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Zack Littell, another bearded middle reliever

There sure are a lot of them.

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Next up on our alphabetical countdown of San Francisco Giants player reviews is right-handed pitcher Zack Littell.

2021 review

63 games, 61.2 innings, 2.92 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.135 WHIP, 63 strikeouts, 24 walks, 1.0 rWAR, 0.3 fWAR

Zack Littell was a bearded reliever for the Giants. I understand if you think he was the same person as John Brebbia. I even understand if you think he was the same person as Jimmie Sherfy or Conner Menez. If you want to reminisce about prior Giants teams, I understand if you think Littell is the same pitcher as Rico Garcia, Sam Coonrod, Sam Dyson, and Nick Vincent.

But he was not those bearded middle relievers. He was his own bearded middle reliever. He was Zack Littell. And Zack Littell was darn good in 2021.

It’s a testament to how good the Giants were that Littell’s sub-3 ERA was only seventh best among pitchers who threw at least 50 innings. The Giants were good at pitching this year, in case you didn’t know.

For as good as Littell’s run prevention was, he never felt like a super trustworthy weapon. This was perhaps the result of overperforming his FIP by nearly a point, and his xFIP by well over a point. And both of those were largely a result of the unsustainably low .250 BABIP.

But this is a review, not a preview, so we’re focusing on what did happen, not on what will happen or what should happen. And what did happen is that Littell took the mound 63 times and allowed just 20 earned runs.

You don’t put together a dominant bullpen without a little bit of luck on your side, and you damn sure don’t apologize for luck in baseball. Especially when it comes from good players overperforming into really goodness.

Role in 2022

That Littell was trusted with 63 games suggests the Giants have a fair amount of confidence in him. And given that he’s still a year away from arbitration (barring CBA changes post-lockout), and that he still has an option remaining, it’s safe to say that he’ll be on next year’s team in some capacity.

Grade: B


How do you grade Zack Littell’s season?

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