Thursday, July 14, 2016

5th inning: 12-6

The Giants have played 90 games (five 18-game innings) and have 72 games remaining. They have completed 5/9 (about 56%) of their season. Here's the tally so far:

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6

That's a 57-33 record (.633), the best in baseball. They opened the season playing .500 ball (18-18) but since then they've played at a .722 clip (39-15). Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say?

A look at the numbers shows the Giants are 12th out of 30 teams with a run-scoring rate of 4.71 per game (league average is 4.51). Breaking down the team slash line their batting average (.263) is 11th-best, their OBP (.336) is 4th-best and their slugging percentage (.406) is 21st. Their wOBA (.320) is 15th, smack dab in the middle, but their wRC+ (104) is 7th-best. The Giants are good at bases on balls (4th-best) and very hard to strike out (3rd-fewest). This is not surprising, we see that every day. They don't hit many homers (only the Braves are worse) but they are 9th in doubles and 2nd in triples.

On the pitching side they are allowing 3.90 runs per game, behind only the Nationals, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs. The league average is 4.51 so the Giants have the run-prevention thing down pretty well despite the shaky bullpen. In team FIP (3.69) they trail only the Dodgers, Nationals, and Mets. They are middle-of-the-pack in strikeouts but excellent (3rd-fewest) in both walks and homers. Only eight teams have given up fewer hits.

Team position-player fWAR (19.4, includes fielding) is 3rd-best and team pitching fWAR (10.1) is 9th-best. One metric from B-R (Defensive Efficiency) gives the team a .700 mark, 6th-best. We know this is a good-glove team, and that synergy with the leather behind the pitchers makes a big impact. On the whole, it seems the Giants are a little better than the sum of their parts. They do a lot of things well and have good leadership, not to mention some championship DNA.

Individually it is hard to miss the 1-2 punch of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The team is 29-8 when they start. Those two are doing everything right and leading the club with consistently dominant pitching. Jeff Samardzija has had his ups and downs but overall is a fine number three and the recent rebound from Jake Peavy has been a big lift as well. Albert Suarez has done a solid job filling in for Matt Cain but I think we all want to see the big righty return ASAP to bolster the ro' for the second half run.

Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford have been the big performers with the bat and all three have been excellent defensively, with BCraw dazzling nightly with his impossible plays. That guy is under-rated at 4.2 fWAR (7th-best in baseball)! The super-subs (Green, Peña, and Parker in particular) have filled in remarkably well and there have been contributions up and down the roster. It will be nice to get our fabulous infield back together (Panik probably sooner than Duffy) but the organization has been well-served by the backups.

The weak link has been the bullpen but when the team has the most wins and fewest losses it is hard to get too worried. I believe the return of Sergio Romo will help settle the roles and we will see more consistency. George Kontos may be a key guy here. I've said it many times before I think we will see a new arm or two (a lefty, probably) for the stretch run, but no one famous or expensive. Think about how valuable Cory Gearrin has been--he's a scrap-heap reclamation. The Giants won't get Andrew Miller but they will find a diamond-in-the-rough who can help. Despite some hiccups both Santiago Casilla and Hunter Strickland have been solid and will get the pressure outs in the big games to come.

Imagine this team taking a dump and playing .500 ball (36-36) the rest of the way. That's 93 wins! I don't think that will happen: 40 more wins (.556) means 97 total, which should mean a West Division title and first or second seed in the playoffs. With Pence coming back and perhaps an uptick in performance from both Span and Blanco (Pagan has been looking much better, don't you think?) it's easy to feel confident. Of course disaster could strike. The baseball gods could mock us and torture us and humble us. This we know, and have experienced. But this is a good team. They won't keep up the .700 thing, but they don't have to. Keep grinding, avoid the big losing streaks, make LA feel the heat--this they can do.

One thing we can count on as fans is a top-notch front office. You can bet they will plug any holes they see in the next month or so. I'm happy with the status quo but August is the cruellest month (sorry TSE, April ain't nuthin') and the team won't be able to ride two starters and three hitters the rest of the way. The remainder of the rotation will need to be steady performers, the other guys in the lineup will have to pull their collective weight, and the hurt guys will have to get healthy. But the team is in a great position for the second half and ought to be able to turn that into a post-season berth.




Zo said...

I'd be happy with another 4 innings at 12 - 6.

carmot said...

I know that I've criticized plenty of the Giants' comments, moves and decisions over the years. But one thing I am absolutely confident in is their ability to find bullpen arms. Somehow, some way, they get what they seemingly need. Say what we want about Penny, Mijares, Guerrin, Kontos, Machi, Petit, Gaudin, and a host of others. This is a strength of our Giants, front office, and management. I hope this trend continues. Because, yes, it will be essential.

I hope it's an internal solution. I don't understand how Jake Smith was let go. I wish Black was performing, or that maybe we still had Joe Biagini. I'm thrilled to see our record to this point. The second half schedule will be tough. Some strong teams will (obviously) get stronger. Some teams will face injury. A 12-6 record is always great. Especially true when leading one's division! Go G's!