Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Tim Lincecum Vs. the Frightfully Outdated Methods of Performance Analysis

Quick story for you. This past Sunday I was in Berkeley for the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Greek Theater, a show that just kicked all kinds of ass. At one point during the opening act I left my seat to make a restroom run. As I was getting in the ridiculously long line for the men's room, I accidentally bumped shoulders with another guy my age as he passed by in the other direction. When I looked up I recognized him as Noah Lowry. Now, as much as I would have loved to have introduced myself and talked to Lowry, I didn't. Two reasons: 1) I was drunk, and 2) I'm not sure where drunkenly accosting a complete stranger while standing in line to take a piss ranks on the weirdness scale, but I imagine it's pretty high.

If I had spoken to Lowry I would have definitely wished him good luck and a speedy return to the mound. While he probably won't pitch at all this year, he's slated to throw in Winter Ball and be back in the rotation in 2009, hopefully in place of the increasingly awful Kevin Correia. In a perfect world, Lowry regains the bite on his changeup and puts together a year more like 2005 than 2006 or 2007. If Jonathan Sanchez can build on the promise he's shown and if Zito (who, as we speak, has just finished six terrific innings) can be average-ish, then the Giants should have one hell of a rotation. Hopefully the nerve problem that sidelined Lowry all year was the cause of his one ghastly start in the spring and he won't be doing Nuke Laloosh impressions the next time we see him. Hopefully he also enjoyed the amazing DMB version of The Maker as much as I did.

--If I had bumped into Tim Lincecum instead of Lowry, not only would I have gone out of my way to shake his hand, but I'd likely have bowed to him and chanted "I'm not worthy!" Geez, how good is this kid? Another dominating start has put his record at 16-3, and he leads the National League in pretty much every category that matters. He should, should, be the odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young, but sadly a lot of writers still stick to the sad, old-timey belief that pitching wins are a true determinant of pitching performance, and thus Lincecum is in a neck-and-neck battle with Brandon Webb, who has 19 such wins.

Even adjusting for ballpark, Lincecum kicks Webb's butt in just about every category (his ERA+ is almost 40 points higher). If this disparity in performance holds up, it'll be a crime if Lincecum doesn't win. I've said before that most of the major award voting is a sham (don't even get me started on the Gold Gloves) and normally the writers give out the awards to the best story instead of the best player. Just the fact that Carlos Delgado is even in the MVP conversation serves to illustrate how far the insanity has gone. When the BBWAA completely fucked up and gave Bartolo Colon the Cy over Johan Santana in 2005, based on Colon's 20 wins, I just stopped taking this stuff seriously.

However, when a Giants player becomes involved, I'm forced to care again. The Giants haven't had a Cy Young winner since 1967 when Mike McCormick won it, so it's been a long enough wait. Jason Schmidt was robbed of the Cy in 2003, and that pissed us all off royally, but this season if Lincecum loses it'll be an even more egregious snub. If the writers can't even recognize the (far and away) best pitcher in the league then they should just scrap the Cy Young. Seriously.

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