Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 5 Most Valuable Giants this Season

It's getting to the end of the season and it is time to look and see who has gotten the Giants this

In reverse order here are the Giants most valuable players this season:

5. Brian Wilson, 3-2, 44 saves, 1.84 ERA

In general closers are overrated and I think that you shouldn't go out and over pay to have a guy pitch just the ninth inning. Pitching in the 9th inning isn't that different then pitching in a high pressure situation in

the 7th or 8th. Most of the time if you have a good

setup man he will be a good closer and the performance of relievers is just to varied from year to year to warrant a long term deal for a big name guy.

That being said there is something to having a lights out guy that the other team knows is going to slam the door shut and can shorten the game making them desperate to make sure that the closer doesn't get that ball.

Brian Wilson is that guy and more. He is willing to give the team everything he has, he isn't the diva closer that will only go 1 inning, and Wilson is a guy that if you let him would go 2-3 innings every game.

Wilson has been a truly elite closer this season and has even moved away from the heart stopping high wire acts lately just making quick work of the opposition.

4. Matt Cain / Tim Lincecum

The twin aces on the top of the rotation. The Giants the season have been about the pitching. When the pitchers are on this team can win every game. They have unreal depth 1-5 that no team can match up with and it starts with these 2 guys.

Matt Cain is a little bit of the unsung hero of the staff. The guy that gets no run support but never complains. He has truly matured this season and is arguably the best and most consistent

pitcher on the staff even in the shadow of Lincecum. He pounds the strike zone and takes the team deep into every game.

Lincecum is having a down year, but it is unrealistic to expect a Cy Young every season. He has had some rough patches this season but he has righted himself and is back in his proper place as the one of the best and most dangerous pitchers in the National League.

3. Andres Torres .269/ .346/ .476

The sparkplug that makes the offense go.

Torres has been one of the best stories in baseball this season and has contributed in so many ways to the Giants this season.

He has been a true lead off hitter who can work the count, get on base, hit for power and steal some bases. When he was hot he carried the team and even when he wasn't his defense was top shelf. He deserves a gold glove and if he doesn't get one the coaches need to get their eyes checked. This guy is simply amazing and has made it possible to start some statues in the corner outfield spots without losing too much range.

It has been hard to watch the Giants offense without him in the leadoff spot.

2. Aubrey Huff .287/ .381/ .507

Huff Daddy has been an amazing pick up. To tell the truth I had pretty low expectations for him when the season started and he has shown that he is not washed up and still has stuff left in the tank.

Huff has become the visible leader on this team. You can see that he loves every second of this playoff hunt and is making sure everyone else is enjoying themselves.

His on the field performance is everything and more that you could have asked for. He had the

reputation for an iron mitt and he has made just about every play in the field. He has played wherever Bochy needed him and did a passable job. With the bat he has been a great guy in the 3 whole. He has a great eye and a nice power stroke. He may have been 2nd or 3rd choice in the offseason but now there is no one else that could replace him.

Huff will always be remembered fondly for his contributions this season.

1. Buster Posey .323/ .370/ .524

There really is no one else that can be at this spot is there?

Posey has been an amazing player ever since coming up from Fresno. He had the hitting streak where he tied Giants Legend Willie McCovey's rookie record. He was the hottest player in baseball in July where he carried the Giants back from the abyss and back into contention.

He has handled the excellent pitching staff which one of the big concerns before he came up. He has shown that he has the raw ability to be a very good defensive catcher with his super quick footwork and a nice release that will only get better with more time behind the plate.

In addition to all this he has played through all the pressure of being the fourth hitter on a contending team at the age of 23 like it is nothing. He has ice in his veins and was born to hit opposite filed bombs. He is a special player that makes the game look easy and effortless.

It is a once in a generation occurrence and the Giants are a lucky team to have his talents.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Best Giants Moment of the Season

Now that we are in the final handful of Giants games of the season I have begun to look back and think about the journey that has been the 2010 season. There have been numerous memories from this season and hopefully in the last couple of days here hopefully some great ones still to come.

The best memory that I have this season is a game that I attended in person. It was the July 31st game between the Giants and the Dodgers.

It is the Pat Burrell homerun game.

It was one of the most magical and meaningful homeruns I have ever seen live. The fact that it came against the hated Dodgers in the bottom of the 8th inning against fat Jonathan Broxton make it all the more special.

The electricity that ran through the crowd after that bomb is indescribable. The BEAT LA chant that followed was off the charts, the standing ovation and curtain call were enough to give you goose bumps. It was a special day.

It was a big home run in a huge spot. It came on a 3-2 pitch with 2 outs with Giants grasping for any signs of life.

Here is the link to the video that I can watch over and over again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Redesigning the MLB Playoffs

It has been 15 years since the last time the MLB playoff system was last overhauled. It seems that there are more and more calls to make some changes to the current system.

