Sunday, December 22, 2019

Zaidi's History of Talent Acquisition

One reasons I and others like Zaidi is his history of talent acquisition, as GM of the Dodgers and now as President of Baseball Operations for the Giants.  That is the reason I was so strongly for Sabean during the late 2000's when it seemed like I was the only one to think that of him, at least on the main Giants board.   I thought I would examine Zaidi's best acquisitions as Dodger GM, and how that looked in 2019, now that he leads the Giants.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

End of an Era: Madison Bumgarner Signs With D-Backs

I heard the news today, about a lucky man who made the grade:  Madison Bumgarner signs with the D-backs for 5 years, $85M, or $17M per season, but with $15M deferred, averages $14M during contract.

Baggarly reported that the Giants went as high as 4 years, $70M.  Baggarly reported that from his talks with Bumgarner before, Arizona was clearly of interest to him because he and his wife loves the area, and has a ranch there, which they can then live at for most of the year now that he works nearby.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Your 2020 Giants: Rule 5 Draft Pick, RHP Dany Jimenez

The Giants selected RHP Dany Jimenez (again from the Blue Jays, who they took another pitcher last year) in the Rule 5 Draft, filling in their last 40-man roster spot.  As usual, they need to keep him on their 25-man roster the whole 2020 season, or they'll have to offer him back to the Blue Jays for half what they paid them (I think it's $100,000 to select him, but could be more now).

Here is what Baseball America had to say about him (got it from Hank Schulman tweet):
Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen wrote
Dany Jimenez, RHP (from TOR)
Like Ramirez, Jimenez also signed late, agreeing to his first pro contract just before he turned 22. He also missed most of 2017 due to injury, and those sorts of factors combined to limit him to just 33 innings above A-ball even though he is about to turn 26. He sits 93-95, touches 97, the heater spins at about 2450 rpm, and Jimenez’s vertical arm slot makes it hard for hitters to discern the fastball and his power breaking ball from one another. I think he’s pretty likely to stick in a relief role.
Alex Pavlovic wrote about the pick:
Jimenez has a live arm and better command than you usually see from Rule 5 picks. The Giants will throw him in the bullpen mix but must return him to the Blue Jays if Jimenez is not on their big league roster. 
"We were happy he fell to us," general manager Scott Harris said. "As we talked about all week, we're trying to find talent. We're trying to find new creative ways. This isn't the most creative way but we got an arm we like." 
Jimenez has a strong shot at making the opening day roster and has a better shot than most Rule 5 picks of surviving. It's easier to hide a pitcher in your bullpen all year, particularly with the rosters expanding and the Giants able to carry 13 arms throughout the season. Jimenez also has more experience than Bergen did. He reached Double-A last season and dominated, posting a 1.87 ERA and striking out 46 in 33 2/3 innings.  
Harris said Jimenez has a fastball in the upper 90s. He has averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors and has kept his walk rate on the high end of what's acceptable. That might play in the big leagues, giving the Giants a free reliever at a time when their bullpen is undergoing massive changes. 
The Giants did not lose anyone in the major league portion of the draft, but lost three prospects in the minor league phase:
  • pitcher Adam Oller was selected by the Mets
  • infielder Manuel Geraldo was selected by the Nationals
  • pitcher Miguel Figueroa was selected by the Reds
These players are gone, they do not need to be returned.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Your 2020 Giants: Day 2 of the Winter Meetings

Today has been an eventful winter meetings, as Andy Baggarly had sagely forecasted about the Giants winter meetings in general, in his article on The Athletic.  Hopefully there are more to come.

Here are the moves they made today:
  • Traded with Angels, taking on Zack Cozart's contract ($12.7M in 2020), and receiving their 2019 First Round pick (#15 overall), Will Wilson, SS, their #5 prospect per MLB Pipeline.  The Giants owe future cash considerations or a PTBNL
  • Signed RHP Kevin Gausman to $9M contract, with up to $1M in performance bonuses

Your 2020 Giants: Winter Meetings Thoughts

With the winter meeting in gear, the following news items got the gears rolling:
  • Kevin Pillar was non-tendered (estimated $10M arbitration), among others
  • Bumgarner reportedly wants to return to the Giants but they haven't contacted him yet
  • Giants are reportedly the top bidder for Nicholas Castellanos at the moment 
[Note: had this basically written up before events of today, signing and trade; will post separately post Winter Meetings, for thoughts on impact]

