Friday, July 27, 2018

Your 2018 Giants: Bochy's Bad Offense

I frequent The Athletic's Giants articles a lot now for comments.  Lots of people are complaining about the offense.  Rightfully, per my 4 or more runs Win/Loss metric, the offense is barely above .500 in providing 4 runs or more in a game.  So I dug into the stats, here are the results.

ogc thoughts

What I found was really bad.  It is not like Bochy has had a set lineup for 2018, but his choices for leadoff has been consistently bad, for most of the season.  Gorky did well there, and d'Arnaud so far in SSS, but all the others have been really bad, collectively, and overall, the Giants leadoff hitters has hit .230/.288/.372/.660 (data as of a few days ago; unfortunately, exact data is a moving target), whereas in the NL, the average batting line was .257/.334/.411/.745, which is much higher. 

Likewise, the 2-spot has been pretty bad too.  Giants hitting second in the lineup has only hit .239/.332/.392/.724.  This compares with the NL's .264/.336/.444/.780.

The odd thing is that while the Giants second hitter is worse than average, they actually were pretty close to what NL leadoff hitters have been hitting, particularly OBP, which is most important there.  So I looked at the Giants lineup stats, and if we did one simple change to Bochy's lineup choices this season, the lineup would actually be close to the NL average:  go back in time, move all of Bochy's lineups up one spot, except move his leadoff choice to 7th, and leave 8th alone.

Changing the Lineup

Let's try that.  I used the Lineup Calculator to see the difference in offense making the change would be.  Plugging in the NL lineup averages, I get 4.44 runs scored on average; that is right on the mark, as the NL has averaged 4.44 runs scored.  Plugging in the Giants lineup by Bochy, I get 4.27 runs scored on average, which is significantly below average.  Taking a .500 team (which the Giants currently is) and improving them to 4.44 runs scored (assuming they allowed 4.27 runs on average, as a .500 team) would push a team from 81-81 to 84-78, a six games above .500 swing (or three extra wins).

The Giants offense has been further complicated by the fact that the BABIP gods have not been on their side.  While they should be averaging 4.27 runs scored per game, they have actually been scoring only 4.07 runs scored per game.  Taking a .500 team (which the Giants currently is) and improving them to 4.27 runs scored (assuming they allowed 4.07 runs on average, as a .500 team) would push a team from 81-81 to 85-77, an eight games above .500 swing (or four extra wins).

And, finally, moving the leadoff hitter to 7th (via time machine manipulation) every time Bochy submitted his lineup card to the umpire, would have pushed the Giants runs scored average to 4.42 runs scored per game, or roughly what the average NL team is scoring.  With 4.42 RS and 4.07 RA, it would push a 81-81 team to 87-75 record. 

In spite of all the injuries and missed time by our top 3 starting pitchers, and injuries to our closers (Strickland punch, Melancon recovery), had Bochy used our lineup properly and the offense had operated like it should have, with average BABIP luck, we would be 56-48, right now, instead of 52-52.

Oddity:  Best Hitter's Been Hitting 6th

Oddly, it has been our 6th place hitter that has been the best hitter in the lineup, at .821 OPS, as it has the highest SLG with .471 (vs. .454 for cleanup hitter).  Crawford got a lot of AB's in that spot during his tremendous hot streak, hitting 1.060 OPS there (gotten most AB's there too, by far, though only a third of total AB's there), so that explains that anomaly. 

More oddly, I thought that moving 6th to 4th (and leaving 5th at 5th, in the lineup shift), would improve things a lot, but I was wrong, the Runs Scored fell from 4.42 to 4.40.  So I checked why by looking at the sum of the run values used to generate the lineup run value and found this important point:  you get a lot of run scoring bang for the buck in the 5th position than you do in the cleanup spot. 

Apparently the better spot for OBP is 5th, much better than for 4th (probably because so many run scoring opportunities for cleanup hitter happens in the first inning when there is already two outs; whereas the 5th hitter essentially operates as a secondary leadoff hitter, since many innings end with the cleanup hitter). 

