Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hunter Pence is here to stay

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles explains why the Giants are probably going to run him out to right field next season

 Very interesting post -- Here is part

At the trade deadline this year, the completely awful Giants were quiet. They had traded the only player other teams wanted (Eduardo Nuñez), and everyone else was old, bad, or expensive, unless they were old, bad, and expensive.
Hunter Pence was one of the latter. On July 31, his OPS was .637. His on-base percentage was .290. His defensive metrics were unkind. He had just eight doubles in 345 plate appearances, which is one of the lowest percentages from a corner outfielder in recent memory. He struck out about three-and-a-half times more than he walked. He was 34 and owed $18.5 million in 2018. I’ll guess there wasn’t a single team that called about him, unless they were willing to be bold enough to ask that the Giants pay his entire salary. Of all their broken players, he might have been the most brokenest.
At the beginning of September, I wrote about his historically discouraging season, and that’s when the Giants started saying that there were no guarantees about any of the incumbent outfielders. It looked like that was the end for Pence as the de facto starter. It was a great run, but it was over.
However, digging through some splits, I finally saw what Pence did after the deadline. For two months, Pence hit .289/.361/.457. He had six homers and three triples in 194 plate appearances, and perhaps more impressively, he walked 20 times to just 34 strikeouts. That was a much better ratio than the previous three months, and it reminded me of someone: It reminded me of Hunter Pence when he was right.
You’re skeptical, and I can understand that. He’s still going to be 35, which isn’t usually an age in which players overcome the struggles of the previous season.
What I keep coming back to, though, is that he’s a sunk cost, and I don’t mean that negatively this time. The Giants are going to pay him $18.5 million, regardless of what happens. That means their options are roughly ...
Pay another team to take him
I cannot possibly imagine this. If the Giants pay $17 million of his contract, I’m not sure if they get a C prospect back. Not worth it.
Make right field an offseason priority and put Pence on the bench
The Giants would consider this if some very specific dominoes fell, I would think, but they wouldn’t actively make it a priority. Center field, third base, and left field are a higher priority. There’s no sense spending $10 million to get Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez, which would add up to a nearly $30 million right fielder, especially when those players have had their ups and downs, too.

Lorenzo Cain in the Orange and Black?

Speculation from MLB Trade Rumors: 

The outfield is the clearest area of concern, as left field was a revolving door all season and Denard Span and Hunter Pence combined for just 1.9 fWAR as the regulars in center and right field.  Defensive metrics haven’t been kind to Span’s center field glovework for years, while Pence’s work in right field has traditionally received above-average UZR/150 grades but below-average marks in terms of Defensive Runs Saved.  Since neither player has a strong throwing arm, the Giants are in a tough spot of having two high-priced outfielders best suited for a move to left field.
A free agent like Lorenzo Cain would be a great fit for the Giants’ needs, as the long-time Royal brings a major defensive upgrade to center field and some right-handed balance to the lineup.  Even if a big name like Cain is brought in to handle center field, however, simply going with Span and Pence in the corners may not be a recipe for success.  The outfield mix could be shaken up entirely with a big trade or two.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

An Awful season in review

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles does the review 

The 2017 season is over, thank goodness. All 30 teams packed up and went home, and now there is no more baseball at all. This gives us time to focus on some of the finer points of the year, and one of my favorite parts is that we don’t have to use words like “on pace” or “has a chance to.” These are the stats. They’re the stats for all time. None of them will change, except when I use a pen to add a home run to Brandon Crawford’s total in next year’s media guide.
As such, let’s take a quick spin around the final stats and see if there’s anything interesting in there. There are interesting things! But your definition of interesting might differ from mine.
Anyway, here are some 2017 Giants stats:

Buster Posey hit .320

Start with a positive note, that’s my motto. Buster Posey is good, and we should be thankful that he wasn’t as horrible as the rest of the season, because that would have made the offseason unbearable. I keep meaning to write a full article about that, but this will do for now. This is the fifth time Posey has hit over .300 in his eight-year career, so even though he hit a career low in home runs, he’s still pretty, pretty good.
His career average went up, too. From .307 to .308.

