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The strangely effective Santiago Casilla

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

What's that, you ask? A list of the all-time lowest ERAs in Giants history, minimum 200 innings? Well, there's certainly a lot of Giants news to get to, and … wait, no. No, there's nothing interesting about the Giants right now. So here's your list:

Rk Player ERA IP From To
1 Christy Mathewson 2.10 4746.0 1901 1916
2 Santiago Casilla 2.19 217.1 2010 2013
3 Slim Sallee 2.26 572.2 1916 1921
4 Sergio Romo 2.29 290.2 2008 2013
5 Joe McGinnity 2.38 2151.1 1902 1908
6 Robb Nen 2.43 378.1 1998 2002
7 Jeff Tesreau 2.43 1679.0 1912 1918
8 Red Ames 2.45 1802.2 1903 1913
9 Hooks Wiltse 2.48 2053.0 1904 1914
10 Fred Anderson 2.52 420.2 1916 1918

Just as you were expecting.

Now, there's all sorts of context this leaves out. The run-scoring rate for the league; the differences in parks, eras, and between relievers and starters in general; the fact that baseballs were made with soggy armadillo skin at the turn of the century, and they used the same baseball for years at a time. That ERA is a pretty silly metric for relievers. This is a deceptive list.

But stripped down to basics, we have this unassailable truth: When it comes to Giants pitchers who have more than 200 innings, Santiago Casilla has allowed fewer runs than any of them other than Christy Mathewson. Which means it's time to anoint Casilla with the title of The Most Confusing Pitcher in the World. For all of his success as a Giant, I'm not sure if there is anyone reading this who has confidence in Casilla when he comes in the game. Is there anyone out there who pumps his/her fist and says, "Yeah, baby, Casilla time!"? Of course not. And yet, there he is, just behind a Hall of Famer for the best run-prevention mark in franchise history ...

Some of the other, more relevant stats, aren't quite as impressive. Since joining the Giants, Casilla is 49th in baseball in Win Probability Added, just ahead of Clay Hensley, and he's 43rd in the "shutdowns" stat. He's 14th in RE/24, though, so it's not like all of the advanced stats are as skeptical. At the very least, Casilla is a productive, useful asset. If you cherry-pick the stats, he becomes one of the better relievers the Giants have ever had.

Please don't cherry-pick the stats. You need a special license for that. I went to cherry-picking school for two years to get one.

But Casilla's been pretty good. And I'm not sure if I can remember a player quite as confusing as Casilla. When he comes into the game, I have absolutely zero confidence in his ability to prevent runs. Yet he's been better at preventing runs than any pitcher in San Francisco history, technically speaking. He has a 1.54 postseason ERA in 15 playoff games, you know. And, nope, still don't trust him.

Casilla's signed for the next two years for just over $10 million. Which is probably a slight bargain compared to what he'd get in the open market.  But I have to talk myself into liking the idea of Casilla on the team for the next two years. Like, okay, I guess he's not that bad, even if there's evidence that he's solidly above-average, at the very least.

The bullpen's going to be an offseason priority, I'm thinking. Romo's back, as is Jeremy Affeldt. Javier Lopez might not be. Rookies like Heath Hembree or Jake Dunning might make the roster, or the Giants will spend on a free-agent option.

Santiago Casilla will be around, too, whether you like it or not. You're probably in the "not" camp. I usually am, too. I just wish I knew why. He's pretty sorta kinda okay.  And confusing. So confusing. Is he frustrating, or are we just short-sighted and stupid? Probably a combination of the two, but danged if I can figure out where one ends and the other begins.