Make no mistake about it. There isn't a team in the National League West that believes the 2013 San Francisco Giants are toast. Or even partially broasted.
That would include the three teams ahead of the tied-for-last-place 39-45 Giants in the NL West standings (Arizona, Colorado, and Los Angeles), as well as the unpredictable San Diego Padres.
And that's a very prudent attitude because we're just hitting the halfway mark of the season. As Nostradamus amazingly predicted in 1560, "there will still be a lot of baseball left to play after July 4, 2013." (Sadly, Nostradamus also thought there would be a delicious baseball team named the Baltimore Oreos.)
But let's not sugarcoat things. The San Francisco Giants have landed in a serious pile of bovine excrement, and the place is starting to smell.
So let's clear up four myths about the 2013 Giants that, for some reason, fans, broadcasters, and sports writers desperately want to believe are true. Please don't ask me why.
Myth #1: all the Giants starters were terrible in April and May.
Reality Check: Not true except for Ryan Vogelsong, who was the only SF starter consistently terrible both months.
In April Ryan Vogelsong put up a 1-2 W/L and a hefty 6.25 ERA. Matt Cain did worse: 0-2 / 6.49 ERA. But in April Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Madison Bumgarner combined for an 8-2 record and 2.67 ERA-- that means they were real good.
In May Cain rebounded with 4-0 / 3.48 and Zito's 1-2 / 4.33 was poor but hardly disastrous. Disastrous was Vogelsong (again) at 1-2 / 9.00, Lincecum 1-4 / 6.37, and Bumgarner 1-3 / 5.17.
Contrary to popular myth, Giants starters were both good and bad the first two months of the season. Problem is, this team runs on a raw fuel mixture of 90% pitching, and 10% whatever other additives can be found around the garage.
Myth #2: Key injuries have hobbled this team and that explains why they're not playing very well and are in 4th place.
Reality Check: While it's no myth that there have been injuries, the Giants have had about the normal number any team should expect during a given season.
Which makes this the lamest excuse any team can use for poor performance.
If you stop winning because two position players and a starter are on the DL, that means your bench sucks and your minor league system is crap. (Oh my, I've just described the San Francisco Giants.)
And throughout their various injuries this year, the front office has mismanaged keeping the 25 man roster in tact for weeks at a time, limiting Manager Bruce Bochy's tactical assets.
Stop sniveling for a moment and take a look at the injuries and DLs suffered this season by the 49-35 Atlanta Braves, the 43-42 Washington Nationals, and the 46-39 New York Yankees. The Giants have nothing to whine about in the injury category.
Myth #3: The Giants need pitching-- bullpen pitching and starting pitching. They don't need any more offense, because the 2013 offense is the best they've had in years.
Reality Check: This is the biggest myth of the 2013 season and the one that is capable of sinking the 2013 season.
Sure, Ryan Vogelsong needs to be replaced. But not because he was injured. Because before he was injured he wasn't an effective starter the past three regular season months. How many more games would the Giants have lost if Vogelsong had been in the rotation throughout June?
What the Giants desperately need is to sign an RBI crunching outfielder like Alex Rios or Josh Willingham (who was just injured). Otherwise this team will not be competitive.
Some day I will attempt to try and understand why Giants fans and Giants media persist in their wrong-headed belief that the 2013 offense is the best in years. Is it because their team batting average is .263, 18th out of 30 MLB teams? For that you break out the Champagne?
Breaking news from CNN: the game isn't about batting average. It's all about scoring runs.
Copy these numbers down and post them on your refrigerators so you see them every morning as you pour milk over your Cap'n Crunch:
In 2010 the Giants scored 697 runs-- 4.30 per game.
In 2012 the Giants scored 718 runs -- 4.43 per game.
In 2013 (through July 3rd, 84 games) the Giants have scored 336 runs -- 4.00 per game. That projects out to 648 runs for the season. That's 49 less than 2010, 70 less than 2012.
The biggest front office screw-up of 2013: crossing their fingers and hoping that Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco would somehow produce runs in left field. So far Torres has produced errors, terrible defense, and double plays. In other words, doing what he's done the past two years only now he's 35.
Gregor Blanco is a great player-- the perfect #4 outfielder on a winning team. Not a lead-off guy, and not a starting outfielder.
The second biggest front office screw-up of the 2013 season: pulling bullpen ace Chad Gaudin out of the pen to replace starter Ryan Vogelsong. That achieved the following: the bullpen was damaged, getting another starter was put on hold, and Gaudin was injured.
Myth #4: Hey gang, the Giants have a budget to stick to. They're not like other big market teams so they can't just take on salary (Ricky Nolasco) or trade any of those invaluable players from their 25th ranked minor league system. Fans have to understand and be patient while Brian Sabean conducts business like it was 1971.
Reality Check: More numbers for your refrigerators.
Forbes.com reported the Giants' net worth was $786 million in 2012 (up 22% from 2011). The 6th most valuable team in all of Major League Baseball.
