Timothy Leroy Lincecum (pronounced /ˈlɪnsəkəm/ born June 15, 1984) is an American baseball player who is a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball. He is nicknamed "The Franchise and "The Freak.
He throws right-handed and bats left-handed. Lincecum is known for his long stride, unorthodox mechanics, and ability to generate high velocity despite his slight build of 5'11", 172 lbs. Lincecum has won the last two NL Cy Young Awards, and was the first second-year player to win the Cy Young since Dwight Gooden and Bret Saberhagen both won in 1985.
His repertoire includes a two-seam fastball that reaches well into the mid-nineties, a changeup he grips like a splitter, a curveball notable for its sharp breaking action, and a slider. He also has a four-seam fastball, but rarely uses it.
High school and college-
Lincecum attended Liberty Senior High School in Renton, Washington, where he played two seasons of varsity baseball. As a senior, he won state player of the year and led his school to the 2003 3A state championship.
Lincecum went on to pitch for the University of Washington. In 2004, he became the first player ever to be named both the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year. He also was the first freshman pitcher to lead the Pac-10 in strikeouts since Bill Bordley of USC in 1978. In 2006, he finished 12–4 with a 1.94 ERA, 199 strikeouts, and three saves in 125⅓ innings. He won the 2006 Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded annually to the best amateur baseball player.
In the summer of 2004 Linceum played for the National Baseball Congress (NBC) Seattle Studs and won two games in the NBC World Series that year. In 2009 he was named NBC Graduate of the Year.
In the summer of 2005 he played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Draft and minor league career
Lincecum was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the forty-eighth round (1,408th overall) of the 2003 MLB Draft, but did not sign. He decided to attend college instead, and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the forty-second round (1,261st overall) upon re-entering the draft in 2005, but once again failed to sign.] The next year, he was drafted tenth overall by the San Francisco Giants, becoming the first player from the University of Washington to be taken in the first round. He signed for a $2.025 million signing bonus on June 30, which at the time was the highest amount the organization had ever paid to any amateur player (until they gave $2.1 million to Angel Villalona a little over a month later).
During his brief minor league career, he was frequently named as the top pitching prospect in the Giants organization.
Lincecum made his professional debut on July 26, 2006, with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (the Giants' Class A Short Season affiliate) against the Vancouver Canadians, pitching one inning and striking out all three batters he faced. After his second outing on July 31 against the Boise Hawks, in which he pitched three innings, striking out seven and allowing just one baserunner, he was promoted to the High Class-A San Jose Giants.
On August 5, in his first start in San Jose against the Bakersfield Blaze, he pitched 2⅔ innings, allowing three runs (two earned), and striking out five. Lincecum finished the year 2–0 with a 1.95 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 27⅔ innings pitched. He also got the victory in the opening game of the California League playoffs, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out ten and walking one against the Visalia Oaks. Visalia would win the series 3–2.
Going into 2007, Lincecum was ranked as the #11 prospect in baseball and the #1 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization by Baseball America. He spent the first month of the season pitching for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. In five starts (31 innings), he allowed just one run, twelve hits, eleven walks, while striking out forty-six and going 4–0. During his 2006 and 2007 minor league campaigns, Lincecum struck out the highest percentage of batters (minimum 100) of any minor league pitcher in the last ten years: 30.9 percent.
In the spring of 2007, Colorado Rockies prospect Ian Stewart called Lincecum "the toughest pitcher [he] ever faced," adding "Guys on our club who have been in the big leagues said he’s the toughest guy they ever faced too … I’m not really sure why he’s down here, but for a guy who was drafted last year … that guy is filthy.
Major league career
With an injury to the Giants' fifth starter, Russ Ortiz, Lincecum was called up to make his first major league start on May 6, 2007, against the Philadelphia Phillies. He earned a no-decision; the Giants ultimately lost the game, 8–5. In his first career inning, Lincecum gave up two hits and two runs, and struck out three.
He earned his first major league win in his next start, on the road against the Rockies. Lincecum, who is often compared to Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt, faced him in each of his next two starts. After the first match-up, Astros third baseman Mike Lamb said, "The stuff he was throwing out there tonight was everything he's hyped up to be. He was 97 mph with movement. You just don't see that every day. He pitched very much like the pitcher he is compared to and out-dueled him throughout the night. The pair dueled to a no-decision the first time, and Lincecum pitched eight innings and got the win the second time.
In his first four starts in June, he allowed twenty-two earned runs in 18⅔ innings, for a 10.61 ERA. He failed to make it to the fifth inning in any of the last three starts, against Oakland, Toronto, and Milwaukee. In July, he went 4–0 with a 1.62 ERA. On July 1, in a seven inning performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he struck out twelve, the fourth highest total ever by a Giants rookie.
Lincecum pitched into the ninth inning for the first time on August 21 against the Chicago Cubs. He had allowed just two hits and one walk through the first eight, while throwing only eighty-eight pitches. He took a 1–0 lead into the ninth, but allowed three consecutive hits before being pulled. The Cubs scored several times against the Giants bullpen and Lincecum took the loss. Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said after the game, "He's got electric stuff. The best stuff I've seen all year.
