Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Giants: September PQS and Final Stats

Sorry for the delay, but this slipped my mind.  Then I wrote it and didn't find time to post it until now.  Happy Holidays!

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 2011, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this, which I've provided a link to). Plus, I think it has a lot to offer for understanding our pitching and how that translate into competitive advantage for the Giants.  Regular readers can skip to the next orange titled section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Click on title to get full post

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bill James Handbook: 2011 Giants Baserunning

I should note that I wholeheartedly recommend getting Bill James Handbook.  I get it every year, lots of good data, and usually some new data each year.  Like one year:  baserunning.

I wrote about the Giants defense the other day, and now today I'm covering baserunning. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays: Catching up

Happy Holidays to everyone!

I've been busy (which is good for me, but not for a blog) so I wanted to point out some good posts for those looking for good Giants stuff to read:
Giants Thoughts

The prospect list, I think DrB has a great description of it.  2-8 can be in a different order depending on what values the ranker assigns to certain factors, between talent, potential, performance, and the intangibles.  I mentioned there that I think Joseph and Hembree are above Panik solely for potential, but Panik is probably close to being a regular in the majors, and I think that is where some disagreement over the rankings is probably occurring.  I don't see why Ehire Adrianza is above Hector Sanchez.  While I love BA, I find that they tend to underestimate prospects who knows how to avoid the strikeout, like when they whiffed totally on Pablo Sandoval.  But it is a nice Top 10.

Just remember the old rubric about Top 10 prospect lists, out of any farm system, only around 2 will ever become regulars in the majors, 2 be significant bench/relievers, and that extends far beyond the Top 10, often.  Top 10 lists are not infallible, neither is BA.  But I will say that when I used BA's Top 10 list a few years back to guide my keeper league draft, more often than not, I was directed to good prospects.

From Crabbers kind sharing of the discussion, here are my thoughts.  I am not really too surprised by the Villalona 40 man rostering.  A guy who sues a team to get them to take him back usually is not a guy willing to rest on his laurels (or $2.2M).  That to me meant that he did his best to stay in baseball shape while he was not in professional baseball.  That's not ideal, but it also means that he has a lot of time (like a prisoner) to work on getting into shape while he's "locked up", that is locked out of major league baseball in the U.S.  I would also think such an experience will either toughen up the guy or he would just take his money and go cry in his drink at his"chair/table" at his favorite bar.  The lawsuit, to me, suggested that he got toughened up.

Of course, just my speculation, take it or leave it.  But remember, he was a Top 40 prospect in ALL of baseball before he got shut down.  Unless he ate himself out of baseball, like Jerome did, that talent is still there.  He's still young, I think 22, plenty of time for him to still figure things out, though obviously the 8 ball is against him in terms of experience.  But that talent and potential has got to be still there if he's in any semblance of a good shape.  We will see.

I disagree about Belt.  You give him a shot and see where he was at.  Letting him get shown up at the major league level will do nothing for his development, confidence or ego.  If he's like Heyward, then that's a nice problem to have, but it is not like when Pedroia was doing horribly, Pedroia was just having bad BABIP problems, he was actually taking walks and avoiding strikeouts.  Belt was clearly being shown up by major league pitching.  Don't take a scout or someone seeing him swing the bat, the numbers shouted that out clearly.

Lastly, Barry Bonds.  If you want to convict him of not speaking clearly or rambling, then you may as well convict me too, and millions of other people.  Grand Juries are intimidating, I would have been terribly nervous, talk about other things as well as the question at hand.  

I'm still not convinced beyond a doubt that Bonds did anything illegally on his own.  Ted Robinson thinks that there is no way Bonds would take anything, that he is careful, but I disagree, people let their guard down when it comes to their buddies.  What do you know about what people put in the food you eat when you go to a potluck?  You trust them not to screw you by putting hashish or any other illegal substances in there that might affect you.   

