Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pablo Sandoval’s Sophomore Slump

May 09 2010: Giants
Pandamonium has been a rare occurrence at AT&T Park this season and the locals are asking themselves what happened.

Pablo Sandoval who exploded on the scene last season and quickly became a fan favorite has struggled this season. Is this just a sophomore slump or was his 2009 season just a flash in the pan and he is flaming out?

2009: .330/ .387/ .556 with 25 home runs

2010: .274/ .333/ .413 with 6 home runs

The numbers between this season and last season are vastly different. He has lost 50 points on his average and on base percentage and seen his power fade dramatically with his slugging percentage sinking 140 points.

One thing that has changed from this season to last is his batting average on balls in play. Last season he posted a number of .350 and this season he has fallen back toward league average (well actually slightly below) with a number of .296. So maybe he is just going through some bad luck or last season was abnormally lucky.

The rotund and jovial Sandoval doesn't seem to have changed much; he is still the aggressive free swinger from last season. The table below shows his swings and the percentage of strikes that he has seen.


He is swinging at a few more pitches outside of the strike zone this season then last (O-Swing%) but not a huge difference only 0.5%. He is swinging at fewer pitches in the strike zone this season then last (Z-Swing %).

The contact rate is pretty constant from last season with the only difference being that it is slightly higher for pitches outside of the strike zone. The high contact on pitches outside the zone may not be a great thing especially when combined with the high swing rate because generally pitches outside of the zone are more difficult to hit with power. However the difference does not appear to be that large as to be a red flag.

In addition the number of pitches that he has seen in the strike zone is roughly equal to last season and down significantly from his first stint in the big leagues where pitchers threw strikes 46% of the time to him. This is what you expect, as pitchers learnt that he will swing outside of the zone they began to throw less pitches in the strike zone.

Next we will examine his batted ball statistics.

18.6 %
44.9 %
36.5 %
7.9 %
14.0 %
7.3 %
50.0 %
15.1 %
47.6 %
37.3 %
7.4 %
6.4 %
7.5 %
0.0 %

The two biggest things that jump out from this data are that he his hitting home runs at a much lower rate this season than last season. It is hard to say if last season was a fluke but it is possible that his numbers are adjusting down to what is a more sustainable rate for homeruns. I think that in the 8-10% range is probably a better estimate of what should be expected.

The other thing that jumps out is that he is not hitting as many line drives this season as he was last year or for that matter his stint in 2008 where he hit an astronomical 25.9% of his balls for line drives.

The Panda has also had a large platoon split this season. This season as a right handed batter he has been a well below average hitter after last season mashing the ball from the right side.


vs RHP as LHB13947442713430519654068.314.373.541.914
vs LHP as RHB71159145551406251215.379.428.6001.028
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2010.


vs RHP as LHB72235212631416242025.297.357.458.815
vs LHP as RHB378376164106613.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2010.

This comes as a surprise and I really am lost to come to an explanation. His numbers are down from the left side but he is still above average and this is within the bounds of normal fluxuation around a player's true talent level.

What is happening from the right side is pure collapse. His batting average is down 168 points, his on base percentage is down 163 points and his slugging percentage is down 311 points! This all should be taken with a grain of salt because we are still in small sample territory with only 83 plate appearances so maybe this is just a run of extremely bad luck and things will bounce back.

All of this taken as a whole suggests that perhaps this is just a down season coming after a career year. There are things that suggest that Sandoval is just going through some bad luck that he was able to avoid last season. His batted balls are finding gloves especially from the right hand side. However there is the worry in the back of the mind that the league has figured out how to attack the beloved Kung Fu Panda and that the numbers from last season will only be a memory if Pablo can not adjust.

I will keep my fingers crossed that Pablo can bounce back.

If your on Twitter you should definitely follow the The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not you should really consider joining, lots of good stuff going on there.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Giants Playoff Chances

Are the Giants a real playoff threat or are they just a middle of the road club?

Accusocre which puts out weekly updates of simulations to determine the probability of a team making the playoffs pegs the Giants at 16.2%. They are currently fourth among their rivals in the National League west.

I have to say that at this point I would say that 16% feels about right. There is certainly things to like about this club but man their sure are a lot of weaknesses that are here and don't seem to be going away.

