Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 1/14/13
Tim Lincecum‘s resume contains the following items: 2 time Cy Young award winner, 4 time All-Star and twice World Series Champion. With all the achievements over the last 5 seasons, he was relegated to a long relief once the Giants made the playoffs because he was no longer effective as a starter. Lincecum’s problem is he can no longer just throw the ball across the plate and hope a batter just swings and misses. If he wants any hope of returning to be the starter he once was, he now needs to learn how to pitch. In the past, Lincecum could use his fastball to blow away hitters. The problem with Timmy is he has aged and his velocity is down. His strikeouts followed his velocity on the downward spiral Season: Average Fastball Speed, K% 2007: 94.2, 24% 2008: 94.1, 29% 2009: 92.4, 29% 2010: 91.3, 26% 2011: 92.3, 24% 2012: 90.4, 23% As he lost velocity, his confidence for throwing strikes deminished. Season: Zone% (Pitchf/x) 2007: 49% 2008: 50% 2009: 49% 2010: 48% 2011: 45% 2012: 45% Pitchers can be productive with a Zone% (formula here) around 45%. The key is to limit the amount of pitches right down the middle of the plate. A pitcher needs to throw at the inside and outside edges of the strike zone. Pitches near the edge of the plate are hard to hit solidly. By comparing Lincecum to three other pitchers, Yovani Gallardo, Hiroki Kuroda and Jeremy Hellickson, the differences in their approach at throwing pitches in the strike zone and their results can be seen. The quartet had similar Zone% in 2012, but the other three had better results than Lincecum. Name Team Zone% K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP Hiroki Kuroda Yankees 46.6% 6.8 2.1 1.0 0.281 77.7% 3.32 3.86 Tim Lincecum Giants 45.2% 9.2 4.4 1.1 0.309 67.8% 5.18 4.18 Yovani Gallardo Brewers 45.2% 9.0 3.6 1.2 0.290 78.4% 3.66 3.94 Jeremy Hellickson Rays 43.4% 6.3 3.0 1.3 0.261 82.7% 3.10 4.60 All the players, besides Lincecum, had a low BABIP leading to a good LOB% and therefore an ERA lower than there FIP. The key difference between these pitchers, was that everyone, but Lincecum, threw a higher of percentage of pitches at the inside and outside part of the strike zone (I will call it Edge%, more on it in the Appendix) Pitcher: Edge % Tim Lincecum: 12.7% Yovani Gallardo: 15.9% Jeremy Hellickson: 16.0% Hiroki Kuroda: 17.5% Lincecum’s Edge% was the lowest among all pitchers who threw over 1400 pitches last season. He was not able to pitch to the edges of the plate. Instead he was just trying to throw it across the plate and hope no one hit it. The problem is batters did hit it. The difference may not seem like much, but his Edge% is 5% points lower compared to Kuroda’s Edge%. If BABIP was a percentage (.309 BABIP = 30.9%), they would have an almost 4% point difference. A few less meat balls a game can lead to significant improvements over the course of a season. Besides looking at the difference numerically, here are each of the pitcher’s location heat maps vs. right-handed hitters. It can be seen from the images how each pitcher works the zone against RHH. Kuroda pounds the inside part of the plate. Gallardo lives on the outside part. Hellickson goes both in and out. And Lincecum just throws in right down the middle. It is easy to guess who had the worst results. Lincecum didn’t aways have as much of a problem throwing to the edge: Season: Edge% 2012: 12.7% 2011: 12.9% 2010: 13.7% 2009: 14.7% 2008: 14.1% He has gotten worse at putting the ball on the edges as he has aged, but he was never good at it. He has never been near the league average value which hovers around 16%. If Lincecum is going to make it as a pitcher, he is going to have to figure out a way to pitch to the edges instead of just throwing across the plate. He no longer has the velocity to throw it past players. Besides helping his balled ball data, the new command could help him lower his high walk rate. It may be tough for him change the way he has pitched his whole life, but right now the old method is not working. If he is going to want to be a productive pitcher again, he is going to have to learn to pitch to the edges of the plate instead of throwing right down the middle. . . . Appendix The Edge% values are taken from two areas of the called strike zone, one on each side of the plate. To get the area, it is from the edge of the called strike zone (Zone%) and to the center of the plate 0.4 feet. I looked at other measurements and found the .4 worked the best. Bill Petti (who has been working with me on this project) and/or I will come up with a more detailed analysis of what amount should the zone be moved in to find the Edge%, but this value will work for now. The rest of the strike zone I called the Heart(%). The pitch results in the heart are almost always strikes (94% of the time called strike) vice the edges where a pitch is called a strike 2/3 of the time. Pitches in the heart though are more like to go for hits. Here are some details on the values. League Averages Season Edge % Heart% Outside % 2007 16.6% 33.7% 52.8% 2008 16.1% 33.6% 50.7% 2009 15.9% 33.9% 50.6% 2010 15.9% 33.8% 50.7% 2011 15.8% 33.6% 51.0% 2012 15.6% 33.2% 51.6% Pitch Result Data Stat Heart% Edge% Outside% BABIP 0.310 0.289 0.273 HR/FB 14.0% 10.5% 8.1% % Called Strikes vice Balls 93.6% 68.3% 7.9% Leaderboards for Zone% 2012 Data 2011 Data 2010 Data 2009 Data 2008 Data
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: ‘Multiple’ teams open to giving Noel max contract

Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charges

Report: Clippers ‘overwhelming favorite’ to keep Chris Paul

Giants owner: Signing Kaepernick would anger fans

Mike Trout to undergo MRI after suffering thumb injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Wall: Bench was cause of Wizards’ ‘downfall’

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbaugh, get him fired

Mike Zimmer won’t retire even if right eye goes blind

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker