Community Projection Rejection: Matt Cain

Like a ************* rose garden. Because he's Matt Cain, dammit.

Say, everybody! Who here likes Matt Cain? I sure do.

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Tim Lincecum really get the squeeeeeeeee! gland going in the inner organs of our Giants fanboy, but it's possible that Matt Cain should be the most popular Giant. He has the longest tenure. He annoys Rockies fans and dogmatic statheads. He's funny and personable. He doesn't allow a lot of runs in the postseason, and by that I mean he doesn't allow any. 

As a person who makes stupid predictions every year, Cain is also my favorite Giant because he's always the one projection that ends up looking good:

Projected:
IP: 218
ERA: 3.02
BB: 54
K: 185
HR: 18

Actual
IP: 221.2
ERA: 2.88
BB: 63
K: 179
HR: 9

He allowed fewer homers this year, which temporarily sated the xFIP hounds, but otherwise it was a very Cain year. As Cain as they get, except for the one before that and the one before that. He is freakishly consistent. Only five pitchers have thrown more than 200 innings with an above average ERA+ every season over the last five years:

CC Sabathia
Dan Haren
Roy Halladay
Matt F. Cain
Mark Buehrle

But Cain doesn't just have an above average ERA+ -- he's much better that. His lowest ERA+ since 2007 is 118. So if you up the ERA+ requirements on that list to pitchers with an ERA of 110 or better in those five seasons with 200 IP

CC Sabathia
Roy Halladay
Matt M.F. Cain

That's some pretty sweet company. And just to make sure we aren't taking this all for granted, don't forget how the spring started:

(Cain) has not thrown a baseball since he came down with elbow inflammation on Sunday, making it seem unlikely he will miss only one turn in the rotation.

Cain's barking elbow. Oh, fiddlesticks. The curse of young pitching. So fragile, those little daffodils, what with their labrums made of wishes and ligaments made of sparkly dream powder. It was a good run while it lasted, but now they're going to have to pull body parts out of cadavers and fix him. 

Then he pitched like Matt Cain. Just as well, and just as often.

What I'm getting at here, people, is that if Matt Cain leaves the Giants as a free agent after this season, I'm a stab someone. He's durable. He's good. He's homegrown. He's Matt Cain. He should be a Giant until his body falls apart. Call it the Mariano Rivera Gambit. There was no way another team was going to sign Rivera away from the Yankees at any point during his career unless his shoulder melted into NRI-smelling goo.

The Giants aren't the Yankees, of course. There are a couple of reasons for that, but no team can spend like the Yankees. But the Giants aren't poor. They should be able to retain key homegrown players, and it's not like Cain doesn't make sense with the current roster -- he's sort of the reason the rotation is good. 

Cain loves the area. He has to love the ballpark, both for its fly ball forgiveness and the crowds. If there's one thing he might not like, it's that he's on the short list for the unluckiest and least supported pitchers in the ************* history of ************* baseball. That'll irritate a fella, especially if he's on a Hall-of-Fame sort of track. 

There will be time in the offseason to dig into his value, look at comparable pitchers, and see what the Giants should pay Cain. But I'm fully expecting that the Giants will re-sign him before the season starts. I'm pretty sure, at least. Because he's Matt Cain. I mean, Matt Cain.

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