Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #2 Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum is one of only two players in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters, win multiple Cy Young awards, receive multiple All-Star selections and win multiple World Series titles (Robert Carr/Getty Images).

Tim Lincecum comes in at #2 on the Keizertimes list of the greatest Volcanoes players of all time. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound right-hander, otherwise known as “The Freak” is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to win back-to-back Cy Young awards in his first two full seasons. Lincecum also appeared in four consecutive All-Star Games and led the National League (NL) in strikeouts for three straight seasons.

Lincecum’s unique and explosive pitching motion helped him become arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball in the late 2000s. Despite his small stature, Linecum’s efficient lower body mechanics helped him throw his four-seam fastball in the high 90s. Lincecum was also able to create a lot of movement with his slider and changeup.

Lincecum grew up in Washington and attended Liberty Senior High School. He led the varsity baseball team to a 3A state title in 2003 and was the player of the year in the state.

Despite being drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school, Lincecum elected not to sign with the team. Lincecum instead decided to attend the University of Washington, where he became one of the best pitchers in school history. He was a two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and was named a first-team All-American in 2006. Lincecum finished the 2006 season with 12 wins and 199 strikeouts — each were single-season school records — to go along with his 1.94 ERA. Lincecum was also given the Golden Spikes Award, which is annually presented to the nation’s top amateur player.

Lincecum left Washington as the school’s all-time leader in wins (30), starts (51), innings (342.0), walks (216) and strikeouts (491). He also became the conference’s career leader in strikeouts (491).

Lincecum was drafted ninth overall by the San Francisco Giants in 2006 and began his brief minor league career in Salem-Keizer. Lincecum appeared in just two games for the Volcanoes and only gave up one hit and no earned runs while striking out 10 in just four innings of work.

Going into the 2007 season, Lincecum was the top prospect in the Giants organization. He spent the first month of the season in Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies. In his five starts, Lincecum went 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA in 31 innings and gave up just one run while striking out 46.

Lincecum was called up to make his first MLB start on May 6, 2007 and struck out the side in order in his first inning of work. He earned his first MLB win the following week against the Colorado Rockies, giving up three runs over seven innings of work.

In July of 2007, Lincecum went 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA. His best performance of the month came against the Arizona Diamondbacks when he threw seven scoreless innings and struck out 12.

Lincecum was shut down for the final month of the season as a precaution because of the high volume of innings he had thrown. He finished the year with a 7-5 record and 4.00 ERA to go along with 150 strikeouts.

While he had made a lot of noise in his rookie campaign, Lincecum took over the baseball world during the 2008 season. He graced the cover of Sports Illustrated on July 7, 2008 and was selected to his first All-Star Game.

On Sept. 13, 2008, Lincecum tossed his first complete-game shutout, giving up four hits and striking out 12 hitters. Later in the month, Lincecum broke the Giants single-season strikeout record — he ended the season with 265 punch-outs and was the first Giants pitcher to ever lead the National League in K’s

Lincecum was 18-5 on the season with a 2.62 ERA and won his first NL Cy Young award. At the age of 23. Lincecum was considered by many as the best pitcher in baseball.

At the beginning of the 2009 season, Lincecum picked up right where he left off. After losing his first decision of the year, Lincecum won his next six starts. In the month of June, Lincecum went 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA and pitched three complete games — he was named June’s NL Pitcher of the Month and was selected to his second All-Star Game. Lincecum also earned his 500th career strikeout on June 2 and reached the milestone quicker than any other Giants pitcher.

Through his first 20 starts in 2009, Lincecum was 11-3 with a 2.30 ERA, 183 strikeouts, four complete games and two shutouts. He also threw 29 consecutive scoreless innings, which was the third longest streak in San Francisco history.

On July 27, 2009, Lincecum pitched his fifth complete game of the season and struck out a career-high of 15 hitters in the Giants 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Aug. 3, he was named NL Player of the Week.

Lincecum finished the year with a 15-7 record and a 2.48 ERA with 261 strikeouts. He won the Cy Young award for the second straight year, and was also recognized as the Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year for back-to-back seasons. 

Even though he wasn’t as dominant as his first two seasons, Lincecum had another great season in 2010, starting the year off with a 5-0 record. He cooled later in the year, finishing the first half with a 9-4 record and a 3.16 ERA over 116.2 innings, but was still selected to his third straight All-Star Game.

After enduring a poor August performance, Lincecum was lights out in September, winning five games and helping the Giants win the NL West Division title. Lincecum went 16-10 on the season with a 3.43 ERA. He also led the NL in strikeouts for a third straight year (231) and set a record for most K’s by an MLB pitcher in his first four seasons.

In his first career playoff game, Lincecum struck out 14 and tossed a two-hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves in game one of the NL Division Series (NLDS). The Giants won the series in four games and advanced to the championship series (NLCS).

Lincecum out-dueled Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay in game one of the NLCS throwing seven innings and striking out eight in the Giants 4-3 win. Even though Lincecum was the losing pitcher in game five, the Giants still went on to win the NLCS in six games to advance to the World Series.

Despite giving up four earned runs in 5.2 innings against the Texas Rangers, the Giants offense backed up their ace as Lincecum earned his first World Series win. Lincecum took the mound once again in game five, with the Giants up 3-1 in the series, and delivered one of the best performances of his postseason career.

