Welcome to the 3rd Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants!
The Giants really are that bad but if so how come they are doing as well as they are?
Anyone who has watched the Giants in April should be wondering how a team that appears to be so wretched has actually won10 games. The Giants have a team BA right north of the Mendoza line, have stranded 174 men on base, have hit into more double plays (21) than any other team in baseball (thank you Casey McGehee), are scoring an almost MLB low of 3.0 runs per game (thank you Phillies for being worse) and have a pitching staff ERA somewhere above 4. In short, when you only score an average of 3 runs per game and give up an average of 4 runs you can’t expect to win many games.
Sure there are excuses, plenty of them. Injuries abound. Pence is still out with a broken arm (due back at that end of May), Cain is still out with a tight forearm but is starting to throw and may be back this month, Peavy is out with back problems and Ishikawa has a bad back. However a lot of team have much longer injury lists than the Giants.
So how come the G-Men are only 4 and half games back in the NL West (maybe the toughest division in MLB) after the worst April start since 1991 (not a memorable year)?
The answer to the question, I think, is Bruce Bochy and the bullpen. The pen continues to be exceptionally strong and most of the games the G-Men won (like last night with a bottom of the 9th walk-off) were one run nail biting affairs. Those kind of games tell you that the manager has kept the team in the game until something good happens (like taking two out of three from the Dodgers or winning on the road).
It’s now May and let’s see if the torture of one run games can’t be abated a bit in favor of better baseball. However I still suspect that we are in for low scoring tense games for quite some time to come.
Who is good, who is not good and who cares?
The good includes the team’s only .300 hitters, Aoki and Pagan. Nori is a gamer and the best lead-off hitter we have had in quite a while. He gets on base, leads the team in steals (with 6 as of last night) and is an all-around pesky player. Pagan (clearly healthy now) hitting in the three hole has been a revelation. He has been a tough out and leads the team in hits (with 32).
The RBI and HR leader is Crawford, who continues to be probably the smoothest shortstop in the game. Maxwell has been a breath of fresh air with good defense in RF, the most dingers behind Crawford (tied with Posey who is, well, Buster Posey) and a dazzling smile. However, and watch this when you see the game, the league is starting to figure him out and he is now getting a steady diet of off-speed pitches and junk, which he is going to have to learn to handle
After that it gets really thin. Belt is really scuffling, McGehee should be sent down to the minors to get rid of the yips (and his reputation for hitting into double plays is, as it turns out, well deserved – how much rope Bochy will continue to give him is the real question) and find his stroke and the bench has been quiet. The G-men have very little power, and it shows.
Future bright lights continue to be Panik and Duffy (and Susac off the bench) but they are basically rookies and it shows (although Panik’s walk off last night was a thing of beauty).
The real problem is the starting pitching. The best pitcher on the team (from an ERA perspective) right now is Heston. Bum however looked great beating Kershaw this last week and I think that his season is going to just get better and better. Beyond that it’s a wasteland. Peavy was a train wreck before he went on the DL, Vogelsong is giving up HR’s in bunches (it’s tough to come back from two three-run dingers in 4 innings) and may be done. As for Timmy, well which one are we going to get is always the question, the Timmy that throws strikes and pitches like an All-Star or the one that is throwing batting practice to the other team?
Hudson, for his part (and he pitches today) looks ready to retire. He is adequate if the bullpen can support him but I don’t see any fire there and if that is the case it’s going to be a long year for him before he retires at the end of this season. We need a healthy Matt Cain back for starters. There is no pitching depth in the farm system so maybe Sabean has something in mind; if so, we will have to wait and see what happens.
The bottom line is that the G-Men are lumbering along like an old car not hitting on all cylinders but doing just enough to get us to the next stop. Maybe Pence returning (to continue the analogy) will be the sparkplug we need to start playing better in every facet of the game
I guess that we all have to remember that THE GIANTS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS and everyone else is not. That felt good to write.
The Upcoming Series - a cage match
This series coming up, the Angels, Padres and Marlins are important from a number of perspectives. All three teams are playing around, or below, .500 ball so it will be a good test of the Giants will. All three teams have better team ERA’s, BA’s, runs scored (and every other conceivable stat) than the G-Men so we will be underdog’s in every series. If the Giants can hang in there at home, or win more than they lose (and last night was a great start) then we can start to move up the ladder of the NL West.
It’s time for baseball!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!