Second Freak Injury Recharges Affeldt’s Season

Jeremy Affeldt is left-handed relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. Some, including me, have referred to him as a LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY) over the years, but that’s not entirely the case. This is Affeldt’s fourth season with the Giants, his eleventh overall in the majors. The only season with the Giants in which he’s been more effective against left-handed batters than righties was 2011, as measured by K/BB, wOBA and FIP.

2009 2010 2011 2012
K/BB v L 1.44 1.55 4.80 2.67
K/BB v R 2.33 2.08 1.58 3.67
wOBA v L .325 .360 .197 .278
wOBA v R .225 .336 .331 .312
FIP v L 4.52 3.91 2.47 2.53
FIP v R 2.93 4.02 4.54 3.03

In 2009, a year in which he dominated right-handed batters but had less success against lefties, Affeldt was named the Set-Up Man of the Year by Major League Baseball. The same was true in 2010, although overall Affeldt was less effective the year the Giants won the World Series. That is, until he did this in Game 6 of the NLCS, after Jonathan Sanchez lost his release point and his mind in the 3rd inning. (Sorry Phillies fans).

Last season, Affeldt lived up to the LOOGY tag, which had unfortunate consequences for the Giants when manager Bruce Bochy used Affeldt more against right-handed batters. Then, in early September, with the Giants clinging to small hopes for the National League Wild Card, Affeldt sliced a nerve in his right hand while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties. Freak injury number 1 for Affeldt, and the end of his 2011 season.

San Francisco picked up Affeldt’s $5 million option in the offseason, much to the chagrin of many Giants fans, including me. The concern was not so much having Affeldt back in the bullpen, but at that price. Together with a new deal for much-more-like-a-real-LOOGY Javier Lopez for $4.25 million/year, the Giants has spent nearly $10 million on two relievers and then claimed to be at the top of their payroll.

The concern turned to dismay when the season got underway.

Affeldt’s effectiveness depends largely on his sweeping curveball. When Affeldt’s curve is working, it does things like this:

When Affeldt’s curve is not working, it does things like this:

Affeldt’s curve wasn’t working much at all in April. Here’s a chart showing his pitch locations for his April games, combined:

In 11 innings, he faced 53 batters, allowed 15 hits, 4 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch and 2 wild pitches, including the one in the video. The other wild pitch also scored a run.

Enter freak injury number 2.

The Giants placed Affeldt on the disabled list on May 1 with a sprained MCL in his right knee. The cause? Affeldt’s preternaturally large 4-and-one-half-year-old son. Walker Affeldt (yes, that’s what a relief pitcher named his son) is 4-foot-six and weighs 60 pounds. After Daddy Affeldt returned home from the ballpark, Walker, excitedly jumped off the sofa and into his dad’s arms. Affeldt felt a pop and his knee was swollen like a bowling ball the next morning.

Affeldt returned to action on May 13 in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Including that game, Affeldt’s had 9 relief appearances since the flying-Walker incident: 9.2 innings, 35 batters faced, 4 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts, 1 run allowed. The one run came last night, and was costly: a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 8th to Carlos Quentin. But you can’t blame Affeldt much for the pitch he threw Quentin.

Down in the zone. Quentin just muscled it out of Petco Park. (Yes, that’s humanly-possible.)

Here’s a chart with Affeldt’s pitch locations in the 9 games since May 13:

Affeldt’s curve is much tighter, ending either up in the zone, or outside and just below the zone. In April, the curve was too far off the plate. Batters didn’t have to swing, and didn’t.

It’s silly to suggest that Walker Affeldt’s sofa-jumping exploits turned his dad’s season around. More likely, the time on the disabled list gave Jeremy Affeldt time to clear his mind and work on his mechanics. Whatever the cause, the effect is noticeable. Much to the delight of Giants fans.

Oh, and it’s Jeremy Affeldt’s birthday today. Here’s hoping he gets a nice, gentle hug from his son.



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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


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Fiveloko
Guest
Fiveloko
4 years 19 days ago

Funny how Dirty always seemed to “lose” his release point when Utley was at the plate.

al b sure
Guest
al b sure
4 years 19 days ago

i’m hoping the Giants re-sign J. Sanchez this off season.

tz
Guest
tz
4 years 19 days ago

4’6″” 60-lb 4-year old. Sure this isn’t Giancarlo Stanton’s kid??

Trotter76
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Trotter76
4 years 19 days ago

If the Affeldts were Dominican I’d suggest the kid was actually 8.

cs3
Member
cs3
4 years 19 days ago

He better name his next kid Striker.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
4 years 19 days ago

Reports are that Affeldt noted that the doctors made him wear some hardware to protect the leg and he found that it kept his mechanics truer. I commented tongue-somewhat-in-cheek somewhere that he should continue to wear it after he fully heals.

People, I guess, missed some of the analysis when Affeldt signed with the Giants. One article said that a team could get a closet closer on the cheap if they signed Affeldt, because he was good against both sides. In fact, it was a post here by Dave Cameron in late 2008: “closer-worthy” (I quoted him in a blog post on the original signing; memory is going, can’t remember that word for the hardware, or maybe it’s being awake since 4AM…).

That’s why I was OK with the picking up of Affeldt’s option year, I know that SSS greatly affects reliever’s ERA and especially against lefties, but thought that his stats was not much different from prior years as a Giants and thus he could be that great reliever for us once again. Who knew he needed a brace (OK! finally!)?

Nate
Guest
Nate
4 years 19 days ago

Yes, Krukow made some comments to the effect that the knee brace was allowing him to plant his landing leg with hyperextending it.

al b sure
Guest
al b sure
4 years 19 days ago

should have done an article on Quentin instead. 9 IP by Affeldt is nothing to get excited about.

twinmh
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twinmh
4 years 18 days ago

Across the bay from Walker Affeldt pitches a gentleman named Grant Ball-Four. Just sayin’.

sprot
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sprot
4 years 18 days ago

“Jeremy Affeldt is left-handed relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.”

Great lede, or greatest lede?

Giants Homer
Guest
Giants Homer
4 years 17 days ago

I’m so glad when I pressed play on that first video it was that particular Sunday Night game last season. Had seats right behind the dugout for that game and remember few (positive) moments better from last season, the curve was incredible for a good 4 weeks or so around then, and that was the pinnacle.

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