The SF Giants might have a Carlos Rodón-sized hole to fill in the starting rotation if the hard-throwing hurler signs elsewhere. They may not be able to replace his production, but they might be able to replace certain qualities that the organization values like HR/9 ratio.
Top 3 SF Giants starting pitching targets by HR/9 ratio
No starting rotation was better at keeping the ball in the ball park than the Giants in 2022. They posted a 0.77 HR/9 ratio, which was the best in baseball by a comfortable margin. Of course, it helps that they had pitchers like Logan Webb and Alex Cobb who induced a fair amount of weak contact and a pitcher like Rodón who just struck everybody out.
The question is, does it even matter? Well, seven of the best 10 teams in terms of HR/9 ratio made it to the playoffs. Four of those teams including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, and the ST. Louis Cardinals finished in first place in their respective division.
The Astros (0.93 HR/9) and the Phillies (1.01 HR/9) were third and sixth, respectively, and reached the World Series. Of course, the former took home the World Series trophy.
So, there is value with rotations being able to keep the ball in the ball park. A good measure of a team is the net difference between home runs hit and home runs allowed. The Giants hit 183 home runs but only allowed 132 home runs. This comes out to a +51 home run differential.
That should have carried more meaning in the win-loss column but the Giants' roster had deficiencies in a lot of areas, so despite excelling in home run prevention, they only finished with an 81-81 record.
Nonetheless, the Giants will likely target starters who fit their archetype of someone who fills up the strike zone, keeps the ball on the ground, and prevents home runs at an above-average rate.
1. José Quintana - 0.43 HR/9
I feel like if anyone takes a Sporcle quiz of the 2021 Giants, not everyone will remember that José Quintana was on the roster for a brief period of time. He pitched a total of 9.2 frames before being designated for assignment near the end of the year.
The Giants needed starting pitching depth and the veteran starter checked that box. Quintana had been on the decline for a couple of seasons, but the Giants just needed someone who could soak up some innings. He posted a serviceable 4.66 ERA but control was an issue as he allowed six walks in a Giants uniform.
He signed a one-year, $2 million pact with the Pittsburgh Pirates last winter but far exceeded the expectations of that deal. The 33-year-old posted a 2.93 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 7.4 K/9, and a 2.91 SO/W ratio in 32 starts split between the Pirates and the Cardinals.
Quintana became an attractive trade piece at the deadline and was shipped to the Cardinals in exchange for Malcom Nunez and Johan Oviedo. He excelled during his brief time with St. Louis, posting a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts.
Quintana led baseball with a 0.43 HR/9 ratio among starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in 2022. The 11-year veteran is in a good position this winter as he looks to cash in on a solid season.
Teams will be weary of the fact that this was his best season by far since 2016, so there is a ceiling to what he can expect to receive. That said, his ability to prevent home runs has been a trait he has demonstrated throughout his career and is a quality that makes sense for the Giants.