Just how much of a hole have the Giants dug themselves?

After getting blown out in back-to-back games in Cincinnati, the Giants currently set — before today’s game — at a record of 11-20. That’s a .355 winning percentage and it’s the worst in the National League. (The Giants can’t claim the worst winning percentage in baseball because both the Blue Jays and Royals have been worse.) The Giants have been terrible in their own special and frustrating way: at -59 runs they have the worst run differential in baseball.

The pitching has been “adequate” in the way that you could use a trash bag to fashion yourself a pair of pants and that would also be “adequate.” Sure, you would look insane but it would cover your legs and provide some kind of protection. Measuring the starting pitching and bullpen by retrodictors like FIP and xFIP results in the same conclusion: the Giants are around 15th in baseball in terms of pitching talent; that’s middle of the pack and even if it’s an underperformance, it hasn’t been the Achilles heal for this team.

That honor goes to the hitting. The Giants rank in the following offensive categories in all of baseball: (29th) team wRC+, (30th) isolated power, and (24th) walk-rate. This might be the worst outfield configuration that the team has used in recent history. Collectively, Giants’ outfielders have slashed .206/.287/.306. Going by weighted runs created (wRC+) the Giants have the worst outfield in baseball (64 wRC+). From the looks of it, the outfield got old in a hurry. Denard Span no longer looks like a starting major leaguer (he’s also old and hurt), Hunter Pence is 34-years-old and off to a slow start, and the Giants have tried to patch the outfield with a rotating cast of minor leaguers and warm bodies they have happened to come across. The team is so desperate to fill the outfield that it has resorted to shifting Brandon Belt to left field on most days. Brandon Belt is a first baseman in case you were wondering.

The Giants have seen 11 separate players log at least one inning in the outfield so far this season.

Name Age G GS CG Inn?
Hunter Pence 34 28 28 25 245.2
Gorkys Hernandez 29 23 16 9 158.2
Denard Span (10-day dl) 33 13 12 11 101.2
Chris Marrero 28 12 9 4 73.0
Drew Stubbs 32 10 6 5 64.0
Jarrett Parker 28 9 8 3 59.2
Brandon Belt 29 8 7 1 50.0
Eduardo Nunez 30 6 4 1 44.0
Aaron Hill (10-day dl) 35 6 2 2 22.1
Justin Ruggiano 35 1 1 1 8.0
Kelby Tomlinson 27 2 3.0

When Gorkys Hernandez has played the second most in the outfield for your team, well, that might not be such a good thing for the ol’ playoff odds.

So, the Giants are kind of a tire fire right now. But, just how well does this team have to play over the remainder of the season to have any kind of playoff hopes?

A data table below for your sad perusal.

Winning % rW rL tW tL
0.300 39 92 50 112
0.350 46 85 57 105
0.400 52 79 63 99
0.450 59 72 70 92
0.500 66 66 77 86
0.550 72 59 83 79
0.575 75 56 86 76
0.600 79 52 90 72

(rW = remainder wins; rL = remainder losses; tW = total wins; tL = total losses)

FanGraphs and their fancy projected standings have the Giants at a .506 wining percentage over the remainder of the season. That works out to a final win-loss record of 77-85 — that would be the worst finish for a Giants team since 2013 when the team finished with a record of 76-86. The next worse finish after 2013 and you start wading into the muck that is/was the 2008 season. As currently projected, a 77 win season would place the Giants last in the NL West, which is something the team hasn’t done since 2007.

The Giants would have to play at a .575-600 winning percentage over the remainder of the season to have a chance in either the NL West or a potential Wild Card spot. Raise your hand if you think this team is capable of winning 60 percent of their games over the rest of the year? Anyone? Going down the table by winning percentage will give you an idea of where the team would finish if they played at said winning percentage.

I think the takeaway from this isn’t just oh-god-the-Giants-are-terrible-everything-sucks (which is true), but rather early season wins and losses count. I can’t remember how many times I heard the old phrase of: “It’s early!” from all directions when the team was doing so poorly in April. The point is that wins, and conversely the losses, count just as much now as they do in later months. Sadly, for the Giants, the hole that the team has dug has been so deep that they are unlikely to emerge from it anytime soon.

What the Madison Bumgarner injury means (in numbers)

Earlier today, shocking news surfaced for the San Francisco Giants and their ace pitcher, Madison Bumgarner:

The Giants’ left-handed ace sustained a sprained left shoulder and bruised ribs after being involved a dirt bike accident on the team’s day off in Colorado on Thursday, the club said.

That’s from an Andrew Baggarly post.

Losing Bumgarner for any amount of time is a crushing blow to the Giants’ playoff chances. Bumgarner has been the model for consistency and dominance since he became a full-time starter for the Giants in 2011. There are few pitchers in baseball that are a lock to throw 200 innings each year and post WAR totals of 4-5 wins; Bumgarner was among them. Not to mention the general attitude that Bumgarner plays the game with and it’s easy to see how much the Giants will miss him while he works on getting healthy.