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Giants New Leadership Triumvirate: Zaidi, Harris, Kapler

With the announcement of Gabe Kapler as the next SF Giants manager (3-year contract), and the announcement just the other day of Scott Harris as the new GM of the Giants, the future leadership of the Giants has been finally set by Farhan Zaidi, President of Baseball Operations.  In addition, it was noted that Brian Sabean will continue in his role as advisor and resource for the front office.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: The End of a Dynastic Era, Thanks Bruce Bochy

As we all know, Bruce Bochy retired from the Giants, ostensibly retired from managing, but he's keeping his options open, apparently, by talking about maybe managing again.  He's mentioned working for the Giants in some capacity.  [FYI: wrote this at end of season, but had to wait until I did enough draft research to finish up, sorry]

Monday, October 07, 2019

2019 Playoffs Giants Fan Rooting Guide

I'm late but I thought I would cover the Giants fan rooting guide for the playoffs, like I have done most seasons as a blogger.  Obvi:  Dodgers are last on the list.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Yas, I Want Some More

A point made about the Giants great July is that there is regression due, because the players were not projected to do that well.  So I thought I would dig into that notion.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Run Differentials

Recent interview with Farhan Zaidi had the Giants President of Baseball Operations talking nerd talk, about run differentials:
The Giants have turned upper management into believers. 
Why does president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi feel a team with a 50-50 record is a legitimate threat in the NL Wild Card race? 
“The team is fundamentally different, the roster is different,” Zaidi said. “That’s why I don’t think you can just look at this team’s run differential and make an assessment of our quote-unquote true talent level.” 
“You do have to look at the totality of the season, that’s what the standings are based on, but I think one of the reasons we put a lot of credence in our recent play is because the composition of the team is very different,” Zaidi said Sunday. 
“We know for us to continue on this path, that group of players is critical,” Zaidi said. “I’ve said a few times, there’s interest in a lot of of our relievers and we have interest in our relievers.” 
Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta could all fill set-up roles for teams with visions of locking up a playoff spot. In Zaidi’s eyes, they’re already doing that. 
“I’m not going to stop teams from calling, I’m going to have to have those conversations, that’s my job,” Zaidi said. “But we recognize that for us to continue to play that well, we’re going to have to continue getting the kind of performance from the bullpen that we’ve gotten.” 
“I’m excited we’re playing well because it gives us options,” Zaidi said. “It doesn’t paint us into a corner where maybe we feel that pressure of, ‘Hey, we really have to reload for the next five years because we have a real investment of what’s going on here right now.”

Monday, June 24, 2019

Personal News: I'm Taking A Break from Social Media

As I had announced on Twitter, I'm taking a break from social media for a while.  Unfortunately, been quite a year so far, first I got laid off, then my uncle suffered from heat stroke and pneumonia, and suddenly I need to take care of him on top trying to find my next job.  Once he recovers, he'll be moving in with me, and I have zero idea how we are going to do it, but we are going to man up and do it for him, he's been a great uncle. 

While on my break, I'm probably going to think about whether I'm going to continue to do this going forward.  The thrill is gone, as the song goes.  I've not felt the urgency I once had, and that has shown in my blog's output in recent years, and especially this season.  My posts will become even more random.

Also, I thought that after 3 in 5 and 8 good seasons, that fans would be more understanding of the need to rebuild, but the vitriol I've seen hurled at Sabean and Barr and Tidrow, the architects and implementers of the Giants Dynasty, just really depresses me.  Seeing these entitled, know-it-not-at-all's rage through The Athletic, Twitter, and other places just really makes my blood boils. 

I said this about 9 years ago, and that rubbed people the wrong way, but I truly believe it: if you don't thank Sabean and gang for all that they have done for us, and treat them with the due respect that they have earned, then you don't really deserve to enjoy the championships.  And going out and dissing them now, when we have zero idea whether or not we have the core of the next winning period - Bart, Ramos, Luciano, Menez, Anderson, Beede, Suarez, D-Rod, Moronta, Miller, etc - is just bad form, and disrespectful.  And lazy analysis.

Yeah, it's been a bad few years, but all the people who claims to have seen this since mid-2016 is just delusional and full of B.S., nobody knew then that this bad period was coming, else they would have predicted that Bumgarner would miss significant parts of two different seasons due to weird injuries, and other weird stuff that has happened.  And they are lying to themselves when they state that they knew after 2017, because 2017 was a lot better, .500 until September when the team purposefully tanked the season.  Nobody saw all of this happening, and if they claim it, they just don't really know how wrong they are. 

