Look, I don't even know why I'm doing this. But I've been in a Lincecum fugue for the last day, so I'm doing it. It's a simple video post.
This is Tim Lincecum at his best in 2011:
This is Tim Lincecum at his best in 2013:
There were hangers in that first clip. The second strikeout and the second-to-last one, I think. The breaking stuff was just as ridiculous in both.
Is the difference really just three miles per hour?
Could be. Might be. Baseball players have .0000001 seconds to react to a pitch, so if they can pick up a fastball .0000001 seconds earlier than normal, they have an advantage. Or maybe it's that teams were looking for those hangers for the first time.
I've been watching Lincecum videos for the last day -- the ones that were mostly culled from the good moments, mind you - and that's the only thing I see that's different. Lincecum isn't throwing as hard, and it gives hitters a split-second of respite. That makes a difference with every 20th batter, and that's the problem with Lincecum.
If it's velocity that's the problem, well, the Giants are screwed. Those miles ain't coming back.
But looking at the breaking stuff between the two seasons, it's nasty either way. The only difference is the fastball. It's still not a crazy gamble that the fastball will play up with better command. It's still a gamble. Okay, it's a crazy gamble. But looking at the difference between 2011 and this year, I'm not sure if it's as drastic as we thought. Those breaking balls are still stellar.
Just don't look at 2009.
Because that dude is gone. It's better to have loved and have lost and have have won two championships than to never have loved at all, and all that. Still, I don't think that 2011 Lincecum is out of reach. Just unlikely. I can hope for unlikely without feeling like too much of a fool. Worked for Aubrey Huff and Ryan Vogelsong.
Tim Lincecum isn't going to win a Cy Young again. But if he could be the 2011 version, that would be cool. And if he could go to the Madison Bumgarner School of Hey I Can Throw Hard Again! every few months, that would be really cool.
As is, I'm fanboyishly optimistic and logically pessimistic. It's a safe, comforting place to be after the news that Lincecum is getting paid ace money in an offseason where the Giants need a lot of help if they're going to get better.