The current playoff system has the 3 division winners plus the team with the best record that doesn't lead a division make the playoffs. It has been in place since the 1995 season after the realignment of the leagues from 2 to 3 divisions.

This system has many detractors; some want a return to the old days when only 2 teams made it into the playoffs. A return to the "true" pennant race that hasn't been seen since the Giants and the Braves fought to the last day of the season in 1993.

Some say that there are too few teams that make the playoffs. Major League Baseball has the fewest teams of all the major leagues who make the post season with 8 behind the 12 the make the NFL playoffs, and 16 that make it in the NHL and NBA.

A number of reforms have been bouncing around including adding a 2nd wildcard team and having a playoff between the 2 teams for the chance to play the #1 seed. This is the plan that is advocated by Jason Stark at ESPN and is said to be something Bud Selig is open to.

I think that is an improvement over the current system where there is no real difference between a division winner and the wildcard winner. This could also make more teams care about winning their divisions and fight until the end but it could still lead to teams that come from weaker divisions having an advantage over a team that is better, won more games but just happened to have the bad luck of coming from a challenging division.

That situation is not one that we really want.

If I was the all powerful overlord of baseball I would like to see a move back toward balanced leagues of 15 each, have more interleague play so the schedules are balanced and have the top 5 make the playoffs using the Stark playoff method.

The way this would work is that 1-3 are in the playoffs, and 4 plays 5 in a one game playoff for the right to play number 1.

This is would take a more radical approach then any of the current systems but it really seems to be the most fair to me. If this isn't possible you can still seed the teams according to record and go through the playoffs. So if you have a weak division winner they might still have to go to the play in game.

I can still remember when the Padres won the west in 2005 with an 82-80 record. That is a bad team that doesn't deserve any special treatment in the playoffs. I like the wild card but it can be improved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Giants vs. Rockies, Trying to put an End to Rocktober

The Giants who had their regular going away barrage of runs against the Cubies head to Denver to face a suddenly reeling Rockies. The Rockies who seem to own September are coming off a sweep at the cellar dwelling Diamondbacks and have lost 6 of their last 10 games.

They are now sitting 3.5 games behind the Giants and the Braves for a playoff spot and with each loss their chances fall further.

I say that the Giants should just do the human thing and just put them out of their misery. Enough of this late season streaking trying to sneak into the playoffs.

The Giants have the top of the rotation and miss Ubaldo Jimenez which swings the advantage in their favor.

The matchups:

Tim Lincecum, 14-10, 3.60 ERA vs. Jhoulys Chacin, 9-9, 3.30 ERA


With the offense struggling, Lincecum was pinch-hit for in the fifth inning of his last start against the Brewers. He also took his first lost of September, as a bloop single drove in two runs. He is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA against Colorado this season.

Chacin didn't issue a walk in a start for the first time in his career Saturday in an eight-inning shutout effort against Los Angeles. He could become the first Rockies rookie to finish with an ERA below 4 and at least 120 innings pitched.


Lincecum has been back to his ace like ways and you've got to feel that the Giants have a chance to win this game. For some reason they always seem to come up with runs for Lincecum hopefully they can score early and often. Chacin has been a pretty good pitcher and that causes issues for this Giants team who for some reason only seem to hit against teams aces and their dregs. Hopefully they come in with some swagger as the first place team that just routed the Cubs.

Barry Zito, 9-13, 3.98 ERA vs. Jason Hammel, 10-8, 4.56 ERA


As a fly-ball pitcher who lacks a steamy fastball, Zito would figure to struggle at Coors Field. Yet he's a respectable 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA and a .227 opponents' batting average in six Coors starts.


Zito has pitched well as of late and has had some real hard luck. All I can really hope for is 5 to 6 good innings and give the team a chance to win. He doesn't have to be perfect with a well rested and dominate bullpen behind him. A win here and the Giants could land the knock out blow to the Rockies playoff chances.

Matt Cain, 12-10, 3.00 ERA vs. Jorge de la Rosa, 8-5, 4.22 ERA


Cain has been San Francisco's most effective starter in the second half. The Giants have won 11 of his 13 outings since the All-Star break. He has exceeded 200 innings for the fourth year in a row.

De La Rosa gave up just his third home run to a left-handed hitter this season, a two-run Kelly Johnson shot, in his last start. But that truly hurt in a 3-1 loss to the D-backs. Still, De La Rosa threw seven innings and gave up three runs.


Cain has been one of the best pitchers in baseball in the 2nd half. This month he has been the horse that has carried the team with more run support he could be looking 15 to 16 wins instead of just the 12 he has. The other thing Cain has done is pound the strike zone, this month he was a BB/9 of only 0.96 and a K/BB ratio of 7.00. These are great things especially going into a place like Coors Field where giving out free passes is the death of pitchers.

