Tag: Giants pitching

MadBum Brilliant, Bullpen Resorts to 2016 Form as Giants Lose Season Opener

Madison Bumgarner tossing a pitch

SF Giants Ace and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner put himself into a whole other category of pitchers in yesterday’s season opener at Arizona. Not only did he pitch a perfect game through the sixth. Not only did he whiff 11 over that span. He also hit two homers to help his own cause, the first time in MLB history that a pitcher hit multiple homers on Opening Day.

And then the Bullpen happened.

MadBum left the game with the score tied after giving up 3 quick runs in the 7th, then Ty Law came on in relief. He managed to give up three hits and the go-ahead run without getting a single out. Hunter Strickland followed, got his one man out, then Bruce Bochy turned the game over to the G-men’s new incredibly expensive closer, Mark Melancon, who got the first two guys he faced then went on to give up the final two runs as the D-Backs won on a walk-off single in the 9th, 6-5.

It was one of the most disappointing losses in the last few years, in part because it followed so closely the way the Giants lost repeatedly in 2016. Moans of “not again” rippled through the crowd where I went with three friends to watch the game. We were all stunned into disbelief.

There was a lot of fan overreaction. I was reminded of my old baseball buddy Sandi Golden who used to follow any early-season loss by the orange-and-black with the observation, “Well, there goes the season!” She was of course joking. No telling how much of the disillusionment this time was real and how much was facetious. Either way, there was enough to go around.

I have to believe Melancon will be fine. If he gets 49 more save opps this season, he’ll save 45+ of them. But why, oh why, did he have to lose this one?!

In a scheduling quirk the likes of which I’ve never seen before, the Giants have the day off today and pick up the four-game series in Arizona tomorrow.

Final Week of Spring: How Are the Giants Doing?

 

(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)

Pitching Stats

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):

Statistic Giants Rank
ERA 4.84 19th
BA .279 24th
WHIP* 1.48 24th
Strikeouts 202 24th
Walks 90 11th
Home Runs 18 T-28th

*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.

Hitting Stats

How about the offense?

Here’s a similar table comparing team hitting against all others in MLB.

Statistic Giants Rank
BA .241 26th
HR 30 11th
SLG* .409 20th
OBP** .302 27th
OPS*** .712 23rd
Walks 74 25th
Strikeouts 2001 21st

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.

Two Weeks Into Spring, Giants Look Mediocre. But…

Time to check in on the SF Giants and their Spring Training adventures. After breaking an 8-game losing streak on Monday, March 6, the orange-and-black stand at 6-8 on the season (I’m not counting their win over Puerto Rico in the WBC). Repeat mantra: spring training won-loss records don’t matter until the last 10-14 days. Neither do stats.

Still, the Giants aren’t showing a lot of spring in their step yet. It’s too early to be concerned but serious fans need to take notice.

As a team, the Giants are hitting .238, which places them 26th among the 32 MLB teams. Their OBP of .314 is 25th “best” and the team’s SLG is a fairly anemic .387, good for 22 on the list.

From the mound, the picture is only slightly better. Team ERA is 4.65, 22nd in the league, while opponents hit .265 against our staff, which has a mediocre WHIP of 1.46. Those last two numbers place them 19th and 19th, respectively, among MLB teams.

Not exactly reasons to have a lot of optimism. But…. <insert meaningless spring training mantra here>.

On the individual player side of things, I’m watching the battle for the fifth starter role as well as the fight for third base and left field.

SF Giants Starting Prospect Ty Blach

Veteran Matt Cain and Ty Blach are contending for the #5 spot in the starting rotation. Right now, Blach is blowing Cain away. Both pitchers have appeared in three games, both have thrown about 7 innings. So the stats are comparable. But Blach bests Cain in every meaningful category: ERA (Blach at 1.35, Cain at 7.36), Hits allowed (7, 10 [tied for most on the team]), and WHIP (1.05, 1.50). So while neither of them is setting anything on fire in the Cactus League, it seems obvious that if Bruce Bochy had to make the call today, Blach would get the nod.

The battle at third is between Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie. So far, Gillaspie is giving Nunez fits. At the plate, Gillaspie leads the team with a .444 BA over four games and 9 ABs. His slash line is .444/.548/.778. He has one homer in those nine at-bats and has driven in three. Nunez, OTOH, ranks 25th among those in camp with a .154 BA with no homers and a single RBI.