And I'm tired of trying to show these people the light.  Because I've realized that they have their mindset and they aren't going to change, no matter what facts you place in front of them.  They are right, and they tell me to shut the F up, and throw all sorts of weird accusations at me, that I'm an employee of the Giants, and other stuff like that. 

So at some point, I'll restart my blog again.  I'll do what I've done all along, illuminate whatever truths I see based on analysis, add in my opinions, because human intellect rules (still) in qualitative analysis, and maybe someone will read my post and enjoy it, and moreover, learn from it, which has always been my greatest aspiration.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: First Round Draft Pick Hunter Bishop OF

First draft since probably before Lincecum selection that I haven't written on the mock draft in the days leading up to it and speculating.  Of course, with a new leader, Farhan Zaidi, and new guy in charge of the draft, Michael Holmes, really no way to speculate on what they are thinking.  Of course, there was no way with Sabean et al either, as they worked in their mysterious ways with the draft.  I've just been busy with life, anyway.

NBC Sports collated a number of mock drafts in an article.  Both Baseball America and CBS had the Giants picking Hunter Bishop.  Probably the first time BA got it right with a pick beyond the Top 5 overall.  Not that it is easy to do, I'm not denigrating them for that, just noting, mostly because they usually figure out 60-80% of the Top 10 picks and a fair number into the teens, but the Giants under Sabean's lead was inscrutable even for BA.

Other mocks I saw had Bryson Stott SS as the selection (he was available, so they were definitely wrong; he fell to #14), some had Josh Jung 3B (including's Mayo) but he was nabbed earlier, #8 by Rangers, so we'll never know, and Fangraphs had C.J. Abrams HS SS, but he was grabbed by Padres at #6, though they did say Bishop in their final mock draft.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: After Two Innings the Giants are 16-20

With my own personal issues, I had forgotten to post on this series I was trying to start up this season, again, to bring up more big picture aspects.  Unfortunately, I don't have the player's data as of 36 games, so I'll do my best, but due to this hurdle, will be shorter on analysis, most likely (of course, probably long anyway...).

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: The Start of Openers

Less than a week ago, the Giants decided to try out the opener, using Nick Vincent to open for Tyler Beede.  It did not go well, as Vincent added to the Giants miseries with the first inning (from the second inning on, the Giants are basically even, a .500 team in the making, if they can fix their first inning woes).  My thoughts on this new tactic that teams are using.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Personal News: I'll Be Writing More

And the reason why is because I've been laid off, effective at EOD tomorrow.  Do the Giants need an analyst? 

But the good news is I'll have more time to work on my draft study now!  😃

Honestly, though, I'm probably just going to catch up on my sleep initially.  I've been having physical problems the past year or so, and it's been progressing, to the point that I've been unable to get a full night sleep, but my doctor don't know what's wrong.  I think it's something to do with poor leg circulation, and sitting too much, anybody has any suggestions for exercises?

This will also give me time to work on the upcoming draft as well, as I have not been able to enjoy looking at all the mock drafts that have been coming out, and seeing who might be falling to the Giants, as work had been more hectic than usual, ironically. 

And I still need to do my PQS monthly report.  Anybody have any thoughts on what I should do going forward?  Old version of PQS?  New version?  Modified version?  Both old and modified?  I like the change regarding strikeouts, but I feel that rewarding only 0 homers is limiting.  But continuing my series using the older methodology is appealing because of the series of them I've been doing over the past decade or so.  But it was such a pain creating three separate PQS data points!

Given that these "work breaks" can take longer than hoped, I'm also planning on doing some other studies on playoff success.  Oddly, to me, nobody seems to study that.  I get that valuing players is a key area, but given the structure of baseball, value is diffused, and you need to find a combination of factors that tie into success, which ultimately is championships.  So I'll take on that challenge, once I learn to be proficient at R. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Mac Attack is Back

While it's not official, Alex Pavlovic has tweeted that Mac is returning to the majors today.  No news at this moment what corresponding moves there are, but clearly Gerber and his mass of strikeouts will be going down, to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.

