Monday, August 18, 2008

Hey Neukom! My Giants Business Plan: Good Enough Offense

After a long break - sorry about that, been busy with things, plus Giants things I wanted to write on, but I did have this written long ago...


Obviously, the Giants have focused more on the pitching side of the equation with their drafts and clearly has had more success there as well. And thus a lot of Giants fanst have been grumbling about the lack of position prospects. Go to any popular Giants watering hole and there will be someone making Sabean another orifice for the team's lack of position prospects.


And that makes sense at many levels. Giants fans are used to great offensive teams led by stars like Mays and McCovey, Bobby Bonds, Jack "The Ripper" Clark, Will the Thrill, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent. We have been blessed with great offensive stars throughout most of SF Giants history, while pitching has really been limited mostly to Marichial and Gaylord Perry, with a nice run by John "The Count" Montefusco, for the vast majority of the team's first 50 years.


BP Study on Playoff Success


As I've been writing, BP's study found that pitching/defense were the only significant factors that contributed success in the playoffs. However, there is a flip side to BP's study: 0ffense doesn't give you any advantage once you get into the playoffs. While defensive metrics were shown to statistically significantly affect playoff success, improving playoff chances, conversely, there was no correlation between any offensive metric with playoff success. NONE, ZERO, NIL, NOTHING.

Even a metric as elemental and simple as Runs Scored - one would naturally assume the higher that is, the greater your odds of winning - had no effect on success in the playoffs. No effect. That means you could be one of the best offensive teams over the past 20 or so years, and according to BP's study, that lineup would confer no extra advantage to your team.

Now this does not mean the converse, that you can just ignore the offense, for even the best pitching staffs still need some level of offensive support to win. But as I showed long ago in my section on great team defense, if you have a league leading pitching staff and defense in terms of keeping runs allowed low, you can get into the playoffs even with an offense around the worse in the league. When you have the best overall pitching/defense, you just need a good enough offense to make the playoffs, then succeed in the playoffs.

Simple Business Strategy: Focus on Scarce Valuable Resources

Still, for those who lament the Giants relative slowness in developing position players, why not focus on those elements of the draft which confers some advantage in the playoffs, which are pitching and defense? Why spent a lot of top picks on position players who most probably are not going to be stars?

When faced with lowered resources (back in the first round draft picks), you could spread your chances everywhere and try to get pitching and offense, but you don't know what you are going to get, whereas if you focused on pitching, you more likely will fill your pitching needs, then fill in the pieces offensively.

And remember, if you hit the jackpot with pitching, you just put in another good starter, another good reliever, improving what we got, whereas you could end up with two good players in the same position and be forced to trade and hope for the best, but that doesn't always work out, like the Indians trading away Kouzmanoff because they wanted Jesse Barfield to fill 2B and had Andy Marte in their system; oops!

They still picked up position players - they have to field full teams at every minor league level - but just didn't spend many of their surer bullets (first round draft picks that are late in the round) on many hitters, they focused mainly on pitching: Kurt Ainsworth, Noah Lowry, Brad Hennessey, Matt Cain, Tim Alderson, etc.

Once the pitching rotation looks pretty good, plus you have some good bullpen pieces, then all you need to do is cobble together a good enough offense to sustain a pennant winning number of victories. Free agency can help you pick up at least one good piece of the offensive puzzle at some point, like how we picked up Aaron Rowand, who has delivered above average offense and defense at a premium position, CF. The International market can help you pick up maybe another good piece or two, like how we got Pablo Sandoval, Angel Villalona and Rafael Rodriguez. Trade could also give you a good piece or two, though the Giants have not pulled that trigger yet.

Finally, once you are deep into your rebuilding and losing enough games, you can pick up a good offensive player or two via a high draft pick, like how we just got Buster Posey and we should get another very good pick (Top 5) in next year's draft. Meanwhile, the players you drafted later in a shotgun fashion, some might turn out good, like Fred Lewis has, and perhaps John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, Emmanuel Burriss, Ryan Rohlinger.

That can help you craft together a lineup with a few good hitters, a bunch of average hitters, and a few great defensive players who might not be that good offensively. One that is good enough.

1 comment:

  1. I have really enjoyed this series and find myself in agreement with almost every point. In fact I can not at this time think of a point I disagree with you on.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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