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Remembering the early slumps you've already forgotten

Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford aren't the first Giants players to struggle through nine games. Here's a look back at the last five season, in a search for slumps that didn't mean anything.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Giants are off to their worst start in 100 years, and it's ...

Game Date
Tm Opp W/L
1 Friday, Apr 6 boxscore SFG @ ARI L
2 Saturday, Apr 7 boxscore SFG @ ARI L
3 Sunday, Apr 8 boxscore SFG @ ARI L
4 Monday, Apr 9 boxscore SFG @ COL W
5 Wednesday, Apr 11 boxscore SFG @ COL L

(via Baseball-Reference)

Okay, they're off to their worst start in three years, since Barry Zito saved them and the Giants had a pleasant season over all. A huge part of the Giants' struggles this year, other than their complete and indescribable ability to hit with runners on base, are the early season slumps from the Brandons. Belt has had a miserable time this season, and Crawford is 0-for-his-last-21. These stretches have been magnified because they came at the start of the year. They make us uncomfortable.

I'm here to make you comfortable, then. Here, pull up a chair. Relax. It's been nine games. To prove this, I'm going to present the nine-game slumps you've already forgotten about. What do nine games mean? Let's find out.


You probably remember Pablo Sandoval's extended slump to start last season, so he doesn't count. Why, he could have got $100 million without that slump. Instead, focus on Hunter Pence, who was hitting .111 through nine games, with a .200 on-base percentage and .250 slugging percentage. He had a homer and four walks, and no one really cared because the Giants were scoring runs by the dozen back in the glory days of April, but he was lousy.

What we were saying:

Why, Hunter? Why have you forsaken us? Pence was swinging his bat through the oatmeal again, slowing him down just enough to get the ball, but not enough to do anything with it other than a weak grounder. In a season where the Giants haven't exactly struggled for runs, Pence has struggled to do anything positive, throwing arm excepted. Which is okay -- the modestly fast start does wonders when you want to gloss over things like that.

Then you get to an ol'-fashioned caining, and you want to yell at someone, so take a moment to yell at the guy who's looked the worst this season. C'mon, man.

Then Pence was fine and the Giants won the World Series with his help. And he hasn't even struck out this year so far, so things are looking up.


Say, the Giants were 6-3 through nine games that you. Do you want to trade the promise of this season for the guaranteed results of 2013? Think about it.

This season was notable because it was in the middle of the bloodiest part of the Belt Wars, brother against brother, sister against sister, true believers and people who are bad because they lack faith. After nine games, Belt's OPS was .401, and that was after a two-hit performance in the ninth game of the season.

What we were saying:

After those initial struggles, Belt had a couple of rough games where it seemed like he was pressing, but that's just a blogger crawling into a baseball player's head, which usually isn't a useful exercise. The larger point: This is why we don't pay attention to small samples. If the difference between .140 and .302 is seven hits ... there probably isn't a big difference between .140 and .302 yet.

Belt went on to have his finest season as a major leaguer. He's just messing with us again because he can.


The Giants were a game ahead of the 2015 pace, except they had just been dominated by Kevin Correia to lose their ninth game of the season. Which stung. Bad. Not to mention, Brian Wilson was likely out for the year, and everyone knew it. It wasn't the most exciting time to be a Giants fan.

Brandon Belt was slumping, of course. But another slumper was Angel Pagan, who was new to the team and still an unknown. He was hitting .171/.256/.343 through nine games, and it took a strong final two games in that stretch to get there.

What we were saying:


Y'all weren't very generous in the comments, but I'm not gonna call anyone out. The slump wasn't on the minds of anyone at the main site, though. It was just one of those early-season slumps. We should be used to those. Apparently, it's so very easy to forget every year.


Aubrey Huff was struggling. That ship probably righted itself, I'm not going to check. Belt was struggling because, dammit, Belt. Other than that, there's no one to single out on the bad side of April baseball. But if you still need a reminder of just how short a stretch nine games really is, Aaron Rowand was hitting .389 with a .611 slugging percentage through nine games. He was released four months later.

What we were saying:

Post-game thread: Rowand, Mota do it again


Guillermo Mota and Aaron Rowand -- fan favorites in an alternate universe that puts the deli meat outside the bread, I’m sure -- came through in huge spots. Mota inherited a bases loaded, one-out situation and gave up nothing. Rowand had one of the prettiest swings he’s ever had in a Giants uniform, a smooth, opposite-field approach that went a long way. Good for them.

Man alive, what a weird sport we follow. Do you know how much you should care about nine games? About "Post-game thread: Rowand, Mota do it again" much.


The Giants were rolling at the start of 2010, and why wouldn't they have been? Rowand leading off, Bengie Molina cleaning up, Mark DeRosa and John Bowker in the middle of the order ... the team was stacked. DeRosa was the only hitter really struggling in the lineup, though several folks were on their way.

What we were saying:

In order to justify his career as a player, Bochy has established all of these bizarre catcher-related rules of engagement. It's fascinating at this point. If he's still managing next year, it will move from "fascinating" right back to "unparalleled and unacceptable idiocy." But right now? Fascinating.


/slowly walks out of room

Well, that's a charming passage. Nice, calm, reflective comments, too. But that supports the larger point: If we don't know what in the heck is going on by July 4 in any given season, how are we supposed to know what's going on nine games into the season?

You know better to pay attention to early slumps and assorted bumblings, but the best way to remember is by remembering the slumps you've long forgotten about. Remember when Belt slumped to start the season? Remember the other time he did it? How about that other time. He was usually fine. Hopefully, the Giants will be, too, now that we remember just how long the baseball season really is.