For the 40-man, I thought maybe they might DFA Gerber, since his poor batting line for us is almost a mirror image with his short Tigers stint, but Jeff Young had some other good options for the 60-day IL, Ray Black or Ryder Jones.

Also, it's likely that Williams Jerez is coming up, most probably taking Pat Venditte's spot, and Pavlovic also reported that Donovan Solano is coming up, the rumor is Solarte's going on IL, and Solano will need a 40-man spot too, along with Mac (again, Black and Jones could be pushed to 60-day IL)

I tweeted most of the below today, here's the tweaked version (okay, lots of tweaks), plus bits from prior tweets:

Friday, May 03, 2019

Heliot Ramos in Perspective

Given Ramos' untimely IL, out for at least a month, I thought I would take a look at how what he's doing now compares with the best of the California League, from 2014-2019, basically the prior 5 seasons.

Your 2019 Giants: Epic Beat LA Walk Off, Status Update

I wrote the below as a comment to The Athletic's column on the Dodger walk-off win, noting my belief that the Giants can still get above .500 by the end of the season.  Tweaks and improvements abound.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: BP Rant Time

I'm going on a rant about BP, feel free to ignore this post if that topic don't interest you. [sorry, forgot about this, been tied up with work, just publishing now, no time to update]

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: After One Inning the Giants are 8-10

Since my focus this year is on the big picture, I'm bringing back something I thought was good for understanding how long a baseball season is:  treating the season as 9 innings.  I first wrote about this concept when I was writing as Biased Giants Fanatic for Fanhome about 15 years ago, and I think it's good for seeing the big picture.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Drafting is Hard, Then It Becomes Near Impossible

I'm stealing Shankbone's favorite phrase (Drafting is Hard) for the title of this post.

Below is the response I gave to someone talking about the Giants poor draft record, plus changes...

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Another Two First Names: Tyler Austin

The Giants traded for Tyler Austin, firstbaseman/OF, from the Twins, for OF Malique Ziegler, who has been a prospect that some prospect hounds have liked (I could go either way, had not any feelings either way).

Austin, an extreme power hitter (17 homers in 244 AB) but poor OBP, looks to be the starting LF once he gets the chance to practice out there again, since he's been mostly playing 1B this spring.  Eventually, it sounds like Austin in LF, Duggar in CF, and Pillar in RF, but for now, it's Austin at 1B, Belt in LF, Pillar in CF, and Duggar in RF.  And, apparently, Austin batting 2nd vs. LHP.

Below is what I wrote in The Athletic about the trade, with usual caveat (that I continually tweak...).

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Why Connor Joe?

I'm posting my comment from The Athletic here (I've been posting articles I might have published here before instead on TA or on Twitter, I'm trying to stay Big Picture here, but I thought my finding is too important for the Big Picture not to post here).  I am a habitual tweaker, so...

Your 2019 Giants: Move by Move: Kevin Pillar Acquisition

The Giants acquired Kevin Pillar from the Toronto Blue Jays, for the package of players that other teams had already decided not to take them from the Giants:  Alen Hanson, Derek Law, and Juan De Paula.  They also DFAed Michael Reed to clear 25-man and 40-man spots for Pillar.

Pillar is a below average hitter, roughly .700 OPS career hitter, but has been considered an elite defensive CF for most of his career, until the last season or two.  Still, all the major WAR metrics (baseball-reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospectus) valued him at 2.0+ wins in 2018 still, bad offense and declining defense.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Your 2018 Giants: You Say You Want a Rebuild

Good morning, ah!  There are a lot of unhappy Giants fans today, who would rather cry instead, singing, "I'm down, I'm really down, how can I laugh, when I know I'm down?" Don't cry baby cry, or twist and shout, you can't do that, because I got a feeling.  My thoughts.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Your 2019 Giants: Opening Day Roster

Wow, time flies, especially when work gets heavy, sorry for the delay.

The Giants have settled on their 25-man roster for Opening Day (OD):
  • SP:  Bumgarner, Holland, D-Rod, Samardzija, Pomeranz
  • RP: Smith (closer), Melancon, Watson, Dyson, Moronta, Vincent, Bergen, Gott
  • C:  Posey; Kratz
  • IF:  Belt, Panik, Longoria, Crawford; Solarte (backup MI/SS), Joe, Sandoval
  • OF:  Parra, Duggar, Reed (Joe, Solarte, Belt are expected to play LF at times; Reed backup CF)
To clear 40-man roster spots for Vincent, Solarte, and Parra, the Giants DFAed Hanson, Williamson, and Tom Murphy, the C they recently picked up from the Rockies in the continuing series of Zaidi Waiver Roulette.

