Friday, October 8, 2010

The Symmetry of Timothy LeRoy Lincecum's Complete Game 2-hitter

There's watching the game and seeing the spell Tim Lincecum was weaving on Thursday night - and then there's the box score that mirrors the magic that was on the field - now in a funny bit of iconography produced by some nut 3,000 miles away in Toronto.

Look how Lincecum's innings unfold, this is batters faced/inning:

  • 1st to 3rd: 1234, 123, 123
  • 4th to 6th: 1234, 123, 123
  • 7th to 9th: 1234, 123, 123
The three, 1234 innings represent 2 hits and 1 base on balls. The rest of the innings are three up, three down.

As I did in an earlier post on the art of iconography of a great pitching performance - namely Roy Halladay's no-hitter - I simplified the score card down to a line drawing.

Here's Roy Halladay's No-hitter with one base on balls, against Cincinnati on October 6th, 2010.

As an example, here's a line drawing of a perfect game. All perfect games will look like this.

This is a line drawing of Tim Lincecum's Complete Game 2-hitter with one walk, against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, October 7th 2010.

I don't want to use the terms dominate, over powering or masterful to describe Lincecum's outing last night - they're over used - but they really do fit here. This was a pitching performance on par with Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 and Roy Halladay's post season no-hitter a couple of days ago. Because it happen the day after Halladay's gem - and in the western time zone - it might not be noticed as much as it deserves; it was a peerless performance. (except the ones I just mentioned - you get my point :).

Here's all 119 pitches Tim Lincecum threw, via the PitchF/X data system and rendered into a graphical representation through Brooks Baseball's user interface. (Thanks Joy of Sox.)

Notice there are only three called strikes outside the box. Great Umpiring.

The year of the pitcher is happening in the play-offs and it's shaping up like this years post season may go down in history like the original Year of the Pitcher 1968 has. But perhaps not a full year; let me explain...

Almost all of the elite pitchers are in the post season this year; the exceptions are these four from the top ten in wins:

St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright (20 W - 11 L 2.42 ERA)
Colorado Rockies, Ubaldo Jimenez (19W 8 L 2.88 ERA)
Boston Red Sox's Jon Lester (19 W 9 L, 3.25 ERA)
Detroit Tigers' J Verlander (18 W - 9 L 3.37)

I say that taken all together; the juiced ball, steroid use by hitters and the new smaller parks, has resulted in pitchers having had the stuffing kicked out of them for the last 10-15 years. This renaissance, this rebound of the pitchers, could just now be forming a new élan in their minds that we haven't seen for quite some time. Perhaps this new mindset and post season focus are causing a "high tide" of pitching excellence - perhaps building to a post season to remember.

The 2010 Post Season Hall of Fame:
( - so far - )

Roy Halladay - no-hitter
Tim Lincecum - complete game 2-hitter


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