Meanwhile, left field is up for grabs and the two prime contenders appear to be Jarrett Parker and Matt Williamson. This has proven so far to be the hottest competition. Williamson is slightly ahead of Parker with a .304 batting average (.304/.385/.565), two homers, two RBIs, and five runs scored in 23 at bats over eight games. Parker has been at bat 21 times over eight games. His anemic .190 BA is offset by the extra base hits he’s piled up including two homers. That gives him a power-laden slash line of .190/.370/.524.He has 7 RBIs and has scored four runs. At this point, you’d have to say Parker hits well for average, but Williamson is the power hitter. Which do you go with? This one needs more data before even a guess can be made.

That’s it, Giants fans. Today, the G-Men are playing a split-squad combo against the Reds and the D-Backs.

Go, Giants!

Giants Open Cactus League With Two Come-from-Behind Wins

Yep, Spring Training games mean nothing. Less than nothing. But, still….  The Giants opened the 2017 Cactus League with two come-from-behind victories over the Cincinnati Reds and the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs (still can’t believe that’s not an #alternativeFact).

Chris Marrero

On opening spring day, they entered the ninth inning trailing the Reds 4-3. Chris Marrero hit a 3-run walk-off  homer to give the G-Men a 6-4 victory. The next day, Saturday, the Cubs were in Scottsdale (Cubs were, however, split-squad). The Cubbies were up 3-0 in the fifth, but the Giants tied it in the bottom of the frame t=and then had a four-run sixth to put the game out of reach. The final: 8-6.

Then on Day 3, the Giants had a much easier day of it. They took the lead for good in the third and won it 9-5 pretty handily.

The good news is that the Giants’ offense has been performing well. Scoring 23 runs on 31 hits, which suggests timely hitting. The (not unexpected) bad news is that pitching has been a bit disappointing.

In Game 1, Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs in his only inning, for an ERA of 18.0. Then NRI Roberto Gomez came in and went one inning, giving up another run. Game 2 saw Matt Cain draw the start and toss two pretty nice innings. Ty Blach came on in the third and gave up another run over two innings but the biggest disappointment was Josh Osich, who yielded two earned runs in a single inning. Matt Moore started Sunday’s game and gave up one run in 1-⅓ innings of work. He gave way to Matt Reynolds, who didn’t help his cause any by giving up three earned runs in the remaining ⅔ of the second for an ERA of 40.50. So far, Manager Bruce Bochy and Pitching Coach Dave Righetti have taken a look at 23 different pitchers.

As I said at the beginning, these things tend to be meaningless until the last week or so of Spring Training, but hardened fans watch and fret over them anyway.

 

Giants Bullpen Gains Some Seasoning, But…

Just as Spring Training opened yesterday for the Giants in Scottsdale, the team announced the signing of relief pitcher David Hernandez, late of the D-Backs, to a one-year minor league contract.

Action shot of Giants' Reliever David Hernandez

Giants’ Reliever David Hernandez

Hernandez, who will turn 32 in May, is a borderline pitcher with only four years in the majors in a career that spans 10 years of bouncing around between the minors and the Big League. His career stats are not great. His FIP is 4.35, which is just a skosh below horrible, while his WHIP is a pretty respectable 1.34.

But — and here’s the real rub — this is another guy in the Giants’ pen who has had recent Tommy John surgery. In fact, he sat out all of 2014 with the problem and had a really mediocre 2015 season (4.74 FIP, 1.31 WHIP), then last season as a Phillie he maintained is dismal FIP (4.32) while slightly seeing his WHIP dip to 1.50.

So what does that mean? What can we surmise about a guy whose WHIP is consistently solid but whose FIP is pretty awful? Good question. I’m off studying it right now. Watch for a coming-soon post on this that will include a rundown of the Giants’ likely pitching lineup.

Go, Giants!

Pitchers & Catchers Report! Spring Training Starts! Now, About that Bullpen…

San Francisco Giants LogoHip, hip, hooray! Spring Training 2017 officially started today for the San Francisco Giants, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Scottsdale and slated for their first workouts tomorrow.

Spring Training games begin Feb. 24 for the G-Men.

Okay, enough celebrating already! What’s up with the bullpen this year?

Unarguably the Giants’ main Achilles’ Heel last season, the bullpen is going to have a pretty new look this time around. Two veterans — Sergio (Don’t-Ask-Him-To-Close) Romo and Santiago (Who Me?) Casilla —  have moved on to greener (or at least other) pastures and a third regular from 2016, Javier Lopez, has retired. He’ll be given a trial as a broadcaster in the KNBR booth for several games, filling in for Mike Krukow, who’s apparently having some health challenges. (Read more here.)