With the mad dash of other teams waiving players, presumably the Giants are hoping that these players will slide through unclaimed. I see that with Hanson, but expect Williamson to be claimed by somebody, he was just too good last season not for someone to want to see if they can find that in him; Murphy could go either way, but I like him, hope we can keep him.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hey Zaidi! My Giants Business Plan: Great Starting Rotation

As shown in a prior chapter, preventing runs are very important (and espoused by Zaidi in an interview, about low-scoring games given that the Giants play in ATT Park; though we might be getting a new name by 2020, as ATT's contract is up, and the going price has gone significantly up from the approximate $2M per year paid by PacBell, to the $20M+ range; and it has happened already, Welcome to Oracle Park!) and who has the biggest influence on that? The starting pitchers, who pitch around 70% of the innings of games. That is another pillar in the strategy of creating the best team for success in the playoffs, and ultimately in the World Series.

Hey Zaidi! My Giants Business Plan: Good Bullpen

One of the biggest change in the history of baseball, besides digging the long ball, and particularly over the past 30 or 40 years, is the change in how the bullpen is used. When baseball first started, men were men, and men threw complete games. For the most part. Just in case he was tired (or just had too much to drink the night before), there would be a reliever sitting around who would finish up the game for him. It was macho y mano a mano.

And over the long history of baseball, until very recently, that has been the code of baseball, starters finish a lot of games. As late as the 80's, probably the last one famously being Billy Martin and his Billy Ball with the A's, where he had his young starters throw the most complete games to today, that was how games were managed. The main change was the rise in prominence of the closer as a role in the bullpen.

Then, not sure if he was the first or just the first to popularize it for managers, Tony LaRussa then had the bullpen structured to have setup men each pitch the 7th and 8th then have the closer come in to save in the 9th. That was a world change in a number of ways.

One was the closer didn't pitch more than one inning anymore and could expect to get ready if the team is leading heading to the 9th. Similarly for the setup men, when the 7th and 8th rolled up and the team was in the lead, they could expect to get ready if the team had the lead and the starter got into trouble. Meanwhile, the rest of the bullpen had to be ready in the middle of the game for long relief plus maybe see work later in setup should the setup men falter. I'm not sure why having set roles is better for relievers, but there have been many relievers who have stated that this is a good thing.

With this change, the closer became the superstar of the bullpen, instead of just a complementary accessory to the starting rotation. This elevated the closer's role in the game greatly and all teams today have an assigned closer - instead of pitchers the manager happened to go to when closing the game plus there were no co-closers, like the Giants had with Moffitt and Lavelle in the 70's. And the bullpen became that much more important as well, starting the save situation much earlier in the game now that the Hold is the save metric for the rest of the bullpen.

A good bullpen is thus obviously important to today's game, but how important are they to winning in the playoffs and especially winning it all?

Hey Zaidi! My Giants Business Plan: At Least 2 Aces, If Not More

As discussed in the last chapter, an MLB team need a great starting rotation to have a competitive advantage over the other team. However, how does a team achieve that? By having at least two Aces in their rotation, if not more.

Hey Zaidi! My Giants Business Plan: Great Defense Up the Middle

Most teams want good fielding defense. This is easily understood. Nobody wants to give up unearned runs. It's bad enough to give up a run but to give up one unnecessarily? Madness!

As commonsense as this is, it has been shown in a study that good team fielding defense in the regular season is related to playoff success. As noted previously, Baseball Prospectus, in its book, "Baseball Between the Numbers", Chapter 9.3, "Why Billy Beane's S**t Doesn't Work In The Playoffs," studied the issue of success in the playoffs, and found that good fielding defense, using their proprietary measure, is significantly associated with team success in the playoffs, from 1972 to 1995.  Thus, if any team wants to maximize their chances in the playoffs, you have to have good team fielding defense.

Up The Middle

Furthermore, there is the old truism in baseball that you want to have strong defense up the middle: catcher, secondbaseman, shortstop, and centerfielder. This is also commonsense as well.

Let's examine the Giants defense in 2018, and looking forward to 2019. Obviously the catcher is key defensively because he handles each and every pitch. Cannot have passed balls or a lot of wild pitches that get away. Plus they handle the pitchers and the pitch selection as well. And has to be able to throw out base stealers on a regular basis.

