2017-04-27T16:54:38-07:00The bullpen had a ghastly 10th inning, but the game shouldn’t have gone to extra innings in the first place. There is room to complain about the bullpen, to yell loudly about the dumb 10th inning. It was a very, very dumb 10th inning, after all. The Giants allowed four runs on three hits, and one of those hits was a squirb off the bat of a player in the middle of a death slump. Four runs on three hits is another way to say somebody screwed up. The Giants screwed up. But before we get to our regularly scheduled bullpen sniping, I would like to draw your attention to the idea that the Giants shouldn’t have needed to play a 10th inning. The starting pitcher threw seven strong innings. The setup man in the eighth inning was perfect. The closer was perfect in the ninth. Lemme just ... hang on a second ... The starting pitcher threw seven strong innings. The setup man in the eighth inning was perfect. The closer was perfect in the ninth. There we go. That paragraph is the story of the game because it’s a paragraph that usually describes a jolly win. But before the bullpen screwed up, the hitters screwed up. Continually. With great fervor and zeal! The Night of Morserroyo seems like it was many moons ago, and I regret to inform you that the Giants screwed up. Christian Arroyo is cool, of course. He had two hits and the only RBI of the game, and the only reason he didn’t have three hits was because he hit a laser right to the center fielder. Kelby Tomlinson had two hits, including a glorious opposite-field poke against Kenley Jansen before stealing second, giving the Giants a chance to walk off. Before the talent-eating lice burrowed into Eduardo Nuñez’s scalp, that was what we were expecting from him. It was nice to see it, if briefly, from Tomlinson. Everyone else needs to apologize to Matt Moore, George Kontos, and Mark Melancon. Because there was some ugly baseballing in the bottom halves of every inning. I don’t want to pick on Buster Posey, who is hitting .357 and helping the team win with his defense behind the plate, but he looks uncomfortable in most of his at-bats lately. He took a walk (and was intentionally told to go to first base), but he hit into two miserably timed double plays, too, and it’s hard to remember the last time he got more than one-and-a-half cheeks into a ball. It’s an odd thing to write about someone coming off a 12-game hitting streak, but then again, he hasn’t had an extra-base hit since April 9, which was 10 games ago. While runs batted in aren’t a very good stat for evaluating a player, it’s still amazing (and telling) that Posey has three RBI, even though he’s hitting .357 and has come up to bat with 40 runners on base this season. Part of that is dodgy luck and dastardly sequencing. Part of that is he just isn’t driving the ball. He’s still the best, and I’m being hard on him. But those double plays made me itch. Hunter Pence is hitting .291 ... with a .716 OPS, which is something I would expect to see from Tomlinson. The power isn’t there. Brandon Belt had a hit and a walk, and I’m in the tank for him, so he gets a pass, but you get where this is going. When no one on the team is driving the ball, that leaves it up to Nuñez, Nick Hundley, and Gorkys Hernandez, all of whom are having an absolutely miserable time at the plate right now. Eduardo Nuñez should keep hitting third because it’s gonna work one of these times, you’ll see, you’ll all see. The Giants scored one run, in other words, and they were lucky to get it. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and I can’t believe they even had eight baserunners. Now we can move on to the bullpen-grousing section because the 10th inning was a debacle. Cory Gearrin walked his seventh batter of the season in just 6⅔ innings. His stuff is sentient and unresponsive to its master’s cries. He walked the leadoff batter in the 10th inning of a tie game, even though Adrian Gonzalez helped him out by chasing the first ball four. I’m not going to say that it was the wor[...]
For a team built around singles and doubles, this is an early concern.
The Giants aren’t striking out a lot. This is not a new development. They have the second lowest strikeout rate in the National League this season, they had the lowest rate in the league last season, and they had the second-lowest rate in the league the season before that. This is a team that’s built to make contact. It’s why Brandon Belt stands out, and it’s why some fans can be extremely silly about him.
That doesn’t necessarily have to be the good news, because the Giants aren’t hitting the ball as hard as they would like. They’re making more contact with pitches in the strike zone than any other team, and you would think that discipline would lead to more line drives. Instead, it’s making me wonder if they shouldn’t be so scared of swinging and missing.
It’s still impressive, though, this contact, and it’s something we’ve grown accustomed to. There’s a difference in the 2017 team’s offensive approach compared to last year, though, and it’s sadly familiar:
Walk rate (rank in NL out of 15 teams)
2014: 7.0%, 11th
2015: 7.4%, 9th
2016: 9.1%, 3rd
2017, 7.7%, 10th
Hello, hacking, my old friend. While it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a difference between 7.7 percent and 9.1, most of the teams in the league have walk rates between seven to 10 percent. The least patient teams in baseball draw about two or three fewer walks per 100 plate appearances than the most patient teams. So a percentage point (and a half) is a big deal.
Here are the starters from both seasons, minus left field:
I’m of two minds. The optimist in me says that it’s early, and also it’s early. Brandon Crawford isn’t going to finish with a career-worst walk rate. Hunter Pence is still drinking from the trough of patience in a way that he wasn’t with the Phillies or Astros. Eduardo Nuñez and Denard Span will either stop slumping or stop playing.
The pessimist in me notes that this looks more like a typical Giants walk rate from the last few years. The bench isn’t helping out either, with Nick Hundley not drawing a single walk in 44 at-bats, and only Aaron Hill drawing more than a walk every 10 plate appearances.
This isn’t a frantic call to action. Just something I’ve noticed early in the season, which means it’s something that can change within a week. But it’s not just you: The Giants are making as much contact as they usually do, but they’re walking less than they did last year. While I’d prefer more line drives before I’d prefer more walks, something tells me the two are closely related.
Education Day means morning starts around the system, and what did we learn?
You may recall Giants #6 prospect Sandro Fabian from such feats as: saving Domenic Mazza’s perfect game Tuesday night with multiple fine defensive plays. A morning later Fabian decided to show off a different variety of his skillset. He’s been a doubles machine so far this year, but yesterday Sandro got that launch angle dialed in to go for the downs:
HIGHLIGHTS: Hunter Cole reached base four times; Sandro Fabian had four hits including 2 HRs, double; Tyler Brown had four hits including three doubles.
Sacramento had a scheduled off day.
They travel to Tacoma to take on the Rainiers tonight.
Meanwhile, enjoy this week’s Minor League Photos of the Week, which leads with a Tim Federowicz action shot!
Well, this video’s also not available for sharing at this time, because that’s the way you grow the game to kids, but go watch it and then note how the CGI is done well but the physics of the play just make it impossible. C’mon, guys. Show some respect for plausibility. No one can catch that ball. Stop insulting our intelligence.
Crawford, who was already scheduled to be away from the team for three days on bereavement leave, injured his groin in the 8th inning and the team hopes to get an MRI done before he leaves the team for a few days. Let me just say: I am not in favor of Brandon Crawford injuring his groin and I believe other Giants fans would back me up on that.