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...).

ogc big picture thoughts

The idea of taking this type of view is two fold.  One is that, as any baseball fan knows, in the second inning, there's still a lot of baseball to be played.  There will be ups and downs, and generally, nothing definitive about the game can be said at that point.  Another is that looking at chunks of the season like this gives another perspective on what is happening.

For example, for me, the starting point of the 2019 season that I would prefer to use for viewing where the Giants currently are is April 8th, the day we acquired Tyler Austin.  This is because until we got Pillar and him, we had Michael Reed and Connor Joe on the roster.  Reed had 6 K's in 8 AB, with a .000 OPS until Pillar replaced him.  Joe was a little better, but still very poor, 5 K's in 15 AB, .192 OPS.  Neither was anywhere close to replacement level, not even pitcher level, so I view the roster as severely hampered until both were replaced by competent major leaguers.

I also now realize that this is the first major sign that Zaidi views this as a rebuilding year.  He severely handicapped the 25-man roster by carrying two possible prospects on Opening Day, until the price for players he was interested in fell to a level he was okay with.  And the Waiver Roulette tactic, in order to build up prospects and trading chips in AAA, is a continuous sign of his commitment to rebuilding the Giants, move by move.

Anyway, prior to acquiring Austin, the Giants were 3-7.  So, after acquiring Austin (again, a relatively competent major league hitter, giving Bochy a full 25-man roster finally), the Giants have been 13-13 (for the first two innings of the season, per this analytical framework), which is what I've been saying that this team is capable of doing, and possibly beating.

Some point out that Austin was hardly used when he was acquired to replace Joe, and thus it could be said that he had little influence on the team.  Thinking on this, I would point out that with a 13-man pitching staff, that leaves only 3 bench positions (as one has to be a catcher), and so, while Austin has been little used, he does improve the bench greatly.  On top of that, the acquisitions meant that Pillar and Parra were the starters, huge improvements on the lineup over Reed and Joe.  Their WAR might not add up to a win, but comparatively to what Reed and Joe were providing, they are probably providing a win or two above what a .000 OPS and .192 OPS is providing. 

Hitting

In the first inning, the Giants as a team hit .204/.263/.329/.591, averaging 3.0 runs scored per game, which was really poor.  But as I noted above, they were severely handicapped with two unproven prospects.  In the second inning, the Giants hit .241/.301/.399/.700, averaging 4.6 runs scored per game.

I don't have all the player stats for that period, but I know from following the games that some hitters started hitting better.  Obviously, firstly, Austin has been hitting well for the Giants, which was a huge improvement over Joe (nothing against him, I would have loved to have kept him in the system).  In addition, Pillar, even with his poor hitting, was still a huge improvement over Reed.

Then there was Posey, who was still figuring out his swing, now that he's not compensating for his lack of hips in his swing previously, who recently started hitting for power to the opposite field, which is usually a good sign that his swing is going well.  Too bad the concussion probably put him back at square one.

Sandoval and Belt has been hitting for most of the season.  But Crawford seems to be doing his usual bad April, start hitting in May routine, as reported by many.  Though he's still not hitting all that well right now in May, but at least better.

Panik has been a revelation lately, and the seeds bloomed slowly in the first two innings.  In the first inning, he hit .208/.304/.250/.554, and he improved some in the second inning, as he hit .237.274/.373/.647.  So far in the third inning, he's been hitting .357/.513/.500/1.013.  His streak began on April 23, game 24, middle of the second inning, and he has hit .315/.407/.479/.886 since.

The first inning ended 33 days ago, so the stats split for the last 28 days covers who has been hitting for us since the first inning.  Sandoval leads with 1.090 OPS, starting 12 of the games since, with 7 homers in 55 AB.  Belt has a nice .274/.395/.548/.943 OPS, 3 homers in 62 AB. Panik has .886 OPS, with 11 walks and 12 strikeouts in 73 AB/86 PA.  Austin is next with .839 OPS in 33 AB/37 PA (16 strikeouts though!).  Longoria has been hitting .246/.333/.492/.825 with 4 homers in 61 AB.  Posey is the last of the plus hitters, with .300/.321/.480/.801, tied with Belt and Panik for most doubles in the period, although he missed a week's worth of games.

Pitching

Much like hitting was night and day, pitching was day and night, starting out well and then imploding.  One of the glaring signs:  ERA of 5.80 for the past 28 days.  The only guys with ERA's under 4 in that period:  Gott 1.74 ERA, Bergen 2.53 ERA, Watson 2.70 ERA, Dyson 3.00 ERA, Anderson 3.60 (only one start).  Will Smith had a 4.09 ERA and it just got worse from there.

Viewed by innings, looks just as bad.  The Giants in the first inning had a team ERA of 2.77.  In the second inning:  5.92 ERA.  Ouch!!!  5.29 ERA so far in the third inning.

Things are so bad that Holland was demoted to the bullpen, upon which he complained openly, plus D-Rod was demoted to AAA, and Shaun Anderson is now part of the rotation (albeit, provisionally), and Tyler Beede looks like he'll be getting starts as well, and Andy Suarez is being brought up to start today.  Meanwhile, Bumgarner, Pomeranz, and Samardzija took their turns as well.  So is it a 6-man rotation now, at least for one turn of the rotation?

The good news is that the pitching is way underperforming what they had done before and the projections, which is much better.  And they will definitely need to get back to their career projections if they are to have any hope of beating .500 this season.

Overall View

The Giants have been opposites this season:  pitching was great, but the hitting was horrible, to start the season, but then the hitting was great, but the pitching has been horrible.  It reminds me of last season, when things were unsettled, especially with Cueto's and Samardzija's injuries, until Bumgarner arrived at the start of June.  At that point, the pitching settled down, and was lock down good from June to August, enabling the Giants to go 42-38 with a 3.26 ERA.

With their current 20-25 record, there is still plenty of time for them to course correct and get back to .500 or better, which is what I predicted at the start of the season.  I still think that it is doable, but it will take the pitching to return to their career norms, as well as the hitting keeping on the better side of the ledger.  And with the pitching rotation in a state of flux, it's no sure thing that the pitching will return to projections. 

We'll see, especially with Mac Williamson again disappointing fans with his poor hitting, after hitting a homer in his first game back to the majors.  The Giants will probably give him about a month to fix himself, else he could be DFAed again, probably for the last time by the Giants, he's probably leaving for another team if he makes it through again, as he can declare himself a free agent at that point. 

Mike Yastremski appears to be the next in line in AAA, given the way he's hitting so far, but given that Austin Slater is already on the 40-man roster, and been hitting well too, I think he's the likelier next option up, especially since he can play so many positions.   However, given his super-utility usage, the Giants might want to roll through the other guys, like Yaz, Ramos, Garcia, Green, who don't have 40-man spots, before bringing him up.  So we'll see what Zaidi wants to do here, probably soon, the poor way Mac is hitting.

So while there is plenty of time left, the hitting and the pitching needs to be better aligned in performance for them to have any chance of reaching .500 or above.  We need some people to start doing what's expected from them, and as we have seen in recent weeks, if you don't, Thank You, Next!

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