FG on Fox: When Tim Lincecum is Still Tim Lincecum

On Wednesday, for the second time in a year, Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter. For the second time in a year, it was against the San Diego Padres. As Rob Neyer wrote yesterday, one pitcher throwing two no-hitters against the same team in a year is a pretty unlikely outcome, especially considering the fact that Tim Lincecum stopped being TIM LINCECUM a few years ago. If you were going to list off pitchers who would throw multiple no-hitters, you probably wouldn’t go with the guy with the seventh-worst ERA among qualified starters since the start of the 2012 season.

But there’s something a little bit unique about the recent vintage of Tim Lincecum. Something that makes these no-hitters maybe a little bit more understandable.

Below, I’ve charted Lincecum’s seasonal batting average allowed based on whether or not the bases are empty or if there were runners on. The blue line represents the situations in which Linecum would be able to pitch from the wind-up, while the Red line represents — not perfectly, but well enough — situations where Lincecum would have to work from the stretch.

Read the rest on FoxSports.com.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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MissionValleyMafia
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MissionValleyMafia
2 years 27 days ago

Tim Lincecum is still Tim Lincecum when he plays the Padres…

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 27 days ago

Maybe he tips his pitches from the stretch? Or maybe his command just goes away. According to baseball savant:

No runners on
Lincecum % of total pitches from behind in count: 16.4%
Lincecum % of total pitches: 63.4%
Lincecum % of pitches with no runners on from behind in the count: 25.9%

Runners on base
% of total pitches from behind in count: 10.1%
% of total pitches: 36.6%
% of pitches with runners on from behind in the count: 27.6%

So this may be a cause or just a symptom, but in 2014 so far, he’s pitching behind in the count more often with runners on base than with no one on. I don’t have a baseline for this, so a 1% increase or so might be typical. I couldn’t figure out how to get the overall number from Baseball Savant, it would only show individual pitchers, and I didn’t feel like downloading the spreadsheet :(

dang
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dang
2 years 27 days ago

Pitch mix and velocity may be similar, but what about pitch location when comparing the men on/bases empty split?

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 25 days ago

We’re gonna have to wait for one of the pitch f/x wizards to answer this one – brooks doesn’t give men on base splits for heat maps.

Kevin
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Kevin
2 years 27 days ago

Isn’t this data somewhat confounded by the possibility that men get on base because Lincecum pitches worse?

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker
2 years 27 days ago

Lincecum stil has great movement on his pitches, even without the 94mph fastball.

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker
2 years 27 days ago

Little known fact; Nolan Ryan threw 14 one hitters and 13 two hitters in addition to his seven no hitters.

Rich Mahogany
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Rich Mahogany
2 years 27 days ago

I look forward to the Fox comments, as usual.

LOL what is xFIP. He pitched a no-hitter because the Padres suck! LOL

MrKnowNothing
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MrKnowNothing
2 years 27 days ago

I’d guess it’s because his wind up aids in deception. From the stretch, batters are probably picking the ball up better.

Scott Marcus
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Scott Marcus
2 years 27 days ago

Suppose the Giants wanted to test the theory, and have Lincecum use his windup even with men on base.

How much extra damage would one expect, given that lots more running would happen? If it is true that he’s that much better, would that offset the extra bases that base runners would get?

Brendan
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Brendan
2 years 27 days ago

This. he sucks at controlling the running game anyway!

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 27 days ago

I don’t think pitching from the windup is allowed with runners on base. There are certain rules a pitcher has to observe with a runner on, like coming to the set position with his foot on the rubber, in order to avoid having a balk called. I think if he tried to pitch from the windup with a runner on, after three pitches, all the runners have scored.

jpg
Guest
jpg
2 years 27 days ago

Not saying you’re wrong, but I definitely remember instances where guys attempted straight steals of home because pitchers pitched from the windup, rather than the stretch. I can’t recall the specific instances but I’m sure it has happened.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 27 days ago

You know I think I know what you’re talking about. Maybe the rule I’m thinking of is not actually a rule, it’s just a rule provided the pitcher decides to pitch from the stretch.

But why speculate, why not look it up?

A pitcher is restricted to a certain set of motions and one of two basic pitching positions before and during a pitch; if these regulations are violated with one or more runners on base, an umpire may call a balk.

With a runner on base and the pitcher on or astride (with one leg on each side of) the rubber, under Official Baseball Rules, it is a balk when the pitcher:
when pitching from the set position, fails to make a complete stop with his hands together before beginning to pitch;

So I’m totally wrong about this.

Ian R.
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Ian R.
2 years 27 days ago

You’re not wrong. Jacoby Ellsbury, for instance, stole home five years ago while Andy Pettitte was in his windup.

Belloc
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Belloc
2 years 27 days ago

Do a simple math model that turns every one of his singles or walks into triples and see how well that works.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
2 years 27 days ago

For christ sake, go over to Brooks and compare the release point spread when he has runners on base vs other starts, vs the no-no.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 25 days ago

Link? ‘Cause I wasted literally dozens of minutes failing to find men on base/bases empty splits for heat maps and release point stuff over there. Please cure my failure.

Roaddawg
Guest
Roaddawg
2 years 27 days ago

Timmy pitches his games stoned. When a runner gets on base its a total buzzkill

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
2 years 15 days ago

Regarding the Batting Average allowed chart, I see what is being said about it, but as I looked at the chart more closely, could it just be that while his stats with bases empty is relatively the same, randomness up and down pushed the stats for runners all over the place? If you look at the stats, in 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2013, they were roughly the same, so what if the extremes in the other years were just random fluctuations around the mean of roughly the BA with bases empty? Plus, 2014 is the only year he’s significantly above, and we’re not even half way through the season yet.

But the tables after that chart showed more clearly what has been happening to Lincecum per your nice analysis of his situation.

Here’s an alternative I thought of that wasn’t mentioned: what if his control isn’t as good out of the stretch as it is when he is in the windup? Would that help explain why his peripherals has not been so good out of the stretch? The tables were basically the same until we got to 2012. And that fits in exactly with Giants fans experience with him, there are moments he’s the Timmy of old, then BAM, the other team is beating him up. And his issues with pitching from the stretch is well known to any Giants fan listening to the game on the radio.

Here’s a reason why Lincecum should be better in 2014 than 2012-2013: this is his first full season where he studies batters before the game and learn their weaknesses. He never did this until about mid-way through the 2013 season (Gaudin finally got him to do it; his lasting legacy…). This is probably why he never had a no-hitter before, he was frequently going into hitter’s hot zones, and while he had the stuff to get a lot of outs, it was the hitter’s hot zone and thus there were hits to be had still. Once he lost velocity, the hitters got even more hits.

In addition, he worked on inducing weak contact during the spring, as well as getting out of innings faster. That is part of the reason why his first no-hitter took 148 pitches and his second only 118. So he’s making a lot of changes that the regular fan does not get to see just by looking at his numbers.

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