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Tim Lincecum narrowly defeats Cardinals duo for second straight NL Cy Young

Nov 19, 2009, 2:23 PM EDT

Showing more than ever before that they’re smartly willing to look beyond win-loss records to determine the league’s best pitcher, the Baseball Writers Association of America followed up their selection of 16-game winner Zack Greinke as AL Cy Young by giving 15-game winner Tim Lincecum the NL award.
Lincecum received just 11 of 32 first-place votes, which is actually one fewer than Adam Wainwright, but was second on 12 ballots and third on nine ballots to narrowly defeat runner-up Chris Carpenter. Wainwright finished third, because while a dozen voters were still swayed by his league-leading win total 15 of 32 ballots placed him third.
Javier Jazquez and Dan Haren were the only other pitchers to receive votes on the three-line ballots, both at the expense of Carpenter being absent. Vazquez received a second-place vote and Haren got a third-place nod. Cardinals fans will no doubt be upset about the NL balloting, but Lincecum and Greinke are the rightful choices as the best pitchers in each league and the fact that the BBWAA awarded two guys who combined for just 31 wins is a big step in the right direction.
Lincecum joins Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Denny McLain, and Jim Palmer as back-to-back Cy Young winners, which is pretty amazing company for the 25-year-old Giants ace. Perhaps just as amazing is the BBWAA producing the exact same order, one through five, as my ballot. Actually, so far three of the four major awards have matched my picks, and I’m hopeful that the BBWAA can continue their logical voting next week with Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols as the MVPs.

  1. Matt - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    You are a complete idiot! Lincecum was third place at best!

  2. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:01 PM

    I don’t agree with you on your assessment. I think the writers gave it to Lincecum because they felt Sir Albert was a shoe in for MVP, and didn’t want LaRussa to have both winners on his team. Anyone who doesn’t think there is a hatred for TLR in the sport, are kidding themselves or lying. Lincecum played all year, and Carpenter was hurt for a month without pitching. He still won more games and would have had as many strikeouts with four more games pitched. He also had a better ERA. The writers who voted against Carp. did it for some dubious reasons.

  3. Bill@TDS - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    I was shocked by this one. I was a little worried that they’d miss on Greinke; didn’t think there was any way they’d make the right choice on this one. Good for them (even though more of them gave their first-place votes to Wainwright).
    I asked this regarding Greinke too, though: do we still think they would’ve made the right decision if Wainwright had won 20 games? Both Wainwright and Felix were victim to numerous blown saves that cost them “wins.” I think if just one of those hadn’t happened, they’d have that nice round 20 by their names and, without having done anything more to deserve it, would’ve stolen the award. So I think we need to temper our enthusiasm for the voting until we know that, say, 16-7/2.87/155 ERA+ can beat 21-8/3.48/122…

  4. Dan - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Way to go Matt you tell em’! Of course the real truth is that you are probably a homer and are the obvious choice for idiot, but you are certainly not complete. Just a regular idiot.

  5. climbhighak - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:10 PM

    This guy’s stats are mediocre (at best) when compared to the great pitchers of yesteryear. Look at the other back to back winners you mentioned. Relief pitching has really degraded a starting pitcher’s stats. What happened to 300 strikeout years, or 20 game winners? It is the game’s loss that no one has a chance for 25 wins anymore. If Linecum is the best we have today, his choice really makes a statement.

  6. TMW - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    300 strikeouts is a lot easier when the mound is higher, the strikezone is huge, and no one cares if you threw at someone’s head to brush them off the plate.

  7. JR Richardson - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:19 PM

    His choice makes the following statement, since Lincecum is probably the best we have today: Tim Lincecum would have struck out 300 batters and most likely would have won 20 games had he been starting every 4th day instead of every 5th. If you think that it’s the game’s loss, then indict the game and not the player. Lincecum’s past two seasons were certainly better than most (if not all) of the 300 strikeout seasons of, say, Nolan Ryan.

  8. Ryan - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:36 PM

    “Lincecum played all year, and Carpenter was hurt for a month without pitching. He still won more games and would have had as many strikeouts with four more games pitched.”
    Really? Lincecum had 261 strikeouts and Carpenter had 144. I guess we should assume that Carp would have struck out 30 per start if he started four more games.

  9. Patrick Daugherty - Nov 19, 2009 at 4:21 PM

    I will say only this. Starts with four or more runs allowed this season:
    Vazquez: nine.
    Lincecum: eight.
    Wainwright: seven (though only one after the All-Star break)
    Carpenter: three.

  10. hubiecollins - Nov 19, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    How could two writers not include Csrpenter at all in their ballot?

  11. Tony - Nov 19, 2009 at 5:29 PM

    Lots more important stats to look at these days? What could possibly be more important than wins?

  12. Daymonster - Nov 19, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    Tony, you’re joking right?

  13. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    Strik outs are the LAST measure when voting on the Cy. If it were so important, then Nolan Ryan would have won every year he pitched. Carpenter may not have had as many S-O’s as Lincecum, but all the other stats were in his favor.

  14. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    Sorry, computer glich. To finish, Carpenter had all the other stats in his favor, and he could have been a 20 game winner if he was not hurt. 15 game winners should never win the Cy, unless they are on a team like the Nats or KC or 100 game losers.

