Will Tim Lincecum Be the 21st Century Bob Gibson? Time Will Tell

Here is the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi. On Friday, I offered a list of the 10 best postseason pitching performances of all-time. There were two glaring omissions: 1) Tim Lincecum, who put together one of the best performances in playoff history while I was writing my post Thursday evening; 2) Bob Gibson, who I simply didn’t review carefully enough. Joe’s post today tells of the postseason brilliance of both men.


Tim Lincecum’s two hit, 14 strike out, 1-0 playoff opener against the overmatched Atlanta Braves was the most dominant pitching performance I’ve seen since Bob Gibson blew away the Detroit Tigers in the first 1968 World Series game.

Gibson mowed down the Tigers 4-0 and stuck out seventeen while walking only one in the process. The Tigers batting order included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton and an aging but still dangerous Eddie Mathews. The only Tiger threat came in the first inning when Kaline doubled.

Watch Gibson strike out the side in the ninth inning here as broadcast by Harry Caray and Curt Gowdy:

Whether Lincecum will eventually join Gibson as one of baseball’s all-time great pitchers will not be known for some time. Even though the two-time Cy Young winner Lincecum is off to a good start, Gibson occupies rarefied air.

In the eight seasons from 1963 to 1970, Gibson won 156 games (of his eventual 251 total) and lost 81 for a .658 winning percentage. Gibson also won nine Gold Glove Awards, the World Series MVP in 1964 and 1967, Cy Young Awards in 1968 and 1970 as well as the league MVP in 1968.

Gibson reached his pitching apex in 1968 with his 22-9 record and 1.12 ERA, a live-ball era record. In a season that may never be matched, Gibson also pitched 28 complete games, 13 of them shut outs.

An outstanding money pitcher Gibson, in his three World Series, notched a 7-2 record with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts (eight complete games) against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Tigers. Gibson struck out 92 batters during his 82 innings pitched.

Unlike today’s pitchers, Gibson lived on the inside of the plate.Dusty Baker received the following advice from Hank Aaron about facing Gibson:

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson, he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, and don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

While Gibson had a reputation for being hostile to even his teammates, he was gracious (in retirement) to his opponents. Gibson has never taken any bows for his incredible achievements. When asked about them, Gibson defers to Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver who he says are the best pitchers he ever faced. Ryan and Seaver, in return, claim that they were never in Gibson’s league.

The Cardinals retired Gibson’s number 45 in 1975 and, in 1981, Gibson was a first ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. In 1999, Gibson ranked number 31 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

7 Replies to “Will Tim Lincecum Be the 21st Century Bob Gibson? Time Will Tell”

  1. The only thing I worry about with Lincecum is his burning out with his arm motion. Other than that he is the real deal and will be around for a long time. If I needed a pitcher to pitch a big game I would take him.

  2. Thanks for posting that video. I got home in time from school to watch the last inning. And it was at a neighbor’s house who had a color TV, a big deal back then

  3. Well, he’s certainly off to a good start. Here’s Gibson’s line at age 26.
    34 36 .486 3.44 107 78 11 29 8 2 607.1 534 271 232 39 301 24 491 18 1 26 2615 126 1.375

    Now Lincecum’s age 26.
    56 27 .675 3.04 123 122 0 7 4 0 811.0 666 295 274 51 293 15 907 19 2 47 3348 142 1.182

    He’s off to a pretty good start. Will he keep it up?

  4. I lost a bet in 5th grade on the 7th game of 1968 World Series: Gibson had won seven straight World Series games, so I assumed the Cards were a lock in the 7th game, especially because the Tigers had had to use their 30 game winner, Denny McLain, to win the 6th game.

    1. Would you believe that McLain was a rather mortal 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in the 1968 World Series? Meanwhile, the Tigers #2 starter who won 14 fewer games than McLain in the regular season, Mickey Lolich, went 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and three complete games in the Series. He also beat Gibson in Game 7. Some things you just don’t see coming.

  5. I saw two games in that 1968 World Series. The mention of Mickey Lolich reminds me that, while he was an effective pitcher, he was a standing joke as a hitter. As I recall, he had the lowest batting average in the League, even among pitchers, (before the advent of designated hitters). Darned if the son of a gun didn’t hit a home run in that World Series!
    He also picked Lou Brock and Curt Flood off base in the same inning!

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