Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lincecum's Amazing Feet On Swinging Strikes

This is a guest post by Dave Smith, based on a message he sent to the SABR list. His research on this was mentioned in the Washington Post.

As most of you know, Tim Lincecum had a remarkable second inning last night in the first game of the NL Division Series. In the second inning, he struck out Alex Gonzalez, Matt Diaz, and Brooks Conrad, all on three swinging strikes. An NPR reporter contacted Lyle Spatz, chair of the SABR record committee this morning to ask about previous occurrences of such an event. Lyle referred him to me. Here is what I did and what I found:

I checked all games from 1988 through last night since this is the part of our data base with nearly complete pitch coverage (there are a small number of games without pitch data early in that period). I also looked at all Dodger games from 1947 through 1964, since we have pitch data for those games as well.

Lincecum is the second man to do this that I found in that sample, as follows:

Tim Lincecum, 10-07-2010, 14 total pitches (5 balls mixed in with the 9 swinging strikes)

Armando Benitez, 8-21-1999, 16 total pitches (7 balls mixed in with the 9 swinging strikes)

As an honorable mention, I found that Jeff Parrett of the Phillies struckout all three batters in one inning on 8-03-1989. He threw 13 pitches: 9 swinging strikes, 1 foul ball and 3 balls.

Dave Smith is president of Retrosheet. In 2005, he won SABR's highest honor, the Bob David's Award. He is also a professor of biology at the University of Delaware.

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