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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Giants so Desperate for Runs they are Advertising on Craigslist

I was browsing Craigslist looking for bargains (really I was there isn't an adult service section anymore) when I stumbled across this add from the San Francisco Giants:

I wonder if this is the work of Matt Cain who has a historically bad run support. Regardless this team is desperate for anything.

When the meager offense shows up this team actually wins some games, when it doesn't I feel bad for these pitchers.

Here are some stats to melt your brain while you think about how good this team could be with an offense that wasn't feast or famine.

When the Giants score 6 or more runs they are 47-6.

When the Giants score 4 or more runs they are 65-10.

When the Giants score 3 or more runs they are 74-22.

When the Giants score 2 or more runs they are 82-37.

Yeah with a little run support this team is hard to beat. They have a winning percentage of 0.867 when they score 4 or more runs! That is ridiculously good and for a team that is averaging 4.27 runs per game it really shouldn't be that hard.

So Giants help out your pitching staff and score some runs.

Giants Historic Pitching Streak

Every one loves a good streak story and I think that it is needed especially on a day after where the Giants were able to generate no offense.

Well this story comes via Baseball Reference and it shows the pure and utter dominance of the Giants pitching staff. The Giants have gone 21 games where they have given up 4 runs or less good for tied for 5th on the all time list.

The single season record was set by the 1972 Cubs at 23 games so the Giants are gunning for them.

It doesn't make you feel any better about the loss last night but at least it is something positive.


Strk Start


































































































































*Games with asterisk are streaks that span more than one season.

Random Observations during the streak:

During the streak the team has gone 13-8 which is pretty depressing seeing the pitching performance they have received.

The team has averaged only 3.05 runs per game while allowing a miniscule 1.76 runs per game. If only the team had an offense.

The team has shut out their opponent 4 times and been shut out themselves 4 times.

The team has allowed 4 runs twice, 3 runs four times, 2 runs six times, and 1 run five times. That is some good pitching.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Baseball Games, Playing Under the Microscope

Everything that happens in September is magnified. If the team loses a game in June it sucks but it isn't the end of the world and it you pick it up the next day.

In September every loss feels a safe falling on your head.

The Giants have 11 games left and every single one of them carries the weight of the playoffs. A slump now ends the season. There is no more time to make up for any mistakes and honestly that scares the crap out of me.

If the regular season was torture then these last games in September are going to be an inquisition. It won't be for the faint of heart. I am not sure what Giants have done to deserve this after 6 full seasons without a playoff appearance and 56 seasons without a World Series title things would be easier.

Not to sound like I am complaining, I wouldn't trade this for the world, it feels nice again to not be turning my attention to the hot stove and looking at how the prospects are doing and who are the potential Free Agent targets.

My point is that every little thing matters. There is no margin for error in these last games and it will only get worse if the team makes the playoffs.

Oh I remember the playoffs, I was a nervous wreck. Pacing, covering my eyes, poping tums, and living and dying with every pitch and every game. All I want is that crazy nervousness in my stomach again and these September games are killing me.

11 games that is all. A cushion would be nice a half a game is a little too close for me but in the end just get me back to the playoffs and that crazy nervousness that it brings on.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Giants Case Study: The Predictive Value of Wins Above Replacement

There was a comment that was posted yesterday on the post "Did the Giants' Front Office Make the NL West Race Closer Than it Needed to Be?" that got me thinking. The comment was about how good of a stat wins above replacement is.

The comment came from Greg Wurz writer of the of the blog IN THE SHADOW OF BONDS, he said "I really don't know how much stock you can put in WAR."

So this afternoon I am trying to give Greg some piece of mind to how much stock can be put into WAR. I pulled the WAR Data for the Giants (I would have liked to do every team but I do have a day job and only an hour for lunch) and compared that to the Pythagorean Expected Wins and the actual wins for each team.

The Fangraphs data goes back to 2002 so this is the starting point and I looked at through last season (I didn't include this season because it isn't quite complete yet and I wouldn't want that to interfere with the results.) so a total of 8 seasons.

Here are the results:

WAR Predicted

Pythagorean Predicted

Actual Wins

































Just looking at things with the naked eye suggests that they match up pretty closely. When you do a correlation you can see that both the Pythagorean and WAR predicted wins are highly correlated.

WAR Predicted

Pythagorean Predicted




For a WAR even with the known issues a correlation of nearly 0.9 is very good especially when anything around 0.8 is considered to be strongly related. WAR can be improved especially in the measurement of defense and base running and even context specific results but even without these improvements it gives very robust results.