Maybe Bonds put a lot of trust in his buddy.  Maybe his buddy, being poor because Bonds is a skinflint, saw a way to make money by using his connection to sell steroids to those not as gifted as his buddy, suggesting that he was helping Barry do it.  Nobody is going to talk to Bonds to verify that this was so.  Maybe he didn't want to testify because it would make him look like the biggest traitor in the world, selling out his buddy (or worse, poisoning him with illegals drugs) to make money.

I don't doubt that Bonds probably took.  I just have a doubt that he knew about it.

Plus, according to research by Boskage House, steroids might not even have any positive effects on performance, so all this could be much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Giants trade for CF Angel Pagan for Torres and Ramirez

The Giants have traded Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for CF Angel Pagan.  Reports from Baggerly and Shea.  The deal is not officially announced yet, there are physicals to do, and so it probably won't become official until later this week.

The Giants appear to be close to another deal with an AL club, possibly involving Jeff Keppinger, which makes sense since his value is really as a hitter, not a defensive fielder.

Giants Thoughts

First off, thank you to Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez for their roles in helping us win our 2010 World Championship.

That said, Torres wasn't much use to us last season after May, he was pretty messed up because of he needed an adjustment of his medicine and they couldn't apparently get it right.  Meanwhile, Ramirez was of pretty good use to us, and is the value in this trade from the Mets perspective, because Pagan had a down year as well.

Thinking of this from a statistical standpoint, each team traded one type of risk for another, in order to lessen the risk of another kind.  Basically the standard deviation of what one can expect offensively is better for Pagan, I think, while for defense, Torres is better.

The Mets wanted a better defensive player, which Torres is, much better than Pagan, who was -1 Defensive Runs Saved in 2011 (Torres was +4 overall, +3 in CF in about 30% less innings than Pagan), plus there is the potential that Torres might return to his 2010 form, getting them a double boost, as then he would be a similar offensive player as Pagan plus provides good defense.  Plus they add a great reliever to boot.  Risk but reward too.

The Giants did not get that great a defensive player (but I think their defensive schemes that they do apparently help players at least a bit as Burrell somehow was a valuable defensive LF for the Giants in 2010) in Pagan, and offensively he is not as good as Torres was in 2010, but he is more likely to be a better hitter, having a better history plus his one down year, last year, was plagued by injuries from beginning to end, starting with oblique problems in the first month of the season, to back spasms mid-season, to a head injury that kept him out at the end of the season.  Plus he is two years younger than Torres.  And he is also a switch-hitter like Torres, and hits better against RHP and only OK against LHP.

Looks like they got another mix and match player in Pagan, who has played a lot of games at all three OF positions, and is especially valuable batting against RHP, and is about average defensively in CF (at least he was in 2011, and he was injured during parts of the season).  They save money in the deal, it is believed, plus can expect a certain level of offense from Pagan, whereas Torres, who knows when he'll be OK with his ADHD medicine dosage.

Pagan's main problem in 2011 appears to be two fold.  First his BABIP fell 50 points from the prior 3 seasons and was 30 points below his career average.  Second was his drop in ISO, about 30 points below average.  Together that took about 60-90 points off his OPS, which would have put him in the mid-to-high 700 OPS range.  Presuming that it was the injuries that caused a lot of that, plus I read a note somewhere that he's working hard on his conditioning during this off-season because he don't want a repeat of 2011, he looks like a good bet to rebound, especially since his contact rate is pretty good and his walk rate is OK, suggesting that 2011 was just a case of the BABIP ball bouncing into mitts more often than usual for Pagan.

It certainly solidifies our OF, now Bochy can mix and match Melky and Angel in CF, plus they will probably see time in the corner sometimes too, depending on who is hot or not, giving us insurance if Schierholtz does not perform as hoped in RF or if Belt or Huff does not perform as hoped in LF.  Speaking of Belt, this still keeps the door open for him to take LF or 1B starting if he comes out blazing, as then Melky, Angel, and Nate would probably be mixing and matching CF and RF, plus Belt will probably sit some games against LHP anyway, both to avoid since he has not figured them out plus to get other guys into games too.

