Some definitions, first: Mediocre isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Giants' pitching should be great. Not mediocre. An antonym of mediocre. Great. And if it isn't, this whole place is going down in flames anyways. So when I describe an mediocre hitter or an mediocre offense, I'm describing something that can help the Giants as currently constructed. Mediocre hitting should get this team somewhere.
As the flurry of arbitration figures descends on us like so much boring snow, we're getting news on what the Giants' starting outfielders will make. So far we have Angel Pagan making $4.85 million, and Melky Cabrera making $6 million. Both are in their year of arbitration, so those numbers aren't a huge surprise. Nate Schierholtz is still left, and MLB Trade Rumors predicts he'll get $1.2 million. That's about $12 million for the entire outfield.
One of the options this offseason, even without going into the Beltran stuff, was to commit to Brandon Belt in left, while keeping Andres Torres (who got $2.7 million) and Schierholtz. That would have freed up about $8 million to spend on another hitter. That would have been a viable strategy, even if it leans on Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill more than you'd like. And by "you'd", I'm assuming Bruce Bochy has never read this site in his life.
But the Giants didn't. They went for the Melky/Pagan/Nate trifecta. You can pretend that Belt will start at first, and that Huff will have to fight for time in the outfield. That's adorable. No, the starting outfield is Melky/Pagan/Nate unless there's an injury. And when I look at those three names, I'm overwhelmed by a tidal wave of mediocre.
Again, not a horrible thing! I think Belt would have a fine chance to be above-average, as would Carlos Beltran, so the tidal wave of mediocre might seem discouraging. But that's spilt milk at this point. Here are some projections for the outfield troika:
Melky Cabrera - .284/.330/.435 (.765 OPS, 106 OPS+)
Angel Pagan - .279/.333/.395 (.728 OPS, 99 OPS+)
Nate Schierholtz - .267/.316/.420 (.736 OPS, 99 OPS+)
The Melky/Nate projections are from ZiPS, while the Pagan one is from FanGraphs' fan projections. If you don't like those, you can use the Bill James projections and dicker around with a few hundredths of a percent here and there.
Woooooosh. Mediocre. Right down the line, puddling up at your ankles. If you put that stuff into a blender with bananas, mangos, peaches, and acai berries, you'd still have to call it a mediocre smoothie to avoid being sued. That's how strong the mediocre would be. If those projections had a baby with another adjective, they'd still be considered 100% mediocre.
The league averages for NL outfielders last year:
Schierholtz's projections fare a little bit worse compared to other right fielders, but that's somewhat mitigated by his glove and arm. Again, mediocre. So, so mediocre. Maybe a tick below! Mostly mediocre, though.
If the Giants had a team filled with .270/.330/.415 hitters last season, they would have won the division, so it's not like these guys should be a huge part of the overall problem of scoring runs. Heck, it's not even like I have much of a point. It's just so mediocre. All of it.
The name that keeps popping into my head is Michael Tucker. He was here. And he was mediocre compared to the rest of the league. Not right fielders, but for hitters in the NL. And it makes me remember my theory that Brian Sabean looks at players in isolation instead of in the context of his peers. As in, "Say, this guy's an okay player. Hits a little. Doesn't embarrass himself. Quality guy." Just a wild theory that I'll never be able to corroborate, other than the laundry list of mediocre guys he's acquired.
I'm more worried about Brandon Crawford, Aubrey Huff, and the bandaged Freddy Sanchez. And I'm even a little curious and excited to watch Pagan. But never let it be said that the Giants' outfield should be awful this year. They should be mediocre, with an upside of sorta okay.
Also, I made a bet with someone that I could use the word "mediocre" over twenty times today. That was a mediocre proposition, but I'm a mediocre writer! So I hope you enjoyed this mediocre post.