The Giants had three position players worth two wins or more

In stat-ese, a two-win player is a solid starter starter. More wins are always cool, but two is a little bit of a threshold. The players who can do it are the players you want to keep around.
The Giants had three of these players: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey. They’re the kinds of players you want to keep around.
If you’re wondering if this is something of a low total, historically, it is. But it’s not a record. Both the 2008 and 2011 Giants had just one player like that (Randy Winn and Pablo Sandoval, respectively). 

If you’re wondering what the San Francisco record is, that belongs to both the 1962 and 2012 Giants, who had eight position players with two wins or more.
Those teams were good.

Gorkys Hernandez was the only player in baseball to get 300 plate appearances or more without a home run

The last Giants hitter to do that? Ryan Theriot in 2012.
That’s “DH in a World Series clincher” Ryan Theriot to you.

Brandon Crawford led the team with 77 RBI

That’s sad. Is it the saddest RBI total for a team leader, though? It is not! The 1985, 1992, and 2011 teams all had a sadder RBI leader.
Of note: The 2012 and 2014 Giants had just one player with more than 77. It’s possible that this team might not have to score 900 runs to win baseball games. Will investigate later.

Brandon Belt led the team in walks

Brandon Belt played 104 games.
Maybe the Giants should walk more and get themselves into better hitters’ counts, but I’m no expert.

Hunter Pence finished with 13 doubles, even though he qualified for the batting title

That’s not a lot of doubles, alright. It’s actually the fifth-fewest doubles for a Giants hitter who qualified for the batting title in the San Francisco era, behind Johnnie LeMaster, Hal Lanier, Jose Pagan, Juan Uribe, and Don Blasingame, all of whom played middle infield.
Pence played right field. That’s actually the fewest doubles for a right fielder with more than 500 plate appearances since Kirk Gibson in 1986. But Gibson had 28 home runs, which helps explain it. Pence did not. If you limit the search to right fielders with fewer than 20 homers, it’s a rough list.

Matt Moore was not the worst Giants starting pitcher to qualify for the ERA title

He was the eighth worst. So, uh. Look, I don’t know.
But there is hope! Mark Davis was the very worst, and he ended up winning a Cy Young (and a pennant for the Giants, if you give him credit for Kevin Mitchell). Vida Blue came back strong the next season and made the All-Star team. And, of course, Mike Krukow not only won 20 games and two Willie Mac Awards after his awful season, but he became one of the most beloved broadcasters we’ll ever know.
Just don’t look at the fact that Moore’s season was worse than any one that Barry Zito had in his Giants career. I SAID DON’T LOOK.

Cory Gearrin was the second-most valuable pitcher on the Giants

I ... was not expecting that. If you would have told me that before the season, I either would have said, “Wow, I can’t believe they let Gearrin throw 110 innings!” or “The Giants lost 98 games, didn’t they?”
If you go by FanGraphs, which uses FIP-based WAR, Gearrin wasn’t very good at all. But while I don’t trust his walk rate, I do trust his funkiness. I’m proud of the Giants’ sneering, funk-laden creation. And it’s aesthetically pleasing that he got his ERA to 1.99 on the last day of the season.
There are more stats. But I’m tired of looking at stats. Find your own stats. If you don’t want to, you can take these stats. Goodbye, 2017 Giants. It sure was something.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Adios, Matt Cain

He's retiring as a Giant.

If you have 8 minutes to spare,  you can click through to this video of every out from his perfect game in 2012.

Matt really was the foundation that led to the Giants getting into the World Series-winning business. Here's what Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles had to say :

