Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lincecum-ming Down the Mound

Carlos Gomez delivers! He has posted his evaluation of Tim Lincecum at the Baseball Think Factory.

He describes Lincecum as "controlled fury":
  • His speed/tempo overall in delivering the pitch is good. "He's quick, he's aggressive and there's not much to not like in this department... He's good, really good."
  • Specifically, his arm action "got to be one of the quickest arms anywhere. That is just insane... What's not to like?" (though there is one thing he doesn't like that he thinks he may be nitpicking on) He notes that Lincecum's body is basically making the arm move forward.
  • The lower body is where it gets interesting, Carlos states (like everything else isn't interesting! :^). He notes that Lincecum leads with his butt/hips as he carries his body forward. My hazy memory of physics is that the butt/hips being where your center of weight is and most of your mass, he builds up momentum there which he then transfer to his arm, and then the ball as he completes his pitch. He also notes that he has the "stepover" move that Matt Cain uses too and describes it thusly: "How aggressive is Lincecum's move? Outstanding, just outstanding." Lastly, he notes how Lincecum looks like he is jumping off the mound. (Does that sound familiar? That was how Zito's new pitching delivery he showed off his first day was described as. Maybe Lincecum's dad can give Zito some pointers) This results in him releasing his pitch that much closer to the plate, giving the batter that much less time to react to a 97 MPH pitch. Carlos didn't mention it, but my physics tell me that this extension helps to impart more velocity as his jump adds to the velocity of the pitch.
  • Here is his summary:
    I'm almost too giddy in praise of Tim Lincecum. The power he can generate out of a 5'10", 155 lb body is just plain ridiculous. Of course, there's injury risk. He's young, he's aggressive, and his mechanics are uncommon. We know a little
    about his college workload. I can see why some may shy away from someone like this. Like I said in the draft review,

    "Might scare some, doesn’t scare me."

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy feeling? Looking at his pitching motion here, I did get a flash of Sandy Koufax, who I've seen archival footage on TV before - Koufax's pitching motion was studied by Lincecum's dad, Chris, and helped him develop his theories about how a pitching motion should be, resulting in his masterpiece, his son.

All I can say is to repeat what I suggested before: hire Tim's dad to teach our pitchers how to throw better. From what I've been reading in Carlos's excellent analyses, a lot of the stuff makes sense from a physics point of view and even if he cannot change every pitcher to do that, it seems like there are the individual bits that go into an efficient pitching motion that Tim's dad could advise to our pitchers and have them add a little speed to their pitches. And sometimes a little speed is all it takes.

To this, I now would add that whoever the ex-ballplayer who helped Matt Cain out in terms of learning how to properly pitch, the Giants should try to scout each and every pitcher he has taught to see if there's another Matt Cain in the bunch. Or maybe we can hire him too.

While I'm at it, there's an article on Yahoo about Lincecum by Jeff Passan. Nothing really new there, but it is nice to see people nationally get excited by him. Plus there is a video on Youtube linked in there (is it OK for Yahoo to promote a Google site? :^).


  1. Martin, you are spot on on a lot of the things you say. You mention momentum, center of mass, physics...I love it. Having an engineering degree makes me a physics-spewing mechanics geek.

    Like I say to pitchers I give lessons to (when speaking of momentum,tempo, etc): "Gravity exists, right? Then why fight against it. Use it to your advantage."

    aka ChadBradfordWannabe

  2. Chad, Martin has a tendency to, umm, go on and on, and, um, er, pontificate. Don't encourage him.
    It is interesting to me that there is such a split amongst the 'experts.' I mean, the guy fell to #10!!!. I happen to think the Giants have some knowledge/expertise with pitchers and injuries, and, so, I am pretty comfortable with their assessment. Of course, I am much more comfortable now that Lincecum has faced major leaguers. Yes, He gave up some hits and runs, but the 1,2,3 second is pretty impressive.

