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Breaking Down the Giants Season So Far

May 18, 2010
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First of all, this is my first post in what feels like an eternity, so this was much needed. I’m approaching the end of my first year of college so I’ve had many distractions, but I plan on continually posting again from here on out.

One of the major reasons the Giants are off to a somewhat surprising start to many is a much improved offense with similar run prevention as last year. Of course, there is always expected regression this early in a season, and I’ll get to that in a bit. But first, let’s compare 2010 with 2009.

  2010 2009
wOBA .327 .305
wRC/G 4.5 3.75
R/G 4.4 4.06
ERA 2.95 3.55
FIP 3.57 3.85
xFIP 4.15 4.04
UZR/150 14.6 6.8
W% .583 .543
W2% .651 .532
W3% .600 .510

 

As expected, the pitching is performing at a very similar level to last year with some regression expected due to the unsustainable low ERA and xFIP at 4; regardless, still very good. The defense has been surprisingly excellent, although we’re very early in the year. More on that later. The offense is obviously very much improved which was expected with some of the additions made in the off-season, and we’ll look at the expected regression for that.

In this post the individual offensive contributions by Giants’ batters were calculated. As mentioned, extrapolation cannot be done with such small sample sizes; however, we can look at how these batters were initially projected to perform in 2010. I’ll simply use the ZiPS projections at FanGraphs for the rest of the season. We’ll just look at the top 8 producers (and throw in Mark DeRosa and Freddy Sanchez because of injuries) so far this year.

Player wOBA 2010 ZiPS wOBA for remainder
Pablo Sandoval .334 .378
Aubrey Huff .349 .342
Bengie Molina .370 .327
Nate Schierholtz .380 .350
Juan Uribe .342 .332
Aaron Rowand .339 .340
Edgar Renteria .346 .329
Andres Torres .393 .328
Mark DeRosa .243 .333
Freddy Sanchez n/a .329

 

So most of these performances have been spot on so far, with Pablo Sandoval underperforming (mostly because of a terrible cold stretch lately), and Molina and Torres off to terrific starts but way above their career norms. So if Giants fans are wondering whether this improved offense is a fluke, my answer would be no. I would warn you to expect major regression from Molina (very typical from him to have hot starts) and Torres (he’s obviously a backup and has gotten hot lately). God forbid that Pablo’s 2009 was somewhat of a fluke, but I think it’s safe to assume he’ll pick it up soon.

Doing the same thing as shown above with the offense, we can see how the defensive performance compares (keep in mind though that defense is even more volatile in small sample sizes)

Player UZR Projected UZR/150
Bengie Molina
Aubrey Huff 0.6 -3
Freddy Sanchez n/a 4
Juan Uribe 1.4 3
Edgar Renteria 1.0 -2
Pablo Sandoval 0.8 -2
Andres Torres 5.3 3
Aaron Rowand 2.6 0
Nate Schierholtz 3.9 6
Mark DeRosa 2.1 2

 

So early in the season, overanalyzing defensive performance is an easy trap to fall into, so I’ll just say it how I see it. The Giants are a good defensive team, but they’re definitely not saving 15 runs every 150 defensive innings (Giants were 4th last year at 6.8). I’d say they have a decent chance of saving anywhere from 30 to 40 runs on defense – catcher defense omitted.

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