This is a good move offensively, plus opens a spot in the bullpen to either acquire someone, as perhaps the Giants see another reclamation project out there (oh, this opens up a 40 man spot), like they did Santiago Casilla a couple of years ago, or maybe there is some prospects they want to look at in spring, not sure how guys did in AFL, or even one of the other winter leagues.  And there is the savings of probably $1-2M, and getting a younger player to boot.  All in all a nice move, which becomes great if Pagan is like he was in 2009-2010, and given that he's healthy and getting himself into shape, that's a good bet.

Media Bias Warps Fans Views

I love reporters - I read the newspaper almost every day - and the Giants are blessed to have good reporters covering them in Andy Baggarly, Hank Schulman, and Chris Haft (plus John Shea Hey often fills in for Hank).  They add immeasurably to our enjoyment of our favorite team by bringing us the news regularly and also busting scoops, like Neukom getting replaced.  But their bias against the Giants (and if it is just misunderstanding on their part, well, the result is still bias) has colored the fan base against Sabean and Bochy.

The latest writings to get my dander up are by Baggarly and Haft (Shea has often gotten be riled up as well, and I assume Schulman has at some point, but not that I can recall at the moment).  And Haft got me riled up with another post he had.


I love Baggs and he brings the most and best news about the Giants to us fans.  So I feel a tinge of guilt to pointing him out, but somebody needs to point out the Emperor's new clothes.

First is a minor quibble, but still, his is a widely known, well-respected source of Giants information.  He noted that "Sandoval batted .379 from his (natural) right side".  Only, his natural side is his left side, as he was born left-handed, but learned (and pretty well) how to throw right-handed.  The story is that Sandoval's hero at some point was Omar Vizquel, so he wanted to play SS to emulate his hero, but, obviously, left-handers can't play SS, so he learned to throw right-handed in order to play SS, and from then on he was right-handed, for all intents and purposes.  (that's actually a common thing, my mom was left-handed but did a lot of things right-handed)

The other I was more perturbed by, which is when he said that Bochy "preferred Orlando Cabrera to Crawford later in the summer."  Because he has inside information, the way it is written, he makes it looks like Bochy preferred Cabrera.  What I want to make clear is that any manager should know that having a younger player is better than having an older player, if they are equal in performance. 

So that is the conundrum, was Crawford better than Cabrera.  At that point, Crawford hadn't played much above the A-level, so all we really had to judge him was his results at the major league level.  At the time of the trade, he was batting .190/.275/.261/.536, but if you took away his first two good weeks of hitting, over the next seven weeks (June 9-July 30, when trade for Cabrera), he hit .161/.242/.196/.438 in 29 games started and 37 games played. 

So sure, Cabrera was not doing that well, but Crawford at the time of the trade had been hitting poorly over the prior 7 weeks (almost 2 full months of starting, putting the lie to people complaining that Giants management don't play young players), but his hitting was plummeting, as his last three weeks he was hitting .100/.l62/.100/.282, which does not take a sabermetric degree to figure out isn't really good.  Really, do people need to make it personal that Bochy and Sabean hates young players or prefer Cabrera over Crawford?

The point was not that Cabrera wasn't any good anymore, nor that the Giants preferred Cabrera over Crawford, but that Crawford had cratered offensively and the Giants felt that he needed to back off, take some time in the minors to fix some things they saw, plus hopefully Cabrera could put in a finishing kick (unfortunately he didn't).  Ultimately, the Giants prefer production and Crawford wasn't giving it to them, so they rolled the dice with Cabrera.  I have no problem with that, particularly if they thought that Crawford could use the lesser pressure and learn some new batting techniques.

