The opening series of the year was horribly discouraging. The Giants matched their runs total from 2011 in the first three games, but they still lost all three by a run. Three straight one-run losses. Iffy starting pitching. More proof that Paul Goldschmidt was bit by a Hairston by the light of a full moon. Good gravy, that was a forgettable series.
Over a month later, the Diamondbacks are doing worse than the Giants. The best part of the Diamondbacks' season to this point has been Joe Saunders. Think about that for a bit. Swirl it around in your mouth. Do you detect a hint of tannin? Mm mmmm.
But they aren't doing that much worse in the standings, even though they've been about as effective at the plate as the Giants. Yep, that's right -- the Diamondbacks have been hitting about as well as the Giants. They have a team batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage of .250/.323/.388. That's good for a 93 OPS+.
The Giants have a .257/.307/.386 line, which is worse in the OBP department (!!!), but the differences in the home parks help make up the gap. But the Diamondbacks have scored 19 more runs than the Giants this season, which can be partially explained by the OBP difference, and also explained by what the Giants do with two outs:
I'm not buying the possum act from the Diamondbacks, though. I still think they're the team to beat in the West. Maybe I'm underrating the Dodgers' starting pitching. Maybe I'm overrating the Diamondbacks. But if I have to categorize their hitters, it'd be something like this:
Numbers will improve
Numbers will stay the same or get just a little worse
Gee, I'm really surprised that Brian Sabean was interested in this hitter and now he's having an awful season
And they'll get Chris Young and Daniel Hudson back soon, both of whom are pretty good players. They even have their own, Freddy Sanchez-scented secret weapon working to come back, Stephen Oris Drew.
There will be some regressions, too. Saunders is a capable pitcher, but he's not an All-Star. And it's not like Lyle Overbay is going to keep hitting like this, unless he caught the same leprechaun that J.T. Snow did in 2004. So it's not like everything is going wrong for the Diamondbacks. But you can look at their statistical ledger and quite easily pick out the things that probably aren't going to look like that by October, and almost all of them are surprising in the wrong way. Which for a Giants fan, means the right way. But it's probably not going to last.
For this weekend, though, I'm cool if it lasts a little bit longer. And the ERAs of the three starters the Diamondbacks will face are, in order, 2.31, 2.38, and 2.21. I don't see anything wrong with using six-start ERAs as a way to evaluate pitchers. Nope. Seems perfectly logical. Must mean that Zito's the ace!
Let's try for a "win" this time, Giants, where you "score" more "runs" than the "opponent""." All the kids are trying it.
Hitter to Watch
Little experiment: I'm going to guess Henry Blanco's career line against the Giants. Uh, .289/.345/.749 with 12 homers in 11 at-bats. Now let me check.
Huh. .210/.296/.429 with six homers in 119 at-bats for his career. But he hit .308/.400/.692 against the Giants last year, .333/.333/.667 in 2010, and .357/.471/1.071 in 2009. That's three years straight of him being a pain in the ass, even though he's just a backup catcher.
Blanco somehow avoids the Jamie Moyer jokes, even though he's 40 and he played A-ball with Pedro Astacio and Todd Hollandsworth. He also caught this guy, which amuses me for some reason. He might not even play this series. But if he does, he'll probably hack and slash his way to a homer or three. Just a guess.
Also of note: Cody Ransom's four home runs and 12 RBI would both be tied for second place on the Giants. Also of note: Cody Ransom is still playing organized baseball.
Pitcher to Watch
Bruce Bochy: Gentleman, our advance scouting team has gone above and beyond for us this time. See, we're facing a rookie pitcher. Patrick Corbin. He's made only two major-league starts to this point, and we forgot to set the DVR and record those starts, so now there's no way to retrieve the video.
Javier Lopez: Wait, can't you just pull the games up on MLB.com?
Bochy: In the absence of this video, our advance scouts managed to get secret video of Corbin's bullpen session this week.
Lopez: I'm pretty sure you can get this stuff online. Here, I'll pull it up on my iPhone.
Bochy: Many scouts died to get us this information.
Bochy: Wait, I meant donuts. Many donuts died at the hands of scouts, who were hired to get us this information.
Lopez: Yeah, no, the real footage is right here on my phone. You don't need the bullpen video. Look. Here, I'll slow down the video so you can study his windup.
Bochy: Javy, put that glowing deck of cards down and pay attention, dammit. This is real footage from his bullpen session.
Shawon Dunston: You see how he's only throwing fastballs?
Nate Schierholtz: And right down the middle, too.
Dunston: Exactly. You have to be ready to swing. Go up there and expect a fastball in the middle of the zone. Every time. Every pitch.
Schierholtz: Yeah. Perfect. This is gonna be easy.
Hensley Meulens: /plays Angry Birds on Javier Lopez's phone
A calm, rational discussion in the event of a loss in any of the games.