Sunday, August 15, 2010

Game Recap: SD 8, SF 2

This is a little bit of amateur statistical analysis masquerading as a game recap. Keep in mind that I have no idea what I'm doing. Some of this stuff is new to me, so I'm gonna look like a fool. But it's better than writing a recap for that horrible game.

Hey San Diego Padres: Does BABIP mean anything to you? You guys suck, okay? Your lineup is a disgrace. You have, like, at least 5 or 6 hitters on a given night with an OPS near or below .700. You should not be able to score 8 runs on a day Tim Lincecum pitches. Yet you did.

Let's look for a moment at Tim Lincecum's stats, to see if we can decide just how much worse he is this year than the last 2. Keep in mind these numbers are pre-apocalypse (today's game).

His K's per 9 are down about one full strikeout. In 2008 and 2009, he was at 10.5 and 10.4. This year he is at 9.4, still quite impressive, but his walks are up to 3.4, from 2.7 last year. In his 1st Cy Young year, he was also at 3.4, and managed to pitch a great season. But this year he is allowing double the amount of HR's he has averaged in the past 2 seasons, 0.4 to 0.8. He allowed 7.2 hits per 9 in 2008, and a remarkable 6.7 in 2009. This year, he is at 8.3. All of this has combined to give him a WHIP of 1.304. Last year he was right near 1.0.

Lincecum has a career BABIP of .300, which is pretty normal. This year, he is 16 points over. That isn't a huge difference, but it is at least to be noted. Today we know he had some real bad luck, although he didn't pitch well either. But he's not unlucky like Dan Haren. By the way, his groundball/flyball ratio is the same as last year. Also, he is stranding runners at pretty much the same rate as last year, so he's not getting unlucky in that department.

There's been a lot of talk about Lincecum's loss of velocity. Is it possible he is tired? The Giants have ridden him the last 2 years, and he had some questionable pitch counts. Lincecum might be throwing some fastballs around or even below 90. But I think it's silly to ever expect him to throw 95 or above like he did when he debuted against the Phillies 3 years ago. Don't we all remember that he didn't become a great pitcher UNTIL he dropped back on his velocity. In the low 90's, he was able to control his fastball better, and that was the difference between rookie year Lincecum and Cy Young Lincecum.

This is what I think is the key to his struggles this year. It appears he has lost his control, and that is why his velocity is down, because it's necessary for him to throw softer in order to get the ball into the strike zone. As a consequence, HR's and hits are up. And maybe that's how a lineup like the Padres is able to get 8 hits off of him.

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