And you know what, the Giants did figure out something.  Crawford when he came back was an improved hitter, he hit .225/.295/.325/.620, 12 starts in September plus some other games he got into.  If he can hit that over a full season, it would be great to go with his stellar defense at SS.   I preferred Cabrera over Crawford given how poorly Crawford was doing for a long time (almost 2 months) plus was doing nothing offensively for almost a month.  And it had nothing to do with "preferring Cabrera over Crawford", at least from the numbers perspective.  And now I hope the Giants give Crawford the chance to start, but with someone backing up who could keep the seat warm if Crawford still needs some tweaking down in the minors.

That short stretch and his nice showing in the AFL (though he tailed off at the end, but that could have been because he was distracted by his upcoming nuptials) plus, more importantly, his OK contact rate in the majors, he had a 84% contract rate overall (good hitters are at 85% and higher), plus improved by month, 80.5% in June, 84.4% in July, 86.0% in September.  I understand small samples and all, but I think that the 84% overall bodes well for the future, plus he improved over time. 

In another recent post, (I had intended this to go out on Saturday but somehow screwed that up) he also opined that "you could argue that Sabean should have a larger budget than $130M, after the Giants sold out every game last season.  You might be right."  Then again, maybe you won't.

OK, I wrote something I wanted to bring over here at Extra Baggs but apparently my comment got removed by his moderator (his ears must have been burning with this sitting waiting to post :^). There are a lot of factors involved with the revenues that prevents them from spending more. Sure, selling out makes a lot of revenues but it also means that you pay a lot more in revenue sharing. The Giants are basically paying into that what the A's get, and the A's have just been pocketing that money instead of making the team good enough to compete and draw bigger crowds in Oakland, they are the team fans should be badgering about increasing their payroll.

In addition, their revenue sharing went up because they accounted for the stadium cost over a 10 year period, per the revenue sharing rules, and thus they started paying even more into revenue sharing starting in 2011.

Plus, they have a host of stadium related expenses which the Giants fans were unwilling to vote to give to the team so they had to build their own park. First and most of all is the $20M mortgage payment, which is mostly principal by now, so they have less interest to write off, taking away more income that they could add to payroll. There is also the stadium upkeep that they have to do because they do own the park.  The events they hold there when baseball is not playing helps offset that, but I doubt it covers the entire bill for a full year worth.

I would also point out that a sell-out at SF is not a huge park, it can only hold 42,000 fans, which about average among the top teams.  And they averaged $26 per ticket in 2010, the lowest among the top seven teams in valuation.  The Red Sox, for example, averaged $53 per ticket in 2010, the Yankees $63.  The other were at or just above $30 per ticket.  So while they are selling out, apparently that has more to do with their fancy dynamic ticket pricing to ensure sell-outs.

Their payroll in 2010 was in line with their revenues.  Player expenses was $114M in 2010 vs. gate receipts of $107M.  The Yankees had $236M vs. $300M in gate.  Red Sox, $187M vs. $176M in gate.  D-gers, $118M vs. $107M in gate.  Cubs, $157M vs. $146M in gate.  Mets, $139M vs. $123M in gate.  And Phillies with $150M in revenues and $124M in gate.  And they bumped up their payroll for 2011 to the $120M range.

So, no, I don't think an argument could be made for the Giants spending much more than $130M on payroll in 2012, not unless Larry Ellison bought the team and put all his billions into the team.  Until that happens, or until the prices catches up with the top teams and top $30 per ticket, which would add around $15M to the gate (and maybe that happened in 2011, but still that only bumps player expenses to around $122M per the Forbes numbers).


Now, he wasn't as bad as I had initially thought.  Still, he makes the case that adding Melky Cabrera is not "enough to correct the vast imbalance between their skilled pitching and somnolent hitting." Well, as I showed in the Posey post, yeah, it does, because he is forgetting that Posey is part of the new mix in the offense in 2012. Why do people not get that losing one of your best hitters, particularly your clean-up batter, does not cripple the offense?

