Thursday, August 4, 2011

Patience is a Virtue but No One Told the Giants Hitters

This is probably not going to be an earth shattering revelation but it needs to be said anyway. The Giants hitters are not very patient and the string of games the last week and a half is a great illustration of this lack of patience.

Here are the number of pitches seen against the starting pitchers dating back to the start of the last road trip in Philadelphia.

3.33, 3.72, 3.63, 3.7, 3.79, 3.96, 3.78, 3.51, 3.46

You have to go all the way back to Sunday July 24th for the last time that this team averaged over 4 pitches per at bat against a starting pitcher. It is no wonder that over this stretch that the opposing starting pitcher has averaged over 7 innings against the team.

This isn't a new or freak phenomenon either. This is just the Giants way. When the hitter comes to the plate it seems that the game plan is always be aggressive and put the ball in play. Not that this can't be an effective strategy but it certainly can backfire when players are swinging at pitcher pitches and not ones that are mistakes where they can do damage.

This seems to be the case with the Giants. The team's swing percentage while high is only slightly above average, but when it comes to swinging at pitches outside the zone this hack happy team zooms to the top of the list. Swinging at these pitches is not a recipe for success for most players not named Pablo Sandoval.

When you take this aggressive approach combined with a seemingly organization wide disdain for taking walks you get a team that is designed to see few pitches and this goes hand in hand with the team's lack of offense.

I believe that part of the offensive struggles of this team lie directly with this lack of patience. When the opposing pitcher is allowed to coast through into the late innings the opposing manager has a much easier time managing his bullpen. If he doesn't go to the bullpen until midway through the 7th inning he can play match ups with his guys and bypass the soft underbelly of his bullpen by leaning on his stronger arms.

This also plays into the team turning mediocre pitchers into Cy Young candidates for a game but oddly holding their own against the better pitchers in the league.

The guys without the spot on control dominate the Giants because they exploit the teams biggest weakness, instead of waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake the Giants go after stuff early in the count and often get them selves out.

This approach in turn works pretty well for them when they face a guy with good stuff or good control because they are around the plate and don't make too many mistakes. Going up to the plate with an aggressive approach pays dividends because the likely hood of a mistake pitch is much lower so taking your chances with a decent pitch to hit is a much better strategy.

I don't think that this frustrating trait is going to be changing anytime soon especially with the makeup of this team. But if you are looking for a silver lining I have one for you. If the Giants make the playoffs they will face a lot more of the type of pitchers that this strategy can be effective against, it is just a matter of being able to get there.

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