Manager Bruce Bochy likes to keep 12 pitchers on the roster and the starting five is pretty well set, so the focus now turns to the relief corps. It appears that Bochy is likely to stay with four of his most regular relievers from last season – George Kontos, Derek Law, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland. Plus there’s the exciting new addition, Mark Melancon. Here’s my first take on who to keep an eye on as good prospects to make the remainder of the 25-man roster (with a tip of the hat to Michael Saltzman over at Fansided for his good first pass at the entire crew in camp).

(As you read this piece, you’ll see that I rely heavily on two stats to evaluate pitching talent: WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). That second one may be new to you. It’s a relatively new development in Sabermetrics (the scientific/mathematics of baseball in which I am renewing my knowledge and passion this season). It is designed to measure the effectiveness of a pitcher without the influence of defensive brilliance or ugliness. The league average for FIP last year, e.g., was 3.8, so anything less than that is good and anything above 4.7 is terrible. If you want to know more about FIP, all the gory details are at my favorite Sabermetrics site.)

Mark Melancon, New Closer

Of course, the big bullpen news of the off-season was the successful recruitment of Mark Melancon (pronounced muh-LAN-son), a 31-year-old, 10-year veteran major leaguer with a proven track record as a closer. He features a well-above-average cutter and a nasty curve and he has great stats for keeping the ball on the ground and therefore avoiding big innings. The Giants paid this guy an apparent record for a reliever contract: $62 million over four years. There’s a 40-60 probability that this will be a good long-term deal. The guy is over 30 and his velocity can only decline as his arm ages. But his career averages of 2.79 FIP and 1.04 FIP combined with a respectable 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio make him a decent bet. He’d better be better than good, though, or the Giants’ fans are going to take him to task for taking so much of their money. (Yeah, it’s our money, Mr. Baer!)

One of the most likely to make the roster in my view is Cory Gearrin. Not only are his pitching stats respectable, the guy doubles as a left-fielder! There was a point last year when Bochy brought in a pitcher to take over for Gearrin, sent him to left field, let the new pitcher (Lopez) come in to get one guy out (he walked the dude), and then moved Gearrin back to the mound. (See the video here.) For a guy with a strategic mind like Bochy, Gearrin’s going to be difficult to release. Last year, he succeeded in 19 of 23 save attempts and had a very strong WHIP of 1.16, a career best, and a FIP of 3.29, well under the league average.

Steven Okert  was on the roster last season for the Giants, making 16 appearances, over the course of which he compiled an average 3.16 FIP and a similarly average WHIP of 1.29. Okert started his career in 2007 and had a sterling start but was plagued by injuries early on. Still, he looked decent during the G-Men’s final run in 2016 and probably has banked a certain amount of cred with Bochy as a result.

A guy I like a good bit but who is on the cusp because of off-season knee surgery is Josh Osich. He had an amazing 2015 season but injuries kept him from being at his full potential last season. He had a better-than-average WHIP of 1.376, but his FIP was abysmal at 6.09. I suspect he’ll make the 25-man roster cut but he’ll have one foot out the door until Bochy gets a decent look at how his surgery worked.

Before he was injured while a Cubbie in 2014, Neil Ramirez had a pretty good career going. And statistically, he looks to have recovered nicely from that injury. So I’m making him one of my long shots to make the final roster. Over his eight-year career in the majors (with three teams until last year when he was traded twice), he’s built a respectable FIP of 4.21 and a solid WHIP of 1.27. I just have a gut feeling about this guy; I like his attitude and I think that under the masterful tutelage of the best pitching coach in baseball, Dave Righetti, he could well flourish.

Matt Reynolds will likely make the cut even though he’s not quite even an average MLB pitcher. Last season with the Giants, he had a whopping FIP of 4.65 and an equally horrible WHIP of 2.00. So why do I think he makes the cut? Two reasons: first, the field is pretty thin (yeah, not great news), and Reynolds’ record with the Rockies and the Diamondbacks was a good bit better than he showed the Giants in 2016. So they may see hope for the future. Plus, he has good knowledge of NL West hitters.

A possible dark horse to make the cut is Kraig Sitton. You’ve likely never heard of him; he’s been in the minors now for six seasons and, at 28, he’s probably getting nearly his last shot at the Show. But for the Mariners’ AAA club last year, he did a good job, racking up a 1.14 WHIP and an FIP of 3.58, both of which put him in the above-average category.

So if we assume that George Kontos, Derek Law, Mark Melancon, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland all have cinched jobs, and if Boch goes with a 12-man pitching roster this year, this list is my tentative prediction for who makes the final 25-man roster. Interestingly, this gives the team an exact 50-50 split of lefties vs righties. I’m not sure that’s good in MLB today but that’s how it works out here.

