Clearing the Bases: San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum has gotten better ever since he stepped foot on the mound in a Giants uniform. From 2008 to 2009, he has lowered his walk rate, his BAA (Batting Average Against), raised his K/BB ratio along with obtaining a little higher percentage of ground ball and a lower percentage of fly balls. To be honest, I think he has the ability to get even BETTER because it will be harder for hitters to hit him than ever before. Why is that? It can be explained in one pitch, the slider.
Tim Lincecum only went to the slider 1.7% of his pitches in 2008, and he used his slider 5.3% of the time in 2009. Time deveolped the pitch in 2008 and was obviously just testing it out. It worked well for him because he earned 6.66 runs above average per 100 sliders. This was the highest out of all his pitches. Granted, he only threw about 63 sliders and that is a small smaple size but he continued his success into 2009. In 2009, he posted about 2 runs above average per 100 sliders. This time, the amount of sliders that he threw nearly tripled. He threw approximately 182 sliders. Remember when I said that his 2009 numbers were a little better than his 2008 numbers? Well, call me crazy but I think a large part of that can be attributed to the increase use of his slider.
So why is the slider so important? The slider is a very important pitch for many reasons. Just ask Pedro Martinez because he flat out dominated hitters with the use of his slider. The slider is the only pitch that breaks and has considerable movement horizontally. The slider is the pitch that most hitters have the least success at hitting. There were only 66 MLB players last year that posted runs above zero when hitting the slider. That comes out to about two out of nine players in each starting lineup. There were 84 players that posted runs above average when hitting the curveball (which is supposedly the hardest pitch to hit besides the slider). The slider also allows the strike zone to change inside the players head. They might go fishing at a pitch that they normally wouldn’t. Just ask Alfonso Soriano. The pitcher can take advantage of this by going inside with a fastball and get a called third strike.
So now you see just how difficult the slider is to hit and how it is also a very important pitch. Linceucm already has one of the best fastball/change-up combo’s in the game. If he adds the slider, I wish good luck to whoever is facing him. If Tim can mix up his pitches to a point where hes pitching his fastball 52-55% of the time, curve around 15% of the time, change-up 17% of the time, and slider 13-16% of the time, I am almost confident he will get better statistically. He is off to one of the best starts that we have seen in the past 15 years since Roger Clemens. That’s probably debatable. He is already on track to be one of the best pitchers ever. The development of the slider will increase the chances of this happening so much more
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