FanPost

A Quarter-Season Report Card



This is a quarter-season look at how the Giants are doing.  But as a threshold issue, we want to define "doing": do we mean absolutely or relatively?  Well, in truth we want to know both things, but we do need to take care to keep them distinct in our minds.  "Absolutely" is what leads to winning or losing, so that's crucial; but "relatively" tells us whether how they are doing absolutely is under- or over-achieving, and what we might expect for the future.

Then there is the issue of what "actual" performance means.  The topmost, but crudest, measure is wins.  After 39 games, the Giants have 22 wins; pro-rating that to 162 games, it's 91 wins.  But, as is commonly known, wins are a function of cumulative runs scored and runs allowed; if the actual wins total is substantially different from the calculated one, the smart money will bet on the calculated wins as the better indicator of future developments (because the better indicator of developments to date).  The Giants have scored 135 runs and allowed 137; that calculates over 162 games to only 80 wins, which is discouraging.  But!  As is also commonly known, runs scored and runs allowed are themselves functions of certain performance stats.  So next we need to see what the current projections from actual stats are for expected runs scored and runs allowed.

Now things look brighter.  Calculating from the team statlines, we find that the normally expected runs-scored total would be 142, and runs allowed 131.  That calculates to 87 seasonal wins.  (In fact, if we don't do any rounding to whole numbers till the final wins expectation, it's actually 88 wins.)  Working backward from that projection of 88 suggests that right now the Giants "should have" won 21 games, just based on how they've actually played so far, and that is exactly the same number that calculating forward from the stats produces (as expected).  For comparison, here are the wins projections for the whole division, calculated in the same way from actual team stats to date:

San Francisco 88
Colorado 82
San Diego 78
Arizona 76
LA Dodgers 74

(You can see all of MLB on this page.)

Batters:

Next, we can look at how the individual batters and pitchers are doing to date. The measure in both cases is a number that is easy to understand, because it is simply the number of runs that would be scored in a full season by a team of men performing exactly like the man in question. Well, that's not quite true: because this is intended as a measure of the players themselves, it makes a couple of minor fiddles having to do with things chiefly or wholly outside the player's control and abilities--sac bunts and stolen-base/caught-stealing stats are forced to zero for batters, and intentional walks to zero for pitchers, so the numbers are slightly better than reality. But, because they're all treated the same, they are commensurable between players. And, though seasonal runs are an easily understood measure, we will also see representative numbers for some non-Giants. (For simplicity, I omit batting stats for pitchers.) Note that "career" includes 2011 stats.

Player                  2011    career
Burrell, Pat 859 972
Sandoval, Pablo 1181 970
Posey, Buster 760 913
Huff, Aubrey 533 907
Tejada, Miguel 296 861
Rowand, Aaron 637 811
Ross, Cody 579 811
DeRosa, Mark 403 793
Torres, Andres 1265 776
Fontenot, Mike 684 756
Sanchez, Freddy 613 747
NL average 679 --- (including pitchers)
Schierholtz, Nate 772 676
TEAM TOTALS 596 ---
Burriss, Emmanuel 395 565
Ford, Darren 557 557
Whiteside, Eli 639 554
Belt, Brandon 477 477
Rohlinger, Ryan 1 188

In some cases--Torres, for example--the "career" stats may be misleading. Also, none of these are park-adjusted because of my firm belief that "park factors" are conceptually valid but practically useless, for various reasons. Broadly speaking: 600 or under is not really major-league-caliber; under 700 is for excellent-glove up-the-middle players on non-competing teams; 700 to 800 is OK for decent up-the-middle men; 800 to 900 is very good for up the middle and OK for corners; 900 to 1000 is quite good even for corners, and outstanding up the middle; and over 1000 is just excellent anywhere. For comparison, here are some random career values, chosen to illustrate (roughly) every 100 or so from the top down:

Pujols, Albert   1531
Berkman, Lance 1286
Giambi, Jason 1209
Wright, David 1104
Posada, Jorge 999
Reynolds, Mark 899
Blake, Casey 800
Snyder, Chris 696
Ausmus, Brad 595
Izturis, Cesar 504
Chavez, Raul 400
Marquis, Jason 300
Oswalt, Roy 173

