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Early-Season Returns With Selected FanGraphs Stats

Warning: I majored in English. I am qualified and able to do the following:

  • Think of ways to use the word "torpid" in a sentence
  • Use who, whom, and the rarely used wholve correctly
  • Complain about how the movies of my favorite books totally don't do the books justice

That's my entire skills set. Or is it skill set? If you think you know the answer, don't even bother me with it, because I'm the one with the English degree from Gudger College. But one thing I'm not qualified to do is pore over early-season returns from FanGraphs. So please allow me to pore over early-season returns from FanGraphs. Some findings:

Buster Posey has a .457 BABIP
Start with the obvious category, which batting average on balls in play. On about half of the balls that Posey has hit fair, the result was a hit. Obviously, that won't last, but it's not like they're all dinks and dunks -- Posey also has the highest line-drive percentage among the starting position players.

The BABIP and average will come down, of course, but that doesn't mean that Posey isn't off to a fantastic start. It's hard to explain just how comforting it is to watch swings like this again after last season.

Brandon Crawford just stares at Buster Posey in the dugout, chewing gum and thinking horrible things
Because as fortunate as Posey has been, Crawford has been as unfortunate. And he's noticed.

"Ohhhh yeah," Crawford said, smiling. "Believe me, I noticed. We all have."

Based on the calculator here, Crawford should probably have something closer to a .334 batting average on balls in play, which would make his stats look a lot purtier. If you want to explain BABIP to your mom or dad, and if they've seen all of the Giants games this year, start your lesson with "So you know how it seems like Brandon Crawford has been hosed just about every time he's hit the ball hard?"

Brett Pill has seen 29 pitches out of the strike zone
He's swung at 15 of them, easily the highest percentage of anyone on the Giants. Small samples -- really, you don't need to be reminded of that for every one of these -- but I really do think the (relative) success of Pill since he's reached the majors is that teams don't really know him.

The fewest pitches swung at outside of the strike zone? Madison Bumgarner, with 6.3 percent. Ten-tool athlete.

Barry Zito has the highest contact rate on the team
Not talking about to opposing batters. Talking about as a hitter. He's earned that contact rate, too.

The lowest contact rate on the team: Brandon Belt, with an 18.6-percent swinging-strike rate. You can laugh at the Giants for how they've treated Belt, of for their descriptions of Belt having a hole in his swing the size of Aubrey Huff's mitt, but the guy isn't helping himself out. I'd wager a lot of that has to do with the herky-jerky nature of how he's being sat/started/sat/sat/sat, but he isn't making a lot of contact.

Manny Burriss has -1 defensive runs saved as a shortstop. Aubrey Huff has 0 defensive runs saved as a second baseman
Both have played two-thirds of an inning at those positions. This is entirely fair. Just look at how indecisive Burriss is!

Matt Cain has the most valuable pitch on the Giants
I can't pretend to tell you how FanGraphs arrives at their runs-saved metrics for specific pitches. I mean, I've read the explanation, but I still don't get it. What I do know is that they think Matt Cain's fastball is awesome, and I concur.

The most hittable fastball? Madison Bumgarner, at -3.6 runs saved, just a tick worse than Tim Lincecum's fastball. That surprised me. The bigger problem with Lincecum, according to PITCH/fx is his changeup, which is getting hit around when it's left in the zone. Gulp.

Tim Lincecum still leads the Giants in swinging-strike percentage
Which makes me want to retract that gulp. Of all the good pitchers on the Giants, Lincecum is still getting more hitters to swing and miss. That doesn't mean he's the same ol' Tim Lincecum, or that nothing's wrong. It just means that at least something is going right for him.

Javier Lopez hasn't allowed a line drive yet
He's thrown 52 pitches. Nary a line drive. He is a gentleman who is quite good at his job.

Completely unrelated John Bowker update for the Yomiuri Giants: .064/.170/.064 in 47 at-bats. With a stolen base, of course.

Please, troll through the FanGraphs site and post your interesting findings in here. It's not like I covered them all. It's early, but this stuff is torpid.