Friday, October 8, 2010

AIR CONDITIONING: Pity poor Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants. If it were not for Roy Halladay's near-perfection on Wednesday, people would be saying that Lincecum yesterday turned in the greatest playoff pitching performance at least since Clemens in 2000, and possibly since Larsen's perfect game. 14 strikeouts, 2 hits, a walk, and zero runs allowed are all impressive numbers.

But consider another number: 31 swinging strikes. The point of pitching is to get people out, of course, and each out is basically the same. When swinging strikes start to accumulate, though, they indicate not just success, but dominance. I cannot recall a pitcher ever getting 31 swinging strikes in a game (it may have happened, I don't know). Halladay had a better (and unquestionably more effective) game, since he allowed only one baserunner, and Lincecum threw at least two more hittable pitches than Halladay. But other than those two pitches, Lincecum was nastier.

In conclusion, go Huskies.


  1. May Voros strike you down -- I think you may be wrong, unless you believe Halladay can control how hittable his balls in play are. How are those numbers over time?

  2. Marsha2:18 PM

    "Lincecum threw at least two more hittable pitches than Halladay."

    I'll question that. The fact that two Lincecum pitches were hit and none of Halladay's were doesn't mean that Halladay didn't serve up any hittable pitches. It just means they weren't hit. It's not as if not a single batter managed to get a bat on one of Halladay's pitches - his stuff wasn't perfect, given that he walked a guy. And Halladay may have served up pitches that were hittable that weren't swung at, whereas Lincecum had nasty stuff and maybe two hitters got lucky.

    I'm not questioning that Halladay's performance was more effective, just the phrasing here - two guys got hits off Lincecum, but the statement about hittability doesn't quite match up with the nuance of the game.

  3. Professor Jeff2:41 PM

    According to the Game Score metric, Lincecum's effort (96) was actually better than both Halladay's no-hitter (94) and Larsen's perfect game (94).  (Clemens' 15-K one-hitter from the 2000 ALCS gets a 98.)

  4. isaac_spaceman3:18 PM

    I had a paragraph about game score and I deleted it.  Game score is a very rough metric.  It is extremely useful for figuring out if a start was terrible, good, great, or breathtaking.  It is not a valid metric for distinguishing between two breathtaking starts (say, Halladay's and Clemens's).  It is a landscape painting, not a Corps of Engineers map. 

    Marsha -- you're absolutely right.  I was cutting corners.  Process and results are not the same thing, and the fact that one guy gave up two hits and the other none (or the fact that both gave up exactly one walk) doesn't tell you anything about the quality of the pitches that were hit, not hit, or taken for balls.  Mostly, though, I just didn't want to convey the impression that Lincecum's game was better than Halladay's game (and, relatedly, I didn't want to get into a process-vs-result debate).  The results were worse, and it's impossible for me to say whether the process was better or worse.  You're right about that.  It doesn't really matter.  The process and result in both cases (and, to a degree, in Lee's start for Texas) were both amazing. 

  5. Watchman5:54 PM

    And yet if the ump makes the right (and rather clearly so) call on the stolen base, Linecum probably ends up with a no-decision.

  6. isaac_spaceman8:30 PM

    Exhibit number infinity why pitcher wins are a meaningless stat. 

  7. rcobeen3:44 AM

    I was at the Giants game and what an incredible atmosphere.  Lincecum was amazing and always in control.  It was one of the greatest games I have been to, and I think a good argument could be made that Lincecum pitched a better game, particularly with what we now know about BABIP.  However, I think Halladay's performance was better for one particular reason; compare the Reds lineup to the Braves. 

  8. Marsha3:10 PM

    Isaac agreed with me! This is better than winning a Nobel Prize!