Madison Bumgarner, quite possibly one of the 61-best players in baseball, was the National League's Pitcher of the Month for May. Now he's just getting greedy, and it's beautiful. The entire team is greedy. Greed is good.
Good afternoon. We have to stop meeting like this, but I thought you should know the Giants still have the best record in baseball, and they just finished a 5-2 road trip against two good teams. Imagine being a scoreboard-watching Dodgers fan. Every danged day, it must seem like there's bad news. Every danged day.
I won't resort to the comparison that's in my mind, but I'll just point out this was one of those days for Bumgarner, in which "those" is defined as an outing in which he looks like a modern pitcher dropped into a game from 1910, where half the players are 5'6" and suffering from rickets. The only way a right-handed hitter can make good contact against Bumgarner when he's having one of these days is to hit the ball 50 feet foul. Bring the hands in like a tyrannosaurus, get that barrel on the ball that's cutting into your thumbs, and maybe you can hit a line drive over the dugout. If you're lucky.
The only blemish on Bumgarner's record was a solo homer from Todd Frazier, but even that was an awkward, funky thing, with Frazier slapping it off balance the opposite way. If he hit that in AT&T Park, Brandon Hicks would have caught it. Then Bumgarner got mad and sluttered everyone to death.
Note: The strike zone was generous for all sides. It's probably not fair for Bumgarner to get a strike zone like that, but I'll allow it.
All offseason, my catch phrase was "If Lincecum and Vogelsong do well ...", over and over again. It was missing something, though. The sentence ends with "then the Giants can contend", and Lincecum and Vogelsong seemed like great ways to start it. Except, you can also start it with "If Madison Bumgarner moves from excellent pitcher to incomparable ace." Sure, if you told me that, I would have been a lot more optimistic about the team.
For the last six starts, he's been pitching like an incomparable ace. He's good. I don't know if he's top-60 caliber, but he's good. We'll see him in Minnesota.
Another player we should see in Minnesota: Brandon Crawford. If you go by FanGraphs' WAR, he's in the middle of the pack, with worse defense than Jhonny Peralta. I'm reminded of one of my favorite scenes in JFK, in which Jim Garrison says this:
Theoretical physics can prove an elephant can hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy, but use your eyes - your common sense
It was really persuasive when I was a kid, but as I got older, I realized it's basically Garrison saying "Science?" and making a wanking motion as he rolls his eyes. That's how I feel if the defensive stats don't gush over Crawford. Get it together, numbers. Use your eyes -- your common sense. Crawford made at least three plays today that shortstops have little business making .
Something that's not in dispute is that he's tied for the fifth-most dingers from a shortstop in the majors. The average and OBP haven't looked hot since his slump, but the dingers have been fairly steady. Wasn't expecting that.
Wasn't expecting a lot that's happened this season, actually.
The best part of the day, for me, was Michael Morse dinger-shaming Frazier. As in, after Frazier hit his pop-up, Morse hit a baseball incredibly hard and impossibly far. Complete and utter dinger-shaming humiliation.
There is nothing better for the season, though, than being so wrong about Morse. The gamble was kind of silly, hoping that a 30-something galoot would recapture his magic from three years ago. Except that's exactly what's happened over the first two months. Keep nerd-shaming me. Keep dinger-shaming the others.
For the rest of his career, I will have a big smile on my face for each and every Buster Posey at-bat in Cincinnati. It won't matter if the Giants are being no-hit or are losing by 16. Every time he comes up, there's something about that background, something about the lighting that brings back instant memories. When he pops out to left field, I have to fan myself afterward.