I wasn't expecting this.
You might have been expecting this, patiently waiting for Ryan Vogelsong to come around. If so, you're a better fan than I am. You were willing to suspend disbelief, willing to ignore the signposts of logic on the road to oblivion. That's what fans do.
I couldn't. The Vogelsong story was so unlikely in the first place, my brain installed a killswitch to prepare me for the inevitable. Thanks for the memories and strong pitching, but there's no way you're going to keep pitching well. Why were you pitching well in the first place? Where am I? Who are you? None of this makes sense.
So when Vogelsong struggled, I lost faith. The difference between good Vogelsong and bad Vogelsong is a scintilla of command, a sliver of the strike zone. It was gone last year, and it didn't show up at the beginning of this year. What do you expect me to think? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO THINK???
Vogelsong outings with seven innings pitched, one or fewer runs allowed
Outings of six innings or more
Vogelsong is already wiping the floor with last year's abominable season. His season doesn't have to be a binary thing, either 2011 or 2013. He can combine the two and be kinda sorta okay, and that would still be a coup.
Throughout the offseason, I was asked constantly about what would need to be different for the Giants if they didn't want to repeat 2013. The stock answer was the same every time: Everyone knows that Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong were two of the worst pitchers in baseball last year. What this blog presupposes is, maybe they aren't? If either or both of those pitchers could make the transition from albatrosses to harmless terns, the Giants would be better.
What if one of them is even better?
It's unlikely for one player, other than peak Barry Bonds, to be the difference between a playoff team and an under-.500 disappointment. One player can certainly make a difference; it's unlikely for that player to be the difference. Yet it always seemed like a useful Vogelsong was going to be worth more than the two win he'd accrue over the unuseful Vogelsong. With a functioning Vogelsong, the Giants can go anywhere. All hail the functional Vogelsong.
I enjoyed that performance. The ball generally went where the glove was. That wasn't the case last year, which was a miserable season all around for pretty much everyone. When the ball hits the glove, the Giants are good. Causation is correlation.
Apropos of nothing, from John Sickels's Giants prospect list from 2000:
5) Ryan Vogelsong, RHP: Like Esteves, a four-pitch starter who had no trouble in the Cal League. Double-A was tougher, and there are concerns about his durability.
Concerns about his durability. He's pitching 14 years later, when everyone else on that list is gone. Well, he did need Tommy John surgery and to circumnavigate the globe to play in pickup games in Eastern Bloc countries before someone noticed him. But he's been perfectly durable after all. Nothing about him makes any sense, and I'm glad he's around to keep smartypantses like us in check.
Pablo Sandoval is good again. That one I was expecting. It's going to cost the Giants millions of dollars (or morph into Joaquin Arias, Starting Third Baseman), but there's no question that the Sandoval over the last two weeks is the one we're used to and probably the one we should expect for the next five months. He's aggressive and only occasionally stupid, which is preferable to passive and mostly stupid.
The Giants have enjoyed one of the very best starts in baseball despite a key lineup cog hitting like Kirk Rueter with an ear infection. Now he's back. Maybe the universe will take away Brandon Hicks's contribution in exchange, don't know. But when sketching out a realistic scenario for the Giants were going to score enough to win this season, Sandoval's contributions were important.
Now he's contributing. That's important.
To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.
Lincecum shaved stache "to grow another." "I've been told if you shave the hairs come back thicker & fuller. I'm trying it out." #SFGiants— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) May 18, 2014