  3. pontificate: "to express opinions or judgements in a dogmatic way."

    dogmatic: "characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles."

    If I pontificate, particularly if I am arrogant, I hope someone will slap me upside the head. I try to separate what is my opinion and what I think is backed up with stats. And I try to be humble, as I know that sometimes stats could be found that show another aspect and changes things.

    I tend to go on and on if what I'm saying is backed up with what I think is strong facts. And I think I'm pretty good about pointing out when I'm not sure about something or if what I'm stating is opinion. But I rely on my gut sometimes and there are times when you feel that something is right or wrong but you can't put all the pieces together, but just know it. That's when I can really go long, because I feel that I have to justify my position with a lot of facts and stats.

    As I had noted on my draft day post, Lincecum was being eyed for the #1 spot because of how good he was, but given all the hoopla over his size and unique delivery, that was too much risk for the other teams to take in the face of the other choices available (in their opinion). I didn't think he would fall to our spot given that he was a #1 and not represented by Boras, so money wouldn't be a big factor, but was real happy when he did and even happier when Sabean picked him. It was fun following each pick of the draft in real time on

    I'm glad the Giants went for the best player available. I worry about Lincecum not having a long career, but I would rather we risk shortened greatness than to settle for long-term OKness, especially at the 10th pick, when the quality has already started going downward. There is usually quality for the first 5 or so picks then sharp drop after that.

  4. Also, the cool thing was that there were videos (I think available in the same window) of all the top players and I was able to see Lincecum's delivery before the Giants drafted him. After hearing about how "weird" his delivery is, I was pretty shocked to see how regular it looked to me, I couldn't figure out what the problem was for people and figured it was something that only the experts could really see.

  5. Martin, I think I have been around here long enough that you would've known I was joking. You know, I think, I read your column almost every day and very much enjoy it.

  6. Sorry allfrank, I know you don't think that of me, I just wanted to address those who do think that way of me. I was just reacting to past comments made about me on boards and got narrow focused on that point, and I should have pointed out that I know you don't think that way of me. I thought I had addressed that - the thought did pass my mind - but I've been juggling work, my fantasy league, and keeping my blog current, and didn't proof as well as I normally do.

    But as Matt Morris noted, it's no excuse, my apologies for not making that clearer what I was doing.

  7. Ooops, there I go again: I should also add that while I know allfrank thinks kindly of me, there might be new readers who don't "know" me yet and so I wanted to make clear what I'm about.

    Again, though, very sorry allfrank, my apologies.

  8. Don't know if you will even see this comment since you posted it over a month ago, but I saw Lincecum pitch last night and I was VERY impressed. Since I was covering the game for the local daily, I got to see him up close and person. Let me tell you, from seeing him without his shirt on, his mechanics MUST be perfect for him to throw 99. I think he has the potential to surpass Matt Cain as the Giants' ace in the coming years. Anyway, the blog looks good and I've added you to my favorites, so I'll be back.

  9. That's a good thing about blogger, it notifies me of every new comment, no matter how old the post.

    Thanks for the compliment and for your first-hand observation! What do you think about his throwing motion? When I first heard about him, pre-draft, the commentators talked about his funky throwing motion, describing it as hurky-jerky, but when I looked at it, I knew it was different but I didn't find it defying physics or anything, like they described it. Later, when looking at Carlos Gomez's analysis, I saw a little Sandy Koufax (not that old, I've seen archival footage :^). Would love to get your description.

    Yeah, I try not to get too fanboy here but, since you mention it, I think he can be better than Cain also. Take care.

  10. I just had a lengthy comment wiped out because I had to sign out of one account and into another. That bites.
    Anyway, I thought Lincecum's motion was impressive. He had a tight windup, almost turning his back to the batter before using his legs and his abs to unleash that wicked fastball. It's interesting that people call his motion herky jerky; I would just say it's different than the norm. I suppose time will tell if Tim's way is the right way.



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