Lincecum was shut down in September as a precautionary measure, due to his high inning count in his first full year of professional ball. Between the minors and the majors, he pitched a total of 177⅓ innings.
The Giants asked Lincecum not to throw the bullpen sessions typical of other pitchers during the off-season. Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle that they were being careful with Lincecum because there have been studies that show that pitchers who throw 200 innings early in their career were more susceptible to injuries.
On May 15, 2008, after Lincecum struck out ten Houston Astros in six innings, Houston first baseman Lance Berkman offered his view of Lincecum: "He's got as good of stuff as I've ever seen. ... He's got three almost unhittable pitches. After falling to Lincecum and the Giants 6–3 on May 27, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Conor Jackson gave his impression of facing Lincecum: "He's got good stuff," Jackson said. "From what I saw tonight, that's the best arm I've seen all year, no doubt. You've got to almost hit a ball right down the middle. You're going to pop up the ball at your bellybutton, which we all did tonight, and the one down, it's coming in at 98 mph, you're not going to put too much good wood on it. Even the ones down the middle are coming at 98. He's good, man.
Lincecum was on the cover of the July 7, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated, and on July 6, he was selected to play in his first Major League Baseball All-Star Game. However, he was hospitalized the day of the game due to flu-like symptoms and was unavailable to pitch. In a July 26 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he struck out thirteen batters in seven innings while allowing only seven hits, two earned runs, and no walks.
Lincecum pitched his first complete game shutout against the San Diego Padres on September 13, 2008. In nine innings he threw 138 pitches, gave up four hits and struck out twelve batters. On September 23, he broke Jason Schmidt's San Francisco single-season strikeout record with his 252nd strikeout of the season against the Colorado Rockies. He finished the season with 265 strikeouts (54 of them three-pitch strikeouts, the most in the majors), making him the first San Francisco pitcher to win the (NL) strikeout title, and the first Giant since Bill Voiselle in 1944. His 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched were the best in the majors, and his .316 slugging-percentage-against was the lowest in the major leagues, as was his .612 OPS-against—but his seventeen wild pitches tied for the most in the major leagues. His 138 pitches on September 13 were the most by any pitcher in a game in 2008. On November 11, 2008, Lincecum was awarded the NL Cy Young Award, making him the second Giant to win the award after Mike McCormick.
After winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2008, Lincecum continued his dominance in the NL. On July 3, Lincecum was announced as the NL Pitcher of the Month for June. In his six June starts he went 4–1 with a 1.38 ERA, and pitched three complete games. Lincecum was announced as an NL All-Star along with his teammate Matt Cain. He was also the starting pitcher for the NL. Lincecum went two innings in the All-Star Game, giving up one earned run and striking out one, he also gave up one unearned run.
Through twenty starts in 2009, Lincecum had gone 11-3 with a 2.30 ERA, 183 strikeouts, four complete games, and two shutouts. Lincecum also had a twenty-nine scoreless inning streak, third-best since the Giants moved west in 1958.
On July 27, Lincecum pitched a complete game and had fifteen strikeouts against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a career high. He is the first Giant pitcher to strike out fifteen since Jason Schmidt fanned sixteen on June 6, 2006.
Lincecum missed his first game since coming up to the big leagues on September 8 against the San Diego Padres. Madison Bumgarner took his place that day, making his major league debut. Lincecum was healthy enough to make his next start on September 14, pitching seven innings with eleven strikeouts lowering his ERA to 2.30, and picking up his fourteenth win of the year. Lincecum finished the 2009 season with a 15–7 record, 2.48 ERA and 261 strikeouts. Following the season, Lincecum was named Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive year. On November 19, Lincecum was awarded his second consecutive Cy Young Award, narrowly edging out St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. In doing so, he became the first pitcher in history to be awarded the Cy Young in each of his first two full seasons in the Major Leagues.
Lincecum throws a fastball in the mid-90s that can sometimes reach 98-99 MPH. This pitch has little lateral movement, due to his overhand delivery and the speed at which the pitch is thrown. He also has a big breaking curveball that is thrown at about 80 MPH. Lincecum uses a changeup that he grips similar to a splitter to offset his top two pitches and keep batters off-balance. His changeup appears similar to his fastball for the first 30 feet, but then breaks down and in toward a right-handed batter as it approaches the plate, with a good 10+ MPH velocity difference from his fastball. He has recently added a cut fastball which breaks down and in against left-handers. With his power fastball and plus secondary pitches, he has quickly established himself as one of the top pitchers in the game.
* 2009 NL Cy Young Award winner
* Sporting News' NL Pitcher of the Year (2009)
* 2009 NL All-Star Starting Pitcher
* 2008 Major League Baseball Starter of the Year
* 2008 NL Cy Young Award winner
* Led Major League Baseball with 265 strikeouts (2008)
* Sporting News' NL Pitcher of the Year (2008)
* Player's Choice Award for NL's outstanding pitcher (2008)
* Major League Baseball 2K9 and Major League Baseball 2K9 Fantasy All-Stars cover athlete
* 2006 Golden Spikes Award
* 2003 Gatorade Washington State Baseball Player of the Year
On October 30, 2009, Lincecum was found possessing marijuana during a traffic stop. He faces two misdemeanor charges, for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. On November 6, the marijuana possession charge was dropped.