- Tuesday, November 24, 2009 7:19 PM
- Written By: Larry Yee
Now that all the awards have been handed out, (in probably the most spread-out pointless format imaginable) we can take a look back at the most interesting case there was. With both MVPs being unanimous, (the guy who didn’t vote for Joe Mauer doesn’t exist in my reality) and the AL Cy Young being pretty clear cut, the only difficult choice for the writers this year was the NL Cy Young. There obviously was no wrong choice and there is no point in proving the case of one over the other as they all deserved the award, as shown by the tightest race in recent history.
Tim Lincecum has become the youngest pitcher to ever win his second Cy Young award, and he has done so consecutively in his first two full seasons, never before accomplished. More remarkable, in my mind, is his improvement from his first Cy Young season. While his counting stats stayed steady, his WHIP, K/BB and FIP all improved.
Calling him the best pitcher in the majors might be a stretch, but his two years of consistency, staying healthy and dominance make him at least the best pitcher in the National League. The biggest separator in my mind is his ability to clear-out dominate a game. He had twice as many game scores of 70+ than Adam Wainwright (15-7) and six more than Chris Carpenter (9). Along with that, he had three times the number of double-digit strikeout games as both his competitors and comparing what I believe to be the most telling pitching statistic, FIP, Lincecum’s 2.34 was lower than both Carpenter’s 2.78 and Wainwright’s 3.11. No pitcher dominated the game more than Lincecum, and as a Giants fan, I’m glad the writers could move past their old-school counting stats as vote-deciders.
But, in winning his second Cy Young at age 25, he has put a ton of strain on his body and arm. Thus far, he has avoided major injury bugs but with his freak body, who knows? Nine teams passed on this talent because he was too small and not built like Mark Prior. He’s already proven in two years how much better and how much more reliable than Mark Prior he is (not to mention everybody else drafted in front of him). He’s put 600 innings in the majors on not just his right arm, but his oblique muscles, his lower back and his legs. From having watched him dozens of times in person, the thing that scares me the most is not the amount of action he sees, but the fact that each pitch results in unmatched torque-based movement.
If anything, however, he keeps proving doubters wrong, and the few of them that are left won’t say a word against him. I won’t be surprised at all if he comes back next spring having developed his slider and make a run at Cy Three. I, meanwhile, will just enjoy the flingy ride his arm takes me on each time he pitches.