I’ve frequently heard people say that in Lincecum’s first full season (2008) he was better and more deserving of a Cy Young than this past season (2009). Take a look at season A and season B above. Which pitcher do you prefer?
Season A is 2009 Lincecum and season B is 2008 Lincecum. If you somehow think the fact that the Freak was better and more dominating in 2008 because of an 18-5 record versus the 15-7 he posted in 2009, you’re probably an idiot. There are far more advanced stats that, too, would illustrate his brilliant 2009 campaign. That being said, even these statistics that can be understood by even the casual baseball fan paint a pretty clear picture. He was better in 2009 in every way. Tim himself has pointed out how he was please to have lowered his WHIP (Walks + Hits per inning pitched) in 2009.
Tidbit: in 2009 – hitters posted a .557 OPS against Tim Lincecum. For those that don’t understand what OPS is; it stands for on base percentage (OBP) plus slugging percentage (SLG). On base percentage tells how many times a player reaches base safely per plate appearance (not at bats). It essentially tells what percentage of time that player is making an out. Slugging percentage is essentially batting average adjusted for power – so if a player hits a double, he is compensated double. If the player hits a triple, he is compensated triple and so on. So, for example, if a player were to a hit a HR in a single plate appearance his SLG would be 4.000. OPS is simply the sum of SLG and OBP. So, if a player were to hit a HR every single time he came to the plate his OPS would be 5.000 (1.000 OBP + 4.000 SLG), our maximum. Anyways, the worst offensive regular player in 2009 I could find posted a .559 OPS in over 400 AB’s, i.e. 2 one thousandths better than batters fared against Timmy. Willy Taveras, you have officially been outed. Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano, the fiery Cubs Ace pitcher, posted a .689 OPS.
What does this all mean? It means wins are useless for the individual (but infinitely important for the TEAM). Afterall, the difference between a win and a no-decision can be as simple as a blown call at first base during a day game against the Dodgers that coulda-shoulda-woulda ended the game. It is looking far beyond the wins and losses that netted both Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke their 2009 Cy Young crowns. Each was a cut above the competition and while I won’t go into great detail about Greinke's brilliant 2009, he was even better than Lincecum in the tougher American League.