Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bad Month or Bad Overall? A Look at the Giants' Offensive Numbers

The San Francisco Giants are currently 22-21 after the Oakland A's completed a three-game sweep at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium (God I hate writing the whole name...I'll just call it the OAC from now on). Panic mode has officially reared its ugly head with Giants fans, and I hate to admit it, but I've hopped on that bandwagon somewhat as well.

However, as a baseball fan, I try to be objective. I look at the numbers and try to keep things in context. I understand Bengie Molina currently has an OBP of .361 and a 0.85 BB/K ratio. That being said, Molina has a career 0.43 BB/K ratio and OBP of .309, so to think he's going to maintain those levels over the full course of a season in my mind is unrealistic.

The same thinking goes with this entire Giants offense. I know. They are coming off two straight sweeps to two, average ballclubs (Arizona and Oakland). Injuries and ineffectiveness have hit this Giants roster hard, and there seems to be increasing pressure on general manager Brian Sabean to make a move, especially with guys like Pat Burrell available. (I'm sure Sabes is "working around the clock" on this; I can picture his reaction if you ask him if he's working on getting an offensive player.)

But how bad has the Giants offense been? Well...let's take a look at the more advanced numbers.

OPS: .722 (19th in MLB).
wOBA (weighted on base average): .319 (19th in MLB).
wRC (runs created based on wOBA): 179 (tied for 21st in MLB).
wRAA (runs above average based on wOBA): minus-9 (19th in MLB).
BABIP (batting average of balls put in play): .299 (tied for 19th in MLB).
ISO (Isolated Power): .136 (21st in MLB).

As you can see, the Giants during the first two months haven't been just below league average. They have had trouble scoring runs (like last year), which hasn't been helped by their relative lack of power (the ISO number I think is the particular killer) or their lineup choices (batting Aaron Rowand at leadoff for so long was a mistake, especially considering his minus-1.7 wRAA is third worst of Giants hitters with 50 or more plate appearances).

However, while the numbers after 43 games certainly isn't in the Giants hitters' favor, you have to look at the month of May specifically. Some interesting numbers pop up.

OPS: .670 (25th in MLB).
wOBA: .298 (25th in MLB).
wRC: 72 (27th in MLB).
wRAA: minus-18 (25th in MLB).
BABIP: .275 (26th in MLB).
ISO: .130 (20th in MLB).

The Giants have been tremendously worse in May, with the only category better than their overall season averages being the ISO, which actually isn't too bad (or at least for Giants standards). The wOBA, wRC and wRAA numbers are particularly disheartening, but I think Giants fans can take comfort in one stat:

The .275 BABIP.

Now, BABIP can mean a variety of things. The Giants could be unlucky (which most certainly has been the case considering their 19.1 percent line drive percentage in May is 12th best in the league) or they just have bumped into very good defensive teams (the Padres, Diamondbacks and Mets, three teams the Giants have played in May, all have solid UZR/150 numbers this year).

However, in all likelihood the BABIP is going to rise or at the very least, fluctuate (the Giants had a .317 BABIP in April) as the season progresses, which will in turn, affect the Giants' offensive numbers. I don't think the Giants are going to top the Majors in offense in a given month anytime soon, but at the same time, I don't think the Giants are going to have as bad a month offensively as they have had this May.

Granted, how is that BABIP going to change? Who knows. The Giants will get luckier, they will face "clunkier" defensive teams (the Dodgers and Rockies have negative UZR/150 numbers, with the Dodgers having the worst UZR/150 in the Majors at negative-15.4) and guys will turn it around and bust out of their respective slumps (crossing my fingers now for Pablo Sandoval). I think those are the best (if only) things Giants fans, management and players can hope for at this point.

Now, Giants fans have to keep things in perspective. The Giants are not a well-built team offensively. Mark Derosa has been a major disappointment (he has a team-worst .243 wOBA), and Molina and Rowand have been deceivingly tolerable (Molina's wOBA at .328 proves that he isn't much better from last season; Rowand's wRAA says it all). And, while Freddy Sanchez has just gotten back from the disabled list, I'm not optimistic about him living up to that $12 million contract if he has more performances like the one he had today (0-for-4, 2 SO).

The Giants have some good pieces though (Andres Torres, who has a .383 wOBA and Aubrey Huff and his .354 wOBA has been a surprise as well), and the offense can still be good enough to remain competitive in the NL West (especially considering their pitching, which has still remained solid...sans the middle relief).

After all, if you look at the division-leading Padres, they rank below the Giants in nearly every offensive category in May, but their BABIP still hovers at .300. When the Padres hit a bad stretch of luck (which they will), it is likely that they will free fall in the standings as well.

It has been a disappointing start to the season, especially when you factor in the poor starts Colorado and Los Angeles got off to. However, the Giants have an opportunity to stay in it, and I think the numbers above show that the Giants have suffered some bad luck and poor management decisions, which I don't think (or at least hope) will happen again. With manager Bruce Bochy mixing up the lineup (and in a good way too), I think there is potential for the Giants to improve those offensive categories a little bit come June.

Will the improvement offensively in the long run by the Giants hitters be enough to win a World Series or NL Pennant? Most likely not. Will it be enough to win the NL West or earn a playoff spot? Maybe. Will it be enough to stay competitive in the NL West?

When you got pitchers like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez in the starting rotation...absolutely.


  1. we need a good closer the bull pin sucks and it hirts to say that. and other teams no that

  2. Bring up Posey!, now. He will put speed on the base path, block pitches --- Molina has long lost the ability to do either. Prime example, Tuesday he hits a ball into the corner and legs out a single, an easy double for most MAJOR league players. Great you say, "at least he got a hit and we have a runner at first with no outs. I laugh at you it will take a Triple to score him, he won't socre on a Double, maybe two doubles. Hell if stops on the first double at third, you will then need the second double to score him from Third Base. Why?, he needs a ball hit to the wall to score on a sac fly.

  3. I don't know about the closer suggestion. I know Wilson isn't awesome, but is there really any other closer available on the market that the Giants can pursue that would be a significant upgrade over Wilson? I don't think so, not at this point in the season anyways.

    As for Posey, I want to bring him up to, but unfortunately Bengie is blocking the way. I feel you on the feelings toward Bengie. He's just past his time and he really doesn't offer much anymore considering he hits with little power nowadays. Sure he gets on base with a walk here and there, but when you're slow as molasses, I don't think the walk has much impact.

    I would be open to seeing if any team would be open to trading for Molina. It may be too early at this point, but solid catchers (especially hitting ones) are worth a lot, and with Posey proving that he needs a shot, Bengie just seems too expendable at this point.

  4. Offense! They attempted to address it in the off season, however, they did,t do enough. Huff is doing well but will fade over time. We need a feared bat in the middle of the line up.That would supplement Panda and make him a better hitter. It may take giving up a young pitcher to make this move so it will not come without some loss. However, to make the team better you have to take a risk.

  5. I think Huff can have a solid year, but we have to keep it in perspective. He will have good OBP numbers, but anyone thinking he'll hit 30 home runs is crazy. He shouldn't be batting cleanup. The five spot would be better (with Pablo in the cleanup spot; that is a more conducive spot for him, even in his slump).

    Your right about what the Giants have to give up. We're looking at Sanchez, Bumgarner or even Wheeler in terms of what the Giants are giving up. I don't like it, but if it means perhaps getting a Prince Fielder, I might entertain the idea. It'll be interesting to see what Sabean does. He's already in a thick mess right now offensively. In my opinion, a move might hurt the organization in the long run more than anything.