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.

ogc big picture thoughts

I love the fact that the MLB season is 162 games, which is divisible by 9, into 18 game segments, or inning segments (and that's divisible by 2, which works out to half innings, if you want).  I think that's a good way to view the baseball season and better modulate your feelings regarding what's happening.  We have now reached 18 games played, so now the Giants are 8-10 at the end of the first inning.

I know that when your team is losing, it feels like the end of the world.  But as long as your team isn't double digit games behind, especially in the first half of the season, it's not the end of the world.  Here are some thoughts to help with that.

Dusty's Great Rule of Thumb

Dusty Baker had a great way to break down the task of winning the division into achievable smaller goals, and to judge how much time you have left to do it:  the goal is to gain one game in the standing per week.  And that goal not only feels achievable, it is achievable, with some push.

In April, even at the end of the month, there is still roughly 20-21 more weeks of baseball. So unless you are 20 games back, your team has plenty of time to make up whatever deficit they have in the win column.  So barring a Grand Canyon of a deficit, there's plenty of time for adjustments and re-dos.

Re-Do Example

This would probably be better if I can give the exact year and team, but I don't have time to research it, so I'll just present the example.  One season, the team started off really bad.  Don't remember if it was just bad performances plus injuries (I am thinking this happened at least a decade ago) or what, but I recall that by sometime in May, they changed most of their pitching rotation.  And darn if they didn't start winning.

Okay, not so great an example, I should dig that up one day....

NL West Do-Si-Do

Again, no time to research, but I've observed this for over a dozen years now in the NL West:  one team would rush out of the chute, winning a lot of games, looking like they are going to win the NL West division, but then at some point in the first half (April, May, June), they fall back and/or another team rises, and then suddenly it's a battle again for the NL West.  And sometimes that early leader is surpassed by the team that suddenly rises.  So, even if your team starts off cold, it does not mean that they can't rise and catch up.

And we saw that in 2010.  By May, the Giants were 2-3 games back of the Padres, who zoomed into the division lead behind pitching that was acting like aces that their history said that they were not.  And as the season balanced out their early good luck with later bad luck, their team fell back to the pack, and the Giants surged, as well, late, and took the division title on the last day (and if Cuzzi didn't like the theatrics of the Mets catcher, and called Ishikawa out when he scored the winning run, in May, there would have been no suspense in that final series, the Giants would have won the pennant already, entering into that series).

Offense Catch Up

The Giants lineup has been hampered greatly.  True, not a great lineup even at it's best, they have also been hurt by hitters getting BABIPed badly.  StatCast provides each batters wOBA and xwOBA, and 5 of our 8 regular lineup hitters are below expected wOBA, four of them by 15% or more:  Pillar (15%), Posey (17%), Longoria (19%) and Panik (30%).   And not that long ago, all four were over 30% under, so the luck can change in a hurry.  Overall, the team has a wOBA of .258 and a xwOBA of .278, or an 8% improvement.  Adding 8% to their run total would push the Pythagorean from 8 wins to 9 wins, the team should be 9-9 right now if not for bad offensive luck.

Of course, luck goes both ways, sometimes, and the pitching has had good luck as well, basically offsetting the bad luck of the hitters (probably it's the park and the marine environment).  So 8-10 seems to be well earned so far, based solely on performance.

Big Picture Overall

The big picture is that the Giants have a lot of baseball left to go.  It's only the first inning of the season.  The pitching has been great, the hitting has not.

But the team was hampered by the try out given Connor Joe and Michael Reed, early in the season.  Since acquiring Tyler Austin, and using either him or Parra in there instead, the team has gone 5-3.  Let's see how the offense gels as the team absorbs in four new starters in Parra, Pillar, Austin, and Duggar, and observe how they get settled into their new environment and make their adjustments.

They've also had some good luck with their starting pitching.  Their FIP and xFIP are worse than what's expected, so is their xwOBA per StatCast.  Still, what they are doing isn't something that they haven't done before, so that's something to observe too.  And, overall, while they are over performing, the overall pitching staff's FIP of 3.46 is still great (good for 4th in majors, 3rd in xFIP of 3.85).  And with 2.8 fWAR, the pitching staff is 6th in the majors, plus 3rd in K/BB with 3.53 and 5th in K%-BB% with 17.2% (due to 3rd in BB%).  Overall, the pitching staff is doing great, just about where we want it to be to win with pitching.

Where the Giants shine super bright is defense.  Per Fangraphs, 1st in Def with 9.3 (2nd has 7.1, 5th 4.8, 10th 2.6, 15th 1.0).  Best UZR/150 with 15.1 (Padres 2nd with 14.8 though, 5th 11.2, 10th 4.8).  Leader by far in DRS:  Giants has 31 DRS, D-backs has 16 for 2nd, Padres 11 for 3rd (3-way tie), Cards 10 for 6th, Rays 8 for 10th place, Angels and Cubs with 6 each for 15th place tie.  DRS is Defensive Runs Saved, and if that translate over, that's 3 out of 8 wins just due to our fielding defense!  The defense has been spectacular!