Thus defense is key at catching, and hence why Posey has been kept there, and why the Giants selected Joey Bart, an excellent college defender, who hopefully can take over for Posey in 2020-21.  Also probably why Zaidi has not re-signed Hundley, his defense is pretty poor, and Aramis Garcia was pretty good in limited play last season, as well as showing flexibility by playing well at 1B.  And he has acquired a couple of good defensive catchers in Erik Kratz and Steven Vogt (passed to minors to start season). 

Both 2B and SS have a lot more assists and putouts than the 3B, over 50% more balls handled each.  Hence why Panik and Crawford has been steady starters, and why Panik is suddenly not, when his defense took a dip (as well as his hitting, to be fair).  But his off-season program appears to have worked to return him to prior spryness.  Solarte is the new MI bench player.

Obviously, 1B handles a lot more balls than the other infielders, but the vast majority of them are throws from the other infielders straight (for the most part) to him, not fast grounders hit to him, particularly since most hitters are right-handers and most hitters pull the ball to their side of the field. Still, more important than 3B, plus the Giants under Sabean has focused on elite 1B defenders in Snow and Belt.  1B might be the exception to the up the middle rule, for the Giants.

In the outfield, the centerfielder gets over 100 more balls to handle than either of the corner outfielders, over 30% more balls to handle. In addition, the centerfielder is usually the quarterback of the outfielder, directing the other outfielders to certain positions, depending on the tendencies of the hitter and how the pitcher plans on attacking that hitter. Furthermore, in ATT, with that huge right-center "Death Valley" gap, that gives the CF more real estate to cover in the outfield, requiring more defensively out of the centerfielder in ATT.  It also demands more out of the rightfielder as well, which is why there is talk sometimes this off-season of the Giants under Zaidi getting a CF-level defender in RF.  Duggar, who showed elite fielding in 2018 per StatCast should man CF well, and Zaidi recently acquired Michael Reed, a superb defensive CF-capable outfielder, who got an out at 3B the other day. 

Thus, if it is important to have great fielding defense, then it is that much more important to have strong defense up the middle because they handle the most batted balls among the fielders. Obviously, this is more important for pitchers who put more balls into play, but people need to remember that even the pitchers with a lot of strikeouts and walks, who put less balls into play, still have the majority of plays (and outs) happening out on the field via a batted ball.

Good defense is paramount, and great defense up the middle is what you shoot for in putting together a successful baseball playoff team, which allows the team to roster better hitters who are poor defenders, at the corner positions..

Hey Zaidi! My Giants Business Plan: Great Team Overall Defense for Playoff Success

A key component of competitive advantage in MLB baseball is preventing runs from scoring, via both pitching and fielding. Baseball is tough enough to win without giving away runs via errors or unforced leadoff walks that eventually score.  Defense is both playoff win effective and win efficient.

Defense is Playoff Win Effective

As commonsense as this is, it has been shown in a study that good team  defense in the regular season is related to playoff success. Baseball Prospectus, it its book, "Baseball Between the Numbers", Chapter 9.3, "Why Billy Beane's S**t Doesn't Work In The Playoffs," studied the issue of success in going deep into the playoffs, and found that good defense, covering pitching and fielding, using their proprietary measure, is significantly associated with team success in the playoffs, from 1972 to 1995.  When ranked by an index of the three measures they determined to be key metrics, the Top 10 teams almost all not only made the World Series, but also won (and unfortunately for one of the teams, they lose because they faced off against another Top 10 team).

In addition, it found no correlation with going deep in the playoffs with any aspect of a playoff teams' offense.  The only metric that showed any promise of being connected with deep playoff runs was stolen base attempts, which suggests that speed is also connected with deep playoff runs.  And, obviously, speed is generally tied to good team fielding defense, as well.

Fangraphs/THT also had a playoff success study (published in 2004) and that too confirmed what Baseball Prospectus found, that offense was not tied with winning in the playoffs, and that defense was tied.  And, as the article noted:  "the most striking thing about this list is that it supports the old adages: you win in the post-season with pitching, fielding, and speed. Eleven of the 12 most important categories (by this crude measure) demonstrate skill on the mound, in the field and on the bases."

Overall, if any team wants to maximize their chances in the playoffs, you have to have good team defense, both pitching and defense.

