If there’s one San Francisco Giants player that you’re going to pick out as an absolute bright spot during a disappointing 2013 season, it’s probably Javier Lopez. The 36-year-old left-handed specialist had the best season of his career, compiling a 1.83 ERA over 69 appearances packed into 39.1 innings.
Lopez was so effective in 2013 that it’s difficult to describe his season. He consistently did his job in retiring left-handed hitters, and then was replaced by a right-hander. His biggest accomplishment in 2013 probably was his scoreless streak from early May into early July, which stretched through 21 straight appearances.
In addition, he did a good job of limiting home runs, which he’s been amazing at since joining the Giants. He gave up only one round-tripper this year, which was just the second home run he’s issued during his three-plus years in San Francisco.
Ultimately, the splits do the best job of describing just how great Lopez was this season. In 26.1 innings against lefthanded batters, Lopez had a 1.71 ERA, an 0.76 WHIP and 29 strikeouts while holding hitters to a .156 average.
Off the field, the biggest story for Lopez was the trade talk that surrounded him as the deadline neared. With Lopez scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, many believed that it would make sense for the Giants to move him, seeing as they had lefties Jose Mijares and Jeremy Affeldt locked up long-term with prospects Josh Osich and Bryce Bandilla being just a year or two away.
In the end, though, the Giants decided not to trade Lopez, and he expressed a desire to stay in San Francisco. It seems to be a realistic possibility that Lopez will return, considering that Mijares and Affeldt had rocky ends to their respective 2013 campaigns, while Osich and Bandilla struggled with inconsistency in the minors.
Lopez deserves an “A+” grade for his 2013 efforts as he was one of the most effective lefties in the major leagues. Hopefully he will be able to return to the Giants next year and continue to display the form that he did this season.