Monday, May 01, 2006

Giants Rookie Records Race: April 2006

Something new that I noticed in the 2006 edition of the Giants media guide is a Top 10 List section for Giants rookie records. Don't know if it was there in previous editions but it don't really matter much because I have the current version and frankly there haven't been many new entries during the Sabean years.

Lowry, Williams, Ortiz, and Estes would have been ones that crossed people's minds. The basic reason they didn't make the list at all, or any of the others who have pitched well is that they didn't make the list because they pitched too many games in the season he came up for good in, but didn't pitch for a full season, which is what you need to do to break the Top 10 list, especially since the Giants are such a storied franchise and been around for so long, though a few are in there without doing that (but only for the San Francisco list, not the Giants all-time list).

Names who made the Top 10 list for San Francisco Giants in the new millenium include Jesse Foppert, Aaron Fultz, Ryan Jensen, and even Jason Ellison - hitters are particularly sparse given the Giants poor record of finding home-grown hitters to promote through the farm system:


  • Jason Ellison: 8th in stolen bases with 14.
  • Jesse Foppert: 8th in strikeouts with 101, 8th in winning percentage with .471 (obviously not that big a feat).
  • Aaron Fultz: 7th in appearances with 58.
  • Ryan Jensen: 3rd in wins with 13, 7th in games started with 30, tie for 7th in IP with 171.2, 6th in strikeouts with 105, 8th in ERA with 4.51, 3rd in winning percentage with .619 (it was our World Series year).
There are no other players who came up during Sabean's term as GM.


If I recall right, Sabean helped get Osvaldo Fernandez, who made the Top 10 list for pitchers in a number of areas, but his rookie season was in 1996, the year before Sabean became the GM officially. Before him, the only Giants rookie to place his name in a number of Top 10 lists was John Burkett.

Obviously, the drought is a bit longer for position players, the last was Marvin Benard, who is all over the SF Giants rookie Top 10 lists: 10th in batting average; tied 9th in games; 8th in AB; 1st runs; 9th hits; 1st walks; 2nd SB. Before him, there hadn't been any new names on the list multiple times since Robby Thompson and Will Clark came up together in 1986. The early to mid-80's were a bit active, as besides these two adding their name to the lists, Chili Davis (82), Dan Gladden (84), and Chris Brown (85) placed their names on a number of lists. Then there was another dry spell to the players who put their names on in the early to mid-70's: Chris Speier (71), Garry Maddox (72) , Dave Kingman (72), Gary Matthews (73), Jack Clark (77). There would have been a rash of some new names on the list around the millenium, had the talent followed this cycle, but only Benard put his name on there during that time.

Tracking the List for 2006

So I thought it might be interesting to track our rookies progress towards making the San Francisco Giants rookie Top 10 lists, since we have a key rookie to track in Matt Cain. Obviously, again, we don't have anyone else in position players to track, but these are the players on the 40 man roster who are eligible for 2006 Rookie of the Year (according to Media Book):


  • Elizer Alfonzo
  • Matt Cain
  • Angel Chavez
  • Travis Ishikawa
  • Justin Knoedler
  • Frederick Lewis
  • Daniel Ortmeier
  • Jesus Reina
  • Nate Schierholtz
  • Alfredo Simon
  • Jack Taschner
  • Erick Threets
  • Merkin Valdez
I guess we can throw in Brian Wilson and Kevin Frandsen as well since they joined the 40 man after the season started.

It's Only May Day, Will Robinson, May Day: The Tally So Far

Obviously, at one month into the season, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and so it is hard to judge where players are going to end up by the end of the year. So as a very rough estimate, I will multiply everything by 6. I will try to remember to update this by mid-season for a better view of where players are.

Also obviously, this is mainly a one horse race. Besides Matt Cain, the only players in this list to log any MLB time are Frandsen, Ishikawa, Taschner, and Wilson. And the four are either up temporarily (Frandsen) or not on the 25 man roster at the moment.

Cain, after his loss yesterday, is only on pace for 6 wins, which won't get him in the Top 10. But had he won - he pitched OK enough - he would have been on pace to get in the Top 5. Obviously big swings there. He is on pace to get in the Top 10 in games started and Top 5 in IP. He could make the Top 3 in strikeouts and if he can push the pace, maybe even 2nd but probably not first without picking up the pace. His ERA would not qualify right now, at 5.28, but I'm assuming (hoping and praying) that he will do much better later in the season. Haren and Blanton were just as bad for the first two months of the season but then turned things around and got their ERA down under 4, so Cain could still make the list here.

He should make the Top 10 in complete games, he was half way there last season with 1, he only need 2 to tie for 10th. And he only need 1 to tie for 6th in shut outs, 2 to tie for 2nd and he had one last season. His name should be all over the list by the end of 2006, barring any disaster or injury: he should be in wins, games started, IP, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts, some in the Top 5, even.

The Giants franchise all-time Top 10 list will be harder to crack. He should make the Top 10 in games started and strikeouts, plus he might make the list for shutouts. Given how many more games starting pitchers started just 30 years ago, it will be hard for him to crack any of the other lists, and given his 3 losses already, it will be hard to join the Top 10 in winning percentage (he will have to go 10-3 the rest of the way; not impossible, but not likely given how he's been pitching and how the offense has been hot and cold so far).

The only other player likely to get enough opportunities to get on any Top 10 list is Brian Wilson. If he comes back OK from the DL (but it is taking Lowry about a month to get through his same problem and he's still not back yet), he might get enough opportunities to make the games Top 10 list for games pitched and perhaps tie for 8th in saves with 1. All the other lists really are for starting pitchers.

Looking Forward

I expect the crop of future potential starters - EME, Frandsen, Ishikawa, Sanders, Schierholtz, maybe Horwitz, Lewis, Ortmeier, Sandoval - to do enough to place their names in the Top 10 lists for San Franciso hitters. Not all of them, but at least a couple of them. They would only need a .248 BA to make that list, only 66 runs, 120 hits, 21 doubles, 4 triples, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 43 walks, 13 SB, and 191 totbal bases. As noted above, there has been an extra long drought for hitters in this recent dry spell, but with these prospects seemingly close to cracking the starting lineup, some of their names should make the Top 10 list for rookies and seed the list over the 2007-2010 timeframe.

We will need this if the Giants are to continue to be a playoff contender as the Barry Bonds era ends and someone new will become the face of the Giants franchise going forward. For now, I'm penciling it in as the Matt Cain era but perhaps someone else will step up over the next few years. If EME could play a position for certain, I would probably give him the nod as our next great hitter. The other hitters have enough holes and question marks that I cannot say for certain who might come to the foreground, though Sanders is probably second right now (lets see how he does at higher levels first before annointing him).

I will say that I am rooting for Schierholtz and Ishikawa to take this type of role (nothing against Frandsen, but he is more a complementary player, to me, than a leader and face of the club, as of now, though I would certainly count him among the dark horses for taking this role and, in any case, he will probably be a clubhouse leader no matter what, but he's more the Robby Thompson type, not Will Clark type).

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