We know how much the San Francisco Giants organization disdains advanced analytics and anything to do with them fancy computer numbers. Give Giants management simple tools, like batting average and pitcher wins/losses, and they’re happy.
Luckily, the front office can stay statistically old school and still understand how poorly their 25 and 40 man rosters have performed this past April.
First, San Francisco’s 9-17 record and -33 run differential on May 1st don’t begin to tell the whole story.
As of April 30th the Giants have the second worst win/loss record in baseball since the 2016 All Star break: 39-57.
In that time the Minnesota Twins beat them by one game (39-58), and will likely pass San Francisco going forward.
Other easy to understand numbers include:
> Being 27th out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored with 87. Arizona is 2nd in the Majors with 141 RS (behind Washington’s whopping 170 RS);
> Sitting 23rd in the Majors with a 4.45 staff ERA (the Dodgers are 5th overall with a 3.50 ERA). The Giants bullpen is 24th overall, featuring a 5.04 ERA and five blown saves in April—two by $62 million closer Mark Melancon.
Giant fans will be urged by team management and the local sports media to blame all of this bad news on player injuries. Starting with Madison Bumgarner’s lousy imitation of Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”.
But there are actually many other 2017 teams whose injury lists run much longer and hit much deeper than what the Giants have seen.
Tampa Bay has 11 players out with various injuries and physical issues; the Mets have 8 including 3 starting pitchers and their best hitter, Yoenis Cespedes; the Dodgers have 10 players out including their starting CF Joc Pederson, starting 2B Logan Forsythe, 2 starting pitchers, and 2 outfielders; the LA Angels have 10 players out, the Oakland A’s 8. And so on.
The San Francisco Giants currently have six players on the injured list.
Despite the poor performance and the injury to Bumgarner, the Giants feature an unfortunate one-two punch that progressive MLB franchises moved away from years ago: a paper thin, one dimensional 25 man roster backed up by a terrible farm system.
But I do agree with one thing: the way GM Bobby Evans and Executive Vice President Brian Sabean have once again constructed this team, one key injury is enough to trip the Giants up.
There is some good news. The two quality players in the Giants’ farm system at the start of this season are now on the 25 man roster.
Ty Blach had already made it into the bullpen after Spring Training and is now replacing Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. The team’s top prospect, infielder Christian Arroyo, was called up a week ago to take over 3rd base and put in some time at shortstop.
Typical of the Giants 1970s mentality, they held Arroyo too long in the minors— when he was brought up he had already played in 359 minor league games.
In comparison two years ago Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ top prospect at the time, played in just 181 minor league games before Chicago brought him to the big club.
Let’s hope both Blach and Arroyo stay up with the Giants and that their contributions give San Francisco something to start rebuilding around.
The Giants have the 4th oldest team in baseball and a number of current starting players are on the far side of the performance arc.
Team management and ownership have long made fan branding with players a key component of their personnel decision-making process (which, by the way, has been a tremendous marketing and financial success).
Whether they are willing to give up player/fan marketing to put a better quality product on the field remains to be seen.