Sarris: Tim Lincecum’s eyes are wide open

From SABR member Eno Sarris at FanGraphs on August 14, 2014:

Maybe you find Tim Lincecum frustrating. He’s still throwing no-hitters, still in the top 25 for swinging strikes, still has an above-average strikeout rate, and still has a an above-average ground-ball rate. His walk rate has improved the last couple of years! Those home runs are coming at a rate that you’d figure would regress to the league average at some point. But they aren’t, and so you have his last few years.

Well, you are not alone with your emotions. Tim Lincecum is also frustrated. “The last few years have kind of eluded me in a sense, so I’m always trying to figure something out,” the pitcher admitted before a game with the White Sox.

 And before you start yelling about walk rate not equalling command, Lincecum is fully aware of his shortcomings in that department. “I’ve never really been the guy that hit my spots,” he said. “I’ve been the guy that tries to get people to chase out the zone — if I was hitting my spots that day, it was probably a good day for me.”

Unfortunately, there’s no real number that can help us better understand the link between command and homers allowed, mostly because there’s no real number for command. Walk rate and zone percentage — these things are not correlated strongly with home runs allowed even if you’d think bad command would lead to bad results. Lincecum gets swings and misses and turns balls into strikes, and that keeps his walk rate manageable. Even while his command is inconsistent.

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Originally published: August 14, 2014. Last Updated: August 14, 2014.