San Francisco is still on the fringes of the NL West and Wild Card races, meaning not much has changed from when these two clubs met last week. Buster Posey is out for the year due to hip surgery, but other than that, the version of the Giants you will see this weekend will not be much different. The last stat preview on the Giants focused on veteran players that may be starting to decline, so this one will focus on veteran players that have continued to produce at their usual high levels.
Crawford: Brandon Crawford has always been regarded as an elite defender, even though FRAA has rated him more in the “good-not-great” defender category. The three-time Gold Glove winner is in the midst of his best defensive season by FRAA since 2012. His path to a fourth Gold Glove is not clear though. Diamondbacks’ shortstop Nick Ahmed’s 15 FRAA bests Crawford’s 11.9 at the moment, so he even in his second-best defensive year, Crawford may not be the favorite at shortstop. Looking at the “offense wins gold gloves” requirement, Ahmed is pretty comparable to Crawford as well. Ahmed has a .736 OPS and .261 TAv, while Crawford has a .732 OPS and .265 TAv. Crawford will likely still win the award due to his reputation, and this would not be the first time he received the award over a player with better FRAA numbers (Andrelton Simmons, 2015), but Ahmed may be the more deserving candidate.
Belt: With 2.4 WARP, Brandon Belt is going to be flirting with his fourth straight three-plus WARP season, and his fifth in six seasons. Like Crawford, his defense rates at a strong level per usual (7.8 FRAA). His offense is still above average (.286 TAv), but it is a little off his normal level (.303). Part of that could be a decline in plate discipline, as Belt is swinging at more pitches (45% to 49%), particularly on pitches out of the zone. His out-of-zone swing rate has increased from 24.4% last year to 29% this year. He is making less contact on pitches out of the zone too (62% to 54%, which is not necessarily the worst outcome since those pitches are most likely to result in weak contact if he hits them). Swinging at more pitches usually does not have good consequences on walk rate, and Belt is no different, as his 14.6% BB% in 2017 has fallen to 10.8% this year.
Not a Brandon, Still a Good Season: Tony Watson has rebounded nicely for San Francisco, as he has a 2.70 ERA, 2.79 FIP, and 3.31 DRA. He has improved slightly in several areas, as his K/9, BB/9 and BABIP have all trended in a positive direction. One change he seems to have made in his pitch usage is he is throwing his changeup more often. He is throwing the pitch almost 30% of the time, more than he has ever thrown it before. The switch makes sense, as he gets the best whiff rate on his changeup (19%). Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores and former Giant Austin Jackson have all struggled against lefty changeups this season, hitting a combined .113 on the pitch.
The Good: Giants pitchers have hit the least amount of batters this year with 36. The Mets have hit 56.
The Bad: Giants reliever Reyes Moronta has walked batters at a 13.9% rate, eighth worst in the majors among relievers.
The Ugly: Of course, saves are a flawed stat, but regardless, blown saves are bad. The Giants lead baseball in blown saves with 27. The Mets have 15 (sixth best).
After splitting their four-game series with the Giants last week, the Mets have a chance to win the season series with San Francisco if they win two of three this weekend. New York has only lost one season series to San Francisco in the last seven years (2014). Going back to 2003, they have only lost three season series to the Giants.
Photo credit: Kiel Maddox – USA Today Sports