Community-projection review: Tim Lincecum

Denis Poroy

Every February and March, we do community projections around here. Well, that's the idea. Usually I do a projection and you talk about Parks & Recreation or something. But a couple of people play along, and we pretend like we know what's going to happen in the upcoming season. Most of the time, we're all hilariously wrong.

There's no point in doing this before the season, though, if we're not going to revisit those projections and see how we did. So let's kick off the community-projection-review season by reviewing a community rejection. We'll go in chronological order, and the first community projection we did last year was …

GAAAAH. Don't do that, dammit. But, yes, let's look at what we expected from Tim Lincecum before the season started.

/takes shot of water drained from parade snow globe

Tim Lincecum
IP: 188
ERA: 3.24
BB: 79
K: 201
HR: 16

/starts seeing 50-foot-tall Matt Hollidays
/stands on roof in underwear, waving Darren Lewis-model bat at winged Latoses
/vomits confetti

Actual:

Tim Lincecum
IP: 197.2
ERA: 4.37
BB: 76
K: 193
HR: 21

See, the thing about that is …

/long sigh

You watched those playoff games, right? Dude was awesome. I believed. Maybe not as much as I playfully wrote up there, but I believed Lincecum was going to be much better in 2013. And, I guess, technically, he was. His ERA was about a run lower.

But I think the problem with those expectations were they were unrealistic from the start. Lincecum in the 2012 playoffs was much better than Lincecum in the 2012 regular season, and that was exciting. But he was never this:


I didn't pick that 2009 start because I remembered it. I picked it specifically because I didn't remember it. It was just one of those outings, ho hum, pretty cool, even though he didn't get the shutout.

Look at that pitcher. When was the last time you watched him pitch? It wasn't the 2012 playoffs. Maybe in 2011? But even then, the velocity buzzards were circling.

Lesson learned. Cy Young Lincecum is gone like Sgt. Pepper's Paul McCartney is gone. The 2011 season was like Abbey Road -- good enough to ignore the occasional "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." I guess that would make 2012 his collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, in which the important thing was that everyone involved was really, really rad on some level.

I was hoping for Abbey Road, thinking that because I was magnanimous enough not to expect Sgt. Pepper's again, I had properly appeased the baseball gods. That was stupid. All I should have wanted was a Ram. I should have wanted a messy, imperfect, enjoyable brilliance. He was close in 2013, but there was always a four-walk, five-run performance around the corner.

Think of it like this, though. Pretend one of the baseball god's interns came to you with a proposition. Another down year from Lincecum, but this time there was no championship to salve the wound. The good news was that a) he wouldn't take nine figures to sign after the season, and b) he would throw a no-hitter.

I would have jumped on that offer, assuming there was no way to turn the 2013 Giants into contenders without Mike Trout and a radioactive Barry Zito. A big, scary contract was always my biggest fear. Now there's a chance of Lincecum staying and still being good. It's not a guarantee in either case -- he could very well leave, and he could very well be absolutely terrible. But there's a risk/reward that's balanced enough with the reward to make it seem like a decent idea, even when you're not looking through the fanboy-colored glasses.

At any rate, at least everyone's on board with the idea that Lincecum is permanently in good-guy-at-the-back-of-a-rotation land. The expectations won't be so crazy this time, and the Braves will be thrilled with the results.

Oh, man, I totally said the Braves. That was my subconscious. I didn't mean it. Really, at least I didn't suggest the Dodgers, who are probably going to sign him for real.

Frrgm. Lincecum's season was a disappointment again, but I still want him back. Maybe we're all fully afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome, here, but I'm eagerly awaiting the offseason frenzy to see if there's really a market for him that the Giants shouldn't/won't top. And if he does sign with the Giants, all I want is a Ram. Hands across the waaaater, hands across the skyyyyyyyy.

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