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Stat Preview: San Francisco Giants, August 20-23

The Giants come to New York three games below .500 for the first time since June 18. With their recent slide, their playoff odds have dropped to just above one percent. So like the Mets, they will be sitting at home in October. San Francisco’s plan of building a surefire 2011 World Series champion in 2018 failed, but that does not mean that we cannot look at the production of some of those old-timers. Thus, the focus of this stats preview is on some key Giants’ veterans.

Madison’s Mashing is Missing: Madison Bumgarner’s production on the mound has to be somewhat concerning for the Giants, as this would be his highest career BB/9 (3.6), lowest career K/9 (7.7) since 2010 and highest career DRA (4.37). But his pitching production is the least of his worries, because who is Madison Bumgarner without his dingers? He has had just 30 plate appearances, but he’s yet to hit a home run after hitting at least three each of the last four seasons. In fact, he has not had an extra base hit yet in 2018. The last season he did not have an extra base hit was 2013, in which his batting average and slugging percentage were both .107. His 2018 batting average and slugging percentages? Both .107. I don’t know what this coincidence means, but for a franchise that the baseball world once thought was destined to win every even-year World Series for the rest of time, it has to mean something.

Andrew’s Abatement: With all the talk of how Andrew McCutchen was imploding in front of our eyes in his down season in 2016, he is projected to finish within a lower WARP in 2018 (2.0). Baseball media does not seem as interested in the second apocalypse of McCutchen’s career, and whether that is west coast bias or his lack of “face of the franchise” status in San Francisco, this time his chances of a bounce back are probably smaller. His strikeout rate is the highest in his career and basically at the level it was in 2016 (21.2% in 2016, 21.3% in 2018), but his power is down as well. Part of that could be explained by playing in AT&T Park instead of PNC Park, but he is on pace to finish with fewer than 20 home runs for the first time since 2010. The biggest factor may be age, though, as he will be 32 next season, meaning his best years are almost certainly behind him.

Buster’s Battle to Belong as the Best: Buster Posey is also beginning his duel with Father Time, as he will be 32 next season too. Like McCutchen, he has seen diminished power, hitting only five home runs after averaging 16 over the last five years. His .288/.363/.390 slash line is still good for a catcher, but his TAv of .269 would be the worst in his career. His FRAA of 4.6 is on pace to be the first time since 2011 his FRAA has not been ten or better, suggesting his defense may be slipping as well. As weird as it seems, the “best catcher in baseball” title might be up for grabs.

Quick Hits

The Good: Brandon Crawford is one veteran still performing well, as he has now posted 2.9 WARP or higher in six of his seven full seasons.

The Bad: Evan Longoria is on pace to provide negative value (-0.6 WARP) for the first time in his career.

The Ugly: Hunter Pence has been just as damaging as Longoria (-0.6 WARP) in 200 fewer plate appearances.

Mets Check-In

The Mets just won a five-game series against the Phillies. If it seems like forever since they won a series against a good team, it’s because it has been. The last time this team won a series against a team with a winning record was May 19-21 when they swept Arizona.

Photo credit: Stan Szeto – USA Today Sports

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