Back in the day, I mused that an average offense might be enough for the Giants to be successful. It was a theory akin to "discovery of cold fusion could improve the economy"; it’s a perfect blueprint if you ignore that it’s impossible.
Five of the eight players with the most at-bats on the roster this season, however, have an OPS+ that is at or better than the league average. Two of the eight are above 90+. The offense isn’t as bad as expected, and yet the team is still far below .500. Does that mean the pitching hasn’t been as good as advertised?
Not really. Just because a handful of hitters are right around the league average, it doesn’t mean they’ll make up for the pile of wretched hitters who haven’t had as many at-bats. The Vizcock combo has been the equivalent to an extra pitcher in the lineup, and the other reserves (with the exception of 37 at-bats from Travis Denker and three from Ivan Ochoa) have been WILL YOU SHUT UP THAT DAMNED JACKHAMMER UP? JUST SHUT IT THE HELL UP! JACKHAMMER OUTSIDE OF MY OFFICE SOME OTHER DAY. DON’T YOU KNOW THAT I’M WRITING AN EXTREMELY POPULAR GIANTS BLOG AND MY FANS COUNT ON MY STELLAR WIT AND ANALYSIS AS IF IT WERE RHETORICAL INSULIN? HAVE SOME RESPECT! quite awful. This is just an ineffective offense when all of the parts are added together, and that’s the main reason why they have one of the worst records in the league
So keeping that in mind, it’s time to grade the pitchers. Note again that the grades have nothing to do with how the pitchers are doing compared to the rest of the league. They’re grades given relative to my own preseason expectations.
Tim Lincecum – A
Matt Cain – B-
Jonathan Sanchez – A+
Barry Zito – D
Kevin Correia – D-
Lincecum was supposed to be good, but I wasn’t expecting him to be one of the best pitchers in the game quite yet. Cain has been inconsistent, but I half-expected as much. The difference between a ‘B-‘ and a ‘C’ is that his strikeout rate moved from above-average to one of the best in the league in the second half of last season, and I didn’t think he’d keep those gains.
I would have pegged Sanchez for an ERA in the high-4s or low-5s, with enough good starts to give hope for the future. Instead, he’s been better than Cain, and his starts are almost as fun to watch as Lincecum’s. I’m glad he wasn’t traded for Edwin Encarnacion, even though I would have jumped on that trade in December.
All I wanted from Zito was an ERA around 4.50. I thought his second-half performance from last season portended good things. I was wrong. The bar was a foot off the floor, but Zito does a mean limbo, apparently.
Correia has been the most disappointing starter, even after taking Zito into account. Since coming back from injury, Correia has sniffed a decent start just once. Zito was supposed to be the ace once upon a time, and Correia is just a fifth starter, but that’s a pre-4/3 mindset. The post-4/3 mindset might be unfair, but we expect more from our young pitchers than we do our erstwhile ace.
As always, constructive criticism is welcome in theory and ignored in practice, so have at it. This was longer than I expected, TWSS, so I'll do a relief post another time, if at all.