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Tim Lincecum, And Putting Things In Perspective

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The title suggests a long post. The reality is a short post. I'm sorry, or, you're welcome.

I woke up this morning in a Tim Lincecum hangover, but it didn't feel like a normal hangover. It was quite the opposite. A normal hangover gives me a headache. It makes me feel sluggish. It makes me not want to do anything. A Lincecum hangover gives me a constant rush. It makes me feel energetic. It makes me want to do everything. I might even bake a potato in the oven. Who cares how long it takes? I got to watch Tim Lincecum. I feel like reaching for the stars.

As mentioned yesterday, Lincecum generated an unheard-of 31 swinging strikes against the Braves, and ESPN has confirmed my suspicions that that's the highest mark of the season, besting the second-place Brandon Morrow by five (what a draft). That's an immediately impressive statistic. You can't look at that number and not raise your eyebrows. But I feel like, if you didn't watch Lincecum go to work, you might not understand just how unhittable he truly was. Which is why I'm here now.

When you think of Felix Hernandez, you think of dominance. Certainly, over the past two seasons, he's turned in a new dominant start nearly every five days. However, I think the most dominant start he's ever had was his Opening Day effort against the A's in 2007, when he spun eight shutout innings while striking out 12. Felix didn't ascend to his throne that season, but early on, he showed glimpses of what was to come.

In that start, Felix threw 111 pitches, and the A's swung at 49 of them. 17 of their swings missed, for a contact rate of 65%.

A contact rate of 65% is very, very good for a pitcher, and I think all of us who watched that game still have vivid memories of seeing the A's helplessly flail away. Felix even struck out Jason Kendall three times, which is saying something, given that Kendall has been one of the most difficult hitters to strike out in modern baseball history. Felix didn't care. Felix did the job. That afternoon, Felix was as good as Felix has ever been in his life.


Tim Lincecum's contact rate last night was 44%.

I know the Braves aren't exactly starting a full-strength lineup, but they had Jason Heyward in there. They had Brian McCann in there. Everybody else, aside from the pitcher, has been at least okay. That lineup wasn't out-and-out bad. And Tim Lincecum made them look like middle school hitters in a high school practice.

Lincecum's start was so extraordinarily good in an obvious yet different sort of way that it might be doomed for a lifetime of underappreciation. People will remember Roy Halladay's no-hitter for decades. Roy Halladay didn't allow a hit. That's amazing. But a lot of pitchers have thrown no-hitters. I'm guessing far fewer pitchers have ever generated at least 30 swinging strikes.

Just incredible.