Javier Lopez Signs $8.5 Million Deal; Further Proof Byrdak Signing Was Smart

By Unknown author

The San Francisco Giants wasted little time post-World Series to make a transaction, re-signing left-handed reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year, $8.5 million deal. Lopez posted his second straight good season, hurling a 2.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 1.53 K/BB. And obviously versus lefties, the specialist was particularly dominant, halting left-handed hitters with a 1.92 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 2.77 K/BB. Despite how well Lopez pitched against his own kind, $8.5 million for such services only illustrates how prudent Sandy Alderson’s decision to “prematurely” re-sign his own lefty specialist, Tim Byrdak, was.

In 2011, Byrdak posted a solid 3.82 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 2.47 K/BB. While Lopez arguably pitched better overall, the two lefties stats against left-handed batters were very similar, with Byrdak slightly more dominating. Byrdak owned a 2.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 6.00 K/BB. Granted, Lopez surrendered less extra-base hits than Byrdak (1 in 104 lefties faced versus 7 in 110 lefties faced), but Byrdak’s 12.46 K/9 was far superior to Lopez’s 8.03 K/9.

Also, a closer look at the two lefties’ overall peripherals indicates that Lopez’s more sterling surface numbers could have been the result of better defense and a little more luck. Despite owning a 2.72 ERA, Lopez also sported a deflated .275 BABIP (career .296 BABIP), and a very telling 3.94 xFIP. Byrdak, on the other hand, rolled balls at an elevated .316 BABIP (career .284 BABIP), and posted a reasonable 3.39 xFIP (versus 3.82 ERA). The sole department that Lopez holds sovereign to Byrdak is homeruns (Lopez allowed zero while Byrdak coughed-up 3).

Yet even with their glaring similarities, and Lopez’s over-achievements, the 34 year-old Lopez will take home an incredible $4.25 million in 2012, while the 38 year-old Byrdak around just $1 million. Javier Lopez might have the slight edge talent-wise over Byrdak, but certainly not enough so to earn about 76% more money.