2013 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

Faith in “The Freak”: Tim Lincecum will bounce back in 2013

Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America
Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

Tim Lincecum had an extremely disappointing season in 2012 with career worsts in losses, ERA, WHIP, earned runs, walks, wild pitches, and homeruns allowed. He has slid far down the rankings lists for 2013 with an average draft position so far of 125, which in a 12 team league has him going in the 11th round. That is a far cry from the days of seeing him go in the first and second round just a couple of short years ago. Many have lost faith in The Freak, but I am here to make the case that Lincecum will bounce back in 2013 with a close look at some numbers that didn’t necessarily go his way last year and an analysis of his pitching repertoire.

The first thing I want to take a look at is Lincecum’s comparisons when it comes to BIP% to BABIP.  BIP is the percentage of all plate appearances with the end result being the ball is put into play.  Tim’s BIP for 2012 was consistent with his career average, actually to the percentage point at 61%, so that has not changed.  However his BABIP (batting average on balls put into play) went from .288 in 2011 to .316 last season! BABIP doesn’t include homeruns, so you should still keep in mind that Tim did give up a career high 23 homeruns last year (16 on the road), but as far as balls put into play,  the opposition’s average on those balls went up 15 points.

If his BABIPcomes back down to his career average of .301, or if Tim happens to get some luck on his side and it goes back down to his 2011 level, his numbers will improve.  This gives him less runners on base, so less runs scored, and less pitches thrown, which allows him to go deeper in the game and throw with more varying options to the batter at the plate.

Year

BIP%   (balls in play %)

BABIP   (batting avg. on balls in play)

2011

62%

.288

2012

61%

.316

I also want to take a look at Tim’s pitching repertoire as another sign that he will bounce back this season.  Lincecum’s arsenal consists of four mainstay pitches: Your standard 4-seam fastball, a biting 2-seam fastball with late downward movement to induce ground balls, a tight and quick 12-6 motion curveball, and his strikeout pitch, the changeup. His slider, which I leave out as his fifth pitch, was removed when he was drafted by the Giants and has since been reinstated as of 2011.

There has been a lot of rumblings and worry about the undeniable fact that Lincecum’s 4-seam fastball velocity has dipped gradually over the last few years.  I don’t see this as that big of an issue and I’ll tell you why after the jump.  Let’s first take a look at his yearly fastball velocity average compared to his changeup since 2007.

Year

4-seam   fastball speed

changeup   speed

2007

93.6

83.2

2008

94

83.3

2009

92.4

83.1

2010

91.2

83.7

2011

92.2

83.6

2012

90.4

83.2

Pitching experts say that a good changeup should range anywhere from 8-10 mph less than your 4-seam fastball.  This makes all the difference in a hitter’s timing and can make him look like a fool at the plate if you have consistent arm action between your fastball and changeup.  Tim Lincecum has had arguably the best changeup in baseball since he came to the big leagues in 2007.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s his go-to strikeout pitch and the reason for most of his 1,317 career punch outs. If you look at the graph, you’ll see that his 4-seamer velocity has dipped from 94 to 90 in the last few years and only in 2012 did he go below the desired 8 mph minimum speed differential. However, Lincecum has gained 15 pounds this offseason, as instructed by the Giants, and I expect his fastball to tick back up to 91-92, which would get him back in that 8-10 mph range differential where he needs to be.

In addition to numbers, and pitch types (and a stellar reputation), let’s also keep in mind some additional points that lead me to expecting a good season from The Freak.

  • He’s only 28 years old;
  • Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti has a track record of success with his pitchers (every family has a Barry Zito, so pipe down);
  • Lincecum is a free agent after this season and will be receiving the longest/largest contract of his career, his big payday. That’s another huge motivation for Tim to have a big year.

If you’re not convinced, go ahead, wait to grab Tim in the 10th or 11th round.  Someone else, like me, will be the one laughing in September because we took him in the 9th.

Follow and banter with John on twitter @JohnnyCrashMLB.

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1 Comment

  1. Tim Lincecum's agent
    August 30, 2013 at 10:33 am — Reply

    Still glad you got him in the 9th???

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