The Giants and opposite-field hitting

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Awesome Hit, Great Job!

Last year, I wrote about Hunter Pence's 2013 season and his success at hitting the ball the other way. In 2013, Pence finished with a career high Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) when hitting to the opposite field. (Pence finished with a 203 wRC+; this season he's still doing an excellent job at hitting the other way, currently at even higher rate of 224.)

As a right-handed batter, Pence's all-field approach has paid off, especially when hitting to right field. Since he joined the Giants in 2012, he ranks second among qualified hitters (50 plate appearances minimum) - even including his down half season with the Giants in '12 - when hitting to the opposite field.

The top five via FanGraphs:

Name

PA

wRC+

Melky Cabrera

109

211

Hunter Pence

222

186

Brandon Belt

192

153

Buster Posey

254

145

Brandon Crawford

244

120


Oh, Melky. It's basically Melky Cabrera's amazing - chemically enhanced - run in 2012 and Hunter Pence at the top. Belt, Posey, and Crawford have also done well at hitting the other way.

However, it's not just Pence that's hitting successfully going the other way -- it's a large majority of the team. Here's the top five opposite-field-hitting teams. Again, we're going to use wRC+ as our measure on offense.

Team

PA

wRC+

Pirates

443

128

Rockies

498

124

Giants

452

119

Phillies

422

118

Diamondbacks

510

117

The Giants have several regulars that are above-average hitters to the opposite field. These are players like Hunter Pence (224), Michael Morse (197), Angel Pagan (148), Pablo Sandoval (128), and Brandon Hicks (107). Even bench players like Tyler Colvin (224) - granted, he's only had 12 PAs - and Hector Sanchez (207) are contributing.

Headlined by Pence and Morse, the Giants have been a powerful force on offense when hitting to the opposite field. The Giants have swatted 10 home runs to the opposite field (6th in baseball). They also rank 4th in doubles (42); 4th in triples (4); and 1st in isolated-power (.187).

Hunter Pence does things like this:

Michael Morse does things like this:

There's just something about opposite field power that gets my blood pumping. Is that weird? I don't think so.

Morse, in particular, has been impressive. His signing has worked out way, way better than I could have ever imagined*, and part of the reason why is that Morse hasn't gotten pull-happy as a Giant. Preseason, I think, there were some concerns about Morse trying to pull everything. Adding a lumbering galoot to a challenging ballpark to hit in and things can go sideways. However, Morse hasn't been pull-happy. In his career, Morse has actually fared better when hitting the ball the other way (141 career wRC+ to the pull-side vs. 187 career wRC+ to the opposite field) and he's done a remarkable job this season in that regard.

So, yeah. The Giants are one of the best teams in baseball at opposite-field-hitting. Who saw that one coming? Considering Pence's and Morse's track-record, maybe we should have.

* I feel like I'll be typing that phrase every time I write about Morse.

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