As of Monday June 19, 2017 it has become clear that the San Francisco Giants are no longer simply an aging, badly put together team that has been playing poorly for three months.
Just how clear? Crystal.
This is officially a franchise is disarray from top to bottom; an organization deeply flawed at every level, from their bottom-ranked farm system through the current 25-man roster.
In their last 19 games San Francisco is 4-15, culminating in last weekend’s humiliating four-game sweep at the hands of the Rockies in Colorado. This is a team spectacularly unsuccessful at literally every core aspect of the game– hitting, pitching, defense, managerial strategy.
And 2017 isn’t an anomaly—it only reflects a long-term trend of franchise under-performance.
From 2013 through June 19, 2017 the Giants regular season record is 361-358, a stunning .502 winning percentage. And this after the wondrous 2010 World Series win and the brilliant follow-up championship and World Series run in 2012.
The Giants’ overall organizational performance since 2013 has been terrible (other than what can only be described as the 2014 pure luck Wild Card/World Series win on the back of starter Madison Bumgarner).
The Giants have no excuse for this mediocrity. After 2012 they had the momentum, the money, and ample opportunity to actually build a championship franchise that would produce talented players and team success for many years to come.
Not only has that not happened, the organization has regressed into a kind of silly baseball Disneyland for their fanbase. The front office has become expert at producing the rhetoric and outside facade of a winning baseball club, without any of the actual winning.
So we’ve come to the point when the Giants front office, and the compliant San Francisco sports media, are hyping excuses for this terrible 2017 season. All in an attempt to spin what is a pile of smelly bovine material into something you don’t mind stepping in.
As promised, here are the top three myths being spun about the Giants disastrous 2017 season:
The Giants just aren’t hitting for some reason. The pitching’s been pretty good but the pitchers can’t win games if the hitters don’t hit.
The goal of this myth is to pretend that there are positives for the fans to hold onto. While the Giants are certainly not hitting, it turns out their starting and bullpen pitching is equally bad.
First the hitting. San Francisco remains at 27th out of 30 clubs in hitting with 265 runs scored to date.
To compare, New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies are tied at #1 in the Majors with 383 RS each. The Giants are still 30th in home runs with 57. Contrast that with the Tampa Bay Rays who are #3 overall with 109 HR, and the Milwaukee Brewers are at #5 with 103 HR.
And the pitching?
The Giants are 20th in the Majors with a 4.54 team ERA. The Dodgers are 1st with a 3.39 ERA.
San Francisco’s bullpen is 12th overall with a 4.03 ERA; the Cleveland Indians lead the Majors with a 2.56 bullpen ERA.
And of course, $62 million free agent closer Mark Melancon’s ERA now stands at 5.09; his 4 blown saves ties him at second among all MLB relievers.
Giants management regularly encourages their fans to “ignore the numbers”, because anyone can see the starting staff is doing pretty well despite the lack of run support.
Currently starter Matt Moore has a 6.00 ERA and a whopping 1.62 WHIP after 14 starts. In 78.1 IP Moore has given up 95 hits.
In 14 starts this season Jeff Samardzija has a 4.81 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Matt Cain’s 14 starts have resulted in a 4.99 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Even rookie Ty Blach’s 11 starts put him at a mediocre 4.23 ERA with 78 hits in 76.2 IP.
You have to admit, the Giants have had a ton of player injuries and they would be playing a lot better if everyone was healthy.
The excellent RosterResource.com documents DL stints for every MLB team on their Disabled List Tracker.
They not only count the number of player DL stints, they provide a Roster Effect Rating (RER) because all players aren’t the same— losing an everyday high performing player to the DL is obviously more damaging than losing a bench player.
The three teams at the top of the current list are the New York Mets (18 DL stints, a 9.85 RER); the Los Angeles Dodgers (26 DL stints, 9.62 RER); and the Seattle Mariners (16 DL stints, 9.55 RER).
The San Francisco Giants are 14th with 13 DL stints and a 6.65 RER. Colorado, Toronto, Arizona, and San Diego are among the other teams who have been hit much harder by key injuries than the Giants and won more games.
But, for a second, the injury excuse sounded pretty good.
A familiar series of excuses from the front office, the manager, and the local sports media. All of which depend on Giant fans not thinking too deeply.
- “Sure, Jeff Samardzija gave up three runs in 6 innings today [a 4.50 ERA], but forget the numbers—he actually pitched really well.”
- “The umpires are squeezing Giant pitchers at the plate and not the other teams”; or, “The umpires are calling strikes on Giant hitters when they’re really balls.”
- The [hitters/pitchers/fielders] just aren’t used to playing in [name any away ballpark].
- Denard Span [usually/sometimes/OK, never] gets to that ball.
- Hunter Pence is coming around and is about to play like the Hunter Pence of [four, five, six] years ago.
- “That ball gets over the fence in any other ballpark”; or, “That ball stays in the park at AT&T”. It’s not the Giants players– the baseballs just aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.
- All the bad fielding, bad pitching, bad base running, and bad hitting is just bad luck. Any other season, it could’ve gone the Giants way and they would be on their way to another World Series.
No one who is a longtime follower of this franchise likes what’s happened to the San Francisco Giants this season, and where they’ve been headed the past several years.
But the more the Giants front office spins myths about the 2017 season, and the team’s performance over the past several years, the farther away they get from being the championship organization that 2010 and 2012 promised.