Jeremy Affeldt Will Go Down as One of the Best in Postseason History


On Thursday, the day of Tim Hudson‘s final career Major League start, San Francisco Giants‘ left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt announced he would join Hudson in retirement, and hang up his cleats at the end of the season. Affeldt, though he has struggled this season as his age has begun to take its toll, has epitomized what it means to be a good Giant in his seven year tenure. He was a great person and excellent humanitarian, but as an added bonus, he was a really good pitcher as well.

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Affeldt first came to the Giants ahead of the 2009 season, and was downright dominant in his first season. His 1.73 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in 74 games earned him an MVP vote that year from beat writer Andrew Baggarly. The Giants would find out in 2010 that Affeldt was at his very best when the lights shined their brightest, in the postseason.

The October brilliance began in 2007 for Affeldt, when he was still a member of the Colorado Rockies as they made a run to their first, and thus far only, World Series appearance. Things didn’t start off so well for the left-hander, as the very first batter he faced in postseason play was Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, in game two of the NLDS. The lefty-on-lefty matchup didn’t work so well for Affeldt, as he surrendered a solo home run to Howard. Through the rest of that season, Affeldt would retire 15 of the 18 batters he faced, without surrendering a run.

He would return to the postseason in 2010 with San Francisco, and wasn’t necessarily great. He gave up two runs in four innings of work, but his last outing, in which he threw 1.1 scoreless innings, started a near historic run. Between the 2012 and 2014 playoff runs, Affeldt made 21 appearances and surrendered nary a run in any of them, which combined with the final outing of 2010, marked the second-longest string of appearances without allowing a run, behind only the legendary Mariano Rivera‘s streak of 22.

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All in all, Affeldt faced 111 batters in postseason play, and allowed only a single extra-base hit, which was of course Howard’s home run. The last 110 batters Affeldt faced mustered only 13 singles against him.

Affeldt inherited 23 runners in the postseason, and allowed just one to score. He came into two bases loaded situations, and worked out of both. He was given seven situations with two runners on base, and not a single one scored.

His 0.86 postseason ERA is the third-best in baseball history. Rivera, possibly the greatest relief pitcher ever and a five-time World Series champion, owns a 0.70 ERA, the lowest. Harry Brecheen, a three-time World champion and owner of a 2.92 career regular season ERA, is second on the list with a 0.83 ERA. The all-time great Babe Ruth, who won two rings with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher, sits behind Affeldt with a 0.87 ERA.

With the Giants, Affeldt appeared in 26 postseason games for 26 innings, and allowed just two runs for a 0.69 ERA to complement his 0.692 WHIP. He also induced six groundball double plays. His finest performance with the Giants in October came in his final showing.

In game seven of the World Series in 2014, Hudson started the game, and recorded just five outs before giving way to Affeldt out of the pen. The left-hander entered with two on and two outs in the second. He got future teammate Nori Aoki to ground into a force out to end that threat.

In the third inning, Lorenzo Cain led off the inning with a basehit. Eric Hosmer followed with a grounder up the middle that looked like a surefire single before Joe Panik dove to his right and started, quite possibly, the best double play in World Series history. In the fourth, after a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning, Affeldt induced another double play grounder to Panik, although this one came much easier. Affeldt gave way to Madison Bumgarner in relief, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although Bumgarner was initially credited with the win, the official scorer later changed the decision to give it to Affeldt while giving Bumgarner a five-inning save. When he was told after the game, Affeldt and his wife broke down into tears. And they say pitcher wins don’t matter.

Affeldt will be remembered in a larger scope as a part of the “Core Four”, the quartet of relievers in the Giants’ bullpen that was a huge component to each of their three World Series wins, along with fellow lefty Javier Lopez and righties Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

Those four are part of the exclusive group of players who were a part of each of the Giants’ three World Championships, alongside catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and starting pitchers Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Tim Lincecum.

Affeldt’s postseason numbers speak high volumes, and he is one who will not be soon forgotten. Without Affeldt’s utter dominance, the Giants may not win a single World Series, let alone three.

For his seven fantastic years with the Giants, we say thank you, Jeremy Affeldt.

Next: Hudson Makes Emotional Final Start