Matt Cain is retiring, and I wasn’t prepared for this news, even if I should have been. The 13-year Giant was one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history, regardless if you use metrics or feels, and he will be missed.
Cain made the emotional announcement before Wednesday’s game, and it appears as if he has no interest in the spring-training-invite path back to success. I figured he would resurface with the Cardinals and have three excellent seasons, just because, but that unlikely possibility doesn’t entertain him enough. Cain has pitched in 13 season for the Giants, making three All-Star teams and pitching on three championship teams, and that’s going to be the sum of his career. It’s a hearty sum.
Over the last five seasons, it has been more than a little painful to watch Cain struggle (19-40 record, 4.86 ERA, 77 ERA+, way below replacement), but it never took away from the seasons that preceded it. Matt Cain came up in 2005, when the Giants stumbled for the first time in years, and he continued to be one of the brightest lights on a team that had precious few. That was, coincidentally, when this site started up, so there has never been a McCovey Chronicles without him, and it’s going to be weird.
There will be a more formal appreciation (several of them, really) in the coming days, but they’ll all be based around a basic theme.
  1. When the Giants were awful, they brought up a 20-year-old pitching prospect
  2. He was excellent right away
  3. He made the All-Star team
  4. He won a World Series
  5. He made another All-Star team
  6. He made another All-Star team, and he was the National League starter
  7. He threw a perfect game
  8. He won another World Series
  9. He won another World Series, even if he wasn’t actively around this time.
  10. He was Matt Cain
When a team makes their first-round pick of the draft, this isn’t a reasonable thing to hope for. Even with the first-overall pick, it’s completely unlikely that a team will get anything close to half of what Matt Cain has provided.
Or, to put it another way:
The Giants were the ones that actually held the winning Lotto ticket, even if the last few years were more like grabby relatives squabbling over the wealth. Cain was a gift, and he helped the San Francisco Giants to more than anyone could have possibly dreamed.
He could have tried to reinvent himself as a reliever or tried to stick with another team after a strong spring training, but he probably won’t. All we’ll be left with is Matt Cain, career Giant. And there will be no way to remember him as anything other than one of the very best.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Three in a row

 That was a fine game yesterday -- a 4-0 thrashing of the Rox, putting their postseason hopes in doubt.

Only the third 3-game winning streak of 2017; the 4th shutout of the year; and the 122nd homer of the year (21 behind the Pirates at 29th in the MLB) by Crawford.

Joe Panik has been hot lately and has a .291 average. Just set a record with 34 hits against the Rox in a season.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Adios, Ryan Vogelsong

The Giants may have one of the worst records in the majors this year but they excel at honoring past performers. Today, they honored Ryan Vogelsong, who managed to elevate his career from 2011 to 2014 -- particularly during the 2012 playoffs, when he won the must-wing sixth game of the NLCS and then winning Game 3 of the World Series. 

He had four starts in the 2012 postseason and went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA.

Mike Krukow has pointed out that Vogelsong started seven postseason games and the Giants won all seven.

As I write this, Ryder Jones just grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. How symbolic of 2017 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Buster is the MVP (of the Giants)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Welcome to the Giants, Tim Federowicz

A thoroughly disappointing game today as Madison Bumgarner got hammered to leave the Giants at 54-85. They need to win at least nine games of the last 23 to avoid losing 100. I'm not sure why this is important to me but I don't want them to lose 100. 

There was one nice moment -- Tim Federowicz, who's spent the season in the minors, came up in the 8th and homered, his first as a Giant. It was his 6th in the bigs and his first since 2014.

Here's the story --

SAN FRANCISCO -- On an uncharacteristically warm weekend in the Bay Area, the Cardinals' power and offense showed once again why they're among the most potent in the Majors. With three of their top sluggers out of the lineup, the Cards hit a trio of homers and topped the Giants, 7-3, on Sunday at AT&T Park.
They would have had a fourth, too, if not for a defensive gem by San Francisco center fielder Gorkys Hernandez to rob Tommy Pham in the first.
Paul DeJong and Jose Martinez hit home runs in the fourth, the seventh time this season the Cards have had consecutive hitters go deep. Rookie Harrison Bader joined the power display, going deep off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in the sixth.
The victory vaulted the Cardinals to three games behind the Rockies, who lost to the D-backs on Sunday, for the second National League Wild Card spot, and six games behind the Cubs in the NL Central hunt.
St. Louis starter Luke Weaver (4-1) continued his hot August tear, limiting the Giants to two runs and four hits over seven innings.
Bumgarner (3-7) retired the first 11 batters he saw, but he allowed three home runs for only the second time since the 2016 season began. Pinch-hitter Tim Federowicz hit a home run in the eighth in his first at-bat since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday.