Giants’ Bullpen Extensions, Part 2

Not content with just one contract extension with a relief pitcher, the Giants nabbed another on Friday with a deal for Jeremy Affeldt that tacked on another guaranteed year plus a club option. Affeldt was originally under contract for 2010 at $4 million and then scheduled to become a free agent but under his new deal will make $4.5 million both this year and next and the Giants hold a team option for 2012 at $5 million with a $500,000 buyout.

The thirty-year-old was flat out terrific for the Giants last year as long as all you care about is ERA. 1.73 was the number in question and it’s hard to get over just how low and good that is until you notice the 12.5% walk rate and .240 BABIP. Affeldt’s FIP was 3.59 which is still decent and actually the best mark of his career, but hardly earth-moving in it’s wonderfulness.

One thing he did do was become even more of an extreme ground ball pitcher. His 65% ground ball rate ranked second in the majors for qualified relievers behind only Sean Green‘s 66.2%. The thing is that with such a high ground ball rate, it makes the deflated BABIP all the more lucky and unlikely to repeat itself. 2008 Jeremy Affeldt did a superb job on limiting his walks and generating strikeouts. If he could combine that with his 2009 level of ground balls and average home run prevention, he’d be a star.

That’s a lot of wishful thinking though and in reality what is expected him from his by nearly unanimous consent of the various projections systems is about 65 innings pitches with a maintained strikeout rate, barely decreased walk rate and twice as many home runs allowed. That’s a receipe for a worse season than the one he just threw and the one he just threw made him worth about a single win, or roughly $3.5 million in value. The Giants just gave him a half million dollar pay rise up to $4.5 million and tacked on some extra years.

No, it’s not the best extension deal out there but at least it’s not an awful one either. It looks to be an overpay by about $1 million or so, but Affeldt does have his uses and it is a relatively short commitment. Call me unenthused but overly uncaring.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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