Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walks are Killing the Giants

San Francisco pitcher Madison Bumgarner leaves the mound after the Giants allowed 4 runs in the fifth inning of his MLB National League baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco, California, April 11, 2011. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
It seems like every time a Giants pitcher issues a walk, it comes back to hurt them. The walks always come in the worst moments and compound the issues.

I took the time to painstakingly look through the play-by-play files to determine how many of those walks came into score and my tally was 27. [Side note: if someone knows a place that keeps track of this so I don't have to do it manually, leave me a comment.]

Breaking this down a little further, of the 76 walks, five were intentional, so we have 26 runs scored on 71 regular walks and one run scored on five intentional walks.

For the regular walks, the Giants pitchers have managed a strand rate of just 63.4%, which is far below the overall average this season of 69% and league average, which tends to be about 72%. This suggests that things will get better as the season goes on, but man, the early picture is not a pretty one.

This actually ties in with the picture painted by the overall team stats that I went over in the post about the Giants not having a claim to the best pitching staff in baseball. They rate well in two thirds of the stats that pitchers have the most control over, with the second best home run rate per nine and the third best strikeout rate per nine, but only the 19th best walk rate per nine.

When you add that to the fact that they haven't done well in keeping these base runners from scoring, it makes sense that the team is in the middle of the pack in ERA. If the Giants can do better in limiting the walks (I am not holding my breath, not with Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito in the rotation) or do a better job of stranding the runners they give a free pass to, things will get much better.

Until then, the walks will keep killing the Giants.

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