Defense is Playoff Win Efficient

The Hardball Times showed in a past article that each run given up results in an exponential rise in the number of runs scored to maintain the same winning percentage.  This has implications regarding running a team efficiently as well as effectively.

And this is what Zaidi espoused in his interview with Ray Woodson in Ray's  Triple Alley podcast (episode 10), that your goal is quality if not elite defense, in order to support a low run environment that playing at ATT results in.  And as seen below, keeping scoring down means that you don't have to score as many runs in order to win 90 games.

To contend for a division regularly, you need to win at around a .556 percentage, or 90 wins per season, or higher. If a team can keep their runs allowed at 4.00, they need to score 4.53 runs per game to regularly contend, for example. Here is a table of what happens as runs allowed rises from 3.50 to 4.50 (average RS is 4.37, and average RA is 4.34):

RARSNL 2018 RA RankNL 2018 RS Rank

As one can see, for every extra 0.1 runs allowed, the team needs to score slightly more than 0.11 runs in order to win 90 games in a season.  Which means that winning becomes more efficient in terms of winning 90 games, as your overall defense - pitching and fielding - becomes better, as reducing RA by 0.1 means you can score -0.11 runs less to win the same 90 games.

I also provided where that offense (RS) and pitching (RA) would have ranked in 2018 in the NL on a runs scored and runs allowed basis. In this run environment, 4.2 runs allowed is the tipping point, once a team goes below that, their offense no longer has to be in the top 3.  From 3.8 to 4.1 the team can be in the middle of the pack offensively, in order to win 90 games.  This shows that an elite team in terms of defense can win with a middling offense.

And the reduction in need for runs scored as runs allowed becomes good and then elite, means that dollar for dollar, if a team lead (GM or President) is looking at either buying a 2 WAR pitcher or 2 WAR hitter who provides zero value defensively, they ultimately buy more wins by getting the pitcher (since adding him would reduce RA, assuming he's replacing a 0 WAR pitcher, a team ends up with more wins per Pythagorean, than adding the hitter who would increase RS, assuming he replaces a 0 WAR hitter).  This is never accounted for whenever there is analysis of the number of wins a player adds when acquired.

2019 Giants Potential

The 2018 Giants is a misnomer.  The team's offense was vastly different in the final months, than it was earlier, when they had everyone around, and different from the first month, as some players were not producing.  Overall, the 2018 Giants averaged 3.72 runs scored per game.  But in the first half, 4.07 RS.  Cutting out poor bad first week or so (Kershaw etc.), and over the next 93 games, averaged 4.23 RS per game (close to NL average of 4.37).

And there is potential for better.  For May-June, the team averaged 4.40 RS per game (55 games).  And their peak, from late April to July 1st (61 games), they averaged 4.61 RS per game.

The 2018 pitching was different too.  With pitchers going up and down, the pitching settled down by June, and from June to August, covering 80 games, the team had a 3.26 ERA and 3.56 RA average per game.  If they can do that over a full season, given enough rest and better handling, the offense only has to average 4.03 RS per game, which it did over the first half of the 2018 season, before all the injuries caught up with the offense at the end.

And there is potential for more offense, and thus allows for a lot of regression on the part of the pitching For example, at 4.40 RS, which the Giants averaged with much of the lineup healthy, only requires an RA of 3.89 to win 90 games, almost 10% worse than what the team did for three months.  From July to end of season, they had 3.96 RA over 106 games, and subtracting Cueto and Samardzija from July, that's 3.85 RA over the 100 games.

So the pitching staff as currently constituted, now that Holland has been re-signed, was able to maintain a 3.85 RA over a four month period (and now Pomeranz and Samardzija is in the rotation, not Suarez and Stratton), so it does not seem to be a huge stretch to try to reach a full season in 2019, especially if you assume some growth from the overall group of Rodriquez, Suarez, Moronta, and Black, plus young pitchers, which basically is half the pitching staff.

While D-Rod will regress, Suarez's advanced stats suggest a much better performance, Moronta and Black should learn, and a variety of young pitchers on the roster appears ready to take an MLB role.


Thus, having the best defense around is the major key to efficient winning, each run given up has exponential consequences on the need for runs scored, each run you keep from scoring means that you need to have as good an offense in order to be competitive. A good defense is better than a good offense, because you each extra 10 runs you give up, you need to score 11 runs to keep the same winning percentage when you are shooting for 90 wins.  In addition, good defensive teams have historically had deeper runs in the playoffs than good offensive teams. 

