Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Affeldt

The Giants signed Jeremy Affeldt, a journeyman swingman/middle reliever who had already played for 3 teams in his career to a 2 year/$8 M contract before the 2009 season.  That was a lot of money for a middle reliever at the time and the signing was greeted by dismay on more than 1 blog and baseball related website.  There go those Giants again.  Don't they know that relievers, particularly middle relievers are a dime a dozen and completely fungible assets?  Don't they know they need to be signing free agent hitters who draw a lot of walks and hit a lot of HR's?  Similar sentiments were posted on multiple sites when he re-signed after the 2010 season and again when he signed a 3 year/$18 M  contract after the 2012 season.

I am not going to bore you with a recitation of his stat lines.  Some were better than others.  He did have his share of downswings in his performances over the 7 years he was a Giants.  Overall, the good outweighed the bad.  He was a rare lefty reliever who could get RH batters out and who could go multiple innings.  Strangely enough, it was Dave Cameron of Fangraphs who defended that last contract by pointing out, among other things, that Affeldt was one of just 4 lefty relievers who combined a 55% GB rate with an 8 BB/9.  Then, there is his postseason record, which we are all familiar with.  Basically, if you don't count Saves, Mariano Rivera is the only reliever, lefty or righty, to have a better postseason record.  Although it cannot be proven, I believe, and I believe the Giants believe, that they would not have won any of those 3 championships without Jeremy Affeldt on the team.

Then there is Jeremy Affeldt's role in the community.  Lots of ballplayers profess to be born-again Christians.  Lots of ballplayers have charitable foundations.  Jeremy Affeldt went beyond those external manifestations of faith, which sometimes prove to be hypocritical.  He was well known to be friendly and outgoing to average fans.  I met him one time after a loss to the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium.  My family and I were waiting for a table at a restaurant, when who should walk out but Jeremy Affeldt.  He saw my Giants themed shirt, walked up and shook my hand.  He was soft spoken and apologized that the Giants had lost the game.  I said it was OK, they would get them tomorrow, and they did!  It was Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Flannery who took the lead in helping Brian Stow and his family after the assault at Dodger Stadium.  It was Affeldt who spoke to the fans after another ugly incident and pleaded for calm and sportsmanship.

Particularly impressive was his humility in admitting that his faith may have made him judgmental at times.  If you have not read the transcript of his news conference announcing his retirement, please do ASAP.  Pay particular attention to his answer to the question of what he will tell his grandchildren about playing for the Giants.  He spoke of the judgements he harbored about the city when he first arrived and how he came to learn those judgements were wrong and how he came to embrace the community.  He did not have to go into detail about what those judgements were about.

So, Jeremy Affeldt has been a good Giant, maybe one of the best, even though his name will never be in the Hall of Fame or his number retired on the OF wall at AT&T Park.  He gave much more, on the field and off, than he took from the Giants.  When you talk about unsung heroes of the organization over the entire history of the franchise, Jeremy Affeldt has to be at or at least near the top of the list.


  1. I don't know if it is organizational philosophy, but in recent years the Giants for the most part seem to sign and draft high character players who contribute to clubhouse cohesiveness rather than divisiveness. These players may not be the most talented available, and may seem overpriced, leaving the Giants naysayers up in arms. No player may have fit that description more than Affeldt, but the Giants front office surely understood his worth. Two years: 8 million dollars. Another two years: 9.5 million. Three more years: 18 million dollars. Three World Series victories, inspiring leadership in the clubhouse, a great ambassador to the fans, a stalwart servant in the community: PRICELESS.

  2. Because of his charity work and advocacy Affeldt is the only athlete I follow on twitter. Great man. Great Giant.