  15. Scott - Nov 19, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    Fast Eddy,
    So basically you are arguing that Lincecum should be penalized because the 2-5 starters on the Giants were better than the 2-5 starters on KC? KC actually scored more runs that SF last year, so the difference in team wins/losses is largely due to poor pitching beyond Grienke (and likely poor defense too). Under your argument, Greinke is ok to win the Cy Young but should not win if say Matt Cain was on his team and caused the team to win more non Greinke start games.

  16. jmp1961487 - Nov 19, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    I feel lincecum is not the best picture in the national league. When carpenter and wainright piches. the other teams are scared to face them. See 200+ strike out don’t win Cy Young awards. It is the picture that lead in inning pich,best era in the league, and total win-lost. that really tells who is a cy young award winner. See Lincecum didn’t win one of those area. He won the award because he on the west coast and won it last year. That not fair that he won this award. We have the writers to blame for this. This award should be voted by the players and mangers of the league,because they can’t beat their way out of a wet bag. This realy piss me off about this.

  17. Old Gator - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:08 PM

    I suspect that when Lincecum’s buddies say admiringly that he “brings it,” they’re probably talking about that brick of Michoacan they all chipped in on. I know how much better sex is when you’re stoned, and how much better the stereo in your Mercedes sounds after a couple of happy tokes (which Lincecum apparently understands as well, according to the cop who stopped him), so is it that much of a leap of the imagination to believe that pitching when you’re mentally marinated is also a treat for the senses? I mean, when they made the mound higher, what were they really thinking?
    Like they sing in San Francisco, standing on the tower, world at my command, etc.

  18. Ariel_MLB - Nov 20, 2009 at 12:28 AM

    Lincecum deserves the award. Just put the Cardinals line up behind him instead of the Giants line up and he would have won well over 20 games. For Gods sake, he won 15 with Bengie Molina as the CLEANUP HITTER!!

  19. Codebeard - Nov 20, 2009 at 5:21 AM

    And for most of the year, who did the Cardinals have behind Albert? Yes, they added Holliday at the deadline, but you’re still talking about a team that played half its season with only one credible offensive threat.
    Furthermore, when the season was on the line, in the month of September, what happened? Carp and Wainwright stayed solid, Lincecum became just mediocre. That should’ve dropped him down significantly. If you can’t come through when your team needs you most, you’re -not- the best pitcher in the league. Besides, Grienke got more wins than Lincecum on a FAR worse team, so Tim’s low win total is really not excusable.

  20. dl3 - Nov 20, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    To see so many fans (who should know better by visiting this very solid baseball blog) still having some kind of notion that wins/losses are a function of the pitcher is crazy. Even including it in any kind of argument for or against someone is one of the most absurd things i’ve ever heard. It’s no wonder that one of the greatest pitchers in modern ball (blyleven) cannot get into the HOF since people have no idea what stats truly indicate dominance by a pitcher.

  21. Fast Eddy - Nov 20, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    Listen very well. How many games did he win last year? This is a better team than last year. They were contenders until he folded a little mid year. You can not blame this team for his performance in the middle of the season, when THEY were picked to challenge to catch the Dodgers, not the Rockies. You can not compare the Giants this year to the Nats, KC, Pgh., or any other poor team in baseball. Anyone can think what they want, but the Cards were a (pre-season) pick 3rd or 4th in their division and the Giants were a close 2nd or even 1st., in a stronger division. Sorry, Lincecum did not deserve this award with 15 victories.

  22. donnie marler - Nov 20, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    I’m a die-hard lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals so perhaps my opinion is a bit slanted but…
    I have tremendous respect for Tim Lincecum as a pitcher but I do not feel he should have won the award this season. Carpenter and Wainwright did as many STL fans feared. They cancelled each other out. The voters, swayed by their love affair for the glamour of strikeouts over pitching to contact, gave it to Lincecum.
    Several posters have made reference to what Lincecum might have done with the Cards lineup behind him. Look up how many games Wainwright and Carpenter lost when giving up 3 or less runs over 6+ innings. The Cards inability to hit for long stretches of the season cost both pitchers significantly in the race for the Cy Young. A pitcher simply cannot win if his offense does not score. The voters see only the result and don’t often consider the wasted high quality effort of the losing pitcher.
    I take nothing away from Lincecum and don’t want to appear a bad sport or a sore loser but as much respect as I have for him personally, I feel Wainwright and Carpenter were more deserving this season.

  23. Larry - Nov 20, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    No doubt LaRussa is the Bobby Knight of professional baseball, and is not well liked by the press.(of course he generally isn’t too cordial with the press) Even though I thought Wainright was the best pitcher this season, it was a quirk that gave the award to Lincecum of how the vote was split. He didn’t have the most first or second place votes. He didn’t have the most wins, innings pitched, highest winning percentage or starts, a just a slightly better ERA than Wainright and not as good as Carpenter. Wainright was a better hitter and fielder (Gold Glove) and in the NL, hitting counts as a position player who bats.
    It’s not arms and legs so let’s move on. At least Lincecum was one of the ones who could have won the award. It’s not like a Don Deckinger call at first base in the World series which decided who won or lost and was an obvious mistake.

  24. Patin Soleser - Dec 8, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    Fantastic post, You make reasonable points in a concise and pertinent fashion, I will read more of your stuff, thank you for your time.

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