Thursday, March 10, 2011

Standing pat? No, more like a constant evolution

One of the story lines this offseason and headed into the 2011 season is the Giants stood pat and didn't do anything to get better. While this is true in the technical sense, if you look back to the begining of last season, you can see that this team has done quite a bit to get better.

Here is the opening Day batting order for the Giants.

It features one player that posted an OPS+ better then league average with 4 players that were 25% worse than league average at their position. That's not a good hitting lineup and if that didn't change, there is no way the Giants win the NL West last season.

Here is a batting order from the end of the season.

There is quite a large difference here in terms of players and ability to hit at a league average level or better. The only carryovers from oppening day are Huff, Uribe, and Sandoval. Everyone else had been banished to the bench or was only a part-time player.

The Giants now have five hitters that are better than average at their position, with the worst number posted by Sandoval and that's only 5% worse than league average. Some of the changes were petty drastic. Lets take a look:

Changing Torres for Rowand:

Rowand had his worst season of his career, while Torres had one of his best. The Giants went from a hitter who was 25% below average to a hitter that was 19% above average while playing elite defense. This is a major upgrade.

Changing Posey for Molina:

Molina was a good Giant but he doesn't really compare with Posey. Molina was 26% below average, while Posey was 29% above average. That is a huge swing at a premium position.

Changing Burrell for DeRosa (Or anyone healthy for DeRosa):

DeRosa was hurt and it killed his value. With his wrist injury, he had almost no power and was a shell of his former self. Burrell was a gem of a signing and resurected his career in San Francisco. This was a big upgrade for 2010, but I am not sure that it will be as big going into the future if DeRosa is back to full health. A 100% DeRosa would be a big upgrade over his injured self.

Changing Ross for Bowker:

It pains me to say this because I am a big Bowker supporter, but in his stint with the Giants, he did not play well and it's a nice upgarde to have Cody Ross in the outfield. John Bowker may one day produce at an average Major League level but he hasn't done that yet. Ross has shown the ability to do that and better.

When you put all of these moves together, you go from a bad offensive team to one that is slightly above average. That is a big difference and it was done over the course of the season and is a continual work in progress. Walt Disney said that "Disneyland will never be finished" and I have to think that Brian Sabean has that same mentality about how he builds his baseball teams.

People can say the Giants stood pat in the offseason, but it should be known that things will remain fluid with the Giants constantly changing and looking for ways to get marginally better. Whether that means using in-house options or digging through the scrap heap of other teams to turn another teams trash into a treasure made by Tiffany's remains to be seen.

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