Then in the article about the extensions for Sabean and Bochy, he noted some other things.   In response to Baer, he retorts:
"I strongly believe that Brian and Bruce are the best at their crafts in the game," Baer said.

Other current GMs have assembled more winning teams than Sabean, who has built five postseason qualifiers (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010). A handful of active managers have tasted triumph more consistently than Bochy, whose teams have finished 1,360-1,376, including 409-401 by the Giants since 2007.
That just totally ignores the fact that there was a rebuilding in the middle of all that, a rebuilding and losing that was necessary to restoring competitiveness.  Plus, he didn't really name anyone with more winning teams, probably because there are FEW who have, as Sabean is the longest tenured GM, some GMs out there have not even GMed as many seasons as Sabean has had winning seasons (11 winning teams, by the way).

And Bochy was hampered first by the tight-fisted Padres' owners, who dismantled his World Series team right after they made it in, causing him to suffer through 5 losing seasons before the team was rebuilt to win again, plus he took over the Giants during their rebuilding phase, but if you are keeping track, he has three winning seasons with the Giants versus two losing, and does not look like he'll be losing any in the coming seasons either.

Giants Thoughts

These inaccuracies are what are coloring many of the Giants fans thoughts regarding the team.  They are teaching this fan base, which are not obsessive enough to dig deeper and thus rely on the beat writers to guide them, to spout the same inaccuracies when they go on-line or talk with their Giants fan friends.

I also just realized that beat writers have a vested interest in having a riled up fan base.  I'm not accusing any of them of doing this on purpose or knowingly, but it would make logical sense for them to mislead the fan base in order to keep them disgruntled. 

That is something I realized about KNBR night-time hosts, they must have realized at some intellectual level that they need to push the buttons and be controversial and hard on the Giants to keep the callers coming in and goading the callers to call in to complain about the Giants, mainly because a contented fan base do not have much interest in calling in and complimenting the Giants.  In fact, all that would be necessary is one call praising the Giants and that would be it.  Crickets chirping the rest of the 3-4 hours of the show.  So it behooves them to get the fan base riled up and calling in, by pointing out everything and anything, paticularly by biasing the audience towards a touchy-feely position (he loves vets, he signed bad contracts) that really doesn't hold up when the facts are piled on top of each other, but when talking off the cuff, can be easily defended for people who are not really that into the Giants and where facts are not as readily discovered and presented.

Basically, if the fanbase were happy, there probably would not be as much people talking about the Giants and complaining about them in particular.  It is just human nature not to have the impetus to say or do anything when things are going well.  Less people talking equals less people buying newspapers to see what is happening, less people visiting their websites to see what is happening, less people following his twitters to see what is happening. less people calling into shows, less people listening to shows.  This makes economic (survival) sense to keep the fans at least a little hungry and angry, as that stirs up interest in your product, which is news.

It is like the story about the guy who started eBay because his girlfriend at the time wanted to sell her collection of Pez dispensers.  Which wasn't true, but the eBay publicist gave that out on a lark, apparently, and that story got legs like you wouldn't know it, as one columnist after another, assuming that the original story was true (it was told by an eBay employee afterall), passed it along.  I thought it was true until I read an article exposing that lie.

It is also similar to the Barry Bonds "I'm better than Babe Ruth" comment a few (OK, many) years back.  He clearly (to the reporters who knew him) was joking about that, but one reporter who was there didn't know him, so he just reported that verbatim without the context that Bonds was clearly joking, and that blew into a media storm, as one writer after another assumed that the story was true, which culminated with the head of the Babe Ruth Museum taking a pot shot at Bonds.

Another Bonds incident that got blown up and passed around like a joint was when he angrily addressed the throng of writers crowding up to speak to him after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series.  Most of them presented him as a surly angry person in their articles regarding that interview, but the ones up front made it clear that when he told everyone to back off in a loud voice, it was because the idiots in the back were pushing forward and the reporters up front threatened to crush Bonds' son, who was with him.

