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How a Successfully Recovered Tim Hudson Would Fit with the S.F. Giants

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: (Editors note: Image has been converted to black and white)  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves looks on during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Josh SchochAnalyst IIINovember 18, 2013

The San Francisco Giants are on the verge of making another splash this offseason by signing veteran pitcher Tim Hudson.

As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the two sides will be tied together very soon:

Just heard confirmation that Tim Hudson is signing with #sfgiants. Very close to a done deal. Will be returning to Bay Area.

— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) November 18, 2013

This is the Giants' second major signing of the offseason, after generously offering Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35 million contract.

The Giants appear to be willing to give Hudson another shot at the ripe old age of 38 despite him having his 2013 campaign cut short by a gruesome ankle injury in July.

It's not going to be easy for Hudson to recover from such a devastating injury this late in his career, but the Giants are obviously hoping he can do it.

The Giants are coming off a terrible year during which they went 76-86,= just a year after winning the World Series. They're hoping to turn things around and make it back to the postseason in 2014, and signing Hudson is a big risk that could potentially help them do it.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the move pays off and Hudson comes back healthy. Let's say he looks like his old self again and has another solid year for the Giants. How does that make them look?

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves looks on during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If Hudson can come back looking something like he did before he was injured, he's in for a solid season in San Francisco.

Hudson has been declining a bit over each of the past four seasons, slowly letting the effects of old age hit him.

YearGSWLERAWHIPWAR
2010341792.831.155.5
20113316103.221.142.7
2012281673.621.211.3
201321873.971.181.0

However, he hasn't posted an ERA above 4.00 since 2006, and he probably won't end that streak in San Francisco, if he's healthy.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch in the third inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 6, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Brian Garfink
Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

AT&T Park is a pitcher-friendly park that favors guys like Hudson. Now that he'll be pitching roughly half of his games in a ballpark like this, he should be able to have a bounce-back year.

Hudson is a groundball pitcher who very rarely gives up big flies. In fact, he very rarely even gives up pop-ups, as only 23.4 percent of the balls hit against him are fly balls, according to FanGraphs.

He typically forces opponents to keep the ball on the ground, and AT&T Park should help him with that.

According to HitTrackerOnline.com, AT&T Park ranked 27th out of 30 MLB stadiums in home runs allowed in 2013. That certainly plays into Hudson's hand, as he is one of the hardest pitchers to hit a home run off of in the game.

YearIPHRHR/9
2010228.2200.8
2011215.0140.6
2012179.0120.6
2013131.1100.7
Career2,813.22200.7

As you can see from the above table, Hudson is tough to beat with the long ball.

One of the big reasons why it's so hard to hit home runs off of Hudson is because he isn't a hard-throwing pitcher. He doesn't give batters much power behind their hits because his fastball averaged just 89.8 mph in 2013 (per PitchFX).

Now that he'll be pitching in AT&T Park, it'll be even harder to launch home runs against him.

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 21:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the third inning prior to a rain delay against the Minnesota Twins at Turner Field on May 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hudson has a lot of experience pitching in San Francisco, as he has made 18 starts in AT&T Park, pitching 125.2 innings. In those games he is 8-5 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.

While his numbers in San Francisco aren't great, you have to keep in mind that he was on the road in all 18 of those starts. Pitching on the road is very different from pitching at home, and nowhere is that more seen than in Hudson.

SituationGSWLERAWHIP
Home218108473.131.17
Away20897643.801.30

Hudson is a completely different pitcher on the road than he is at home. While he struggles on the road, he has pitched much better at home over the course of his career.

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 15:  Starting pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on May 15, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is a downside to pitching with the Giants, however, as Hudson will now be facing much more potent offenses in the NL West than he was in the NL East.

During the 2013 season, NL West teams proved themselves to be much better at the plate than NL East teams, and having to consistently pitch against these new offenses will hurt Hudson.

NL East TeamRuns ScoredNL West TeamRuns Scored
Miami Marlins688Arizona Diamondbacks685
New York Mets619Colorado Rockies706
Philadelphia Phillies610San Diego Padres618
Washington Nationals656San Francisco Giants629
NL East Average643.3NL West Average659.5

As you can see from the above table, the NL West consistently scores more runs than the NL East because it has more potent offenses.

Dealing with talented hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Paul Goldschmidt, Yasiel Puig and more won't help Hudson as he makes this transition.

However, despite facing more talented hitters, Hudson will still find more success in the NL West, thanks to the comforts afforded by AT&T Park.

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 21:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the third inning prior to a rain delay against the Minnesota Twins at Turner Field on May 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's difficult to predict how signing Hudson will help the Giants as a whole this early in the offseason since the team will still be making moves before Opening Day.

Giants GM Brian Sabean said that he wants to upgrade the team's pitching and outfield, but it's unclear whether signing Hudson is the upgrade he's looking for in the rotation.

However, if Hudson comes back healthy we know that he'll certainly help a pitching staff that ranked 13th in ERA among the 15 NL teams.

The Giants struggled when it came to pitching last season, but hopefully the addition of Hudson will help them sort some of their issues out.

As for the offense, the team ranked 10th in runs scored in the NL. There's definitely room for improvement at the plate, and Sabean's plan is to make the needed upgrade in the outfield. If he is able to sign a big-name guy that can help in the lineup, the Giants will be moving in the right direction.

Despite the fact that the team won it all in 2012, the Giants are likely in for a second straight sub-par season in 2014.

Signing Hudson certainly helps, but he is not the answer that the Giants need, and the team has too many holes to be expected to make it back to the postseason this year.

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