Their 2012 revenue was $262 million. In 2017, they will have paid off their loan to build AT&T Park-- which will bring an additional $30 million a year in profit.
I'm happy the Giants are thriving and are a dynamic pro-sports business model for the 21st century-- I want them to soar. Just don't tell me you couldn't sign a run producing left fielder last January due to budget concerns.
Insightful post. However I wasn't sure what you were trying to say when you said the team needs to sign an RBI-machine outfielder like Alex Rios or Josh Willingham. They would have to trade for those two. You can't sign someone from another's team. And if you meant sign someone like them, well it's the middle of the season and there aren't any of those productive-player types just sitting around unemployed...unless you have a higher opinion of Jeff Francoeur than I do...
The sarcastic answer: "What? You mean you can't just pick players from another team and sign them to your team? Wow, I learn something new about baseball every day... ".
The straight answer: "Obviously in mid-season the Giants would have to make a trade to get some hitting. And as part of any trade the Giants, 1) can afford to pay any player's remaining salary as demanded by the other team; and, 2) can throw in any number of average prospects from their below average minor league system."
Like the Dodgers just did to get Ricky Nolasco.
@RDyer You aren't really encouraging people to read and comment on your blog when you sarcastically reply to someone seeking clarification. Another one and done at thegiantscove.com...
I love following the Giants-- this line up is just not as good as it has been the past couple of years--opposing pitchers can pick their spots and nobody is there to provide cover for the run producers --if they have a budget --it may be time to dangle some starters and snag some prospects-- it is a great place to play-- there will be players looking to sign
Hey t, thanks for commenting.
I think your point is something to consider for the Giants' future. I understand the front office has a "win now" mentality after taking two WS, but this is an organization that could definitely benefit from getting high grade prospects from other organizations.
And you get quality prospects from other teams by trading quality players to them.
Especially with Vogelsong and Lincecum terming out in September, this may be one of those "clean-out" years for San Francisco. And, if there isn't a significant turnaround the next month, why not?
You caught me with my hand in the cookie jar-- a cookie jar from 1960.
I try to stay away from ERA, W/L, BA and RBI because they are one dimensional measures at best, and misleading as to a player's actual value. I also want to expand my statistical chops and those of my readers.
But for the sake of not repeating the phrase "run producer" 20 times per blog, I also try to vary the language.
And sometimes those stat measures are relevant. For instance, I think ERA is a better measurement for closers than WHIP because they almost always come in at the start of an inning. But WHIP is a far more accurate measure for starting pitchers.
Anyway, rbes, let's continue to romp together down Sabermetric Lane...
First two myths are solid. Looking back I could have sworn every starting pitcher was terrible in every start the first two months of the season. I don't have an issue with myth #4 either other than it is not much of a myth (do people really think the Giants are strapped for cash?).
However, I don't like myth #3 - I think you skewed the numbers to support your point. The offense has been absolutely AWFUL the last few weeks (I mean really really dreadful). That being said, if you compared the the first two months of 2013 with the first two months of 2010 and 2012 (instead of every game up until now compared with ALL of 2010 and 2012), I think you'll find that the offense was pretty damn good early this year and not very good at all early in 2010 and 2012. I am just going off memory here, but I am going to assume that in 2010 and 2012 over 60% of the their total runs for the year came in the last 40% of their games.
Thanks for the great comments!
First, let's look at the last 40% of their games in 2010 and 2012 (which is the final 64 games of each season).
> In 2010 the Giants scored 275 runs in their final 64 games-- that's 39% of their 697 total runs scored that season. A match.
> In 2012 the Giants scored 351 runs in the final 64 games-- that's 49% of their 718 total runs scored that season. Much better, but not overwhelming.
Numbers that better support what you're saying are the runs per game for April/May of each season:
Runs per game April/May 2010 = 4.2
Runs per game April/May 2012 = 4.0
Runs per game April/May 2013 = 4.5
So the 2013 team did slightly better than the 2010 team; and .5 runs per game better than the 2012 team.
But there are two important points here:
1. The 2013 team's run scoring in April/May is not representative of this team's offense-- they played over their heads. And for the record, 4.5 runs per game isn't exactly dominating-- especially when your pitching is falling apart.
The 90 runs they just scored in 27 June games (3.3 per game) is actually a better representation of this team's real offense. Expect July to be about the same (and August and September) unless they trade for one or two run producers before the trade deadline.
2. Runs per game is an essential measuring tool of any MLB offense. Even the Houston Astros can score 8 or more runs in a given game. The more games you factor in as the season progresses, the better picture you get of a team's real offense.
Mel, you crusty old salt. Sometimes numbers do count and I'm not just talking about certain inches.
I am a sucker for statistical research. So when someone says "I wonder if the Giants tend to hit more home runs on the road in the second half of each odd-numbered season", I am off to the stat races.
I have a major numbers and information addiction, and long ago I had myself directly wired to Baseball-Reference.com. To the delight of my family and friends.
But you are correct sir-- in some cases simply restating the argument, and using less stats, can also get the job done.