Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Giants at Traditional Midway Point

The All-Star game usually is the marking point of the mid-way point of the season, though typically it is way past the exact half-way point of 81 games:  it is usually around 90 games that have been played by teams by the break.


Here are some interesting stats I found looking on Baseball-Reference.com at NL Standings:
  • Giants are still doing very well in 1-run games at 25-12.  As I had noted in a prior post, Bochy has a history of doing that, having a great record in 1-run games.  Not many (any?) managers of recent ilk can match that.
  • Giants are whumping LHP, they have a 18-6 record against them, but only a .500 record, 34-34 vs. RHP.  It is the right-handed batters hurting the team, batting only .240/.302/.347/.649, though even the left-handed batters are lagging a bit too, only .680 OPS while against LHP, it is .697 by RHB and .691 by LHB.  It is Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada hurting us greatly there, as well as our current catchers, Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.  Losing Posey has really hurt in this regard, he was our second best hitter among RHB, fourth best overall.  Among LHB, Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Fontenot, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Aubrey Huff has really hurt against RHP.
  • If Aubrey Huff can get himself going after the break, that would be a huge to be able to get above .500 vs. RHP.  His poor BABIP and ISO has really hurt.  Andres Torres too, he might be an even bigger factor there, since he's the lead-off hitter, especially now that Huff is not batting clean-up.  One might think Huff got homer-happy after his 3-homer game, but he's been very good with the bat after that game, with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 129 AB, but his BABIP is still low at .272 and his batting line has been likewise bad, .240/.289/.295/.583, though most of that badness was due to poor games after the 3-homer game and games in the last week.  He was OK for about a month, June 7 to July 5, 8 walks and 12 strikeouts in 97 AB, .299/.343/.371/.714 batting line and .330 BABIP.  A return to .291 career BABIP (.296 from 2007-2010) would help, as well as a return to hitting for power, particularly HR power.  Hopefully the break will help Huff and Torres. 
  • Perhaps someone reading this post knows Huff and can tell him:  according to a recent analysis by the Baseball Analytics blog, apparently Huff has been swinging too freely at low pitches, whereas he has killed higher pitches, over the past few seasons.  Basically his poor seasons of 2009 and 2011 have been seasons he swung at low stuff.  Maybe Huff should have some sessions with the video training system and see how he swung last season vs. this season.
  • The Giants have not been able to get motivated against the lousier teams.  They are 27-17 against winning teams, only 25-23 against losing teams (though the definitions evolve as the teams win or lose.  Gaining some focus against the lousy teams and winning against them would help a lot.
  • The Giants are 28-16 at home and 24-24 on the road.  Only 6 of the 16 NL teams have a winning record on the road this season.  There is still an imbalance in road games (+4) plus then they go on the road for 4 more and 10 of 16.  They draw even with the following homestand at 59 at home and 59 on road on August 10th.
  • Giants have done well against most of the divisions.  They are 13-10 against NL Central, 10-5 in Interleague play, 22-13 against NL West (big change vs. last season's 38-34, where 6-12 record against Padres really killed them, change is they are 3-3 against Padres this season instead of something like 1-5 or 0-6).  This year, they are hurting against the NL East 7-12, where they were 19-14 last season.  They face the Phillies for 3 on the road on July 26, in total 14 games in 22 games, covering 7 with Phillies, 3 Marlins, 4 Braves, 10 of them on the road, especially.  That could be make or break for the Giants there in terms of holding first place.
  • They will also face the NL Central a lot from July 22nd to August 31st, with 19 games out of 38; the Giants will only face the 'Dres after the break, then D-gers right afterward, but from July 22nd to August 31st, there will only be 3 games with Arizona in the middle, 2 games with SD near the end, both at home.  13 of the Central games will be at home, only 6 on the road, so the Giants will need to make hay there while going against odds against NL East on the road.  The good news is that 10 of the last 12 games of the stretch will be against Houston and Chicago, two of the worse teams in NL this season, particularly when these teams are on the road.
  • Still, out of the first 45 games after the break, only 20 will be against teams currently over .500.  And 34 of those games will be against teams with a losing record against teams over .500, like the Giants.  Of course, they have not done well against teams under .500, so this is the Giants big opportunity to correct that and take an even bigger lead in the division.
  • I still think the division is the Giants for the taking, but the Dangerous D-backs, as DrB has aptly named them, have been able to snake their way to stay near us.  Despite Collmenter and Duke returning to Earth, they have stayed close to the Giants, though they have lost 3.5 games in the standings in the past 15 games/16 days, and really, lost those 3.5 games in less than a week, before turning the ship around and staying even for the past 10 days. 
  • I don't see any of the other teams making a run similar to the Giants last season.  I think the big key to the Giants making their run last season was the addition of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, two Top 20 overall prospects, something no other team has this season.  So for them to get a boost, either they need to hit it lucky with an unexpected performance from a prospect or they trade away the future in hopes of catching up this season.  
  • Any team trading away the future would make the Giants chances much better for winning in the future, as they are on an upswing with talent due to all their young players, while, for example, the D-gers are more on a downturn, just think how good they might be today if they didn't trade Carlos Santana to the Indians for Casey Blake?  They will be in rebuild mode for a couple of years going forward, despite a good core of Ethier and Kemp, Kershaw and Billingsley, by which time Ethier will be past his prime and Billingsley about to reach his peak.  And the 'Dres are stuck in re-build mode, due to A-Gon trade, they probably won't be contenders for another year or two, at least.  And while the D-Rox have a good core of young players, I don't think their pitching can match up, and they won't get much help from the draft as long as they win.  Leaving the D-backs, who I think has been lucky so far this season, lots of hitters and pitcher over performances that helps them greatly.
Other Giants Thoughts

Baggarly (and others) reported that the rotation after the All-Star will be Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong.  Bochy noted that, first of all, he wanted to give each pitcher similar amounts of down time, so that nobody gets too much or too little rest.  I guess that explains Bumgarner going first.  They also wanted to go back to having a left-hander in between Lincecum and Cain, just to mix it up, plus the difference in styles as well.  Baggerly notes that is 7 days of rest for Bumgarner, 5 days for Lincecum, 8 for Zito, 6 for Cain, and 9 for Vogelsong (assuming none of them pitch in the All-Star game: Bochy says he'll try to avoid using Lincecum if possible and Vogelsong is slotted for extra-innings).

That would slot Lincecum, Zito, Cain in Philadelphia on the road July 26-28, so that might be the reason for this different start of the rotation.  Lincecum would have missed the Phillies with a normal rotation start after the ASB.  That also slot Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Vogelsong against Phillies from August 4-7 at home.  Also, that would slot the same four against the Braves from August 15-18 on the road.   It also puts Lincecum into both series against Colorado at the end, though he probably would have been in them anyway had he opened the start of the second half.

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