(Edited from first publication in which I completely screwed up the end of Spring Training and treated the exhibition season enders with the A’s as opening games for the season. Chalk it up to a Senior Moment.)
Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season approaches quickly (the Giants open Sunday, April 2, at Arizona in a weird four-games-over-five-days series), which means Spring Training stats are finally starting to have some meaning.
As the longest Spring Training in MLB history finally winds down, the Giants find themselves with a 14-15 record going into today’s (March 26) game against the White Sox.
So how’s the roster shaping up?
Actually, everything is pretty much set. If the season were opening today, you’d see this lineup (not in batting order):
- Jarrett Parker in left
- Denard Span in center
- Hunter Pence in right
- Eduardo Nunez at third
- Brandon Crawford at short
- Joe Panik at second
- Brandon Belt at first
- Buster Posey behind the plate
The five-man rotation has been set for some time, though the fifth slot is still a little soft and could go a couple of different ways:
- Madison Bumgarner
- Johnny Cueto
- Matt Moore
- Jeff Samardzija
- Matt Cain (or Ty Blach, who’s made this really competitive)
The bullpen is a bit unsettled but the team’s current depth chart has reliefers in the following order:
- Mark Melancon
- Derek Law
- Hunter Strickland
- George Kontos
- Cory Gearrin
- Josh Osich
- Steven Okert
- Albert Suarez
That leaves four spots on the Opening Day 25-man roster. Appearing to have the best inside tracks on those slots are:
- Mac Williamson (OF)
- Conor Gillaspie (IF)
- Kelby Tomlinson (IF)
- Gorkys Hernandez (OF)
Overall, the Giants are below the middle of the National League in almost every pitching statistic. This is in part because they’ve given an awful lot of guys a chance to pitch who just clearly weren’t ready. But it is also due to established pitchers not being as ready as you’d expect them to be for Spring. Here are the team totals in some selected categories and where they stand in the majors (which, recall, includes 32 teams):
*WHIP=Walks plus hits per inning pitched. In other words, how many times the pitcher lets batters get on base per inning. Walks includes hit batsmen.
As I said, not encouraging.
How about the offense?
Here’s a similar table comparing team hitting against all others in MLB.
SLG=Slugging Percentage, calculated as total bases divided by at bats
OBP=On Base Percentage, meant to determine the number of times a batter gets on base per at bat. The official formula is: OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
OPS=On Base Plus Slugging, designed to measure the ability of a player both to get on base and to hit for power. As you can see in the above table, the Giants have an OBP of .302 and an SLG of .409. The total is rounded to .712.
Clearly, as I’ve said several times this Spring Training Season of commentary, these numbers are all but meaningless. They certainly aren’t good predictors of where the season might go, any more than their won-loss record is. But I pore over them, take them apart, share them with you because…that’s what SABRmetricians do! (Go ahead, ask me.)
NEXT UP: I’ll provide detailed spring stats for the likely 25-man roster.