First let's go over the positives.

This team still has one of the best pitching staff's in baseball. 1-4 they match up with anyone and if Madison Bumgarner is here to stay he certainly could be a very strong 5th starter.

Another thing that goes hand in hand with the great pitching is that the Giants are good at run prevention period. The defense that the team fields behind the strong staff has been solid with some really nice performances from guys like Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez.

Another positive fir the team has been Aubrey Huff, a guy that was left for dead and has excelled in the first half of this season and for his career he has normally been a strong second half player so there is hope that he can keep this up or possibly get stronger with the warm weather.

There is no more getting around them so I present the teams glaring weaknesses.

The team has trouble playing from behind. This is a team that is built to score only a handful of runs per game and doesn't have a whole lot of big innings but rather one that goes station to station and plays small ball to drive runners in.

This seems to kill the team when the pitching isn't top notch. They give up a few runs early and after that a 3 run deficit seems like climbing Mt. Everest. The team doesn't give up but it does feel like when they are down 3 or more the game is out of reach and that only a miracle can bring them back.

This was on full display in the last 2 games against the Red Sox. The Giants gave up early runs and then the rest of the game they were pressing to try to get back into it which doesn't suit the team the Giants have assembled.

Pulling on this thread a little bit more and we see that the Giants offense is not very good. They are closer to league average then they were last season but they are still not a good team that will score a lot runs this year.

When it comes to wins and losses if the pitching is good that shouldn't make that big a difference but it could mean a lot of close games and in close games sometimes luck and random noise plays a large factor in who wins and looses. Luck is not something that can be predicted and it certainly doesn't look like the Giants have done all that well when luck is a factor.

Another weakness is that the pitching staff and the bullpen specifically are walking too many batters. For a team that often has little margin for error this is a big factor in why they are not performing as well as they could and in my opinion should.

Maybe I am just in a pessimistic mood but the torture routine of the 2010 Giants is getting to me, but I am hooked and I am invested.

One last thought Beat LA. Beat those filthy bums real bad. A good Dodger beating would go a long way toward lifting everyone's spirits.

Bowkermania! Update for the week of June 21-27

Bowkermania! is still going strong in Fresno even with John Bowker cooling off a bit at the plate.

Last week he hit a respectable .290/ .355/ .548 with 3 homers.

This puts his line for the season at a healthy .344/ .394/ .722 with 9 homers. Good enough for a MLE of .299/ .332/ .591, the Crazy Crabbers will continue to watch Bowker's progress in Fresno.

Check out the Bowkermania Fan page every Monday for the latest update on Bowker in Fresno.

If your on Twitter you should definitely follow the The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not you should really consider joining, lots of good stuff going on there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Giants and Red Sox Series Preview

The Giants return home to face the streaking Red Sox after a disappointing road trip. The Red Sox who started off the season slow have found their stride and have been on a tear for 2 months now. In June they have a record of 15-7.

The Giants who are 12-9 on the month are coming back from Houston and Toronto where they expected to do much better. In Toronto they got good pitching the first 2 games of the series but couldn't capitalize. Then they failed to win the series against the struggling Astros who the team had owned earl in the season.

This series begins a very tough stretch for the Giants where they face the Red Sox and Dodgers at home before going on the road to face the Rockies Brewers and Nationals all without any off days.

Match Ups:

Tim Wakefield, RHP (2-5, 5.33) vs. Jonathan Sanchez, LHP (5-5, 2.90)

Sanchez was not sharp in his last outing in Toronto where he failed to get out of the 3rd inning. He seemed to lose his concentration after a series of pitches and fielding mistakes didn't go his way. This was a classic Sanchez meltdown where he had stuff but just didn't have his mind right to be able to harness it. Hopefully he is able to get things back on track because the Red Sox lineup is not forgiving and is incredibly patient.


Red Sox: Wakefield turned in a solid performance in his last start, giving up five hits and three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. He left with the lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it. The Red Sox went on to win the game on a walkoff hit by Dustin Pedroia. Wakefield has made four starts in June, going 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA. Wakefield has made just one career start at AT&T Park and it came in 2004, when he gave up four hits and seven runs (six earned) over four innings. Wakefield took a no-decision in that one. He is 2-3 with a 6.03 ERA lifetime against the Giants.

