Friday, August 20, 2010

FJM Friday: The Molina Theory

Before diving into this week's Fire Joe Morgan Friday post, I want to make it clear that we here at 8thInningWeirdness like Andrew Baggarly. He's a good beat writer, and I even had the pleasure of having him over for dinner and wine last summer. I enjoyed it greatly, especially when I realized the common interest we have for rare coins and recreational dry cleaning. But I can't try to ruin Bruce Jenkins' career every week; it's far too easy. This week Baggarly wrote a small piece on about the possible influence Bengie Molina's absence has had on Tim Lincecum. I think this theory is ludicrous and unfair to Buster Posey. So, with respect and as few sarcastic remarks as possible, here is my relatively short response to Baggs' article from Wednesday.

Among the many well-meaning amateur theories to explain Tim Lincecum's struggles this season, one appears to have some statistical merit.

Statistical merit? I like it. Hopefully statistical merit means more than just listing overall ERAs and W-L records. Didn't I promise I wouldn't be sarcastic?

Does Tim Lincecum miss throwing to Bengie Molina?

Maybe. But if he's really letting it get to him, then he's much less of a player than we thought. I don't think he's letting it get into his head. I just think he's going through a rough stretch. As all great pitcher do. In 1989, Roger Clemens had a 3.13 ERA and 1.216 WHIP. That season was after 3 great years for Clemens, 2 in which he won Cy Youngs. Clemens' age in 1989? 26, the same as Lincecum this year. After 1989, Clemens went on to post a 2.34 ERA in his next 3 seasons, winning another Cy Young and finishing 2nd and 3rd.

(Lincecum) was at 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts with Molina...Lincecum is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 3 pairings with backup Eli Whiteside. In his past 7 starts with rookie Buster Posey, Lincecum is 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA.

I'll ignore your use of wins and losses, as if those were statistics with any meaning behind them. The use of ERA is okay, and tells us something to an extent. But it ignores the timeline of Tim Lincecum's season so far. Lincecum was great from Opening Day to the middle of May. Everyone who has watched the Giants this year would agree that his dropoff began May 15th, the 1st of 4 straight starts in which he walked 5 batters. He looked as lost as ever back in May as he does currently. The catcher in all of those starts? Bengie Molina.

Bengie Molina can't be the key to Tim's success as a pitcher, and at the same time be the catcher during his worst stretch of the season. It also just isn't fair to Buster Posey. 16 starts against 7 starts? Big sample difference. I won't even mention the offensive upgrade Posey brings every time Lincecum is pitching. Oh wait, I just did.

Lincecum didn't completely reject the effect the catching change has had on him, but he made it clear it wasn't an overriding factor.

Then I really just don't see the point of this article.

Lincecum: "I've had good games with Bengie and bad games with Bengie. I've had good games with Buster and bad games with Buster. I'll get used to throwing to Buster. It's been totally fine for me, working with him.

Sorry Baggs, but the Bengie Molina Theory is as amateur as any other, and I'm afraid it doesn't have much statistical merit.

1 comment:

  1. I also disagreed with this theory. I think the real problem is just Lincecum. You can see he's not hitting his spots, and it's starting to catch up with him that his velocity has decreased. Roy Oswalt had the best theory - that Lincecum just needs to work out to maintain velocity because of his small frame. You had Baggarly over for dinner?! That's awesome!