Lincecum tossed eight innings and struck out 10 while giving up just one earned run and three hits and the Giants clinched their first World Series championship in 56 years by defeating the Rangers 3-1 in game five.

At the end of the season, Lincecum was given the Babe Ruth Award — which is given annually to the most outstanding player of the postseason. 

The accolades kept rolling in for Lincecum in 2011. On May 4, Lincecum struck out 12 against the New York Mets and became the franchise leader in most games with 10 or more K’s (29). Later in the month, he threw a three-hit shutout against the Oakland A’s in a 3-0 Giants win. On June 6 Lincecum punched out Washington Nationals hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. for his 1,000th career strikeout. Lincecum was also an All-Star selection for the fourth straight season.

Lincecum’s final record (13-14) was not indicative on the kind of season he had — Lincecum had the worst run support in all of MLB. He struck out 220 hitters over 217 innings and had an ERA of 2.74, which was the fourth best mark in the NL.

Lincecum signed a two-year contract with the Giants worth $40.5 million in the offseason. However, Lincecum’s career began its dramatic downturn in 2012.

While Lincecum’s violent delivery was one of the reasons he was so successful, pitching experts predicted that his career would be cut short due to his arm’s inability to take the stress he was putting on it.

Lincecum had a 3-10 record and a 6.42 ERA at the All-Star break in 2012. He also lost six straight decisions in the first half of the season and was losing velocity on his fastball, as well as command of his pitches. He went from the Giants ace to the back end of the rotation in less than a year.

Lincecum pitched better in the second half of the year and won seven of his last 12 decisions, finishing the year with a 10-15 record and 190 strikeouts. But his ERA nearly doubled (5.18) and he led the NL in losses and wild pitches (17).

Since the Giants only needed four starting pitchers in the playoffs, Lincecum was sent to the bullpen for the 2012 playoffs by manager Bruce Bochy. In game four of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, Lincecum threw 4.1 scoreless innings in relief and earned the win as the Giants defeated the Reds in five games.

After Lincecum threw two hitless innings out of the bullpen in game one of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Bochy gave him the start in game four. But Lincecum only lasted 4.2 innings, giving up six runs in the Cardinals 8-3 win. However, the Giants rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win three straight and advance to their second World Series in three years.

Lincecum was moved back to the bullpen for the World Series against the Detroit Tigers and had a pair of successful outings. He threw a total of 4.2 innings and didn’t give up a hit or a run and struck out eight while only walking one — the Giants swept the Tigers in four games to win the World Series once again.

Even though Lincecum was losing his abilities, he was still able to show glimpses of what made him so great. On July 13, 2013, Lincecum threw his first no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, striking out 13, walking four, and throwing a career-high of 148 pitches in a 9-0 victory — it was the first ever no-hitter Petco Park, home of the Padres.

Despite his third straight season with a losing record, Lincecum did put up better marks in 2013, reducing his ERA from 5.18 to 4.37. He also walked 13 less hitters than the previous year and struck out 153.

Less than a year later, Lincecum would throw another no-hitter against the Padres — this time, in front of the home fans at AT&T Park.

On June 25, 2014, Lincecum threw his 10th complete game and his second no-hitter against the Padres, becoming the second player in MLB history to no-hit the same team multiple times.

Less than a month later, Lincecum recorded an extra-inning save against the Phillies, which made him the fifth pitcher since 1976 to record a no-hitter and a save in the same season.

However, Lincecum was replaced in the starting rotation in late-August and never made his way back. Lincecum did, however, earn the 100th win of his career by coming out of the bullpen in a 9-8 win over the Padres on Sept. 25, 2014.

Even though Lincecum was on the Giants playoff roster, he was not used in the NLDS or the NLCS. He made one appearance in game two of the World Series and retired all five batters he faced before leaving the game with lower back pain — the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in seven games, giving Lincecum his third championship ring.

Lincecum’s last season with the Giants was cut short due to injury in 2015. He had a number of quality outings to begin the season, but on June 27, Lincecum was hit in the pitching elbow off a line drive from DJ LeMahieu and left the game. Just weeks later, Lincecum was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in both of his hips. He eventually had season-ending hip surgery in early-September.

After no team picked him up in free agency, Lincecum signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels one month into the 2016 season. He started his tenure with the organization in Triple-A, but was called up on June 18, 2016. In his first start with the Angels, Lincecum pitched six innings and gave up just one run to earn the victory against the A’s.

But Lincecum would only win one more game for the Angels for the remainder of the season. His ERA went up to 9.16, and after surrendering nine hits and six runs against the Seattle Mariners in 3.1 innings, the Angels released him the following day — it was the last time Lincecum pitched in the majors.

Lincecum sat out the 2017 season, but signed a minor league contract with the Rangers in 2018. However, Lincecum was unimpressive in Triple-A and was released on June 5.

Although he hasn’t formally retired, Lincecum hasn’t pitched since his release from the Rangers. 

Lincecum and Los Angeles Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax are the only two players in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters, win multiple Cy Young awards, receive multiple All-Star selections and win multiple World Series titles.