In neither Bonds case, once the truth was known, none of the writers would write a follow-up article noting, "Ooops, I got that one wrong, sorry".  But it sure generated a lot of columns and a lot of interest (lots of comments bashing Bonds).

But while I understand that this is the nature of the beast, it does not mean I have to be happy about it either.  I hate inaccuracies in the news with a passion, because that will color people's imprressions for a long time, whether true or false.  And particularly in the case of the Giants, as I am afraid that the ownership might decide to appease the angry willagers with their pitchforks and torches asking for the heads of Sabean and Bochy.

I will join them and lead the way with my pitchfork when I think Sabean and Bochy are doing anything to endanger the Giants present and future.  But as I've been writing for over 4 years now, Sabean has the Giants on the right track and in a good situation.  We can be the team of the 2010's decade if the ownership is willing to make it so with their payroll, dipping into the rainy day fund as necessary, freeing Sabean to make baseball moves.  I was more encouraged when Neukom was in charge, but will allow Baer time to show his true colors.  And as I've written and research on Bochy as well, I've realized that he's a special one too.  I am happy for their extensions, they were well deserved.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Posey Power Activated!

Clearly I have to write this post first.  People still think that the offense is not good enough to win with.  Notice the difference in my language, "good enough to win" versus "good offense".  It is a natural fan inclination to think "more, better, best" for anything regarding their favorite team, that is why it is helpful to fight that inclination and think through some obvious changes to the offense, even as it exists now, and realize that your internal panic alarm going off is going off for naught.

One of the clearly big differences is that Buster Posey is returning to the lineup.  Sure, people are glad about that but they don't really understand the magnitude of that change from Posey as starter versus Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside as co-starters (with a sprinkling of Hector Sanchez).  I will try to make that clearer with some analysis.

In 2011, the four catchers, by Bill James Runs Created methodology, created a total of 49 Runs Created (RC).  Also, collectively, by Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), they saved a total of 7 runs.  However, in 2012, it should just be Posey and, for now, probably Stewart, at the catching position.

Bill James projections has Posey creating 91 RC in 2012.  Unfortunately, there is no Stewart forecast there, but they have projected Whiteside at .609 OPS and 16 RC.  ZiPS projections just came out, and while there is no Whiteside projection, there is a Stewart projection for .640 OPS.  Assuming Stewart produces at least as much as Whiteside projects, that's 107 RC from the catching position in 2012 per Bill James projections.  That is a +58 RC improvement over 2011.

Defensively, assuming Posey plays as well as he did in 2011 and projecting out the innings he caught, he had 2 DRS in 361.0 innings in 2011, and triple that is roughly what the top catchers caught in 2011, so let's call that 6 DRS.  That leaves about 396.0 innings for the backup.  Stewart in 2011 had 9 DRS in 460.1 innings.  Assuming some drop, as that is high, I think +6 is reasonable, but even if he did only 1 DRS, the defense would still be the same as in 2011.  But going with the more realistic scenario, that works out to +12 DRS which is 5 runs better than the +7 DRS the Giants catchers had in 2011 (Whiteside was -3 DRS and Sanchez -1 DRS).

Looking at their baserunning, it appears that they were roughly equal, though there should be some improvement there because Posey and Stewart added bases via their baserunning whereas Whiteside subtracted.  But as there is no run equivalency provided, it is hard to estimate the effect on run production, other than it would add to it.  Still even at 4 bases to a run, the numbers involved is so small that there is a negligible increase in run production.  Call it even.

Assuming a base RA of 580 or 3.58 RA/game (basically the average of the past two seasons), that +58 RC results in an additional 6.55 wins and that +5 DRS results in an additional 0.60 wins.  Together, that adds up to 7.15 wins.

