For a moment there, the offense looked like it was going to be OK. A couple of Aubrey Huff double plays later and I’m jaded again. At the moment, the Giants are 18-14 based on their hot start in April when the team went 13-9. During that April, the Giants scored roughly 4.5 runs per game. In May, the scoring has dropped slightly to 4.3 runs per game.
The biggest issue so far in May has been the pitching. Again, in April the Giants allowed opponents to only score 2.9 runs per game. In May that number has jumped to 4 runs per game. If you’re looking at the team from a “true talent” standpoint, this team most likely isn’t a 4.5 run per game on offense. But the pitching should be a little better than 4+ runs per game allowed. I think it’s also important to remember that the season is still relatively young. At 32 games played, the Giants have played just 20% of the current season of baseball. Before the year started I called this team an 83 win team, give or take, and if the Giants can play .500 baseball for the rest of the year, the team will end up with 83 wins on the nose. To me, it looks possible, but again, it’s very early.
There’s an interesting article in the Mercury News this morning from beat-reporter Andrew Baggarly on the topic of the scuffling Sandoval. This quote, in particular, stood out to me:
Something is affecting Sandoval’s plate discipline. In April, he hit .368 while drawing 10 walks in 97 plate appearances. This month, he was hitting .116 with one walk in 43 plate appearances entering Wednesday.
Besides his lack of walks in May, I’ve noticed that he’s hitting a lot of balls on the ground. A quick check with PFX tells me that Sandoval has hit 17 balls in play on the ground this month.
|Esmil Rogers||CU||Grounded Into DP||GB|
|Jhoulys Chacin||CH||Grounded Into DP||GB|
|Raul Valdes||CU||Grounded Into DP||GB|
Caveat: the pitch-types are the standard classifications from MLB Gameday.
Generally speaking, groundballs are more likely to go for hits as compared to flyballs. The trade off is that groundballs are unlikely to go for extra-base hits. Sandovals batted ball profile for May breaks down as follows: 17 ground balls, 11 fly balls, 4 line drives, and 4 pop ups. Because he’s a high contact hitter, Sandoval seems like the type of player that’s going to have to hit his way out of slumps. His BABIP is currently at .296 — about 40 points under his career average to this point. Sandoval has always worried me as a guy that, because of his profile, might have a bad BABIP year and look worse than he actually is. A lot of his value is tied up in batting .330 each year and for a big guy without great speed, it’s a weird skill-set to see.
As the season progresses, hopefully Sandoval will maintain his league average walk-rate and a few of the groundballs he’s hitting right now will go for hits. Until then, I’m going to hold steady to the “we’ve only played 20% of the season” mantra. In 2009, Sandoval started slow but he was cruising by game #40. Hopefully this year he’ll get into the swing of things soon.
Freddy Update: Sanchez is currently rehabbing with the San Jose Giants and has gone 3-6 with 2 walks and 3 doubles in 2 games. Sanchez should be on track for a return sometime in late May. /fingers crossed