career that Dwight Gooden lost, and that Roger Clemens achieved, but then tarnished.

Only 13 Minor League Starts

The San Francisco Giants drafted Tim Lincecum in 2006 as their first pick. He made his professional debut that same summer, starting eight minor league games. In 2007. Lincecum started five games in Triple A before beginning his major league career.

Tim Lincecum had 13 minor league starts, finished with a 6-0 record, and has become the best pitcher in the major leagues at the age of 25.

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Cy Young Award Winner

At 5'10" tall and about 172 pounds, Tim Lincecum's unorthodox delivery, in which he uses his entire body, allows him to throw the ball almost as fast as Bob Feller used to when Rapid Robert was 17-years-old.

After going 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA and a 110 ERA+ in his rookie season, Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in 2008.

It was the first time a second-year pitcher won it since both Dwight Gooden and Bret Saberhagen accomplished the feat in 1985.

Dwight Gooden Dominated

Dwight Gooden's sophomore season ranks with the best of any pitcher. He was 24-4, with a 1.53 ERA, an unfathomable 2.28 ERA+, and an 0.965 WHIP.

Tim Lincecum's second season was close to Gooden's. Tim was 18-5, with a 2.62 ERA, a 167 ERA+, and a 1.172 WHIP.

The game was much more offensive in 2008, compared to 1985, and Lincecum was almost as dominant as Gooden had been.

Tim Lincecum has been even better in 2009, winning 11 and losing only three for a Giants' team that doesn't score many runs.

Will Tim Lincecum Last?

Because of his pitching delivery, some have projected that Lincecum will not last.

Tom Verducci of Joe Torre fame, wrote that Lincecum's delivery gives the illusion of being one movement rather than several separate ones. Dave Righetti refers to it as flow.

"Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, Rich Gossage—they all flowed through their delivery. They keep their momentum going. Those flow guys are the ones who can sustain the grind of pitching. I think Tim's a longevity guy, I really do."

Strikeouts and Few Hits Allowed

In his first two seasons, Tim Lincecum has struck out 415 batters in 373-1/3 innings.

In his first two seasons, Gooden had 554 strikeouts in 494-2/3 innings. Young pitchers pitched many more innings 24 years ago.

Lincecum allowed slightly more than seven hits per nine innings during his first two seasons, while Gooden was more stingy, giving up only about 6.5 hits every nine innings.

Dominant pitchers strike out hitters and don't allow many hits.

Tim Lincecum and Dwight Gooden rank among the most dominant pitchers of all time. Gooden's dominance lasted a short while, but Tim Lincecum should dominant for many seasons.

Who is better than Tim Lincecum? The answer is, "nobody."



Tom Verducci on Tim Lincecum


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