Giants: Sanchez is coming off his shortest outing of the season, a 2 2/3-inning, three-run effort at Toronto last Sunday. Sanchez walked five in that game, which the Giants still won, 9-6. San Francisco is 8-6 in Sanchez's starts. Though he has thrown only six quality starts, opponents have hit just .205 off him. Sanchez has excelled at AT&T Park, where he's 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA, with an opponents' average of .190.

Clay Buchholz, RHP (10-4, 2.47) vs. Joe Martinez, RHP (0-1, 4.91)
There was some speculation that Martinez may not make this start and that he was just penciled in and that perhaps the Giants would go with Madison Bumgarner. It doesn't seem to be the case and I have not read otherwise at this point but I guess it is not outside of the realm of possibility that it will be a last second move.

In his last start Martinez was effective and was really just had some bad luck with ground balls going for hits. If he can keep the Giants in the game and try to eat some innings it will be a job well done.

Red Sox: With his win on Sunday against the Dodgers, Buchholz joined four other pitchers as the only 10-game winners in the Majors this season and continues to make his case for why he should be selected to this year's All-Star Game in Anaheim. While nothing was easy for the righty in the first two innings of Sunday's contest -- the first inning required 30 pitches -- he settled down to pitch 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, giving up only three hits and striking out four. He also did not give up a hit from the third through sixth innings. In his past eight starts, Buchholz is 7-1 with a 1.62 ERA. The righty has an overall record of 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in Interleague Play and has never faced the Giants.

Giants: While working a career-high 6 1/3 innings in his only Giants start this season, against Baltimore on June 15, Martinez allowed four runs and eight hits in a 4-1 loss. The sinkerball specialist had his best pitch working, but several grounders found holes or went for infield singles. Scheduled off-days prompted the Giants to skip Martinez's next turn, but he tuned up for his outing against the Red Sox by throwing a scoreless inning of relief, though he left the bases loaded by allowing two hits and a walk.

Jon Lester, LHP (8-3, 3.03) vs. Tim Lincecum, RHP (8-2, 2.86)
Lincecum was back throwing with confidence and had his best start in over a month. There were good signs with some signs of life back on his fast ball. In the last couple of years Lincecum has been able to turn good mechanics into a string of strong starts, hopefully that is the case here going against a good Red Sox team.

Red Sox: The power lefty continues to turn in one solid outing after another. His last start was no different as Lester gave up six hits and one run over six innings against the Rockies. He walked one and struck out six, throwing just 90 pitches. Lester could have gone longer in that start, but manager Terry Francona sent up David Ortiz as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded. Lester has given up two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. In seven road starts this season, Lester is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA. This will be his first career start against the Giants. In his four starts in June, Lester is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA.

Giants: Lincecum has successfully put his May slump behind him by winning his past three starts. He has a 1.64 ERA in that span, a start contrast to the 4.95 ERA he logged in six starts last month. Lincecum, who has never faced the Red Sox, is 5-2 with a 3.13 ERA at AT&T Park. Of his 15 starts this year, 12 have been quality outings. He has recorded 10 strikeouts or more in four outings this year and has pitched 23 such games in his career. Facing tough opponents is nothing new for Lincecum, who has confronted teams with winning records in 10 starts.

Predictions:This will be a tough series and with the bottom of the rotation going it may be a hard one to win even at home. The Red Sox nation will show up in force and will be annoying as usual the tickets to the game will be expensive, these are things that we know for sure.

I have a bad feeling about this series and honestly wouldn't be surprised if the team is swept. However I have a feeling that the team can battle for at least one and should be close enough in the other games to have a shot at a series victory.

That may be vague and covering all of my bases but really I have no confidence in the team doing bad or good. In fact this team is schizophrenic in the way it plays that you never really can tell what you are going to get. But alas that is Giants baseball it is torture and makes you want to drink.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giants and Astros Series Preview

The Giants got off to a slow start offensively against the Blue Jays, they managed to score 2 runs in the first two games wasting great starts by both Matt Cain and Barry Zito. The team finally managed some runs in the finale where they picked up Jonathan Sanchez who had a rare meltdown start and couldn’t even get out of the third inning. I am not sure what it is but if the offense had shown up earlier this could have been a winning series instead of just salvaging a victory.

