Clayton Kershaw is good. Studies have been done, scouts have been asked, fantasy players have benefitted from his performances, this is pretty much confirmed by now. Since you’re curious about how the possibly compromised Madison Bumgarner will do against the ace of the Dodgers. The embedding is admittedly a little messy since I haven’t been doing this for a while and I’m lucky I’m able to do this post while my kid is awake. Here are the lines from Kershaw’s appearances (2008 was a relief appearance) against the Giants. Not a lot to look forward to if you’re a fan of the Giants offense.
2009 — I’m pretty sure I was at this game. It was not a fun game for the Giants offense.
2010 — good every time, but Giants won the title
2011 — one non-Kershaw start, but the others the Giants other three games had a combined 2 runs of offense
2012 — Kershaw was the Giants’ daddy
2013 — average earned runs per start: 1.5. The Giants still managed to win two games.
2014 — Kershaw allows three earned runs in May, gets beat. Otherwise, classic Kershaw.
2015 — Another non-Kershaw-type start in May, Giants post a winning record against Kershaw
2016 — clearly the pattern is the Giants will go undefeated against Kershaw, scoring 1 or 2 runs in every other start except for May, where he will allow 4 runs.
Well, that was quite the game. Dodgers lose their no-hitter, and then Joe Blanton had trouble not staring into Brandon Crawford’s eyes, and boom, game over, drive home safely, baseball fans. Not even five minutes after the Giants and their fans were doing cannonballs into the puddles from the rain, delirious from their happiness, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic tweeted out the breaking news that the Giants and Brandon Belt have agreed to a five-year extension that also reworks the money from this year. This means that in the 2021 season, you’ll be wondering what the Giants plan to do with Brandon Belt: keep him for a couple more seasons, or give the job to super-prospect Emilio Anderson, drafted in the 8th round of the 2019 Draft.
In case you’re wondering what the Giants are keeping:
|162 Game Avg.||162||596||144||34||5||18||9||3||59||145||.272||.349||.456||126|
Certainly, there has been some disappointment from fans that Brandon Belt hasn’t kept up with Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt, but as the Giants have shown, having around a .350 OBP, potentially 20-HR player that plays some pretty good defense is pretty good to keep around. From 2012 to 2016, Belt is 11th in fWAR among all that have played, higher than notables such as Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, but lower than any superstar first baseman you can think of that’s kind of young.
I have been on the Pro-Belt side for quite some time, annoyingly so probably. I was not Pro-Belt before it was cool to be Pro-Belt, or maybe I was. Who cares. Anyway, we don’t know the money going to Belt, but I trust management that it’s reasonable. Good job, Giants.
Madison Bumgarner pitched on Sunday, so that opened the door for another player to be put on to the NL All Star roster so they would be available to pitch for the National League squad. Manager Bruce Bochy and all Giants players and probably all Giants fans hoped that Tim Hudson would be that player to replace Bumgarner, and so it was.
— All-Star Game (@AllStarGame) July 13, 2014
Congrats to #SFGiants Tim Hudson on being named to the 2014 All-Star team (his 4th career All-Star game)!
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) July 13, 2014
Also of note is that today is Tim Hudson’s 39th birthday. As John Shea notes, Hudson was an All Star twice with the A’s, once with the Braves, and in his first season with the Giants.
Hudson is top-20 in MLB in ERA (2.87), top-40 in innings pitched (119.1), is 22nd in FIP (3.22), and is also fourth in the majors in ground-ball percentage among qualified starters (56.8%). Hudson started the season off so strong, whispers of a Cy Young award were being made around Giants circles, but since those first couple months, Hudson has shown his human side.
While we all wish that 31/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio never would have left, we know that Hudson is more of a two-to-one K/BB pitcher than a 15.5/1. Even his June and July are a little higher than his career average, although they would not be an outlier were they to be season-to-season data points. Here’s how opposing hitters have done against Hudson so far this year (via BrooksBaseball.net):
While his four-seam fastball may not be fooling hitters, his sinker is still doing the job and his other pitches are doing enough to fool hitters, though the BABIP on those other pitches do not suggest the same quality of the pitch that his sinker is.