Fangraphs did a similar comparison looking at just last year's numbers and found very similar results of a correlation of 0.83. With that said I think that using WAR gives valuable information and I think that you can put a fair amount of stock into it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did the Giants’ Front Office Make the NL West Race Closer Than it Needed to Be?

Did the Giants' Front Office Make the NL West Race Closer Than it Needed to Be? This is the question that Neil Paine asks at Baseball-Reference.

His argument is that the Giants cost themselves wins by not bringing up Buster Posey earlier and that the at bats given to Bengie Molina have hurt the team. The Giants could have a much more comfortable lead instead of figthing for every game.

Here is his argument:

You see, while Posey was spending 47 games in Fresno, the Giants gave the majority of their starts -- and 221 plate appearances -- to Bengie Molina in his stead. While he was keeping the seat warm for Posey's eventual arrival, the since-departed Molina turned in a truly terrible performance, producing a .644 OPS (well below the NL average of .715 for catchers) and registering -5 fielding runs above avg. behind the plate. Add it up, and Molina's 221 PA gave the Giants -0.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Needless to say, after Posey assumed the starting job, San Francisco's production at catcher skyrocketed. His 134 OPS+ is second only to Joe Mauer among ML catchers, and his overall performance has been worth 2.6 WAR in just 372 PA. If you assume he would have maintained the same pace had he been starting all season long, and you give Molina's early-season PA to Posey instead, you find that playing Posey all season would have increased San Francisco's win total by 1.9 wins, which would give the Giants a far more comfortable 2½-game cushion in the West, as opposed to their current ½-game lead over the Padres. If San Diego comes back and wins by fewer than 3 games, you can point to Brian Sabean's decision to delay Posey's arbitration as a big factor in their losing the division.
It looks like in hindsight that this may have cost the team wins but things don't always turn out this way with "can't miss" prospects. Look at what happened with Matt Wieters in Baltimore. He was supposed to be the savior and his first experience in the big leagues was full of growing pains after destroying AAA like Posey had.

That being said I had some trouble just extrapolating Posey's Big league numbers backward like was done in the Baseball-Reference case but even using the actual minor league numbers and scaling them to the major league equivalent the analysis is the same. Using Posey's actual performance he could have been worth about 2.09 wins above replacement.(the math: wRAA = 10.38, Positional Adjustment = 3.626, Fielding = 0, Replacement = 6.933, total = 20.939 runs above replacement)

Those wins could come back to bight the Giants but for now with the information that was available at the time it was a borderline call and the Giants played it conservative hoping to save some future arbitration money and hope that Molina could hold his own and be somewhat valuable.

In hindsight it was probably the wrong call but when dealing in prospects it could have just as easily gone the other way. Let's just hope that those 2 wins don't kill the Giants.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The NL CY Young Race

The NLAL's King Felix versus CC it still features a numbers of really good pitchers.

I will go through the top 6 contenders' cases plus defending champ Tim Lincecum.

Roy HalladayAdam WainwrightJosh JohnsonUbaldo JimenezTim HudsonMat LatosTim Lincecum
Wins18 (1)18 (1)11 (7)18 (1)15 (4)14 (5)14 (5)
Quality Starts22 (4)23 (1)23 (1)23 (1)23 (1)20 (5)20 (5)
Strikeouts201 (2)199 (3)186 (4)186 (4)122 (7)174 (6)208 (1)
ERA2.44 (3)2.50 (4)2.30 (1)2.75 (6)2.62 (5)2.43 (2)3.60 (7)
WHIP1.05 (2)1.05 (2)1.11 (4)1.15 (4)1.13 (6)0.99 (1) 1.30 (7)
WAR6.2 (1)5.8 (3)6.2 (1)5.7 (4)3.2 (7)3.6 (6)4.5 (5)
FIP3.03 (4)2.87 (2)2.43 (1)3.03 (4)3.81 (7)3.02 (3)3.25 (6)
K/BB7.18 (1)3.83 (5)3.88 (3)2.35 (7)5.41 (2)3.87 (4)2.97 (6)
AVG Rank2.252.6252.753.8754.87545.25
All numbers and rankings as of 9/15/2010

After looking at everything it is pretty clear that Roy Halladay has had the best season and is the deserving choice for the Cy Young award. This is still a very close race but with Josh Johnson done for the season it really comes down to Halladay and Wainwright.

The other guys just had too many things that brought them down. Latos has good numbers but not enough innings to keep pace with the leaders. Hudson has had a good season but falls behind in the strikeout category which is very sexy and gets voters attention. Jimenez has been a win machine but his second half is no where near as good as his first half which will certainly cost him. Lincecum had a 2 month period where he wasn't good and a 1 month period that he was down right awful if you take that away he is much better but a 3-peat isn't happening this season.

The pitcher that closes it out best in the last 2-3 starts is the one that wins the award.