Now there's a headline I never thought I'd write.
Matt Cain’s season K/9 is only 4.5, well below the season average, but he is overrated because of his 1.000 winning percentage. When will people stop paying attention to W/L records? Cain allowed six hits out of 22 batters faced, a .272 opponent’s batting average, and that’s likely to regress back to the mean. If you have him on your fantasy team, sell. If you’re the Giants, see if you can get a young shortstop for him before his value tanks.
That’s a new character I’m working on: Stathead Who Doesn’t Understand the Concept of Sample Sizes. I’m collecting these characters for my one-man show -- "Did I Leave the McCoven On?" -- which opens at the Curran in November.
Obviously, spring training is pretty close to worthless when it comes to discerning what’s working well and what isn’t, but there are always reasons to be legitimately worried about the team. Like, oh, one of the best starters on the team experiencing elbow discomfort. Without Matt Cain, there is Ryan Vogelsong, who probably could have been outpitched by a 15-year-old Cain back in 2000.
So while it was nice to see Cain making his last couple of Cactus League starts, this was the start I was looking forward to -- and simultaneously dreading -- the most. With a wonky Cain, the Giants aren’t the team we thought they were. If you wanted to crown them, you’d, uh, have a much harder time of it. We’d let the NL West off the hook.
If there’s any good news for the Giants, it’s that their winning percentage should be around .844 if you go by Pythagorean expectation. That means they should be one of the best teams in the history of baseball.
And how! So it was good to watch Cain pitch exactly as we all remembered him. Didn’t miss a beat -- that’s the Cain who sailed through the postseason. Time to exhale just a little bit. He was spotting his fastball well, getting some swingthroughs on his slider, and getting outs even though he didn’t have his sharpest changeup. Cain seems like the kind of pitcher who will take a big leap forward with his command one season, making him a much, much better pitcher. Note that I don’t have any tangible evidence of this, it’s just a theory from the nether regions. Here’s hoping that season is this season.
And even as the Giants were losing one-run games to start the season, I became more and more convinced that this team is going to be just fine offensively -- call it Beltimism -- so it was nice to see a runsplosion. Nice win, Giants. Only 158 more wins to go.