Thus, losing Posey cost the Giants approximately 7 wins in 2011, roughly 6.5 wins on offense and 0.5 wins on defense.  They won 86 games in 2011, so had Posey not been taken out by a rogue runner with no conscience (or at least was acting like one, which is the same effect), the Giants probably would have won somewhere in the 93 game range.  With the Cards at 90 wins, even if this is off a little, most probably the Giants would have won the Wild Card slot, and not the Cards, who eventually won the World Championships (so they probably should send a full share of the championship money to Cousins, because they might not have made the playoffs had he not took Posey out).

Looking to 2012, the Giants 2011 offense was roughly even with the defense, which works out to  a roughly .500 record per Pythagorean.  Adding 7 wins to that puts the Giants at 88 wins for 2012 currently.

The addition of Melky Cabrera, according to Bill James added 70 RC to 2012, by his projections.  Torres, Rowand, and Ross collectively had around 60 RC.  By DRS, Melky was -3 DRS but collectively the Giants CF were 0 DRS (while Torres is good, Ross and Rowand were not).  So that is a roughly 7 run improvement, which is roughly a one win improvement.  That puts us at 89 wins.  And ZiPS projects him to hit .284/.330/.435/.765, which is higher than the .745 OPS that Bill James has him hitting.

However, I would note that any projections assume that Cabrera did not break out in 2011.  Projection methodologies are not savvy enough yet to figure out when a batter or pitcher broke out, for sure.  If he repeats his 2011 season - and that is possible, as the Bill James park factors for LHB and RHB is almost the same between KC and SF, and the given reason for his improvement was a dedication to conditioning and getting into shape - that would add 22 RC, or about 2.5 wins.

Now that assumes that there is no improvement anywhere else.  But there was a lot of underperformance in 2011 across the whole team.

Giants 1B only hit .258/.318/.414/.732.  Between Huff and Belt, there has to be an improvement there in 2012 offensively.  Pablo's replacements at 3B didn't quite match him (obviously), and Giants 3B "only" hit .294/.339/.478/.817.  Sandoval is projected by Bill James to hit .311/.363/.525/.888, by ZiPS to hit .299/.347/.497/.844, and he hit .315/.357/.552/.909 in 2011 (again, hard for systems to judge whether 2010 was an aberration, so that damps down forecasts, though James is pretty close).

Giants SS only hit .210/.265/.299/.564 in 2011.  For Crawford, Bill James projects .232/.297/.340/.637, ZiPS .225/.291/.336/.627.  Giants LF only hit .222/.310/.374/.684, while Bill James projects .266/.358/.482/.840 for Brandon Belt, ZiPS .268/.365/.452/.817 (right now I think Belt is the starting LF, given the personnel we have now).

So basically, the Giants look like a 89 win team, or thereabouts.  90 wins was necessary to get into the playoffs in 2011. They should already have it via Sandoval at 3B, as he should hit much better than what 3B hit collectively, as long as he is healthy, heck, together the 3B had roughly 90 RC (and that is ignoring the great defense Pablo played) and Bill James projects Sandoval at 102 RC for 2012, which is roughly a 1.5 win improvement.  

The Giants should also get improvement at 1B, SS, LF, or CF, as it is unlikely whoever plays there in 2012 could be any worse.  The possible improvements at the other four positions are buffers against declines at RF (since Beltran is not around and Schierholtz is the starter there) and in the pitching staff.  Shoot, Huff could add around 5 wins by returning anywhere close to what he did in 2010, by himself.  And if Belt could actually reach his projections, that would probably add another 5 wins in LF.

Thus, that is why I see the Giants offense being no worse than a 90 win team in 2012.  And there are a lot of areas of improvement where we could push that up, potentially a lot, depending on who delivers and who don't.  But conservatively, I don't see why the Giants are not competitive in 2012, as is, and could be another blockbuster team, like 2003, if the cards fall right for them, particularly Huff and Belt, though Vogelsong repeating would also greatly improve things as well.


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