Action returns to major league baseball today but the Giants are still off until Friday when the G’s take on the Brewers. The opening game of the series should be a good one, Matt Cain meet CC — no longer C.C. — Sabathia. The second half of the season will also reveal the Giants new revamped rotation, which looks like this: Cain, Sanchez, Lincecum, Zito, and Correia. That’s some hot RLRLR action for you. Pushing Zito back as far as you can makes sense because you really don’t want Zito matching up with the CC Sabathia’s of the world.
And because I haven’t written much of anything today, I’m going to go the cheap route and just link to some stuff.
~ El Lefty Malo has a nice post on the state of the Giants outfield.
The outfield has preformed admirably for the Giants but I’m still itchy to move Randy Winn in any trade if I can. Lewis has been a favorite of mine but he’s really striking out a lot right now. As of today, Lewis has a K% of 27.8% which sandwiches him between Matt Kemp (30.8%) and Evan Longoria (26.8%) for 6th in the majors among hitters with 350 PA’s. Freddie-Loo has helped offset his swing-and-a-miss approach with a good dose of walks. He’s walking at 10.5%, which is acceptable.
Lewis has been the Giants most patient hitter in the first half. His average pitches per plate appearance is 4.26 and the only other Giant to see more than 4 pitches per PA, is Ray Durham at 4.13.
Check out the following plots for Pit/PA and Contact Percentage.
Name Pit/PA Lewis 4.26 Durham 4.13 Winn 3.87 Vizquel 3.75 Castillo 3.64 Bowker 3.58 Aurilia 3.53 Rowand 3.5 Burriss 3.47 Molina 3.3
Name Contact Vizquel 91 Burriss 88 Molina 86 Winn 82 Aurilia 82 Durham 81 Lewis 79 Bowker 78 Castillo 77 Rowand 73
What can these plots tell us?
First, that Fred Lewis sees the most pitches per plate appearance among Giants hitters but his contact percentage is closer to the bottom for these hitters. Seeing more pitches is a good because it tells us that the hitter has some idea of how to control the zone. It’s no coincidence that our top three hitters by Pit/PA — Lewis, Durham, and Winn — lead the Giants in BB% with scores of 10.5%, 12.6%, and 10.6% respectively. The key is when to swing and it’s something that the Giants would like Lewis to do more of. He ranks 3rd in the majors for watching a called strike three. Lewis has said that he’s still learning the zones of the different umpires and hopefully that has some truth to it. I do not think the Giants should try and make Lewis more aggressive. Part of his value is that he’s so patient and that’s going to result in a called strike three now and then.
Secondly, the Pit/PA and Contact plots confirm some of the things we see with our eyes. Namely that Molina likes to swing at everything. His 3.3 pitches per plate appearance tell us that he doesn’t wait around to swing the bat. On the flip side, Molina covers the plate well, his contact percentage of 86 was third on the team. We’ve seen Molina hit balls this year that no one should swing at let alone be able to hit in play. You’ve also got a pair of Hacky McSlaps in Omar and Manny. Omar has a awesome contact percentage but he’s hitting less line drives than ever before and he’s hitting the majority of his balls in play on the ground. Groundballs are more likely to be turned into outs and with Omar losing some mobility because of his knee, it’s not a good mix. Burriss should look to slap the ball on the ground and just run — his infield hit percentage is at a sparkling 13.8%. He might be the fastest player on the Giants and his lack of power means that any ball hit in the air is most likely going for an out.
~ Giants draft pick — still yet to be signed — Buster Posey was named the winner of the 2008 Golden Spikes Award. The GSA goes to the best amateur baseball player and if Posey signs with the Giants, he’ll join Will Clark and Tim Lincecum as former winners of GSA to wear the orange and black.
~ Speaking of Lincecum, he’s feeling better after missing the All-Star Game with a flu-like bug. He should be on schedule for his start against the Brewers on Sunday.
~ Henry Schulman has a midseason report on the Giants. Among several discouraging things he lists a couple of encouranging developments for the ’08 Giants. In short: Lincecum great, Lewis and Bowker good, and Barry Zito terrible.