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Projecting Tim Hudson's 2015 season

Ankles and sinkers and hips, oh, my.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the annual tradition of the Community Projections, the thinly veiled excuse to talk about a Giants player for the day. Usually we project Giants players, then check back in the winter to see how we did with our projections, but there were so many hot rumors and championship musings this offseason that, why, we never got around to those posts. The way to fix that is combine them all, looking at what the players were supposed to do last year, what they did, and what we're expecting for this year.

First up is Tim Hudson, who is probably broken.

"Behind in preseason preparation" for a 39-year-old pitcher is code for "totally broken." He wheeled into the clubhouse like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, I'm sure of it. When he took off his sock to show Dave Groeschner how the ankle was coming along, the power went out and every coyote howled in a three-mile radius. Unless he's just a little behind.

Still, the Vogelsong signing made me a little nervous because it was almost implicitly suggesting that Hudson was behind in preseason preparation. The Giants couldn't exactly hold a press conference to say they signed this guy because that guy is probably broken, so we'll never know. Color me skeptical.

Here's what we were looking for last season:

Tim Hudson, projected 2014
IP: 193
ERA: 3.31
BB: 49
K: 148
HR: 11

And here's what he did:

Tim Hudson, actual 2014
IP: 189
ERA: 3.57
BB: 34
K: 120
HR: 15

The projection was derided by the author as being overly optimistic. For a couple months, though, it looked like it was going to sell him short. Hudson made the All-Star Game as a replacement, and it wasn't completely ridiculous that he did so. For the first two months of the season, it always seemed like the game was in the sixth inning after an hour, and Hudson had allowed just one run on 78 pitches. He was a huge part of the Giants' fast start that helped them make the postseason after they forgot how to play baseball.

Then came the niggling injuries, which always come to a player of Hudson's vintage. My knees feel like they've been drinking schnapps for a month, and I don't even get up from my chair. Even though Hudson is a professional athlete who might -- might -- be in better shape than me, there's almost no way to hold off the deterioration once a player turns 35 or so. Hudson's hip betrayed him to the point where it was a surprise that he even started a postseason game.

Hudson was outstanding against the Nationals, who won the Madison Bumgarner game and lost all of the other ones because ha ha ha, but he was less than reliable for the remainder of the postseason. Then, fairly late in the offseason, the Giants announced that he was going to undergo ankle surgery on the same ankle that destroyed his 2013 season. So while the NLDS start was inspired, here are the highlighted passages in the book of 2015 projections. Tim Hudson ...

  • Was kinda bad at the end of last year
  • Looked shaky in three of his four postseason starts
  • Old, for a pitcher
  • Had hip problems last year
  • Had surgery on a previously problematic ankle two months ago

This is why the Giants weren't just satisfied with Yusmeiro Petit in a glass case. In that projection from last year, two older sinkerballing Giants were brought up: Rick Reuschel and Orel Hershiser. The former was outstanding and helped the Giants win the pennant. The latter was a rogue double-agent who probably stole things when he left.

Give me one year of Reuschel and one of Hershiser, then. The Reuschel will come this year, and it will be quite nice

I guess I have to stand by that, right? Except I don't want the first projection of 2015 to be a downer. It mentioned Orel Hershiser, so it's already screwy and awful. So we'll have to look for positives. We'll have to look for reasons why Hudson will succeed, not fail. I'll start. Tim Hudson ...

  • has made a positive contribution to whatever team he's been on over the last 16 seasons
  • throws sinkers, which are second only to knuckleballs as the most age-resistant pitch in baseball
  • mostly that first one, though

Even in Hudson's very worst season, when he allowed 25 homers and had a 4.86 ERA, he had value to his team. A big part of that came from the innings he munched, but it's still an impressive streak of having some sort of value.

Of course, he had never had a losing season until last year, either. Streaks always go on forever until they stop.

It's the first projection of the spring, though, and these things are just excuses to talk about players and get excited for baseball, anyway. We'll split the difference between the clearly awesome Rick Reuschel and the clearly vile Orel Hershiser.

Tim Hudson, projected 2015 stats
IP: 155
ERA: 3.98
BB: 39
K: 101
HR: 14

The end is coming. It's not here yet. This would be the last season of Hudson's outstanding career, and it would be a productive one, if not an especially exciting one.