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The 2017 Giants, perfectly explained in one graph

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Outfield defense is a priority, but if you wanted to know just how different Giants baseball is, here you go.

Division Series - Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants - Game Two Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2017 Giants ...

[takes puff of ornate briarwood pipe]

... did not hit a lot of home runs. According to my calculations, this led to them scoring fewer runs. According to Bill James, scoring fewer runs correlates to fewer wins, and if you’ve seen 30 for 30: Four Days in October, you know that it’s actually more wins that helps teams win the World Series. As such, it was a problem that the 2017 Giants did not hit a lot of home runs.

Daren Willman, Director of Baseball Research and Development for MLB, came up with a chart that showed all the home runs hit by each major league team. You aren’t surprised that the Giants came in last; we already knew that. But he also put little faces on the bar graph to represent the players on each team with more than 15 home runs.

It’s a sad graph.

You’ve been warned.

You can click here if the picture isn’t big enough for you, but i’m sure you get the gist. Every team has at least three players with 15 homers or more. The Rangers have nine. Nine! The Pirates were one of the worst home run teams this season, but it still takes five Giants players to match their top three home run hitters.

Park effects have something to do with this. Park effects don’t have everything to do with this. To illustrate that, I would like to list the 20 players who hit more than one home run at AT&T Park this season:

  1. Brandon Belt (8)
  2. Wil Myers (6)
  3. Brandon Crawford (6)
  4. Denard Span (6)
  5. Hunter Pence (4)
  6. Nick Hundley (4)
  7. Buster Posey (3)
  8. Giancarlo Stanton (3)
  9. Harrison Bader (2)
  10. Christian Arroyo (2)
  11. Randal Grichuk (2)
  12. Cameron Rupp (2)
  13. Rhys Hoskins (2)
  14. Rene Rivera (2)
  15. Ryan Zimmerman (2)
  16. Hector Sanchez (2)
  17. Corey Seager (2)
  18. Jarrett Parker (2)
  19. Hunter Renfroe (2)
  20. Pablo Sandoval (2)

Of the 20 players to hit two homers at AT&T Park or more, 11 of them didn’t play for the team. Six of them didn’t play in the NL West, which means they made just one trip. It’s not just the park.

But back to the graph at hand. It’s not just that the Giants have finished without a 20-homer hitter for the second straight year, even though 117 players hit 20 home runs or more this year, which is a record. It broke the old record of 111 players with 20 home runs or more, which was set last year. The Giants have had none of those players. They probably should have, but Brandon Belt was hit in the head with a slippery curveball, and here we are.

I would like to end on a positive note, however. Since 1981, there has been just one Giants season in which they ended with fewer than 100 home runs. It was not this season. It was 2012, when they won the World Series. That was, compared to the league average, one of the most powerless seasons a team has ever had, and it didn’t keep the Giants from winning their division.

“But they had excellent pitching,” you say. This is true! But it’s a reminder that teams don’t have to hit a bunch of dingers to win. If they do hit those dingers, they don’t always have to help. Danny Russell of DRaysBay pointed this out nicely:

Over on the other side of the ledger were the Red Sox and Rockies, and I was totally unaware of that last one. I knew the Rockies weren’t hitting according to the park-adjusted metrics, but I didn’t know they weren’t hitting home runs without the park adjustments. They still won enough to play past their 162nd game.

Still, it would be better if the Giants could hit home runs, and that graph has been stuck in my head all day. Poor Brandon Belt, alone and isolated, eating a peanut butter sandwich in the corner of the cafeteria as he watches everyone else live their lives. The Giants don’t necessarily have to change this. But it would be a lot cooler if they did.