This week the San Francisco Giants completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win their second World Series in the past three seasons. Even though the Rockies were nowhere near playoff contention and are trying to dig out of a gargantuan hole themselves, they still had an impact on the World Series. Here’s how.
Jeremy Affeldt joined the Colorado Rockies one season before their dream run to the World Series in 2007, also know as “Rocktober.” Acquired from the Kansas City Royals, it looked like Affeldt would be making the safe though unexciting transition from a dreadful team to a mediocre team. Little did he or anybody else know that the Rockies were going to suddenly go on a historic winning streak.
So how did that experience affect Affeldt’s contributions as a member of the San Francisco Giants? First of all, Affeldt does a lot of his damage with his breaking pitches, namely a big but often sharp curveball that he throws 25% of the time (according to Fangraphs.com). Even with the installation of the humidor well before his arrival in Colorado, it remains true that some pitchers struggle with their curve in Coors Field. Being in Colorado forced Affeldt to use the pitch effectively under extraordinary circumstances. Five years later, it was his ability to throw that curveball for a strike that made him such a lethal member of the World Champion bullpen. It is not unreasonable to think that his brief time in Colorado helped him develop that pitch into the weapon it is today.
Secondly, baseball games do not get more pressure packed than the ones in which Jeremy Affeldt pitched that 2007 season. If you need to win 21 out of 22 games, many out of necessity just to stay alive in the playoff race, then there truly is no margin for error. Affeldt was thrown into the highest stake situations, providing him valuable experience that he had in his back pocket when he arrived in San Francisco. Since then, he has made valuable contributions on his way to two World Series rings.
You’re welcome, San Francisco.