The SF Giants might have a huge void in the rotation to fill if Carlos Rodón departs via free agency. They would be challenged in finding that caliber of pitcher, but they are not just looking at good pitchers. They are looking at pitchers who excel in certain areas such as ground ball rate.
Top 3 SF Giants starting pitching targets by ground ball rate
The Giants cornered the market on ground ball rate this past season. Alex Cobb (61.5 percent) and Alex Wood (48.2 percent) were free agents who they signed last winter and both finished in the top 20 in ground ball rate among starting pitchers with a minimum of 100 innings pitched.
It bears mentioning that Cobb had the second-highest mark in baseball, behind only Houston Astros ace Framber Valdez (66.5 percent). Cobb also edged out teammate Logan Webb, who induced a ground ball in 56.7 percent of batted ball events.
As a team, the Giants' pitching staff led baseball with a 47.7 percent ground ball rate but why does it even matter? The reason is that ground balls result in outs at a higher rate and are less likely to result in extra-base hits. Of course, ground balls cannot leave the park, so typically pitchers with high ground ball rates tend to have low home run rates.
A high ground ball rate does not have the same correlation to win-loss record that a good SO/W ratio suggests, but it is something that the Giants believe in. If they have to replace Carlos Rodón, ground ball rate will be a quality that they target in free agency.
1. Martín Pérez - 51.4 percent ground ball rate
The Texas Rangers are interested in Rodón after luring longtime Giants manager Bruce Bochy out of retirement. The Giants and Rangers could make a swap of sorts.
Left-handed hurler Martín Pérez is coming off of career year and will be looking to cash in. He registered a 2.89 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, and a 2.45 SO/W ratio in 32 starts for the Rangers.
This includes a 51.4 percent ground ball rate, which ranked as the 11th-best rate among starters with a minimum of 100 innings pitched. Not surprisingly, the 31-year-old had a very strong home run at 0.5 HR/9.
Pérez has never had a season like this in 11 years in the majors. This will make some teams weary as they will want someone with a more predictable track record. The veteran pitcher will look to cash in, but there is a ceiling on what he can expect to see.
It would not be crazy to see him receive a three-year deal, but I think teams will push more for two seasons with an average annual value of $12 million. This is just a guess, but it makes sense given his age and how he performed this past season.
It would be risky for the Giants to replace Rodón with Pérez, but Pérez does excel in a quality that they target.