The Baseball Gods Giveth, and They Taketh Away As Giants Drop Another
It figures that right after I spit out 500+ words about how good the Giants offense has been, they score a combined four runs in two games in one of the best hitters parks in all of baseball. But hey, thems the breaks and baseball is a weird sport. Barry Zito continues to surprise while the offense continues to be nigh unwatchable with runners in scoring position. Let’s fight through the tears and observe this anomaly further, shall we?
With the bases empty, the Giants are hitting a cool .282/.329/.408 this season. From there, things only get worse:
- Runners on base: .231/.306/.402
- Runners in scoring position: .195/.282/.317
- Runners in scoring position w/2 outs: .171/.292/.303
It’s downright baffling how a team that’s otherwise solid offensively gets worse and worse the more they’re needed to come through. Maybe it’s a team full of hitters who don’t know which way is up when a runner reaches second base. It could be that they’re getting supremely unlucky. I can’t pretend to know. What I do know is that this is unsustainably horrid. No one can be this bad at hitting with runners in scoring position for this long, and yet every game it just keeps happening. Which leads us to our next problem:
- Innings 1-3: .310/.361/.481
- Innings 4-6: .248/.298/.386
- Innings 7-9: .202/.277/.335
Now this is an issue with a tangible reason, and that’s that this team is terrible at adjusting after it’s gone through the batting order the first time. I’ve harped on this before, but it’s worth repeating: there are times when these hitters go up to the plate and look like they’re there without any semblance of a plan. Yes, as a team they’re hitting surprisingly well. The problem is that they’re not carrying over this approach to high leverage situations. Just watching you can see that they’re overanxious and look generally uncomfortable in pressure situations.
Now these are some vast generalizations devoid of significant statistical backing, but the numbers above speak for themselves. Last night against Mat Latos, they didn’t figure out that maybe not swinging a lot when the opposing pitcher is averaging ten pitches an inning might not be a bad idea. Tonight they were flummoxed against a guy who gave up 46(!) home runs last year. This of course was not helped by the continually shoddy defense and spectacular imploding bullpen, but these issues are always magnified when a team can’t score.
Based on the aggregate hitting of this team, they should be much better than they are with men on base. There’s a chance the Law of Averages will make a long overdo appearance and this will all be a moot issue come May. But this was the same thing we said last year, and the Giants spent the entire season making us pull our hair out.
It’s hard to point to any one thing as the reason for this recent bout of futility. For now I’m going to attribute it to the vast hellscape that is Great American Ballpark. No team loses nine games in a row in a stadium without there being some evil forces at work in the universe (see Petco Park, circa forever and always) and this is no exception.
Also, best wishes go out to Aubrey Huff. I get on his case a lot here on this site, but it’s important to remember that these guys are still human beings and that the game they play is secondary to their physical and emotional well-being. Get well soon.