Defense, overall, helps teams in a variety of ways, including, mostly importantly, winning a World Series.

Your 2019 Giants: Paralysis by Zaidi-nalysis by Blind Men

Wow, how much action that Zaidi has done in the on-rush of teams needing to finalize 25-man rosters?  All those trades and moves, rapid action, in the closing days of spring training, as the rostering looks clear, then hazy once again, has been dizzying.  First it was Waiver Roulette, picking up guys, then dropping them, to see if they can pass through waivers, and become a trade piece for him, given the depleted farm system that he needs to rebuild.

It has been interesting reading people's comments about Zaidi and what he's doing, and I found that, for the most part, even for myself, the conclusions being made were all biased by what they believe the Giants should be doing.  It is much like the old story of 6 blind men who grasping one part of an elephant, and each telling their impression of the impressive beast (for example, the one holding his nose thinks it is much like a snake).  Analyzing his moves can be paralyzing.

I was not immune to this phenomenon myself, so I thought I would sit down and write about what we can really say about Zaidi based on the moves and decisions made this off-season, and what we can't.

[NOTE:  with all the moves he's making, I felt the need to just get this out before another move happens, had to update everything regarding Stratton, for example, and had to add Kratz earlier; watch, something's happening just as I'm publishing this, after all, Bochy told the media that they'll understand soon why the rotation hasn't been named, and nothing has happened yet...]

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Difficulties Finding Good Players in the First Round of the Draft

I keep on seeing the comments about the Sabean era Giants being unable to evaluate talent.

So the below post is a comment I made and then added more.  I started it before Zaidi was hired, then just finished it up, since the point is moot now that Farhan and his new hires are in charge of the draft.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Zaidi M.O.: Zaidi and Starting Pitching

I've been promulgating my theory that starting pitching can help lead the Giants to their next dynasty.  Following is my comment on The Athletic, plus my usual additions.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cheaters in the Hall: WAY Too Late to Object, Particularly by Media

I keep on seeing people complain about cheaters in the Hall of Fame, especially well-respected local journalists, you can easily find out who by researching who voted against them in the Bay Area in the last vote.  I posted the below in The Athletic, plus my usual extensive additions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Your 2019 Giants Big Picture: Drew Pomeranz signed for $1.5M

As reported by various media outlets, the Zaidi Giants signed LHP Drew Pomeranz to a $1.5M contract, with extensive roster and performance bonuses that, if all are earned, would push his salary to $5M.  He's now slated for the starting rotation - though it was noted by Zaidi  that he has experience relieving as well - giving the Giants three known and expected starters - Bumgarner, Holland, and Pomeranz - and many options for the other two positions:  Samardzija, Rodriquez, Suarez, and Stratton, plus potentially Blach and Anderson, and perhaps Adon, depending on how he's used.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Driveline Hiring: Giants Hire Matt Daniels to be Coordinator of Pitching Analysis

The Giants just hired Matt Daniels of Driveline Baseball to be their Coordinator of Pitching Analysis.  As Eno Sarris of The Athletic wrote,
...his hire as the coordinator of pitching analysis for the Giants is less about data and analytics and more about the growing need for middlemen, translators that can stand between the analysts and the players on the field, and bring the two sides closer together. 
“I’m not a mathematician or a SABR nerd,” Daniels told The Athletic this week. “I’ve read all that stuff but at heart I’m a baseball guy that knows data, not the other way around.” 
It’s an important distinction. 
“There’s an internal civil war that exists and doesn’t need to exist,” Daniels admitted.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The Zaidi Fallacy

Christmas has come and passed and many Giants fans feel like they got a coal in their stockings because Next Gen Leader, Farhan Zaidi, has not done much so far, with the biggest acquisitions being signing L/RHP Pat Venditte and picking up Mike Gerber off waivers.  Then there were the two Rule 5 pickups, LHP Travis Bergen (from Blue Jays) and OF Drew Ferguson (from Astros).  And the recent purchase of multi-positional Breyvic Valera (from Orioles).  Since surprising by leaving six 40-man roster spots open, and creating some excitement for significant movement, five marginal players have been picked up, leaving only one spot open on the 40-man roster (at the moment). 

Leading some to wonder:  if this is all the Giants were going to do, then why fire Evans?


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