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Is this who the Giants are?

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Is the team’s poor record indicative of their performance so far?

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
The Giants are winless this year when multiple players wear the same number
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Giants were abysmal last year after the All-Star Break, and if you had hope that the beginning of this year would be different, boy is your face red! The 2016 Giants had a .417 winning percentage in the second half, while so far in 2017, the team is winning at a .357 clip. And while the second half 2016 Giants looked like garbage, so far, the 2017 Giants look like stupid garbage.

The key to a great metaphor is an extensive vocabulary, by the way.

But is this really who the Giants are? Not in the sense of “They’ve had a bad 14 games and therefore they’ll be bad forever,” but more thinking that since this is pretty much the same team as last year’s, they’ve had a bad three months and therefore they’ll be bad forever. Do the numbers back that up? I don’t know! That’s why I’ve written an article about it.

Starting pitching

Giants starters have not been good this year, and maybe you’ve noticed that? So far, after almost three turns through the rotation, they have a 4.43 ERA, which is 22nd in the league. But do the advanced metrics back that up? Kind of! DRA — Baseball Prospectus’s Deserved Run Average — certainly thinks so, as they’re coming in 22nd there too with a DRA of 5.07. In terms of FIP, the news is better. Fangraphs has the rotation’s FIP at 3.85, 11th in the league, and their xFIP is 3.67, also 11th. So we’ve narrowed down how good the starting rotation is to multiples of 11. Good work everyone.

Bullpen

The bullpen had a very 2016 Giants bullpen start to the year, blowing two saves on the first day of the season and then one more five days later, just to remind us all that we don’t deserve nice things. But since then, they’ve been quite good. For the year, the bullpen’s ERA is at 3.67, 13th in the majors. By DRA, they look even better, coming in sixth with a DRA of 2.90. They’re also sixth in FIP, at 2.58, although their xFIP is 3.64, which is 12th. So pretty much they should stop giving up so many dinks and dunks soon and start giving up more dingers, which is just gonna be awesome.

Also, they haven’t blown a save in about a week and a half, though that’s partly because they haven’t had a save situation in a week.

Hitters

The Giants have scored 59 runs, which is 10th in the majors, but since they’ve played 14 games, tied for the most of any team, they’re actually only around 16th in runs per game. This fits in perfectly with BP’s TAv, which has them at .252 (scaled to .260 as league average), 17th in the league. This doesn’t fit in quite as well with wRC+ over at Fangraphs, which is 89 (scaled to 100 as league average), 23rd in the league. The good news: team BABIP is just .274, which hopefully should improve as the year continues, leading to more hits and more runs scored.

Defense

BP has the Giants at 23rd in terms of defensive efficiency and Fangraphs has them 22nd in defensive WAR, so sure, I dunno, I don’t know anything about team defensive statistics, but there are some that suggest they haven’t been great, or maybe they don’t mean anything because of sample size or they’re just not meaningful stats in any way. I don’t know.

Defense is hard and I regret putting this as a section in this article.

Overall

The Giants are 5-9, and they are 26th in winning percentage. This is because, as you’ve noticed from the numbers, they haven’t been particularly good at anything this year. The bullpen has pitched well at times, but do you think I’m gonna fall into the trap of saying that the bullpen is good like I did at times last year? Ha ha ha, no.

But there are stats that suggest that the team should be better in certain areas going forward, and considering how bad they’ve been so far, that’s very good news. Fangraphs’s pitching stats suggest the starters should be better, a low BABIP means that more balls should drop in for the hitters, and the upcoming return of Buster Posey should radiate a soothing, healing glow that makes everyone feel good about themselves and their place in the universe.

That’s the optimism. The pessimism is the baseball you’ve been watching for two weeks, but that, right there, is the optimism.