And here's an interesting stat:  we got some speed now!  Duggar's sprint speed of 28.2 ft/sec is 61th in the majors, 83.5 percentile.  Pillar is not far behind with 27.9, good for 86th and 78.8 percentile.  Even Austin is not bad, he's at 26.8, 50.1 percentile, and that's pretty fast for 1B-men.  But roughly in the middle for LF (around where Mac Williamson was; poor Mac, slow start, concussions seem to take more than a year to recover fully from). 

In any case, the Giants are 8-10, very near to .500, only 2.5 games behind the leaders, SD and LA.  SD led with a hot streak, getting 3 games up, and now LA has already caught up. And talk about lucky, they should be 8-11 right now, half a game behind the Giants Pythag 8-10, instead of 11-8.  They have had some really great luck so far.

Let's see how the offense and pitching settles down in the second inning.  And even then, it's still very early in the long game that is the baseball season.  People like to pigeon hole a team based on what happens in a season, but each season is a swirling mess of different elements that ebbs and flows, and you need to pay attention to all those elements, or you will miss out on what's happening, under your noses.

For example, I still see people bringing up the second half of 2016, but much of that team is not on this current team, so there is no 1:1 equivalencies there.  You need to see each team in its own right/light.  And as I've been saying all off-season, there is a lot to like in the pitching, and now with Parra, Pillar, and PDuggar in the outfield, even more to like in the fielding.  It won't take much offense to win with this group, but unfortunately, it's been underperforming even that low bar (only 3.22 RA per game so far, should be leading the division with that; if they averaged simply 4.00 RS, they would be 11-8 right now, per Pythagorean).  Let's see if they can improve in the next inning.

7 comments:

  1. I've been using that "seasonal innings" idea (18 games is 1/9 of the season) for years. It really helps me see the ebb and flow of the season. I think my first post with that notion was in 2014:

    https://raisingmattcain.blogspot.com/2014/04/first-inning-10-8.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm surprised more people don't see it the same way! Seems like such a logical and elegant way to divide the season.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Might happen, I've just been told that our unit might not survive the next round of cuts at our company, in which case, I'll be writing more (once I get over the shock...)

      Delete
    2. I was writing replies to the article by Grant on the Giant being the Yankees, when I realized that I have been writing more, just not here. I'll try to move more of them here, as I used to, though some are repetitive, because certain themes of complaints repeat.

      Delete
  4. This is you, isn't it:

    "Ogc O.
    Apr 22, 5:10pm


    @John C. The truth is, the team today has 7 players in common with the 2016 team, and yet people like you keep on treating the roster as if it is exactly the same players, exactly the same talent. You need to keep up with who is actually on the roster, if you want to understand what they can do today.

    Convenient of you to use A-ball to eliminate Joey Bart, who, even injured, looks likely to join the Giants sometime in 2020, which is next season. And the way Ramos is hitting, he could reach his goal of making the majors by 2021. Both are not very far away from the majors, that's the way it is for top MLB prospects, even ones in A-ball.

    And what are you even watching? You can't be watching the Giants, which is second in the NL in ERA and third in RA/game and FIP, and has lapped the majors in DRS, a major advanced metric of fielding defense overall, covering measurements of catcher framing and OF arm, and other factors, with 31 DRS, second place has 15, fifth place has 11. That is certainly the makings of a very good team, the way the Giants built winning teams a decade ago.

    Apparently you missed this great period of Giants baseball, if you can't even see this great aspect of the 2019 Giants. You are as deluded/blinded as the fans who were telling me pre-2009 that the Giants were not going anywhere."

    It was a good post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, that's me. Thanks for the compliment! I try!

      John C is a racist and a sexist, suggesting in a comment that Kim Ng might have benefited from Affirmative Action, and he and another bully (he must have been kicked off, I don't see him saying stuff anymore, especially at me) have been using a variety of MAGA behavior in attacking me and my position that the Giants are not all that bad in 2019 (that happened first, then the Kim Ng comment).

      He's finally left out that crap from his comments: he's probably been reprimanded by TA at some point, I'll bet, his tail's been between his legs for a while now, he's been a choir boy for a while now.

      Now he's presenting himself as an arch sage who has been correct this whole time (Sabean was good but that was then, is his stance; I keep on pointing out to him that Evans was fired, not Sabean), but covers his ass by saying that it would not bother him if he is wrong. But then says that he's right, of course. I don't understand that stance at all, it kills me to take a stand that I think might be wrong, but I'm willing to stand on the ledge if that's what the data and my analysis tells me. Maybe it's just me.

      Anyway, he keeps on beating on that "The truth is that Giants been bad for 2.5+ seasons now" factoid that is popular with people complaining, and I finally found a way to attack that point of view. I appreciate you bringing it up, I was pretty proud of that one.

      Then he noted that the Giants didn't have any good prospects above A-ball, which totally overlooks Bart and Ramos, who were both killing it there, and look like they'll be in the majors sooner than later.

      And, of course, blasting 2019 Giants baseball, so I put some facts in there, and tied it to 2009, which is certainly the feel I've been getting in the comments, I went looking at what people were saying to me back then (also to see if what I think I said is what I've said).

      Delete

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