But we need to keep in mind that at this stage of the season, a relatively minor difference in "count events" (say, hits or walks) can make an apparently major change in "rate" stats (like batting average or OBP). This is, of course, just the "small sample size" effect, but it's worth putting it in numbers for perspective. To that end, here are the Giants' batters career stats pro-rated to their 2011 appearances totals compared to their actual 2011 stats (pitchers omitted):

Man 	                 AB    H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SF   SH  HBP   SO   SB   CS
Belt, Brandon 2011: 52 10 1 0 1 8 0 0 0 13 2 0
Belt, Brandon proj: 52 10 1 0 1 8 0 0 0 13 2 0

Burrell, Pat 2011: 99 23 4 0 5 16 0 0 2 33 0 0
Burrell, Pat proj: 99 25 5 0 5 17 1 0 1 28 0 0

Burriss, Emmanuel 2011: 15 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 1
Burriss, Emmanuel proj: 13 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 0

DeRosa, Mark 2011: 28 6 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 5 0 0
DeRosa, Mark proj: 28 8 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 5 0 0

Fontenot, Mike 2011: 68 14 5 2 2 10 1 0 0 16 2 0
Fontenot, Mike proj: 70 19 4 1 1 7 1 0 1 14 1 1

Ford, Darren 2011: 9 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 4 3
Ford, Darren proj: 9 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 6 4

Huff, Aubrey 2011: 137 30 9 0 4 13 3 0 0 31 2 1
Huff, Aubrey proj: 138 39 8 1 6 13 1 0 1 20 1 1

Posey, Buster 2011: 125 32 2 0 4 15 1 0 3 25 3 0
Posey, Buster proj: 131 38 6 0 5 11 1 0 2 20 1 0

Rohlinger, Ryan 2011: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rohlinger, Ryan proj: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Ross, Cody 2011: 67 16 2 0 2 5 0 0 0 16 0 1
Ross, Cody proj: 66 17 4 0 3 5 0 0 1 15 1 0

Rowand, Aaron 2011: 126 33 11 1 1 6 0 0 4 33 1 2
Rowand, Aaron proj: 123 34 8 1 4 8 1 1 4 26 2 1

Sanchez, Freddy 2011: 143 37 8 1 2 9 0 4 1 20 0 1
Sanchez, Freddy proj: 145 43 9 1 2 8 2 1 1 18 1 0

Sandoval, Pablo 2011: 83 26 3 0 5 8 0 0 0 14 1 1
Sandoval, Pablo proj: 83 25 6 1 3 7 1 0 0 12 1 0

Schierholtz, Nate 2011: 68 19 4 1 2 3 0 0 0 13 3 2
Schierholtz, Nate proj: 66 18 4 1 1 4 1 0 1 12 1 1

Tejada, Miguel 2011: 133 26 6 0 1 6 2 0 0 12 1 1
Tejada, Miguel proj: 129 37 7 0 5 9 1 0 2 16 1 1

Torres, Andres 2011: 43 15 5 1 0 5 0 0 1 12 2 0
Torres, Andres proj: 44 11 3 1 1 4 0 1 0 11 2 1

Whiteside, Eli 2011: 24 5 2 0 1 2 0 0 1 9 0 0
Whiteside, Eli proj: 25 6 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 7 0 0

2011 TEAM TOTALS: 1301 307 66 6 30 112 7 12 14 292 22 13
PROJECTED: 1299 346 68 7 39 111 10 12 16 254 21 10
difference: +2 -39 -2 -1 -9 +1 -3 0 -2 +38 +1 +3
Man AB H 2B 3B HR BB SF SH HBP SO SB CS

(Other teams' numbers, and the full--with pitchers--Giants totals can be accessed from this page.) 

As can be seen, most men's lines aren't off by that much. The notable exceptions are, alphabetically: Fontenot (-5 hits), Huff (-9 hits), Posey (-6 hits), FSanchez (-6 hits), and Tejada (-11 hits). What is distressing is not the variations as such, but that they are all minus. The only Giants with + deviations in hits are Sandoval and Schierholtz, at a puny +1 each, and Torres, but only because his "career" really isn't representative (the first quarter of his MLB stats can effectively be thrown out). Every team will have men several hits off "expectations", but normally the + and - deviations will approximately even out; but so far in 2011, the Giants are a net of 39 hits below expectations from career. Perhaps not coincidentally, they are 38 strikeouts above expectations; the alignment of those numbers may be a fluke, but more likely, it represents something. If we look at the individual men with the big hit deviations, we see that for Huff and Posey, there are also roughly corresponding extra strikeouts, whereas for the others there are not; that suggests that BABIP may have a major role in the general decline, but that Huff and Posey might be having some real problems, not statistical artifacts. Indeed, the whole-team BABIP is .281, which is 20 points below league-average, which is a lot on a team-wide basis. But also noteworthy is that Huff's BABIP is a lousy .250, so he has a double whammy going: too many strikeouts plus the balls he does hit being excessively "atom balls".

