Engineering Success: Tim Lincecum
Not many players shocked the status quo quite like Tim Lincecum. A unique pitching motion at a much smaller size relative to his Major League pitching peers, Lincecum was a fan favorite in San Francisco.
His mechanics were the result of countless hours on the mound as a kid, fine tuned by Lincecum and his father. As an Engineer athlete, Lincecum became great at sticking with that pitching routine, continuing to develop and fine tune it to the point where he won two Cy Youngs.
Read this to see how the Engineer mindset was crucial in Lincecum’s initial success in the MLB and the springboard to his current comeback with the Texas Rangers:
A Unique Talent
The success of Tim Lincecum from 2008 until 2011 was one of the more impressive feats of athletic accomplishment in recent sports history.
Lincecum signed with the Texas Rangers on May 6th, capping the end to his attempt at a Major League comeback.
— MLBRosterMoves (@MLBRosterMoves) March 7, 2018
Given his stature and unique pitching delivery, the success he enjoyed in the MLB was perplexing to fans and fellow players alike, mostly because no one had ever seen anything like Lincecum.
Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing around 170 pounds, Lincecum looked a lot different from his Major League pitching colleagues (a group that continues to grow in stature seemingly every year), so distinct from the rest he was affectionately called “The Freak” during his career at Washington in college, a nickname that stuck with him in the pros.
Due to his diminutive size growing up, Lincecum’s father Chris took the training for his mechanics to an almost rocket-science level– fitting for a Boeing engineer.
“How can it be that a runt like Lincecum, who learned virtually everything he knows about pitching from a parts inventory employee for Boeing, is this good, this reliable while a 6’5″, 225-pound, broad-backed pitcher template such as Prior, the epitome of modern training and coaching, routinely breaks down,” asks Tom Verducci in a 2008 Sports Illustrated profile on Lincecum.
When Lincecum was growing up, he and his father worked tirelessly to develop the pitching routine he would eventually use to win two National League Cy Young awards.
“My dad and I aren’t very large guys, so it’s about efficiency and getting the most out of my body that I can,” Lincecum said in the SI profile.
“Lincecum generates outrageous rotational power—the key element to velocity—only because his legs, hips and torso work in such harmony,” the profile mentions, “Such velocity was possible only because Lincecum’s delivery is an engineering marvel.”
An Engineer’s Mentality
This is interesting because Lincecum has taken the TAP assessment and is an Engineer athlete type, similar to NBA all-star and undeniable bucket getter Dirk Nowitzki and all-pro quarterback and MVP for the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers.
Lincecum and his father both attribute his success to the countless hours they spent working on his pitching mechanics as a kid– all the way through his college career.
Engineers are athletes who are good at sticking with a routine, and understanding complex tactics, both of those are important tools it took to mold Lincecum into a four-time All Star and three-time World Series Champion.
“My dad always told me to sit down on my back leg as long as I could and push off as much as I could. I’m trying to get as much out of my body as possible. I’ve got to use my ankles, my legs, my hips, my back…. That’s why I’m so contorted and it looks like I’m giving it full effort when it’s not exactly full effort.”
The complexity of the routine Lincecum and his father developed became the catalyst for a dynamic Major League career.
His comeback may hint at some growth as well. Lincecum is coming back in possibly the best physical shape he’s ever been in, but his willingness to try and make a comeback could mean he has sharpened some of the Engineer’s traditional weaknesses.
Engineers are typically susceptible to not pushing themselves hard, and resisting change without good reason. It seems that returning to baseball after his dismal season with the Angels last year, (while recovering from a major hip injury) was a good enough reason to push Lincecum to reinvent his body in an attempt to make a serious comeback.
Now, as he restarts his career with the Rangers, The Freak will no doubt continue to exemplify the traits of an Engineer; using the mechanics he worked his whole life on while also maintaining his core set of values as he works his way back to the Show.