In fact, the 5th hitter's run production from OBP is one of the highest on the team, though only fourth overall (Leadoff, #9 hitter, #2 hitter are higher, respectively), because of the huge drop from the 5th hitter to the next best OBP run production (cleanup, nearly 0.6 runs lower
; over 162 games, that's over 30 runs, or 3 wins difference, for average cleanup hitter) is so large. 

Based on this discovery, I wondered if it would be better to bat Posey in the 5th spot, due to its run scoring potential related to his superlative OBP.  Given that he's slow, though, I still think batting 3rd, where his lack of power would not affect runs production as much, still seems better, mainly because batting 3rd, he has three to four power guys (generally, Belt, Cutch, Longoria, Crawford) hitting behind him, hitting extra-base hits necessary to drive him in, whereas if he's batting 5th, you got the dregs of the lineup hitting behind him, and he won't be scoring as many runs as the Giants should be, given his high OBP. 

Still, overall, what's been killing the Giants offense is that they have no consistent leadoff hitter who they can rely on to get on base consistently.  This forces Bochy to search for one, and he's been failing horribly this season.  It was much better with Span in there, last season, hitting about what the average leadoff hitter is hitting (unfortunately, the rest of the lineup wasn't that great). 

Need a Consistent Leadoff Hitter

For all the complaints about the offense, it has actually been pretty good in term of the individual batters, but just not good because Bochy has been choosing the wrong leadoff hitter, and the lineup has not been executing well, either.  We just need a consistent leadoff hitter to be the engine of the offense.

Duggar is hopefully the leadoff hitter of the future, but so far, he hasn't been that good:  .250/.276/.357/.633.   And it shows, he has been striking out a ton.  However, Gorkys has been stone cold this month too:  .213/.238/.328/.566, though at least he's getting his strikeouts down some.   Bochy had him leading off while he was hot, and that showed in the offense, as that was when we were scoring and winning games.

I'm wondering if the Giants would be better off batting Posey, Belt, or McCutchen at leadoff, as they are the only three hitters that has been relatively consistent in getting on base, each month, whereas others were wildly up and down. 

McCutchen has the speed, but then you lose the value of his power.  Similarly with Belt, but with less speed, but more power, so far, at least, generally.  Posey don't have the speed, but he gets on base a ton, and if you follow him up with the best hitters on the team in terms of getting on base, it might take 3 hits to score him, but that's the part of the lineup most likely to get the hits  that would drive him in. 

But the inconsistency up top (as well as the poor hitting) is probably a top reason why the offense has been sputtering all season.  Until that is fixed, either by better choices by Bochy, or a trade for a consistent leadoff hitter (unlikely, both because Duggar is expected to be that guy going forward in 2019 and because the Giants have zero CBT space to acquire anyone right now, and teams know it, so it would cost them Ramos or Bart (or even Luciano) to get such a player, most probably, and they historically have know who to keep and who to trade, and right now, neither look like tradeable guys, they are keepers.  

4 comments:


  1. Despite Posey's lack of speed, I would suggest he lead off. He has a decent batting average and OBP. Clogging up the bases is better than having no one on base. Secondly, he has been a failure the last two years as an RBI guy. His RBI output from a middle of the order guy has been way below his other stats, and he does not yet have a hit this year with the bases loaded. Also batting leadoff might get him an additional at bat in many games. Belt and Cutch also have a decent OBP, and should bat early in the lineup. Perhaps for a while Crawford could be the clean up man, if not Longoria, but Longoria has to drive in runs because his skill is power, not OBP as he rarely takes a walk. It does look like Hanson or Duggar may be future early line up guys, but as young players I would be okay with them batting later in the lineup. would like to see Slater play more, but give Gorkys and Hunter enough playing time to stay sharp. When Hundley plays instead of Posey than perhaps Hanson, Duggar, or Darnaud can lead off. But we need RBI guys in the middle of the lineup, and guys who can get on base to set the table. We all thought, based on his early years with the giants that Posey would be that RBI guy, but injuries, seem to have taken their toll. The giants are still in the race and unless they score runs soon and turn things around it could be a problem. Could be that both Suarez, and Rodriguez are both better than Samardijah would be, and Holland is at least as good as Blach. The disappointment this year is in Stratton. I expected him to be a solid 3 or 4, starter but he seems to have lost his sharpness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leadoff and 3rd are the best lineup spots for Posey's high OBP/low SLG profile. But I like Cutch as the leadoff guy because he's got speed.

