The Giants won yesterday, 4-3 in extra innings against the Padres, and even before they did, they had the best week of any team in baseball. By BP’s own reckoning, in the form of our Playoff Odds report, their chances of making a postseason appearance this year increased by the largest amount—17.0 percent—of any other team this week, and that’s before the system had a chance to consider Brandon Crawford’s walkoff single by the bay last night. When it does, their odds of tasting October in this, an even year, will go up further, not only because the Padres are a division rival but because, as well, the season is one day closer to its end.

So this seems like an especially good week to think about who and what these Giants are, and how they stand in relation to the team that they were expected to be when they were put together this winter. If you haven’t been following the squad, a brief primer: Faced with four not-Madison-Bumgarner-shaped holes in the rotation, GM Bobby Evans went out and bought himself some pitchers. Over the course of just a few weeks in December, San Francisco shelled out $210 million to secure the services of both Jeff Samardzija (31 this year) and Johnny Cueto (30). After combining those two with what remains of Jake Peavy and Matt Cain’s careers—with Chris Heston waiting in the wings—the Giants figured they had enough of a rotation to complement their offense.

And what an offense it was designed to be: Homegrown stars Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, and—of course—the incredible Buster Posey were expected to lead the charge for the team, supplemented by imports new and old, in the form of Denard Span and Hunter Pence, respectively. Sure, Gregor Blanco has no real business as a starter, and Angel Pagan doesn’t either anymore, even when he’s not injured, but there was nonetheless ample reason to expect that this year’s Giants offense could match last year’s totals, when it mashed to the tune of a .274 TAv—tied for the best mark in the National League with the hated Dodgers. That was the plan, anyway. That was how the season was drawn up.

Has it happened? Well, to some extent you know the answer to that question already: the Giants are 30-19, in first place, and I just told you that they had the best week in baseball. So things can’t have gone terribly in every regard, and in fact they haven’t. What’s interesting, though, is how, exactly, the Giants have been good. It turns out the answer is somewhat interesting. Let’s talk about that a little, and let’s contemplate what it might mean for their season going forward.

First things first: the offense has been good—.279 TAv good—but in a year that, for all the hullaballoo about strong pitching, is turning out some dominant offensive teams, it is no longer the best. In the National League alone, the Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, and Marlins all have better marks. Perhaps more interesting, then, is the fact that the offense is generating runs in rather a different way than it did last year. Here’s their triple-slash line, plus OPS, so far in this not-so-young-anymore season:





And here’s that same triple-slash line from last year:





Notice anything? I do. It’s not much, in the grand scheme of things—teams vary in these categories all the time—but this year’s Giants club is ever-so-slightly less reliant on power than last year’s club was, and ever-so-slightly more capable of getting on base, especially by means unassociated with batting average. This is, in general, a ballclub that’s transitioned from a good offense that can knock the ball out of the ballpark (but is thus prone to the streakiness that’s generally associated with power) to an offense that’s still capable of bashing but is a bit more focused on getting on base.

This is a good thing, and I think it’s fairly reasonable to chalk it up to personnel changes. None of the Giants’ pre-existing hitters are playing out of their minds in any notable way, and none—in particular—are exceeding preseason expectations with respect to their ability to get on base. No, I think this is a case mostly of Denard Span (.353 OBP this year) getting a fair number of plate appearances that might last year have gone to Angel Pagan (.303 in 2015, though admittedly much higher this year) or Gregor Blanco. So, chalk one up for Evans. He’s built a team that’s better able to withstand the grind of a long season, at least from an offensive perspective.

And what of the pitching? That has been a slightly different story. As a team, the Giants are posting a 4.21 DRA going into play this week, which is about 1 percent better than league average and 11 percent better, in that regard, than it was last year (4.40, 110). The problem is that the problem isn’t evenly distributed throughout the rotation. Cueto and Samardzija are holding up their end of the bargain, posting DRA-’s of 96 and 94 respectively, both through about 70 innings pitched. Bumgarner, too, is doing Bumgarner things, with a DRA- of 89 over slightly fewer innings. And then there’s Cain and Peavy.

Let’s start with Cain, because his performance has been slightly less noxious. Over 52 innings pitched, he’s given up 31 earned runs, struck out 38, and walked 13. That adds up to an ugly 5.08 DRA and a slightly less-ugly 108 DRA-. That last mark, in fact, looks positively rosy compared to Peavy’s, which is 116. That corresponds to a 6.12 DRA, an 8.21 ERA, and a loosening grip on the tenuous connection to the game his performance merits. This is not to take anything away from these men personally. Both have pitched extremely well in the past, and Peavy in particular has always struck me as an especially gracious human being. I’d happily have a beer with either, and I’d buy. But that’s not the point. They’ve both been bad at pitching major-league baseballs this year, and that’s taken away from strong performances at the top of the rotation.

Perhaps this doesn’t matter. Perhaps, with the way the Dodgers are playing (poorly) the Giants don’t have to win a ton of regular-season games to sneak into the postseason, and once they’re there they can run out their top three guys until Madison Bumgarner's arm falls off or the rest of the world converts to his North Carolinan brand of backcountry folksiness (Did you guys hear? He once dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner! I heard that he w….). But perhaps it won’t work. Perhaps the Dodgers’ plan to buy out all the depth the world had to offer will stop their bleeding, and the Giants will find that an injury to one of their big men throws even more innings onto the tired arms of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. And perhaps that’ll matter.

I don’t know. I do find it interesting that in a season where so much that’s improbable has already happened—the Phillies are good! Alex Rodriguez is popular! Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination!—the Giants have turned out pretty much the way Bobby Evans drew them up this offseason: good on offense, buoyed by Denard Span, and reliant on a strong front three to lead a pitching staff that, in the aggregate, is just good enough to keep the team above water. It’s fun when a plan comes together, isn’t it? It’s also improbable: Most plans don’t work out. And that’s the big reveal I promised you at the beginning about what’s interesting about this Giants’ season: They’re pretty much exactly what we thought they were. In a year filled with new things, that’s pretty weird.

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I suspect that at least part of the reason for the reduction in SLG% is due to having played an awful lot of games to date at home, SD, and LA none of which are great hitters parks. After this weekend the pitching will probably look worse and the offense look somewhat better.