Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bill Hall, Giants Ball

There were two explanatory articles about Bill Hall's revelation with Bam Bam Muelens, one by Andy Baggarly and the other by Hank Schulman.

Here is what Baggarly noted:
Hall was pretty pumped up over his two-hit game, including one of the louder connections I’ve heard off the bat by a Giant this season. Of his double in the ninth inning (also off Putz), he said he “got a fastball and put a swing I hadn’t put on a ball in a long time.”
There are a few Hall quotes in the game story about the changes that he and Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens made in the cage. I’d expound, but this is already becoming a pretty long post. So I’ll save the hitting clinic for later.
I don’t know Hall very well, so I can’t tell you if he’s prone to hyperbole. But he seemed legitimately excited that he found something major, and that it could portend very, very good things in the months ahead.
For now, there’s no doubting it: That contact in the ninth inning was loud, indeed.
Baggarly also noted this in his game article:

Hall felt a difference. He said he worked with hitting coach Hensley Meulens for 30 minutes and "found something I'd lost for three years." Using his legs more and keeping his head still at the plate, Hall hit a loud double to dead center in his final at-bat.
"I'm 31 years old. I know my talent didn't leave me overnight," Hall said. "I can still hit a ball hard. It felt like how I was in '05 or '06, when I had my best years."

Here is what Schulman noted:
It'll be interesting to see who plays second base tonight for the Giants. I'm guessing Emmanuel Burriss will return against the right-hander, but tonight was big for the newest Giant, Bill Hall.

Anyone weekend duffer who ever found that one little thing that made his or her golf ball finally fly straight will understand why Hall was so excited after tonight's game.

Hall, who has not been a good hitter for a long time, gave the Giants a 3-2 lead with a sixth-inning single then launched the Giants' ninth-inning insurance rally against closer J.J. Putz when he doubled over center fielder Chris Young's head, which is not easy to do.

"I haven't put that swing on a baseball for a long time," Hall said.

He credited batting coach Hensley Meulens with helping him discover a flaw in his stance. As Hall put it excitedly, "I've been searching for three years. Thirty minutes with Bam Bam and I found something. We went in the cage and it clicked automatically."

Hall explained he was not using enough leg in his drive toward the ball. As a result, his upper body was very "noisy" and his head moved a lot. That makes it tough to focus on the ball coming toward the plate. (The staff feels that a bobbing head has been a big part of Aaron Rowand's troubles, too).

Now, nobody believes Hall is going to become an All-Star because of one session in the cage, not even the second baseman himself. But he really feels he can work off this to improve.

"I'm 31 years old," he said. "My talent didn't leave me overnight."

Giants Thoughts

OK, Bill Hall says he's been searching for three years for his power, what he's "been searching for three years" for.  However, when his numbers started going down was in 2007, four years ago, when he hit .254/.315/.425/.740, when he was age 27, after hitting .273/.345/.553/.899 the year before at age 26.  There are some studies that find that players peak around age 26-27-28; it is the good players who can sustain that peak into their 30's.

Though, to be fair, his ISO was still pretty good in 2007-8, roughly 170, and had been worse since, except for a up-blip in Boston in 2010, but that was flukey in that he was horrible against LHP while killing RHP:  his career splits are the normal hit LHP better than RHP.  And his BABIP took a clear drop in 2008 and has been mostly down since (except for 2010).

However, his batting skills appear to have stayed intact even during his travails.  His strikeout rate has been basically in the same range since his glory years in 2005-2006, as has his walk rate, so his BB/K ratio has been about the same as well, with 2009 as a bad outlier, mainly because he did horribly after being traded to the Mariners.  His peak 2006 season was lucky in that his HR/FB was much higher than the norm for his career, but it has been similar since, with the up-blip in 2010 with Boston.

Where he clearly went down was in XBH%, which went down significantly in 2007 and has been around the same range since, even in 2010.  However, his X/H% has been about the same for his career, which means that while he makes less contact for XBH per PA, when he does connect, he gets around the same XBH, so the strength is still there, but his technique results in less contact overall for hits, though his strikeout rate is about the same.  So clearly, he has had an issue with hitting the ball hard since 2007, which resulted in a lower XBH% and BABIP since then.

