Yesterday I gave you the Bad and the Ugly in the form of a chart reflecting how abysmal the Giants offense is, position by position. The end result was depressingly remarkable: really, really bad. On a positive note, though, Giants hitters have been better than the Mariners’ hitters, which I guess is something. And last season the M’s were worse.
How much worse? Well, the Giants, as horrendous as they are, are on pace to score 566 runs in the National League. Last season, Seattle scored 513 runs in the American League, where you’re expected to and should score more runs with the DH, and that was in 2010 when runs were a bit easier to come by.
So there’s some perspective on what’s historically bad. The Giants aren’t historically bad, they’re just really bad. Now I know why my fiancés Dad, who lives near Seattle, spoke about his hometown team with such disdain – and enjoyed the Giants’ run so thoroughly.
The below chart (with colors) – green is good and red is bad! – shows who’s holding this ship together. But, as I entitled yesterday’s writing: Tell me something I don’t know. I’ve done this chart by pitcher while using strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), hits per nine innings (H/9), home runs per nine innings (HR/9), strikeouts per walk (K/BB), earned run average (ERA) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) compared to the National League average for each statistic.
The Giants have three starters (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong) solidly better than league average in every category and another (Madison Bumgarner) who soon will be in all but hits per nine innings – ground ball pitchers haven’t faired quite as well on the Giants in this category, for what I believe to be somewhat obvious reasons. Jonathan Sanchez was well above in most areas and near league average in ERA and FIP before heading to the DL, but as you can see, a quality strikeout to walk ratio isn’t his strong suit. And really, it’s not what the Giants excel most in.
The relievers have been very good, too, Sergio Romo in particular. And after a really solid streak of outings, Jeremy Affeldt joins Romo and Ramon Ramirez as the only Giants relievers to be above average in all of these categories.
If you take some time to review the chart, you’ll notice that the Giants excel in three areas fantastically. They don’t give up many hits or many home runs, and it’s in large part to the third one, which is the number of swings and misses (strikeouts) they accumulate.
The Giants lead Major League Baseball in strikeouts per nine, hits per nine and home runs per nine. They are fifth in the MLB in strikeouts per walk (fourth in the NL), fourth in the MLB in ERA (third in the NL) and third in the MLB in FIP (they trail Atlanta and Philadelphia by just 0.01).
In aggregate, their staff is fantastic. They’ve also kept the same modus operandi of years past, which we’ve really only scratched the surface on and can’t be certain of. It’s either an organizational thing or a Dave Righetti thing, but the Giants appear to never give in. Unlike the Twins, for example, the Giants are always going for the strikeout. And it goes beyond that. I think the Giants are content with always pitching to a corner and never resigning themselves to either a fastball or the heart of the plate in a hitters count, even if it means walking their fair share of batters – they try to keep the ball out of the seats by any means necessary.