Hudson joins a loaded National League rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, Zack Greinke and a handful of solid relievers. If Kershaw and Wainwright give the NL squad two innings a piece, I’d expect Hudson to get one inning at the most. Manager Bruce Bochy has said that if Hudson doesn’t have a long outing in the All Star game, he’ll be slotted to be #2 in the rotation upon return from the All Star Break.
The All Star Game begins airing at 4:30 PM PST on FOX.
We can talk about the slide the San Francisco Giants are on, or we can look at individual performances that involve sample sizes that are way too small to project anything going forward in this post. I’m going to choose the latter because the former is a tired subject that makes me want to only pay attention to soccer and how the Dodgers are doing. Due to the injuries of Marco Scutaro, Brandon Belt, and the off-and-on-ness of Angel Pagan, the Giants bench has had to do more than its fair share of work. I think the good people of the world have figured out that Juan Perez, Brandon Hicks, Ehire Adrianza, Joaquin Arias, Hector Sanchez, Tyler Colvin, and Gregor Blanco are not meant to be full-time starters, but are better suited for back-up roles when they’re at their best. The best of the bunch is probably Blanco and he can have his stable moments, but big picture, bench player. In June, each has been able to contribute to at least a few games, so while I was playing with some spreadsheets I thought I’d share some of the numbers I found on June’s offensive production for these gentlemen and divide them into good performances, acceptable for a bench player, and being in the region for many fans calling for your demotion. You likely already know about Hicks, and possibly Blanco, but what about the other four?
The Good Bench Performances in June
In eighteen plate appearances, Juan Perez has done enough to stay, collecting two doubles and even hitting a home run (proof below that it happened) that are driving up his wOBA to an acceptable .359. His 38.9% K% is more along the lines of what we’d expect from him, and he also has zero walks in his few chances.
Gregor Blanco has had the lion’s share of starts in Pagan’s absence, and this month, he’s held his own with a .380 OBP, .349 wOBA, and three extra base hits. A wRC+ of 127 is cool, too, but please come back soon, Pagan.
Ehire Adrianza in twenty-seven plate appearances has been decent this month, despite collecting only one extra base hit, his wOBA is at .343, has his OBP is at .407. His ground ball percentage is 28.6% for the month and his K% is 11.1%, so we’ll see which one of those two is less sustainable (not that the other numbers are not sustainable).
The Acceptable Bench Performances in June
Joaquin Arias, who has an overall wRC+ of five this season, Arias has a wRC+ of 94 in June, a .350 OBP, and a .302 wOBA in twenty-plate appearances. There are some good numbers that come up, but for June, I’d say this is about what you would realistically hope to get out of a bench player.
Tyler Colvin I think is on the tail end of “acceptable” here, with a .290 OBP, .282 wOBA, and an 81 wRC+ with a couple extra base hits. If you wanted to say this wasn’t good enough to be in this tier, I wouldn’t blame you. He’s a bench player, and even though he’s making seven figures (an even one million dollars, Dr. Evil), you could do worse.
The June Swooners on the Bench
As long as Andrew Susac is in the minors and Brandon Belt is on the roster, Hector Sanchez will get playing time with Buster Posey getting his occasional time at first base with Tim Lincecum on the mound. Don’t get me wrong, Sanchez is a good back-up, I’d rather have him than other back-ups that the Giants have had in the past. However, June hasn’t been kind for Sanchez in the form of a .233 OBP, .237 wOBA, 50 wRC+ and a 30% K%, along with plenty of foul tips to the mask that are undoubtedly causing concern.
Brandon Hicks. A 38% K%, the .140 AVG in June has your attention, a .226 wOBA and 42 wRC+ also have some people impatiently tapping their foot and crossing their arms waiting for a move to replace Hicks. His April was something unexpected, but then he regressed to the Hicks that teams probably knew all along about. In all likelihood, the lightning has been used up, and especially in the midst of a losing spell, Giants fans don’t want to wait around to see if there’s any more left.
For those interested, I used this chart to help me organize my thoughts. Thank you, Fangraphs.