      Crawford is good as cleanup, but I think I prefer him 5th, because Longoria is ideal for 4th or 6th, due to his low OBP and high SLG profile, and Crawford gets on base well, at least this season.

      Duggar has profiled as a leadoff hitter in the minors, but I'm okay with him batting low in the order, where there's no extra pressure, so that he can focus on learning to be a major leaguer and on playing defense here, so that he can be ready to take over leadoff in 2019.

      Too early to say that Suarez and DRod are better than Samardzija. Luck plays such a big factor in a pitcher's results in small samples. But so far, so good/great.

      I would say that Holland is better than Samardzija, he has that mental ability that Shark seems to lack, based on how well he has pitched in prior seasons, repeatedly, when healthy and rested/has stamina.

      Stratton has been a huge disappointment. And his curve is still supposedly good, but something happened to him after he became a father (the pressure of the additional responsibility got to him?). Hopefully he can figure things out for 2019, I think it's late for 2018 to contribute ,unless he can dominate in AAA then come up in September and kill it.

      I think his struggles explains why the rumors that the Giants are pursuing a starting pitcher has been making the rounds with the beat writers.

      Delete
  2. Interestingly, since I've posted this, the Giants have moved to batting McCutchen leadoff in all the games since it was posted, except for the Friday game (but this glog was posted after the lineups were announced), which they had not done, even once, the whole season. Prior to that, it was a mishmash of speedy type hitters, playing the hot hand, and Panik.

    Prior to that, for the season, the Giants averaged 4.04 runs scored per game, but only 3.35 runs scored per game since their only hot streak, when they went 20-10 from May 30 to July 1st (avg 4.47 runs scored during that period). So far, SSS with McCutchen at leadoff, 4.25 runs scored per game, going 5-3).

    However, they have been batting Posey second, Longoria 3rd, Crawford 4th. Perhaps once Belt is back, they can bat Belt second, Posey 3rd, Longoria 4th, and Crawford 5th (hint hint :^).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slater is playing with Belt and Sandoval out, and while I like that, Slater has a sky high BABIP (.468 after yesterday's game) and will come waaay down, and hard, hopefully not until after Belt returns.

      Duggar, on the other hand, while high at .380, because of his speed, we don't know if he's down a lot or a little. He had a .392 BABIP in AAA this season, and last season, .386 BABIP in Advanced A (with SJ) and .313 BABIP in AAA (SSS with Sacto), but .350 BABIP in AFL, It could have been just a slow start/adjustment for AAA, as in his last half of games in AAA (extreme SSS), his BABIP was .350.

      High speed guys like Duggar tend to have high BABIP, but even Ichiro peaked at around .350-.360 BABIP in his career.

      If Duggar can keep his BABIP around .350, his batting line would be around .660-.670, which is not too bad for an 7/8 place hitter. In addition, his batting line is inflated right now because he's killing LHP (.444 BABIP to boot) but not RHP even though he's a LHH, so regression is very likely. For now, platooning him with Gorkys is a good thing, see how it works out with Duggar, whether things get a lot worse, or just a little.

      And while he hits worse vs. LHP than RHP in the minors, he has hit LHP pretty well in the minors, so I would expect him to be a full time starter once he gets comfortable and hit RHP well.

      Excited to see Duggar playing, he should be been playing at least a month earlier, probably even earlier, because his defense is that much better than all our other CF choices early season.

      He has already added 0.2 dWAR per BB-Ref, roughly the same (2.9 runs) per FG, and is averaging 14 Rdrs/year and 3.2 UZR/150, which averages out to about a win on a seasonal basis.

      Delete

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