To keep perspective, though, remember that at this stage we are talking about half a dozen hits for a few men; even Huff, at 9 hits under and 11 strikeouts over, is not really more than one or two really good series away from righting the ship. Broadly speaking, and with allowance for the occasional exceptions such as Torres, past performance is a pretty good predictor of future performance. The argument about age effects cuts both ways at the team level: the older players may presumably be dropping off by some small amount each year, but the younger players will presumably be improving by some small amount each year, so the net is just not going to be much off. So what do we expect from those players? Well, the answer has to be tempered by the important caveat that we can only project based on the relative shares of play time as they have occurred so far (well, in principle, we could make any assumptions we like, but the calculations would be tedious and the assumptions artificial). In the Giants' case, however, we can only see improvement looming, as Torres and De Rosa get play time formely -wasted on- allocated to Rowand and Tejada, plus eventually Sandoval returns. But just as it stands by play time, we're looking at something like 727 seasonal runs, nearly 4.5 per game, which is a lot better than the 590 their play so far is projecting to. (The early-season reckoning, before the DL got crowded, was more like 4.8 runs a game, and might climb back to near that as the better players get more time.)

 

Pitchers:

Now for the pitchers:

Pitcher             2011 career  diff.
Romo, Sergio 244 412 -168
Lincecum, Tim 397 515 -118
TEAM TOTALS 525 ---
Ramirez, Ramon 188 540 -352
Wilson, Brian 511 552 -41
Cain, Matt 563 591 -28
Mota, Guillermo 486 617 -131
Runzler, Dan 738 655 + 83
Zito, Barry 807 657 +150
NL average 662 ---
Bumgarner, Madison 631 682 -51
Sanchez, Jonathan 650 684 -34
Lopez, Javier 302 704 -402
Casilla, Santiago 934 745 +189
Affeldt, Jeremy 950 747 +203
Vogelsong, Ryan 414 853 -439

(Other teams' numbers, and the full--with pitchers--Giants totals can be accessed from this page.) 

We don't need any comps here, because the league-average figure of 662 (for 2011 to date) is sufficiently indicative. I include the "difference" with some trepidation, because the sample sizes are small, and in some cases very small. But it's interesting that only four men are doing worse than expected, while ten are doing better. Still, with sample sizes (batters faced) reckoned, the overall net is close to zero, as we will now see (to save a little space, I will here show only the team-level "actual vs expected" lines):

			  AB    H  2B  3B  HR   BB  SF  SH HBP  SO  SB  CS
2011 TEAM TOTALS: 1273 288 56 5 19 134 6 15 11 328 25 14
PROJECTED: 1265 304 60 8 29 137 10 14 13 308 26 9
difference: +8 -16 -4 -3 -10 -3 -4 +1 -2 +20 -1 +5

As can easily be seen, the actuals are pretty close to expectations. It is, on a smaller scale, sort of the batting in reverse: 20 extra strikeouts, 16 fewer hits. What are the projections? From stats to date, 536 runs allowed; from career-expectation stats, 631 runs allowed.

 

The Team Outlook:

From stats to date, 590 runs scored, 536 runs allowed, 88 seasonal wins; by projecting career stats, 727 runs scored, 631 runs allowed, 92 wins. Curiously, that 92 is almost exactly the 91 to which the team's actual record to date would pro-rate. What it comes down to is that we have sound cause to believe that the Giants will win at least 88 games this season, and reasonable cause to think that might be as much as 92; and if the playing-time allocations shift to better men than they have so far been given to, that might be conservative. Colorado's projections from career (which I regard as the soundest basis) are 797 runs scored, 731 runs allowed, and an 87-win total. A projected 5-game margin is not, all things considered, a guarantee or a runaway race, but it is healthy, and bodes well.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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