The Giants continue their series with the Diamondbacks today at 7:10 PM PST.
A day after the San Francisco Giants got spanked by the Washington Nationals 9-2, the Giants look to recover as their rotation starts at the top again with Madison Bumgarner. Big picture, the Giants still lead the National League West by 8.5 games after the Dodgers beat the Reds in Cincinnati last night and continue to own the best record in the Majors. Of late, the Giants have feasted on the likes of the Twins, Cubs, Mets, Reds, and even took three out of four from the Cardinals, going a smooth 13-3 in that span. No wonder everything has felt so good lately. Plus, Brandon Belt and Santiago Casilla could be beginning a rehab assignment as early as Wednesday in San Jose, which looks to help the roster in a time when there is little panic over the spots they left vacant. According to the Postseason Probabilities page powered by Baseball Prospectus, the Giants are also looking good to make the playoffs, even if there are ninety-eight games left to play.
To me, it is amazing that the Dodgers, despite being 8.5 games back of the Giants, still have an 81.5% chance to play in the postseason, being only three games above .500. However, 60% of that probably comes from them making it as a Wild Card team, while 78% of the Giants postseason probability comes from winning the NL West. Colorado has tanked to single digits and being 12.5 back, as San Diego and Arizona also continue to dwell in the cellar. As it stands right now, there are six teams that hold a 50% or greater chance to make the playoffs, and as you see from the (probably blurry) screen shot, they are:
San Francisco (42-22) — 97.5%
Los Angeles (34-31) — 81.4%
Washington (33-29) — 76%
Milwaukee (38-26) — 68.6%
St. Louis (33-31) — 65.4%
Atlanta (33-29) — 55.2%
Everybody else has less than a 16% chance of making the playoffs. There is little love for the Miami Marlins (33-30), 0.5 games back of the Braves and Nationals, 10.5% of making the postseason. If you’re looking ahead to when the Giants play these teams that could be contending, these would be the number of games left against the teams and the dates:
Los Angeles (9) — July 25th-27th, September 12th-14th, 22nd-24th
Washington (5) — Yesterday through tomorrow, August 22nd-24th,
Milwaukee (6) — August 5th-7th, 29th-31st
St. Louis (3) — July 1st-3rd
Miami (3) — July 18th-20th
Total that up, and that’s twenty-six of the remaining eighty-four games (31.0%) against NL teams that are looking like they have a reasonable shot to make the postseason (they have fourteen interleague games against the likes of Oakland, Kansas City, ChiSox, and Detroit). That is indeed favorable scheduling for the Giants, and if they keep winning the series that they should be winning, they’ll be looking good for a place in the October limelight.
As with the National League, the top two probabilities in the American League belong to two Western division teams: the A’s (39-25, 93.6%) and the Angels (35-28, 82.1%). Can you imagine four California teams being in the playoffs, and what about if there were an A’s-Angels, Dodgers-Giants NLDS? California would be buzzing.
In 2013, the Dodgers were 9.5 games back on June 22nd, 2013 and still won the West by 11 games. The arrival of Yasiel Puig helped, but it wasn’t the only helping factor as Hanley Ramirez exploded and the Dodgers pulled off two consecutive six-loss months in July and August for a combined 42-12 (77.8 win%). That they had a 12-15 record in September tells you about how the NL West finally decided it wasn’t going to let the Think Blue crowd push them around. To repeat, the Dodgers went 12-15 in September and still finished up 11.0 games on the West. The Giants had 76 wins and finished in fourth, a whole 16.0 games back. On paper, the Dodgers have a lineup worth being scared of, and a 1-2-3 punch that makes you understand why Dodger fans dream large if this team makes the postseason.
The Dodgers starters are putting just about the same number of innings the Giants starters are, striking out about the same percentage, walking fewer players, getting ahead of players better, and the list goes on what a good rotation like that can do. Their offense has better OBP, wOBA, wRC+ numbers, but don’t have the same numbers the Giants do with RISP and 2 outs. Their defense has speed on their side, but hasn’t been able to post the overall numbers of converting fly balls and ground balls to outs like the Giants have, and have a middle of the road BABIP against. Their bullpen hasn’t been as lights out as I thought they could be, walking a bottom-five ratio while the Giants bullpen has walked the lowest. There are a lot of things that the Giants doing right, but it’s not like the Dodgers are pooping the bed every which way.
