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How much did the Giants improve with their three biggest moves?

We'll use stats and forecasts, which are never misleading.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants sure spent a lot of money this offseason. One of the more tiresome complaints about the team in the last few years was that they were cheap. It's not cheap to pay Matt Cain gobs of money instead of Max Scherzer; it's just a different way to allocate financial resources. This year, though, they sure set fire to that bad argument.

Sure, the Giants are going to make a lot of that money back with their adorable Spangolin hats ...

... but you still have to be impressed with how aggressively they approached this opportunity.

But how much better did they get? Is there a way we can use stats, statistics, or statz to figure this out?

Kind of. It's a little tricky because it's not like Jeff Samardzija is going to make 32 starts that replace 32 from Tim Hudson. It's not a one-for-one comparison. But we can at least estimate how much better they've become.

Move #1: Jeff Samardzija for Tim Hudson

Samardzija, 2016 (projected): 3.0 WAR
Hudson, 2015: 0.1 WAR

Again, It's not a perfectly interchangeable part, but it'll make more sense after the next section.

One caveat: This is using FanGraphs' WAR, which uses strikeouts, walks, and home runs for its calculations instead of raw runs. Both versions of WAR have their uses, but it's worth remembering that FanGraphs' version loves Samardzija quite a bit more than Baseball-Reference's version.

Move #2: Johnny Cueto for Chris Heston, Tim Lincecum

Cueto, 2016 (projected): 3.8 WAR
Lincecum, 2015: 0.3 WAR
Heston, 2015: 1.3 WAR

The idea is to add Lincecum, Heston, and Hudson together, then, and assume their 65 starts in 2015 are roughly analogous to the number of starts the Giants are expecting from Cueto and Samardzija. It's close enough. By this rough, back-o'-the-envelope calculation, the Giants have picked up about five wins.

(And I'm still secretly hoping for a previous version of Matt Cain to arrive. Shhhhhh. The good news is the Giants don't need to count on it this time.)

Move #3: Denard Span for Angel Pagan (kind of)

Span, 2016 (projected): 2.4
Pagan, 2015: -0.5

This one is also tricky, considering that Pagan is projected for left field now, where he'll combine with Gregor Blanco and friends to be worth about a win over replacement. So it's not like Span is replacing Pagan from last year -- he's replacing half of the at-bats and innings that Blanco and Pagan were going to get if they were both starters.

On the other hand, Norichika Aoki was worth about a win-and-a-half last year, so if the other guys are going to be worth roughly a win ... carry the one ... reticulate the splines ... yeah, I'm just going to smash all of those wins together and make a WAR pie.

Using ill-advised and sloppy metrics, the Giants improved about eight wins on paper over last year.

Let's check in with last year's standings, then.


Of course, this neglects all of the other parts of the roster. Who's getting older, who's regressing, who has the potential to get hurt, who will collapse, who will break out. You know, actual baseball stuff.

However, if you wanted to make a sabermetric case for why the Giants spent as much as they did, here you go. It just might have made them a much better team next year. Imagine that.