Monday, October 5, 2009

A Season by the Numbers

88-74, 3rd place, 7 GB, .543

At the ASB: 49-39, 2nd place, 7 GB, .557
Post-ASB: 39-35

Breaking the season into nine 18-game "innings" looks like this:

27 Apr 9-9
16 May 18-18 (9-9)
06 Jun 28-26 (10-8)
26 Jun 39-33 (11-7)
18 Jul 49-41 (10-8)
05 Aug 60-48 (11-7)
25 Aug 68-58 (8-10)
14 Sep 78-66 (10-8)
04 Oct 88-74 (10-8)

Remarkably consistent, wouldn't you say? Points out the value of run prevention. We were good at that. The San Francisco Giants only gave up 611 runs--tied with the LAtriners for the best in the game. That's 3.77 runs allowed per game. You keep games close, you give yourself a chance to win. We proved that this year.

We all know the flip side: run creation. We were abysmal at that. The Giants were 26th out of 30 teams in runs scored. Only Houston, Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh were worse. A total of 657 runs means 4.06 runs scored per game. For comparison, the Cardinals scored 730, the LAtriners scored 780, the Crockies scored 804, and the Phillies scored 820. (The Yankees scored 915!) The NL average was 718 or 4.43 per game. The Giants were the only MLB team with an OPS below .700--our .699 final mark was even worse than the Padres .701 clip. The NL average was .739, and you can't expect to win big if your offense is that bad.

The fact that we won 88 games is remarkable--I would not expect such luck to hold next year. The Seattle Mariners scored only 640 runs and allowed 692, yet they had a winning record (85-77). The Detroit Tigers are tied for 1st in the AL Central despite giving up one more run than they scored (738/739), and their co-leaders, the Minnesota Twins, have the same 86-76 record even though they scored 51 runs more than they allowed (811/760). Those two teams are lucky they play in a weak division. The defending AL champs--Tampa Bay--finished 19 games back with an 84-78 record and a +49 run difference! Bad luck to be in the same division as the Yanks and Sox. The Atlanta Braves, at +94, finished 3rd (7 back) with an 86-76 record. The Braves had one of the best pitching staffs in the game (3rd in ERA, 1st in FIP, 2nd in WAR) yet Florida won one more game with only a +6 run difference.

Like any stat, the difference between runs scored and runs allowed only tells part of the story. In the Giants case, I think we were beneficiaries of good luck in the middle of the season and ran into some bad luck at the end. If you want to beat Lady Luck, you need to score more runs. Let's hope we figure out a way to do that next year without gutting the pitching staff, the strength of the team.


Bob said...

Runs scored is pretty much the ultimate stat. Didn't the Giants have a season not long ago where they had a winning record but they gave up more total runs than they scored? Because they got blown out a bunch of times and won a lot of close games?
A stat that surprised me is 52 walks for Pablo to lead the team. That's not a lot of walks actually but I never thought he would lead the team. Says more about the rest of the team, I suppose.
The peculiarities of PhoneCo Park dictate that the team be built around pitching and speed. The foundation is being laid pretty well. We won't have to "gut" the pitching staff but we may lose one of our favorites in a trade for power.
Let's assume Pablo gets better, that F Sanchez heals and plays well, that Posey displays a strong learning curve and becomes a solid major league player, and that either Scheirholz, Velez or Lewis also improves. Add one big bat and that's a darn good nucleus for an offense.

Ron said...

Last night, my Dad (my Parents are visiting us for a few days) asked me what I thought about the Giants' 'collapse' at the end of the season. In past years, I would have gotten angry & defensive, attempting to conceal my own disappointment while offering some sort of half-baked excuse(s). This year, in total honesty, I said that I didn't consider that any collapse had happened. I said that this team had far exceeded reasonable expectations, that 88 wins was a healthy total, often high enough to get into the playoffs, & that this team accomplished all of this with a sub-par Manager, a sub-par GM, & a sub-par offense. I am happy with the 2009 Giants.

That-being-said, I hope that we do not trade any of our Starting Pitchers or prospects. Despite the 'poor boy' whimperings, we have plenty of money to spend on one very good free agent or a couple of good free agents.

We should be even better in 2010, which, of course, will translate into what will at that point be an expected appearance in the post-season.

Zo said...

I agree with Ron. The only thing that may have collapsed were expectations that got a little ahead of reality. You want collapse? Talk to Mets or Cubs fans. Did they not pretty much have it wrapped up before the season started (World Series champs in the NL East notwithstanding)?

In reviewing Mark's post and Mr. Malo's at, what I find disturbing in addition to the weakness of the Giant's offense, which we knew anyway, is that the smog suckers have excellent pitching and fielding stats. Having said that, we wind up 7 games back and with the 5th best winning percentage in the NL. Wins are, of course the ultimate stat.

I will warn all readers now: stay away from sports news commentary on major tv networks. They want nothing more than a NY - LA world series and it will take all the psychic energy we can collectively muster to prevent it. Me, I'm rooting for the Cardinals.

M.C. O'Connor said...

You're right, Ron. There was no "collapse." It was a team over-performing all season long with laundry list of "sub-pars." And you're right, Bob, Pablo's BB total is a reflection of his horseshit teammates. The LAtriners had EIGHT guys get 50 or more walks. EIGHT FUCKING GUYS!!! The single most important thing a batter can do is NOT MAKE AN OUT. We don't subscribe to that philosophy. When Bengie Molina is your leader, gamer, cleanup hitter, and organizational paradigm, your offense is going to fail miserably.

This is what worries me about next year. Atlanta had great pitching and only won 86 games. We could be them next year. Chicago was the best team in the NL last year and an also-ran this year. Improvement is not linear--just ask the Rays. We need our ENTIRE bullpen to perform just as well, all our starters to be healthy all year long (neither of those are entirely improbable, but not guarantees, either), and WE NEED A COMPLETELY NEW HITTING PHILOSOPHY. I don't buy the "we are just a batter or two away" line. It assumes that everything else is EXACTLY the same as this year and all we have to do is add 7 more wins with some power hitters. We had a lot of good luck this year and a remarkable run by our starters--we might not get that next year. Bullpens are very hard to predict and vary annually by A LOT. Will ours be just as tough in 2010?

I'm worried that retaining the hacks (Sabes, Boch) will result in an ersatz version of the 2009 Giants trotted out for 2010 with no attempt to continue growing and improving. Sign X LF and Y RF and all is fixed. We'll still have Edgar Renteria, and Juan Uribe will still be our 2nd best hitter. Will Eugenio Velez still be Eugenio Velez? Will Nate Scheirholtz will still swing at pitches that hit him? My fear is that we don't just need Buster Posey to be Rookie of the Year--we need a whole new lineup.

Where are we going to get a whole new lineup? Nuke and LarryB will sell lots of season ticket packages because we've all been seduced by 2009. Will they step up and make the changes we need? So far, the answer is "no." They have a lot of faith in Boch and Sabes. Do you?

It has been a great season but I see a hell of a lot of the same holes I saw last fall, and the same hole-fillers are still with us.