September 7, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) pitches the ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at AT

Why Tim Lincecum Will Return To Cy Young Form

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With a new haircut and work ethic, Lincecum looks to get back into Cy Young contention in 2013.

In 2012, Tim Lincecum was one of the worst qualifying pitchers in baseball. His 5.18 ERA places him 4th to last, above only Ubaldo Jimenez, Luke Hochevar and Ricky Romero.

What makes this season so unusual, however, is that just two seasons ago, Lincecum was considered one of the best pitchers in baseball. Considered one of the best strikeout pitchers of his generation, Lincecum generated four-straight seasons of 200+ strikeouts.

The good news is that even in such a bad season, Lincecum manged 9.18 strikeouts per nine innings ration, showing that even when he is off, his ability to strike batters out is not lost.

According to predictive statistics, Lincecum was incredibly unlucky. Although his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .309 is not too high, his xFIP (Expected ERA including home runs) of 3.82 in comparison with his ERA of 5.18 shows that his season was a lot worse than it should have been.

And although Lincecum produced an incredible performance in the postseason as a consistently effective long reliever, it is yet to be seen if he can reproduce those numbers in a long season. As an optimist, I cannot fathom that “The Freak” will have another season this bad, and Bill James agrees, predicting a 3.34 FIP.

Pairing his xFIP with the huge jumps in his BB/9 and HR/9 as well as his career-low 67.8% LOB, I can safely say we will see the vintage Freak in 2o13.

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