Hall Be Back

Right now, I guess I would be very happy with .740 OPS, as that would replace much of Freddy Sanchez's offense, though I doubt Hall's defense is even close.  That is where Burriss comes in, they can platoon, much like Burrell and Schierholtz last season, getting Hall's offense in first half of game and Burriss's defense in second half.  Though according to the Fielding Bible, he was slightly above average as a 3B (and he was a SS before), so one would think he would be OK playing 2B defensively and not be as bad as Burrell was in LF (though to be fair, Pat's defensive numbers actually were pretty good with the Giants)

Based on my analysis above, what he says appear to be true, he lost his hitting mojo 3-4 years ago, resulting in less BABIP and power.  And that can be seen from his LD%, he was above average by a lot early in his career, roughly 23%, during his good years, but since then it has been basically around league average, which is 19%.

If he is as fixed as he says he is, that would be huge for the offense.  Assuming Hall can revert to his .800+ OPS years (2005-2006), then this would be a find for 2011 similar to the Giants picking up Pat Burrell last season.  And would help to make up for the loss of Posey's bat from the lineup.

Catching Trades Rumors

The rumor that is circulating is that the Giants inquired with Texas regarding Teagarden, but Baggarly states that is wrong, they actually wanted to get Yorvit Torrealba (again!), but the deal got hung up on the Rangers wanting the Giants to pay the $3.25M contract that Yorvit has for 2012 season plus they wanted Santiago Casilla as well in the deal.  It was also noted that the Giants firmly said that Posey WILL be back in 2012, so there is no need for Yorvit from the Giants standpoint in 2012.

Of course, the Giants might change their tune depending on how Whiteside/Stewart tandem works out as we get closer to the trade deadline.  As DrB noted in the comments on prior post, Whiteside has started hitting recently.  In a five game stretch, he has gone 6-for-16, hitting line of  .375/.444/.563/1.007, with double and (amazingly) triple, though apparently he is an OK runner once he gets moving, he says.  His strikeout rate is about the same as before - not so great, 22% - but his walks are up, though I would bet some of them are to get to the pitcher.  Yep, 2 of them, but that still leaves him higher than before.

Still, for a player who has not played much before this season, everything is small samples.  What he has shown previously in 2009-10 is that he is roughly a .600's OPS hitter, hits for low batting average, don't take too many walks, don't hit for much power, though he did better last season.  The hope is that he can maintain his OPS closer to his 2010 .696 OPS and not his 2009 .607 OPS.  He was very low until this hit streak, and now sits at .211/.305/.324/.629 OPS.  Average NL catcher hitting .250/.326/.386/.713 this season.  If he can keep it close to his 2010 numbers, that would work well, as the average #8 hitter in NL is hitting .243/.314/.350/.664.

And, as Sabean noted with the Molina signing, he knew he was going to trade Molina at some point in 2010, so who is to say he can't do the same with Yorvit this coming off-season, if they do make the trade?  They could make the trade with someone who needs a cheap experienced starting catcher.

And really, would it be so bad to have an expensive backup catcher in 2012?  That is what Yorvit has mainly been in his career.  This would also open up starting Posey at 1B against LHP and sitting Huff, who has not hit LHP well during his career (though good enough to play regularly), and thus starting Yorvit.  Might want to give Posey some rest (relatively) playing 1B as his leg probably will still not be 100% in 2012, and might never be 100% again, for all we know at this point.


  1. Thanks for the article, OGC. I think you're overlooking Giants payroll next year. They'll be at about $120MM without Burrell, Miggy, Ross, Affeldt, DeRo, Hall, and Mota. I sincerely doubt they'll plunk down $3.25MM for a backup catcher. The money is the sticking point, not Casilla.

  2. Thanks, very good point about 2012 payroll. I did not think of that.

    And I was not thinking that Casilla was a Sticking point, as I saw this as a chance for Kroon to be called up and rewarded for sticking around. But I can see from my phrasing I probably gave that impression.

    I am not that enamored with the trade, I guess I should have added that. I was trying to cover all the angles that the Giants might consider. I agreed that is expensive and they might not be able to unload Yorvit when the time comes.

    Plus, I like Whitey back there, he was the first catcher to figure out how to get Dirty to perform well, he was always horrible when Molina was back there. So I give him props for that.

    But do you go out and put Posey under a grueling 140+ game catching schedule the year after his devastating leg injury? Glad I do not have to make that decision.

  3. Maybe Hector Sanchez will be Posey's backup next year, or maybe they'll have a veteran backup in SF but Sanchez will be playing every day in Fresno and ready to call up should anything happen to Buster?

  4. Mychal Urban has a nice interview with Zito, and he discusses Hector Sanchez:

    Real good report on Hector Sanchez by Zito, both offensively and defensively, and supports my contention since I heard the news that Sanchez is being prepped to join the majors sooner than later.



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