Of course, as Spring Training develops, I’ll be keeping a really close eye on these guys and reporting back my revised thinking as real life intrudes on the fantasy of statistical projection.

I hope you like my stat-oriented stories this year. I’m back!

Giants’ 2017 Starting Rotation Isn’t as Solid as it Looks

As the start of Spring Training draws ever nearer, however slowly it seems, talk around the Hot Stove frequently turns to the Giants and their formidable-seeming starting rotation. No doubt that, statistically, the Orange-and-Black have an impressive row of starters that matches up well with any other team in baseball.

But if you scratch just below the surface you find potential flaws that could become yawning canyons into which the team could stumble, fall and not recover. Here’s my take.

Madison “Mad Bum” Bumgarner

No doubt the ace and lead starter of the crew, Madison “Mad Bum” Bumgarner, is everything he’s cracked up to be…and more. At the age of 27, this guy is just entering his prime and he’s already peeking around the curtain of the Holy of Holies within which reside the Greatest Pitchers of All Time. Bumgarner finished his fourth consecutive season with an earned run average under 3.00 with career highs in innings pitched (226 2/3) and strikeouts (251) last year. There doesn’t appear to be a flaw in this guy.

Johnny Cueto

Number 2 in the rotation, Johnny Cueto was a big surprise to most fans and sportswriters last season. Cueto went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and 198 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings. He also threw a career-high five complete games. So he should have a great 2017, right? Ah, but the fly in this particular ointment is is age: Cueto is 31 years old and, over the course of his 9-year career (8-1/2 with the Reds), he threw a huge number of innings (1,421 to be exact). How much more his arm has in it is a big question mark. Pitchers  hit their strides in the 26-28-year-old time frame and many are washed up by the time they’re 31.

Jeff Samardzija

At the third spot in the rotation is another 30-plus-year-old arm, hung on the lanky frame of one Jeff Samardzija, who’s 32. Over his nine-year career, he has thrown just 1,195 innings, more than 200 fewer than Cueto, so his arm probably isn’t quite as tired, but he’s clearly no spring chicken. Both he and Samardzija could go down with age-related injuries any time — or multiple times — this season. In his case, Samardzija would take with him a 2016 record of 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 167 strikeouts in 203 1/3 innings. Not terribly impressive, but only a bit below par.

Matt Moore

The fourth starter, Matt Moore, like Mad Bum is 27 years old and he seems to have an immense talent. Last season’s record doesn’t really tell the whole story because it was his first year back after having Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. A mid-season acquisition in 2016, Moore wound up with a 4.08 ERA, which is pretty weak for a guy who in 2013 was the AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was a mediocre 2.16 and he showed flashes of poor control. But he doesn’t give up the long ball (0.9 homers per 9 innings last year). I’d say he’s a bit of a gamble. He could go either way, either returning in his prime fully recovered from the surgery and taking off like a rocket or fizzling and crashing into McCovey Cove.

Matt Cain

The final spot in the rotation belongs to Matt (OMG!) Cain, he of the 5.64 2016 ERA. (That wasn’t a fluke; remember his 2015 ERA was 5.79!) In nine full seasons with the Giants, Cain has thrown 1,961 innings, so his arm is probably more fatigued than Samardzija’s. Cain is also 32 years old (see above) and he’s not likely to get a lot of support and encouragement from fans unless he explodes out the gate, which is a tough assignment for a fifth starter. If Cain doesn’t cut it in Spring Training, the likely guy to replace him is the young, rocket-armed Ty Blach, who excited fans in the penultimate game of 2016 when he threw an eight-inning shutout at the Dodgers. He only pitched 17 innings but he had an impressive 1.06 ERA and he impressed a lot of folks. (Of course, you have to

Ty Blach

take into account a lot of factors: late in the season, first time seeing him throw at you, etc.) Still, the 26-year-old rookie seems ready, and if Cain falters, he could become a player.

So let’s review. The top of the rotation is solid. The next three guys are two tired-out 30-plus-year-olds and a guy coming off Tommy John surgery who wasn’t too impressive. And there’s the once-fabled Matt Cain.

Tell me again why this is one of the best starting rotations in the league?

Why is Bochy Hitting Pitchers in the Eight Hole?

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is trying a relatively new (for him and the Giants) tactic this season by having his pitchers hit in the eighth spot rather than the ninth as tradition dictates. Why is he doing that?

If you have a really keen memory, you’ll know this isn’t the first time Bochy has done this. But it is the first time he’s set it as an ongoing tactic. So far, he seems to like what’s happening.

