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Entries in Tim Lincecum (17)


Baseball-All-Starlytics: Tim Lincecum vs. Anibal Sanchez

Joe Capozzi in an entry to his  Fish Tank blog on the site had an interesting piece on Sunday where he talks about how Marlins manager Jack McKeon is frustrated both that pitcher Anibal Sanchez is not going to the All Star game and that Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is going.

His bottom line comment was this: 

“He’s on his team. And he’s a good pitcher, don’t get me wrong. But do we reward for what you’re doing now or do we reward for what you’ve done in the past? …

“I think the guys, there are lot of guys who will never make the All Star game again who are worthy of being on that team and will never get another chance.

“If he’s not having an all star year, are we voting for all stars for this year? In other words you go out and you bust your tail and have a good year this year, you can’t make it because some guy is hitting 240 that happened to make it the last couple of years. Reward the guys for this year.”

McKeon of course is right. There s always a tendency on the part of voters and selectors to opt for the old "star"with the reputation versus the new "star" with the numbers, but that is a sports tradition. However, that doesn't prevent us from comparing the numbers.

Who is the All-Star: Tim Lincecum or Anibal Sanchez?

Here is Lincecum this season:

Batters are hitting .230 against Lincecum and slugging .339Here is Sanchez this season:
Batters are hitting .238 against Sanchez and slugging .376

The numbers between the two are strikingly close:


  • Lincecum has a 3.14 ERA; Sanchez has a 3.30.
  • Lincecum has a 1.193 WHIP; Sanchez an identical 1.193.
  • Lincecum has surrendered seven homers; Sanchez has given up nine.
  • Lincecum has struck out 126 (26% batters faced); Sanchez 11 (24.7%).
  • Lincecum has walked 41 (8.5%); Sanchez 33 (7.3%).


Here's the reality:

Yes, on paper, these two are remarkably similar, so if one makes the All-Star squad , the other should as well. But, who has the casual fan heard of: Tim Lincecum or Anibal Sanchez? Who will that fan tune in Fox to see?

After all is said and done, I'm sure that Sanchez and McKeon know the answers to that question, so now Sanchez just needs to wait to see which NL pitcher bails on the game and he is added to the squad.


The Change in Lincecum

Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants pitched poorly so far in June. He continues to strike out a ton of batters, but it's not leading to a low batting average allowed.  The difference between Tim now and the Lincecum of March through May is the location of his change up.

Tim Lincecum, change up location, March through May 2011.Notice that Tim threw the pitch out of the strike zone.  Coming in eight miles an hour slower than his fastball, hitters expected a pitch in the zone and would swing and miss.

Tim Lincecum, contact rate against the change up, March-May 2011.Batters could not square up the pitch as they went 0 for 31 against the change through the end of May with 15 strikeouts.

Once June came around, Lincecum started leaving the pitch relatively up:

Tim Lincecum, change up location, June 2011Tim appears to be throwing the pitch the same way, as an examination of the spin showed no obvious changes.  With the pitch up in the strike zone, however, batters are making contact.

Tim Lincecum, contact rate against the changeup, June 2011.Batters are recognizing this pitch better, and the ball more likely ends up in a better spot to hit.  Hitters are now 5 for 14 against the pitch, .357 with four strikeouts.  Lincecum is no longer fooling batters with the pitch.


Breaking down Tim Lincecum's Changeup

It goes without saying that Tim Lincecum has one of the best changeups in the game.  Since 2008, batters have only made contact on 55.5 percent of their swings, good for 4th best in the league among pitchers throwing at least 500 changeups.  Lincecum has also induced a high swing rate of 59.0 percent over that period, good for 5th best in the league.  The combination of the two speaks volumes to the quality of his change, as Lincecum has been able to successfully fool batters with the pitch, getting them to both swing and miss frequently.

As can be expected with any changeup, the more downward movement you get on the pitch, the harder it is to hit.  Lincecum's change has averaged 15.8 feet per second of downward velocity when crossing the plate since the beginning of the 2008 season, but when put in play, the ball averaged an entire foot less of vertical movement.

Here's a breakdown of his changeup by vertical movement (PVZ):

Tim Lincecum Changeup 2008-2010
≤13 ft/s22483.482.9%33.0%13.4%2.8%.293
13.1 - 14 ft/s23483.279.9%31.2%10.1%1.1%.274
14.1 - 15 ft/s29083.368.9%36.7%7.0%1.8%.267
15.1 - 16 ft/s32383.462.5%41.7%7.1%0.0%.221
16.1 - 17 ft/s34383.444.6%46.3%7.4%0.0%.207
17.1 - 18 ft/s24983.734.0%48.7%10.0%0.0%.214
18.1 - 19 ft/s17783.414.3%50.8%10.3%0.0%.203
≥19 ft/s17883.611.9%46.4%14.4%0.0%.252

It's quite telling based on contact rate alone how much more effective the change is when it has more downward velocity. It's important to note that a changeup with less vertical movement will more often end up higher in the zone, as those with more movement often end up down in the zone. So you're bound to get less contact with changeups that end up scuffing the plate than those that float over the strike zone. But as his expected K-Rate indicates (as well as his overall swing percentage), Lincecum is getting batters to swing at those changeups down in the zone, resulting in a lot of strikeouts.

The plummeting xwOBA that accompanies the increase in downward velocity on Lincecum's change is impressive. With 15 feet per second of movement or more, batters essentially can do nothing with his change. The expected walk rate jumps a bit with more than 17 ft/s of movement, and that is mainly due to the number of those changeups that fall out of the strike zone for balls. However, the actual walk rate on those changeups is around 7.0%, which is still lower than the 8.2% walk rate Lincecum holds on all pitches since 2008.