But, the question is raised: “Just how much will the Giants miss Bumgarner?”

First, a few assumptions:

  1. The Giants, as projected by FanGraphs, are currently on pace for an 83 win season. We’ll use this as our starting point.*
  2. We’ll speculate that Bumgarner would be worth 5 wins over a full season in 2017; that’s pretty much in line with his projections and recent history.
  3. We’ll assume that the Giants will have three methods to replace Bumgarner: (1) with a 0 WAR pitcher (purely replacement level production); (2) with a 0.5 WAR pitcher; and (3) with a 1 WAR pitcher.

Using those as starting points, we can calculate the loss of Bumgarner’s value over those three levels (with 0 WAR, 0.5 WAR, and 1 WAR replacements). Then, subtract that from the remainder of the projected 83 wins and you get the following adjustments.

Games Missed Win Adjustment (0 WAR) Win Adjustment (0.5 WAR) Win Adjustment (1 WAR)
10 83 83 84
20 82 83 83
30 82 83 83
40 82 82 83
50 81 82 82
60 81 82 82
70 81 81 82
80 81 81 82
90 80 81 81
100 80 80 81
110 80 80 81
120 79 80 80
130 79 79 80
140 79 79 80

You can plug in your preferred numbers and get an idea of what the team’s win record would look like. If Bumgarner misses 80 additional games on this season and the Giants get 0 WAR level production from Bumgarner’s replacement? That drops the Giants to an 80 win team. If he somehow misses just 60 games and the Giants get 1 WAR level production from his replacement, then the Giants would drop to an 82 win team.

Things really look bleak at the 120 games missed mark and beyond, essentially the rest of the season for Bumgarner. If Bumgarner were to miss the remainder of the season, or most of it, the Giants drop to a high 70s win total. That would put them much closer to the Diamondbacks and Rockies in terms of projected win totals for 2017.

5 WAR pitchers don’t grow on trees and the Giants’ replacements for Bumgarner — outside of Tyler Beede — aren’t exciting. Or, good, really. And while I’m a big fan of Beede, you can’t expect him to do what Bumgarner can do. He’s still working his way through AAA and he’s always projected as more of a mid-rotation guy than staff ace. It’s not a dig towards Beede but Bumgarner is just that good. Just that special.

Of course, things shift around if you play with our assumptions: What if the Giants are more like a 86 win team? What if they find better than 1 WAR production from Bumgarner’s replacement? What if Bumgarner somehow only misses a brief amount of time? You can adjust things where you’d like, but the math is still quite ugly.

* The Dodgers, by FanGraphs, are projected to finish the season at 93 wins. The Rockies at 80 wins. The Diamondbacks at 79 wins.

Friday Graph: Matt Cain’s Release Point Over The Years

In early December, after the Giants inked Mark Melancon to a four year, $62 million dollar deal, GM Bobby Evans had an interesting quote on the state of the team’s payroll and offseason plans going forward:

“I don’t think there’s anything more to ask of ownership,” Evans said, referring to the payroll. “It’s really a matter of what I can do within what we have.”

And, the real thing that caught my eye:

“I’ve talked to Matt at length this winter and his expectation and commitment is to come in here and fight for that fifth spot,” Evans said Wednesday. “He believes he can come in and give us a significant number of innings.”

Matt Cain has largely been hurt and/or ineffective since 2013. 2012 was the last time Cain would be an above average pitcher (126 ERA+, 3.40 FIP, 3.7 WAR). Since that season, Cain has not topped 200 innings pitched and, because of injuries, in the last three years he has yet to break the 100 inning mark. Because of arm troubles, Cain largely moved away from the fastball — which has lost a few ticks since his earlier days — and instead relied on a lower vertical release point and his slider. I wrote about this a little in 2014 on McCovey Chronicles on this particular post.

Since then, has much changed with Cain’s release point?

Not much. Cain saw a slight uptick in his vertical release point this past season, but he is nowhere near his 2008-2010 levels. If you look at the graph on a yearly average (pictured below), you can see a very slight upward movement on Cain’s release point, but nothing that I would say is significant.

A quick look at Cain’s pitch-type data on FanGraphs reveals that he’s still throwing the slider nearly a quarter of the time (25.4 percent in 2016) as he has continued to back away from his fastball.

While the Giants will surely give Cain every opportunity to compete and win the 5th starter job in spring training — Cain is owed $20.8M this season — it’s unlikely that Cain will be able to provide the Giants with much positive value. And, with Tyler Beede in the wings, it’s likely that Cain won’t be pitching much in the rotation past June. For all the credit the Giants get for making shrewd contract extensions on their homegrown players, the Cain extension, in hindsight, is probably one the team would rather pass on if it could do things again. Cain has indeed been a great Giant, and one of my personal favorites, but his age, injury history, and other indicators suggest that if the Giants are depending on great things from Cain in 2017, they are most likely going to be disappointed.