The Astros are in the middle of a bad slump; they have lost 4 in a row and are 5 and 10 in their last 15 games. So maybe there is still the possibility of having a .500 road trip for the Giants before coming home for a tough stretch with 17 games in 17 days before the All-Star break. The Giants have a difficult home stand with Boston and the Dodgers come to town, before embarking on a grueling 11 game road trip to Colorado, Milwaukee, and Washington.

Giants Mid-Season Trade Shopping List

As the calendar winds down for June and the All-Star game approaches trade talk begins to heat up. With spring in the rear view mirror the hope that each team felt has disappeared for some and that naturally leads to teams talking stock of their position and figuring out if they will be buyers and or sellers. At this point it should be fairly safe to say that sitting in the middle of a tight NL West race 1.5 games out of first the Giants look to be buyers.

With 68 games played we have a good idea of what the team has on its roster and where it needs to go from here. As more teams playoff hopes fade the GMs of the contending teams will begin to rummage through whats available looking for a player or two to push them over the top. This is the Giants shopping list based on need.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Return of the Lincecum Heater

Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pumps his fist. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Tim Lincecum's velocity which had seemed to have been missing for a month now appears to have returned even if only for a night. The zip was back in fastball as he spent most of the night sitting comfortably between 92 and 93 and having the reach back ability to get up around 95. The other thing that was really nice to see is that he seemed to have his confidence back on the mound, during his May slump he didn't have the same focus and confidence in his pitches.

You can see that there was nice speration in the speed of his pitches which really kept the Astros hitters off balance and the fast ball didn't once drop below 90 mph a rare occurance this season.
The table below gives an overview of his game. The one pitch that wasn't working all that well for him was the big curveball. It seemed that every time it was thrown it was hit or missed for a ball especially early in the game. Luckily Tim had his other pitches working and even with a shaky defense (3 errors) behind him was able to shut down the Astros lineup.

Pitch Statistics

Pitch Type

Avg Speed

Max Speed

Avg H-Break

Avg V-Break


Swinging Strikes / %

Linear Weights


FF (FourSeam Fastball)






3 / 5.00%



CH (Changeup)






5 / 50.00%



SL (Slider)






1 / 5.56%



CU (Curveball)






0 / 0.00%



FT (TwoSeam Fastball)






3 / 25.00%



Pitch Type linear weight correspond to how many runs were likely to score on a that pitch based on average run expectancy when each pitch was thrown and what happened as a result. Negative scores indicate more effective pitches.

Tim put up a strong line of 8 innings, 7 hits, 1 run (unearned), 2 walks and 7 strike outs. This works out to a game score of 71 which is good enough for the third best outing of the season by this measure. It's nice to have Cy Young caliber Tim back on the hill, hopefully the mechanics are all back in sync and he can go on a dominate run like he has in seasons past.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bumgarner Has Nothing Left to Prove

Stephen Strasburg is all the rage in baseball this week with the cover of Sports Illustrated, player of the week honors and sold out stadiums just to get a glimpse of him and for good reason, the kid has some nasty stuff and he is must see TV. However for Giants fans we have our own pitching prospect that we have been waiting for in AAA and it seems like the wait may be almost over.

Madison Bumgarner is too good for AAA and he has shown that there is nothing left to say for why he doesn’t deserve at shot to be a part of the every day rotation.

Friday, June 18, 2010

40 Percent Mark Check Up

The 2010 season is 40% done if this were a baseball game we would be in the top of the 4th with one out. There is certainly a lot of baseball left to play but at this point we have learned quite a bit about this team.

Generated 6/18/2010.

At the moment before the days games begin the Giants are 37-28, in third place and 0.5 games out of first place. They are under performing their expected win/loss pathagorean record by two games while tying the Padres for the best run differential in the division.

The big thing that jumps at you from the standings is the Giants record agains teams that are better than .500, this season they have .719 winning percentage against the best teams in the league while manageing a winning percentage of only .424 against the bottom teams. I am not sure what to make of this perhaps they are playing at the level of the competitioin, but they have the best mark in the league against winning teams. That would be good news for the playoffs if this isn't just some anomoly of luck that will even out over the course of the season.