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The Numbers: Tim Lincecum is doing just fine, thank you

Big League Stew

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Each week, BLS stat doctor Alex Remington will bring you 10 numbers that you need to know. His second effort begins in California, where Tim Lincecum(notes) has been proving that this spring's drop in velocity won't spell doom for his slingshot delivery.

24: Tim Lincecum's major league-leading strikeout total. Whispers about a possible falloff for the reigning repeat Cy Young Award winner became ever louder this offseason, but Lincecum has given no indication that he's anything other than the best pitcher in the world. Three starts, 3-0, 20 innings pitched, 24 strikeouts, three walks. Oh, and he entered Silver Slugger contention after going 3-for-4 with three RBIs against the Dodgers on Saturday. The Freak, indeed.

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2.90: The AL-leading ERA of the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics. Left for dead by the preseason projections (including mine), the Athletics are being propelled by their expected strength — pitching. They're led by early Cy Young candidate Brett Anderson(notes), seemingly healthy free agent acquisition Ben Sheets(notes), and 2009 Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey(notes) in the bullpen. Trevor Cahill(notes), who pitched 178 2/3 league-average innings in 2009 at the age of 21, is expected to be healthy in May as well. If the rotation keeps it up, Oakland could have a good chance in the slow-starting AL West.

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96.3: The average velocity of a fastball by Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) during Saturday's no-hitter of the Braves. Jimenez currently owns the fastest average heater in the game, and his velocity stuck around all night — his 128th and final pitch was 97 miles per hour. If it hadn't been for the no-no, he almost certainly would have been lifted, though. That's the most pitches he's ever thrown, and just the third time in his career he's gone over a count of 120.

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6: Vernon Wells'(notes) home run total, tied with Chase Utley(notes) for second in the major leagues, behind only Nelson Cruz(notes). It's safe to say that Wells' success has been a pleasant surprise for Jays fans, who have learned in recent years to expect little from their center fielder, who struggled to a .711 OPS with just 15 homers last year. This is the first time he's hit six homers in a month since August 2008, and the last time he surpassed six in a month was April 2006, before he signed his albatross contract. The Jays still owe him $86 million through 2014, so fans will have to hope his scalding start is for real.

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0.00: I'm going to put him on this list until he gives up a run: Livan Hernandez(notes) is now 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, despite having yielded more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). His last start was a four-hit complete game shutout of the Milwaukee Brewers in which his fastball never topped 87 miles per hour, but his curveball dipped to 63. At this point, his smoke and mirrors have smoke and mirrors, but the man's still winning. Strasburg who?

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3: Nyjer Morgan's(notes) major-league leading triple count. The Pirates didn't seem to appreciate Morgan much, trading him for the talented but underachieving Lastings Milledge(notes), but he's blossomed in Washington, becoming one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. He's using his speed on the basepaths as well, with three triples and four steals in five tries, and his 3.5 BB/K rate is second in baseball to Atlanta's Brian McCann(notes). He's one of the more underappreciated players in the National League.

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22: The number of men the Cardinals left on base during their 20-inning, 2-1 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday. The Cardinals were held scoreless by the Mets for the first 18 innings despite 12 hits and 9 walks, including two intentional walks of Albert Pujols(notes). They gave away a lot of outs, too: four GIDP, three sacrifice bunts, and two men caught stealing, including Ryan Ludwick(notes) in the 19th inning with Albert Pujols at the plate.

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8: Jeff Francoeur's(notes) walk total, which is arguably even more impressive than Vernon Wells' home run total. In his short career, this is just the seventh time that Francoeur has ever walked eight times in a month; he's never walked more than nine. (By way of comparison, Barry Bonds(notes) walked 46 times in June 2004; Jeff Francoeur's career high in walks for an entire season is 42 in 2007.) Perhaps most impressively, he has eight walks against just four strikeouts, a two-to-one ratio, while from 2005 to 2009 he struck out nearly four times for every walk. Time will tell if the 26-year-old has finally tapped into his still-impressive potential, or is just enjoying a patient first three weeks.

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4: Jake Westbrook's(notes) major league-leading hit batter total; it's also the number of wild pitches he's uncorked, second only to Ricky Romero's(notes) five. In three games, Westbrook has 10 walks, 10 strikeouts, and just one quality start. The Indians' opening day starter is coming back from 2008 Tommy John surgery and it's clear that he's still trying to find his bearings. So is Fausto Carmona(notes), who also has 10 walks, but just five strikeouts. With pitchers like these at the top of their rotation, it could be another long year for the Tribe.

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.269: The combined OPS of the Houston Astros' Hunter Pence(notes), Carlos Lee(notes) and Pedro Feliz(notes). Cleanup hitter Lee is mired in a 5-for-48 slump and Pence's 7-for-45 start to the season has been so bad that rookie manager Brad Mills(notes) has turned to Feliz, whose .222 batting average on the season is nearly double Pence and Lee's combined total. If you want to know why the Astros are the worst team in the National League, look at the middle of their order.

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