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I have sung the praises of Dave Righetti before, notably for his adjustment to Jonathan Sanchez's leg kick in mid-2009 that immediately preceded his no-hitter. 

Now others are wondering if Rags deserves the same worship currently reserved for gurus like St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan. Remember the sabr-debate over Matt Cain's career-long ability to give up fewer home runs than you'd expect? A FanGraphs writer now argues that it's not just Cain, it's the entire Giants pitching staff that's shown the same knack of getting lots of fly balls but keeping them in the park -- call it "home run suppression" -- far better than the expected average. And they've done it for nearly ten years. That's astounding.

I don't have the statistical chops to tell whether the writer Jesse Wolfersberger crunched all his numbers correctly, but the final product looks damn impressive:

Considering an average home run is worth 1.42 runs and every 10 runs is roughly equivalent to a win, the team's home run prevention has contributed about 30 wins to the Giants since 2002, or about three per season. If we were to give Righetti all of the credit for that difference based on an assumed ability to coach HR/FB alone, much less any effect from improving his pitchers' traditional skills such as strikeout, walk, or ground ball rates, than Righetti would have created about $110 million in value for the Giants over the last nine years.
Give the man a raise! Add to this a few other things, too: the aforementioned Sanchez adjustment; the tricky task of coaching Tim Lincecum, whose father/mechanical engineer has been a looming presence from the first day Timmy got to the bigs; the ability to get at least league-average performance out of Barry Zito, despite a noticeable deterioration of Zito's stuff; relative health (knock on wood) from key starters and relievers the past few years, at least since the Foppert/Williams/Ainsworth implosion era. Those are my entirely non-statistical observations, of course.

It's easy to nibble away at all these kudos. It's the training staff who keep pitchers healthy, the scouts and front office who sign the right players, etc etc. Nibble away if you must, but it's nice to finally find substantiated reasons to give a pitching coach praise. It's like watching the guy who has filed your tax returns all these years win People Magazine's Sexiest Accountant of the Year award.

No? Obviously you've never seen my accountant. Rrrrowrrrr.   


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