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Nine early stats for the 2014 Giants

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Thearon W. Henderson

It's early in the season. So early. Nothing means everything; everything means something. Stats are mostly useless right now. So let's look at some stats! Right now!

Oh, small-sample stats. I will never quit you.

The Giants are second-best in … defense?


Well, huh. According to FanGraphs, the Giants are 3.3 runs over replacement with their defense, trailing only the Dodgers. The first game was a miserable sequence of miserable defensive plays, but they improved. Apparently dramatically.

Brandon Belt is statistically the worst defender on the team -- small sample, sure, but there's been a lot of pasta-diving Belt this year, so far. The high ranking is mostly due to two things: Buster Posey being incredible, and positive marks from all of the starting pitchers. I have no idea if that last part can be a real thing that we can expect going forward … but probably not. Still, it's fun to look at right now.

Tim Lincecum leads the Giants in xFIP

xFIP, you rascal. Stop giving us hope. xFIP is a stat primarily concerned with strikeouts and walks, and it assumes that pitchers should allow a certain amount of home runs for every fly ball they allow. Considering that Lincecum has walked just one of the 45 batters he's faced and given up four homers on just 11 fly balls, xFIP loves him.

xFIP liked him last year, too. And it didn't hate him in 2012. Stop playing with our emotions, xFIP.

Matt Cain has struck out just five of the 47 batters he's faced

/tugs collar and giggles nervously

The Giants have allocated their hits in an advantageous fashion

High Leverage 61 22 5 28 .400 .424 .745 1.169 .425
Medium Leverage 108 24 3 9 .247 .311 .402 .713 .304
Low Leverage 176 34 6 13 .215 .291 .373 .665 .252

Hit 'em where they ain't, and hit 'em when they count. When the game is close, the Giants have been Ted Williams in his best season. When the game isn't close, they're Eugenio Velez. Keep doing that. That, right there. Keep doing it.

The Giants' second basemen can't hit

Brandon Hicks has a homer and two doubles, but those came when he was the starting shortstop. The Giants' collective second basemen have a .375 OPS, which is exactly the same mark as the pitchers. The center fielders have a batting average that's almost 100 points higher than the second basemen's OPS.

The Giants don't have an insane batting average on balls in play

If you think the Giants aren't going to keep up with the scoring, you might be right. But the runs they've scored haven't been because balls have been finding holes at a preposterous rate. Their BABIP is .300 -- perfectly reasonable. It was .304 for the season last year.

The Giants do have an insane batting average on balls in play with runners in scoring position

They're hitting .358/.421/.537 with a .420 BABIP. Seems legit.

With two outs and runners in scoring position, they're at .419/.500/.628 in 43 at-bats with a .552 BABIP. Also seems legit.

The Giants are swinging even more than usual

Swing percentage:
2012: 45.2%
2013: 45.5
2014: 49.5

The Giants have swung at about half of the pitches thrown at them, and they've swung at a third of the pitches thrown out of the strike zone. They've also made more contact.

The Giants have four relievers who average under 90 m.p.h.

That's … really hard to do. (David Huff, Yusmeiro Petit, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo)

Mostly meaningless? Certainly! But still interesting. The Giants are in first place, and here are some reasons why. Just don't count on any of it to keep happening.