In the past couple years, I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words in appreciation and admiration of the accomplishments of Madison Bumgarner. He’s good. Unfortunately, I’ve just about run out of ways to say that. I suppose I could dig through a thesaurus and pick out every word I haven’t yet exhausted.
Bumgarner’s having a shipshape season. What a super-excellent start that was.
I’m not all that good with words though, as you can see. Frankly, the numbers tell a better story than I could:
- Madison Bumgarner had a 2.67 FIP last season.
- Madison Bumgarner struck out 12, and allowed zero walks in 7.2 innings tonight.
- When Madison Bumgarner walked four opposing hitters in his last outing — which isn’t an absurdly high walk total, that was the first time he had allowed that many walks in a start since April of 2011.
I could go on and on. I want to. I probably will, eventually. But for the time being, I’m sure I’ve made my point.
The most important stat, something I’ve stressed again and again throughout the existence of this blog, is this one:
- He’s 22 years old.
He’s done some great things. But in that context, “great” just doesn’t do him justice.
Tonight’s game was classic Bumgarner. Pinpoint control, weak groundouts, decent right-handed hitters swinging and missing at that slider over and over again. And as if his pitching wasn’t enough, Bumgarner belted a home run off Bud Norris in the third inning of tonight’s game. A home run at AT&T Park. That’s something that none of the Giants’ hitters could manage to do over the last month. Only one to go before Bumgarner ties James Loney!
As a National League pitcher, Bumgarner will be getting at-bats for a long time. And though nobody really pays much attention to what pitchers do with the bat, it kind of matters — especially over a long period of time. That Bumgarner has established himself as an above-average hitter is icing on the cake. It’s a modest impact — maybe an extra 10% of value at most — but it all adds up.
Basically, what I’m trying to get at here is that Bumgarner is good.
And the best part? That magnificent contract. Man, what a steal that is. If you’re ever feeling low, mull over those contract details — that’ll surely cheer you up. It’s truly a sight to behold. Roughly $70M to hang onto Bumgarner until he hits 30. I mean, wow.
The story today was Madison Bumgarner. Nothing — missed calls, sloppy defense, a lack of run support — was going to get in his way. That’s what it felt like when he worked through that messy fifth inning. And when he rebounded from a leadoff error in the sixth — an inexcusable miscue between Angel Pagan and Brett Pill that put Aramis Ramirez in scoring position — to shut the Brewers down. But the lasting image was when he stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning — following a futile one-pitch at-bat from Conor Gillaspie — and lined a double into left field to tie the game at one.
All in all, he turned in yet another stellar performance on the mound, allowing one run through seven innings of work, as he improved to a 2.31 ERA (3.61 FIP) on the season and carried the Giants to a 5-2 victory. In four of Bumgarner’s six starts this season, he’s gone 7+ innings without allowing more than one run.
Obligatory reminder: he’s 22 years old. His first five starts alone put his 2012 season among the best by a 22-year-old Giants starter. Is there any question he can work his way up to #1 on that list by season’s end?
- Five runs…feels like it’s been a while, eh? It has. Last time they scored five runs in a game was back in Cincinnati, nine days ago.
- Hector Sanchez, who entered this game hitting .233/.244/.302, finally got things going with a pair of doubles (one of which nearly went over the centerfield wall for a homer). These were his second and third extra-base hits on the season, respectively, and needless to say, it’s great to see a game like this out of Hector.
- Melky Cabrera had a quality game as well, with a couple hits (including a triple) and some very good glovework in right field. He’s now put together four consecutive multi-hit games, which has brought him up to a .364 wOBA this season. At this point, it seems pretty clear that I was wrong about Cabrera — something I’m very happy to say.
- Angel Pagan has now hit safely in 19 consecutive games; however, he’s also now gone 16 consecutive games without a walk. I do wonder if he’s slightly altered his approach, becoming more hacktastic for the sake of preserving his hitting streak. It’s not likely, but it’s worth throwing out there. And while we’re on the subject of walks — the Giants had another walk-less game today, keeping their season total at 65. That’s third-worst in the National League.
Earlier today, the Giants announced that they have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Madison Bumgarner. He’ll be under contract with San Francisco through 2017, and the team also has options for 2018 and 2019 (2018′s a club/vesting option, and 2019 is just a club option). He’s guaranteed $35M, though in the unlikely event that he reaches Super Two status, he’ll make $40M. Buster Olney broke down some of the other contract details.
Bumgarner would have been eligible for free agency in 2017, meaning the Giants essentially get three more years of Bumgarner than they otherwise would have had (two of them, of course, on options). That’s where the real potential reward for the contract lies: those post-arb-eligible years. If Bumgarner continues on this excellent career trajectory, the Giants save some money, but not a significant amount — at least not considering the risk they’re taking (again, these are years over which they already had team control).
The incentive here comes in 2017, 2018, and 2019. If Bumgarner keeps doing his thing and hits the open market in 2017, he’s in store for a lot of money. The cost of retaining him (as we saw with Matt Cain) could be sky-high at that point. But the Giants have him locked up for that year at roughly $12M, which — down the road — is potentially a steal. And the club options, 2018 and 2019, could be even more rewarding — they give the Giants the option to hold onto Bumgarner for another couple years without the risk that comes with guaranteed contract years.
Madison Bumgarner is four months away from turning 23, and he’s already achieved quite a lot. Specifically, this: 337 innings, 119 ERA+, 3.7 K/BB. Based on what he’s accomplished thus far, there’s plenty of reason to believe that he can be among the premier pitchers in baseball over the next decade. There’s considerable risk, as with any long-term extension to a young pitcher, but the potential reward — having him under contract at a reasonable cost until he’s approaching his 30s — seems to outweigh that cost.
I liked the Cain extension a lot. But I love this deal. This is an excellent, forward-thinking move by the Giants’ front office, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of watching Bumgarner pitch in a Giants uni’ for the better part of the next decade.