The idea is that with a loaded lineup like the Giants have this season and with four-way competition for the leadoff spot, moving the pitcher up gives the ninth spot a chance to be at bat with runners on base a tiny bit more often. It’s a really minor change, but because of the really long history of pitchers batting ninth (even The Babe hit ninth because that’s where pitchers belong, dammit!), it’s an attention getter.

So has the tactic borne fruit over the years? According to this analysis, not really. At best, the changed lineup may produce an extra 1-3 runs over the course of a season. It is remotely possible that if it did make a three-run difference and you won all of those games by a run, it could loom larger than it seemed.

 

See? I TOLD You it Would Be All About Offense!

The Giants won their season opener at Milwaukee today by a score of 12-3.  They banged out 15 hits including four home runs.  In the eighth, with two out, Span, Panik and Posey went yard back to back to back, the first time that had been accomplished on Opening Day since 1997!

Meanwhile, Bumgarner, who notched the win, had a bit of a rough outing, yielding 3 runs over the minimum 5 innings for a starting ERA of 5.40. More troubling, he walked 5 while striking out 6 and serving up two round-trippers

The Giants left seven runners in scoring position but still managed a RISP of 4-for-9, a respectable .444 average.

Span knocked in 5 of the runs and Duffy collected another 4.

All in all, a good offensive performance, albeit against the puny Brewers.

 


 

Here Are My Opening Day Thoughts About the Giants

go_giantsTomorrow is Opening Day!

Having returned to full strength just in time for the 2016 baseball season, I am donning anew my prognosticator’s hat, dusting off my sports writer’s jersey, and trying on a chest protector as I resume my long-time habit of offering my thoughts on the San Francisco Giants and the 2016 season. I hope all 10 of my loyal readers enjoy the ride. 😀


Injuries Be Gone!

The G-Men have just finished their best spring training in years from the perspective of injuries They begin this year with zero players on the DL. That’s not only amazing, it’s crucial to their chances.

It’s beyond doubt that one of the biggest single contributors to the team’s 2015 performance was injuries. Key players were injured at critical moments and on the DL for far too long for the team to have a realistic expectation of post-season success.

This year, not only are the Giants healthier coming out of Arizona, they’ve also made a significant staffing change, adding a full-time physical therapist to their staff. Tony Reale, who’s been with the club for 10 years but has heretofore held forth in Arizona dealing strictly with rehab chores, is now with the team full-time and will travel with them as well. PT is about more than rehabbing an injury; it’s also about preventive maintenance. Reale’s primary focus will be on the premium-priced pitching staff but he’ll be available to work with other players as well. I expect his presence and his expertise will have a salutary effect on the team’s injury picture in 2016.

Good move, Larry (Baer) and Brian (Sabean)!


Offensive Power and Speed Will be Featured

The Giants’ starting pitching rotation was beefed up during the off-season with the signing of two pricey free agents, Johnny Cueto and Mike Samardzija. Cueto signed a 6-year, $130 million deal, all of which is guaranteed. Samardzija inked a five-year, $90 million deal. For those of you who are math-challenged or stunned into unconsciousness by those numbers, that means the team has sunk almost a quarter billlion into two pitchers.

In early Spring Training, the entire rotation — including returning stars Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain — seemed pretty weak. Things improved in the final week and could bode well for the team.

The Giants had a huge 6.37 ERA, second worst in the MLB, gave up 222 runs (second worst), handed out 43 homers (fifth worst) and compiled a puny .394 winning percentage (sixth worst).

On the offensive side, things were much brighter. The team’s batting average (.287) was the fifth best in all of baseball, and the orange-and-black rang up 203 runs (second best) while compiling a .351 OBP (fourth best). While homer power was a bit lacking (39 for 11th place), it wasn’t terrible.

One of the biggest surprises of the spring for me was the measly 23 stolen bases in a surprisingly small number of attempts (27). That was good for 11th place in the final tally, but with three alleged speedsters in the lineup, I was disappointed in Manager Bruce Bochy’s failure to send more runners.

So it might be the Giants Secret Weapon this year is to distract opponents with their stellar pitching roster — on paper anyway — and sneak up on them offensively.


So What About the Season?

I think the team will be more offensive minded than it has been in recent years, that it will see a significant drop in the number, severity and impact of injuries, and that it will make the playoffs, though more likely as a wild card than as a division titlist.

That said, it is always pitching that determines a team’s fate in short series and for that reason, I’m doubtful the G-Men can rack up another World Series appearance, let alone win.