Saturday, April 25, 2015

1st inning: 7-11

We've seen the Giants play 1/9 of their season so far, 18 of 162 games, the first seasonal inning. The highlight of course was the three-game sweep of the Dodgers. The low point was the eight-game losing streak in which they were outscored 43-15. The emergence of rookie Chris Heston as a viable starter is definitely another high point--he got beat yesterday in Colorado but the entire Giants team has yet to figure out how to beat the 2015 Rockies so I'm not too bothered by that. The other youngsters like Joe Panik and Matt Duffy have been terrific as well. FNG Justin Maxwell has been a great addition so far as has Nori Aoki. It looks like Brandon Belt is finding his stroke and Angel Pagan looks strong and healthy and back to form. Brandon Crawford is still the best shortstop in the world and he's starting to see the big hits fall. Tim Lincecum is another great 2015 story with only four runs allowed in his first three starts.

Right now the club is third from the bottom of the league in run-scoring. Only Philadelphia (6-11) and Milwaukee (3-14) are worse. You can win with a below-average offense, but not with one this bad. The Giants are pounding out 2.94 runs per game and the NL mean is 3.88 rpg. Note that San Diego (4.72), Los Angeles (4.50), Arizona (4.38), and Colorado (4.29) are 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th in the rankings. Giants could use an uptick and the obvious candidate for improvement is Buster Posey. We all know what Buster can do so I expect we will see that happen real soon. Casey McGehee's bat has not come to life either but you have to figure things will turn around for him, too. In terms of OPS the Giants, at .666, are only a hair from the league mean of .683, but again the top three teams are from the West (Dodgers, Rockies, Padres) so it behooves the club to find some power hitting. The Giants have proven that you can win without home runs, but they have always had extra-base hits aplenty and they could use a few more. The team has drawn 56 walks, 4th-best, which I hope is a season-long trend.

The Giants aren't doing it on the run-prevention side either. They've given up 74 runs, 4.11 rpg, fourth and sixth from the bottom. The league average is 3.95 so there is reason for optimism as they aren't too far away. LA (3.62) and SD (3.67) are leading the way in the West and are 3rd and 4th from the top. Ace Madison Bumgarner is not entirely there yet and that will have a huge impact on things when he gets into mid-season form. Tim Hudson can still deliver quality starts and along with the other Timmy that's not a bad trio. With Jake Peavy out of sorts and now injured and Matt Cain still on the shelf the team's depth will be tested. Ryan Vogelsong showed some moxie in his last start and perhaps Yusmeiro Petit will be called upon to do his magic a few times before the boys are back. The bullpen is still a team strength, I'm particularly enjoying watching George Kontos who looks very tough.

There's nothing pretty about eight losses in a row, a 7-11 record, and last place. But it's 1/9 of the season and considering the injuries to two starters and the team's two best players below par I'm not worried. There is a lot of baseball left to play and plenty of time for things to start going the Giants way. The starters are the key, they have to keep games close, but the offense has been mostly anemic and that's cost them some winnable games. They've been shut out three times, scored only one run three times (but got a win!), and scored only two runs twice. That's not a recipe for success. Score four and allow three is the magic formula, the Giants have that reversed right now. We saw them take three from LA with three strong starts (six runs allowed!) and some clutch hitting so we know they can match up with their rivals. The new-look Padres are in the mix with a nice balance of pitching and hitting and the damn Rockies have yet to be beaten by the defending champs but I'm not sure I buy into their hot start. I still see a three-way brawl for the title. LA has the track record, the home run hitters, and the ├╝ber-aces. SD has the Rodney Dangerfield vibe as well as some smart off-season moves (Craig Kimbrel, James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, etc.) on their side. Should be fun, eh?




Zo said...

How 'bout them Warriors?

JC Parsons said...

These 'inning" summaries are usually a lot more fun than this one. Not your fault MOC, of course. This team, as your report clearly points out, is really stinking it up in almost all ways a team can. Sure there are several very good reasons ( oh Hunter, I miss you so ), but the end result is a BAD START. Plenty of time left, plently of good signs on the horizon... the cup is definitely half full. OK, maybe a quarter full.

I am very excited about today's gme. No, I'm not one of those Coor's Field masochistic weirdos. I get to watch/listen to the game with MOC, Zo and their lovely wives!! That is a rare pleasure, indeed. I'm sure good things will come from this gathering. I'm not saying the Opening Day group wasn't swell (altho I am disinctly missing!) but it sure didn't fire up the team, shall we say. I am very confident that our group energy will carry us to victory... or not. Either way it will be good booze, grub and friends. WooHoo!

M.C. O'Connor said...

Can't believe I forgot to mention Pence! Maybe because Maxwell has done a great job in his absence. But it would be nice to see him back on the field.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Oh, and today is the Feast of Mark the Evangelist, my namesake. So we'll have some help from on high if we make the proper obeisance to the gods before the game!

Shankbone said...

One of my favorites in the Giants blogosphere, this series. Gigantes are starting to pull it together, at least that's what it seems like.