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San Francisco Giants: Melancon Signing Was Best Move

May 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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With 32 blown saves during 2016, two of which came in the postseason, the San Francisco Giants addressed their biggest issue heading into the offseason by solving their ninth-inning issue with a record four-year $62 million contract.

The San Francisco Giants have signed their closer. Mark Melancon will be saving games for the Giants in the ninth inning going forward.

Melancon, 31, inked a four-year deal worth $62 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Melancon’s signing sets a record contract for closers previously held by Jonathan Papelbon, and Giants’ fans should be very excited.

Bobby Evans finally got the man he spent the second half of the season kicking himself daily over for failing to acquire him at the August trade deadline. Melancon went 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA, while striking out 65 in 71.1 innings pitched, on the way to converting 47 saves this season. His 131 saves are tops in MLB over the last three seasons.

He held opponents to a .202 batting average, and posted a stellar 0.9 WHIP. What should be most exciting is the San Francisco Giants are getting a true pitcher who thrives off of four pitches he can throw anytime.

Melancon’s four pitches are fastball, cutter, curveball, and a changeup he uses the least. Sure, he doesn’t match the velocity Chapman or Jansen have , but his average velocity of 91.8 mph proved to be enough. Melancon does sit around 93-95 mph though, so he can definitely miss bats. His 24.1 percent K% and 8.2 K/9 further back that notion.

Aside from his arsenal of pitches, he pitches to contact very well and induces groundballs 52.4 percent of the time. Numbers like that only play into the Giants’ favor with Gold Glove winners Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik defending the middle of the infield.

Melancon also gives up the least amount of hard contact at 23.4 percent between all “Big Three” closers on the free agent market. Throw in a LOB% of 80.6 percent and the San Francisco Giants have to be pleased with their new closer.

Adding to his soft contact, he led all “Big Three” closers in HR/9 (.30), which is safe to assume will stay at that number if not become lower pitching in spacious AT&T Park. Although he only allowed fly balls 25.3 percent of the time, his HRFB% is a stingy 6.3 percent.

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A personal favorite metric to judge a pitcher’s efficiency by is using PITCHf/x 100 values. This metric measures the run prevention for each pitch someone throws on average for each 100 pitches thrown of that type. Speaking in terms of relievers, their biggest duty is preventing runs.

Melancon’s most devastating pitch is a unique knuckle-curveball he throws, which accounted for a wKC/C of 2.22 runs saved every 100 thrown. Even more impressive is the consistency he showed with run prevention for all his pitches. His fastball posted a wFA/C of 2.06 and his cutter had a wFC/C of 1.94 runs saves per 100 thrown.

For comparison’s sake, Andrew Miller’s best-regarded pitch would be his slider. His slider accounted for a wSL/C of 1.52 runs saved every 100 thrown. All three of Melancon’s most used pitches save runs at a more efficient rate. Get excited San Francisco Giants’ fans!

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Another thing to mention would be what all Giants’ fans care about most, and that’s postseason production. Melancon may have had a small sample with the Nationals this postseason, but his four-and-one-third innings pitched without allowing a run reflected his career sample. For his postsason career, he’s thrown 10.1 innings, given up four runs, and struck out eight.

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With the San Francisco Giants securing the back end of their bullpen, it’s safe to assume they’ll direct their attention to possibly upgrading their void in left field. Bobby Evans has however suggested the club is comfortable giving Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker a shot to prove they can be part of the future blueprint.

The San Francisco Giants now have the MLB saves leader of the last three seasons, and a pitcher who consistently prevents runs with all of his pitches. Rejoice Giants’ fans, he’s yours for the next four seasons.

Next: Could Giants Find Lopez' Replacement in Rule 5 Draft?

Stay tuned as we keep you updated throughout the winter meetings and the rest of the offseason!

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