If you want to attribute it to chemistry, you can, but I’m not sure that just because the Yes! Movement is popular in San Francisco and not in Los Angeles it describes the ten-loss difference between the Giants and Dodgers. I doubt chemistry is the thing that’s knocking two out hits, that made Saturday night’s walk-off happen for the Giants. It’s not the reason Dee Gordon or Yasiel Puig are day-to-day, the reason for Brian Wilson being awful, why Matt Kemp was injured and why Carl Crawford is injured, nor is it the reason Clayton Kershaw had to take some starts off or why Bruce Bochy‘s in-game strategy is what it is. The Giants are playing great, and unless the Dodgers implode on all levels, they are still a legitimate threat to the Giants. There are still 100 games left for the Giants, after all. The Giants can go 50-50 and if the Dodgers hit 92 wins and go 60-39 in that span they win the West.
I’m waiting for the Dodgers to use their resources and options, internally and externally to field a more competitive club (because we know they have them), and perhaps get a little luckier in the process, netting more wins. They’re better than a one-game over-.500 club. The distance between the Dodgers and Giants is great, but not insurmountable. The Giants are looking like a team on a mission to setting a San Francisco record for wins, and this is looking like it might be a pretty fun ride. If it keeps up, I say no worries. But if it doesn’t, well, don’t think those Dodgers can’t make up ground.
The San Francisco Giants have a 40-21 record, the best in the major leagues. Listening to other broadcasts, sometimes the praise that has fallen on the Giants is that they play solid, fundamental baseball. Part of that will be on the defensive side where the batted balls that come your way will turn into outs. Mark Simon of ESPN put out some tweets this morning that shows how the teams rank in terms of percentage of ground balls and fall balls turning into outs. These rankings do not necessarily make one team’s defense the best, but gives some reason into why the teams with good records have arrived at that spot.
Ranking the 30 MLB teams by how often they turn ground balls into outs. Athletics, Giants at top, Marlins at bottom pic.twitter.com/gpc84ZukV3
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) June 7, 2014
When I look at the numbers and see the people at the top or bottom, I look to see if they are a huge outlier from the group, and I don’t consider the A’s and Giants lead on the rest of the lead “huge.” I don’t know how these stats compare to years past, so it’s hard to say if these ratios are sustainable. I wonder how much better the Marlins would be if their GB% rate to outs rate was closer to the middle of the pack? In this next tweet, it looks like the team of Brandon Hicks, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Michael Morse have helped lead the Giants to the top:
Those numbers should be higher since the distance to assist the putouts are shorter than what Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval. That chart also covers bunts and swinging bunts, so Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, and the pitchers have helped out there as well. That the Giants are so far ahead the pack there and were second overall, it stands to reason that their percentage on this next chart will be lower, but they’re still in the top five:
Who rates best at turning grounders hit to left of 2B into outs–Pirates, Athletics at top, Red Sox/Indians bottom pic.twitter.com/VNUEp0aoDV
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) June 7, 2014
Thought that the combination of Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado would garner a higher percentage, or at least a higher place on that list. Mr. Mark Simon also posted about balls in the air. The Giants are just at the end of the middle third in this ranking:
The Minnesota Twins have given up the most non-HR fly balls at 976 while the Pirates have given up the fewest at 776. The Giants are at 806.
As for what the advanced metrics say, overall the Giants appear to be a good team on defense, being top three in Defensive Runs Saved and top half in UZR/150. The Giants and A’s also have the three lowest BABIP-against numbers in baseball. So it may be that the metrics are suggesting the Giants might be over-achieving a little bit as their range may not be reflecting their out rates, but at the very least, the numbers help describe why so few runs have been scored against the Giants in 2014, allowing the offense to do their work, leading the Giants to their MLB-leading 40-21 record.