More Bad Offense!

There are some well documented studies that show that offense has no correlation to post-season success. For example, two teams make the playoffs: one team scored 697 runs during the season and the other scored 859. What do you expect the experts will say about these two teams? “Oh, team A (697) looks good and they come in on a hot streak, but they just can’t hang with the bats on team B (859).” Yada, yada, yada team B is favored to win. Well, team B was the 2010 Yankees and team A, the 2010 Giants.

Bottom line: offense is not predictive of success in the post-season. Therefore, it has been proposed that teams focus time, money, and resources to building strong pitching and defense in order to win. I have also shown how an improvement in pitching and run prevention leads to success in the post-season.

The question remains, though, how little offense to do you need to be successful. The 2011 Giants are really pushing the limits of this theory (which I buy as far as post-season predictiveness, but as I will show here, some level of offense competence is needed to get through the 162 game grind).

Here are the Giants run totals for the past three years: 2008 640 runs (759 allowed), 2009 657 (611 allowed), 2010 697 (583 allowed).

The 2011 Giants are on pace for: 555 runs scored, 574 allowed (that is almost 100 runs worse than 2008, which is widely considered the worst, most unwatchable offense in Giants history…it was also the first post-Bonds Giants offense).

Keep this in mind as well: the 2008 Giants went 72-90, 2009 88-74, 2010 92-70.

And here’s the most sobering of all: Since 1982 32 teams have scored less than 600 runs. Those 32 teams have won an average of 67 games. Only two of those (32) teams had winning records (the 1988 Padres and the 2003 Dodgers), and neither of them made the playoffs.

So, it seems safe to say that to make the playoffs a team needs to score at least 600 runs (something the Giants are not currently on pace to do). Yes, offense has no predictive value when it comes to who will prevail in the post-season, but it does matter in who gets there. I’m at a loss as to how the Giants can turn this around, but unless they get something, anything going soon it’s not happening this year.

(-SB)

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Offensive Sink Holes

– Here’s the offensive production the Giants received from each defensive position in 2010 (HR/AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS+)

  • C: 21/.274/.333/.430/117
  • 1B: 18/.291/.357/.457/103
  • 2B: 12/.283/.338/.396/104
  • 3B: 14/.262/.321/.401/95
  • SS: 22/.260/.318/.419/112
  • LF: 31/.264/.365/.485/121
  • CF: 22/.250/.304/.434/100
  • RF: 15/.246/.314/.393/81
– The Giants were below league average at only 2 position: Third Base (thanks to Pablo’s slide) and Right Field (thanks to a lot of suckiness pre-Cody Ross). Above average, though, at 6 of 8 lineup spots.
– Now consider 2011 (bold are categories where the 2011 team is out performing 2010):
  • C: 8/.242/.321/.350/93
  • 1B: 12/.244/.307/.379/73
  • 2B: 4/.272/.324/.352/94
  • 3B: 12/.282/.321/.421/114
  • SS: 5/.208/.270/.301/65
  • LF: 13/.226/.319/.381/94
  • CF: 4/.246/.317/.361/84
  • RF: 9/.274/.320/.408/88
– The Giants are better in Right Field and at Third Base. And the Giants are only above league average at one position (as opposed to 6 of 8). That and the lack of home runs across the board are really, really bad signs. What made the Giants offense go in 2010 (particularly the stretch run and the playoffs) was the ability of most of the guys in the lineup to hit home runs. And the fact that they actually hit them. Pretty alarming.
– Outside of a Belt call up and some guys getting hot (finally) not sure how this changes. This really isn’t all that surprising, especially if you’ve been watching the games, but the hitters are significantly below the production they provided a year ago.
(-SB)

Moving on…

Not a great start for the Giants, and, as Josh pointed out, there is plenty to freak out about. I’ll get to that in a minute, but consider this: the two big concerns going in to the season were: defense and pitching. More importantly, would the defense be able to adequately back up the staff and would we get similar performances out of the rotation.

Pitching:

The bullpen may be a topic for another post, but for the most part the Giants bullpen cannot be graded fairly at this point. Some garbage innings on Saturday, a Runzler implosion, too much Mota, and no Wilson: there just really isn’t much to say at this point. It doesn’t look great, but I want to see how they do with a 3-2 lead in San Diego before we pass a judgment.

Now, consider the starters. Many (myself included) are fearful that all the extra work from last year will lead to a downturn in effectiveness. So, far though, so good. Sure we’ve seen Timmy with better stuff, Sanchez continues to tease and tantalize, Cain only went 6 and struck out 3 (only 3!!!), and Zito made a terrible decision on that home run pitch to Kemp, but the starting pitching has not been the issue so far.

24.2 IP, 5 ER (1.88 ERA), 8 BB, 21 K. Not bad. The Giants could have (should have) won all three of the games they lost (based on the starting pitching).

Note: I was really impressed, actually, with Zito. If he does that this year, fantastic and great for us! Usually he gets down after getting down and it can get ugly. To put up 5 zeros after that first inning was huge.

Defense:

I have some real worries here: particularly Tejada and Huff in the OF. But when Ross returns Huff goes to left and I think that will make a big difference. The reality, though, is this will be an issue all year as long as this is the team. All the more reason to keep Schierholtz around. Some are wont to discredit advance scouting and positioning of fielders, but it seems that, once again, a true team effort will be required to play good-enough defense and mask the inadequecies…this is not a “throw some athletes out there and let them do their thing” team.

Offense:

4.5 runs a game. They got shut down by Clayton, but you tip your hat there and move on. 4.5 runs should be enough for this team to succeed. I have no real complaints about the offense so far, and think that they can and will do better.

Bottom line: 1-3 with a bullet. On to the house of horrors in San Diego. Never expect to come out of there unscathed, but if the Giants go back home 3-3 that would be huge!

(-SB)