Community-projection review: Ryan Vogelsong

Leon Halip

How did Vogelsong do? What was he supposed to do? Oh. Cool.

In case you haven't figured out what the community projections are really for around here, they're just an excuse to talk about a specific player before a season. And the community-projection reviews are an excuse to talk about a specific player after a season. They're not really about the projections, in case you thought this series was too navel-gazey.

In the rush to praise the Giants for not pushing Matt Cain south, it's easy to forget that Ryan Vogelsong was supposed to be a free agent now, too. How much would he have picked up on the open market? He'd be an interesting case. You all know the backstory -- released from Federal prison after DNA evidence exonerates him, discovered by Willie Mays during an old-timey barnstorming tour, frozen in a glacier, thawed out by the NSA -- but that's only part of what would make the deal fascinating. He's 35, and he has a bizarre past, but he's also been completely reliable over the last two seasons.

Except for September. That was weird. And to think, if the Giants don't make the playoffs, we don't have this to cleanse the palate:


Ahhh. But after his postseason performance, Vogelsong would have gotten paid by someone. Probably the Tigers. Maybe the Dodgers. The Dodgers might have paid him $20 million to backpack through Europe, actually. A good comp for what Vogelsong would have been paid is out there, actually, with Kyle Lohse. It's not perfectly analogous, but it's close enough. A guy with a checkered past and a newfound knack for getting hitters out on balls put in play, on the open market, about to get paid on a multi-year deal.

Instead, he'll be paid $5 million next year, and if he's good again, the Giants hold a $6.5 million option for 2014. That's pretty sweet. Vogelsong gets paid enough to where I don't feel guilty, and the Giants have enough to overpay players like Marco Scutaro. Or Josh Hamilton! But probably just Scutaro.

And like Cain, it's not like the Giants ripped anyone off at the time. There was risk and reward for both sides. Remember, the deal was signed after Vogelsong had exactly one good year in his career. After being the worst pitcher in Pirates history, after not doing much in Japan, after getting let go by two Triple-A teams as a 33-year-old, he had a good year. There was skepticism. There should have been.

Take the projection from before this season:

Projected
ERA: 4.18
IP: 148
K: 114
BB: 55
HR: 14

There was going to be regression. It was so obvious, right? The Giants got their season, the unexpected jolt from the depths. But the fun was over and, as with Andres Torres, all good things had to end. That doesn't mean Vogelsong had to go back to being awful. He could haunt the halls of baseball as a bona fide innings-eater-upper, doing his thing without getting noticed that much.

Instead, he was good again.

Actual
ERA: 3.37
IP: 189.2
K: 158
BB: 62
HR: 17

If you believe in ERA+, that was mostly average -- a 103 mark, which was the same ERA+ as Kyle Kendrick and Joe Saunders. Also with an ERA+ of 103: Madison Bumgarner. I'm just going to keep assuming the park factors for AT&T in 2012 were screwy. Cram it, math.

No, Vogelsong was good. I'm comfortable with that adjective in relation to his 2012 season. Remember his quality-start streak? How about his six-innings-or-more streak? Why, the only other active player to do something like that this season was Justin Verlander, he wrote for no apparent reason. And we've learned a lesson, here:

Don't doubt Ryan Vogelsong.

He might put up a 5.98 ERA in 129 horrific innings for the Giants in 2018, and everyone will call for him to be released. That's when we have to band together and say, "Hey, hold on, everyone. Let's give him a shot and see what he can do now." Because why not?

In conclusion, Ryan Vogelsong is great and a world champion and the best and he's cool. I've been waiting to type that since 2008.

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