Tim Lincecum Wins NL Cy Young, Continues on Path to Baseball Greatness

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst INovember 19, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 28:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during a Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on August 28, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Tim Lincecum has joined an elite group of hurlers by capturing his second consecutive Cy Young award on Thursday.

The Giants had only one Cy Young to their credit (Mike McCormick, 1967) until 2007, and Timmy has brought home the trophy for two consecutive seasons and put himself at the forefront of the pitching world on the senior circuit.

The last time a pitcher won multiple Cy Young awards in a row was when Randy Johnson earned four straight from 1999-2002 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After Zack Greinke took home the AL Cy Young with 16 wins, and now Lincecum won the NL honors with 15, the voters have sent a strong message that they are capable of looking past the meaningless win-loss records and instead vote based on numbers that actually make a difference.

I think this was a big year for Cy Young voting because of the well-cast votes by the BBWAA, which made a statement that they care about who was the most dominating on the mound, and not who was cast by the baseball figure-heads as the anointed winner.

As I wrote yesterday, the scenario played out just as I had suspected, and the two Cardinals' pitchers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, split votes and helped Tim win the award.

Wainwright actually had 12 first-place votes to Lincecum's 11, but Timmy got the overall nod by 10 points over him and just seven points over the runner-up, Carpenter.

Overall, it was the third-closest Cy Young race in the last 40 years.

In my opinion, the major thing aside from splitting votes that held Carpenter back from winning the award was the fact that he didn't notch 200 innings pitched this season.

There has never been a starting pitcher (in a non-strike season) to win the Cy Young and have fewer than 200 innings pitched, and the fact that the voters acknowledged this was a huge step forward for the voting process.

But don't get me wrong: Lincecum won the award based on his dominating performance more so than Carpenter lost it for his lack of innings.

Timmy lowered his ERA from 2.62 in 2008 to 2.48 in 2009, and while doing so he held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average against.

He has led the league in strikeouts during both of his Cy Young campaigns and the youngster from the state of Washington is just starting to build his trophy case along the road of a lengthy career.

The 2009 season, although he won one less game than last year, was a huge improvement for Lincecum as a pitcher.

He walked 16 fewer hitters, showing that his game is still evolving, and even lowered his WHIP from a tiny 1.172 in 2008 to a minuscule 1.047 in 2009.

Perhaps a more telling statistic is that in 2008, he led the league in hits per nine innings with 7.2; this year, he brought that even lower, to 6.7 hits per nine innings.

Altogether, it was a brilliant season for Lincecum (and that's coming from a Dodgers fan).

Lincecum has the opportunity, at just 25 years old, to develop into one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game.

Consider that the great Sandy Koufax didn't win his first Cy Young until age 27, and Randy Johnson won his first at age 31, and it's easy to see why Lincecum has the chance to position himself with the greatest players of all-time by the time his career runs dry.

Those who contend that his herky-jerky and unconventional wind-up will shorten his career because of injury problems are flat out incorrect in that assumption.

In that regard, I really have to tip my cap to the Giants' organization for trusting his unorthodox motion and not forcing him to change his delivery.

My dad and I have discussed many times the fact that if the Seattle Mariners had not passed on their hometown talent in the amateur draft, they surely would have toyed with his delivery and screwed up his career trajectory.

Timmy is gifted with a rare talent that we can call a "rubber arm," and this guy could throw on two or three days rest, if necessary, and still be at the top of his game.

Back when he played high school ball, I can remember him pitching seven innings on a Monday and coming right back to throw seven more on Wednesday—and he would be more dominant in the second start.

It's a unique ability that he has, being able to throw so many pitches with little repercussions on his arm, and I think this is one of the main reasons that he is going to mount a storied career that lasts for a very long time.

It may seem ridiculously obvious that I am announcing that a man who just won two Cy Young awards will be one of the all-time greats before his career is over, but I am confident in saying that Tim Lincecum will be among the baseball gods at the conclusion of his run in the majors.


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