Bad Luck and Bad Hitting
After posting an article about how I’m not convinced the Giants are a playoff team, they go ahead and get shutout by Charlie Morton and a Pirates team that had lost 10 games in a row before last night. In our roundtable yesterday the point was made that this is a team that could get hot and get through the postseason intact if things went the right way. The “hopeful fan” side of me is inclined to agree. The “realist that just saw the Giants get shutout by the Pirates” part of me is suggesting that “hopeful fan” is out of his mind. All split personalities aside, I’m struggling right now, but still looking for optimism where I can find it.
It’s always easy as a fan to come out and criticize a team when they’re losing. Losing is the result of a collective failure due to any combination of bad pitching, bad hitting, and bad luck. The worst case scenario is losing as a result of all three of those things. As wretched as the offense has been, it’s gotten to the point where’s it’s actually unsustainably bad from a statistical standpoint. If you’ve been watching games the last few weeks, you may have noticed that every time a Giants hitter squares up the baseball, it’s a line drive right at an outfielder. A lot of the time this kind of frustration has no basis in reality. In this case though, it does.
Over the last 30 days, the Giants offense has a collective line drive rate of 21%, but just a .283 BABIP (the median BABIP is .304). The standard in the industry is to take the LD% and add .12 to get what the adjusted BABIP should be. In this case, the Giants should be around .330 given their rate of solid contact. And while 30 games is a sample-sizey collection of data, there is some truth to the fact that this team has gotten supremely unlucky. That’s not to say that things don’t need to improve either though.
In that 30-game stretch, the Giants have 3rd lowest walk rate of any team, behind just the Mariners and Royals, and are tied for the least home runs. They’re not hitting for power, they’re not walking, and every time they hit a line drive it’s right into the defense. In short, the lack of hitting has been driven by a little bit of bad luck and a lot of bad plate approach, a perfect storm of offensive futility.
To answer yesterday’s question, this could be a playoff team. But certain things need to happen for this to come true. Line drives need to start finding gaps and hitters need to start taking more pitches. And since Orlando Cabrera isn’t getting any more patient at the plate, we’ll have to hope for the former. With Carlos Beltran down with a wrist injury and once again not in the lineup tonight, things will continue to be tough. We need some luck and a lot of it.
Links from around the Giants blogosphere: