Giants hitters have been bad this year, and if they’d like me to not write every article about how bad they are, then the team can feel free to have a few more of them five game winning streaks and shut me up. Otherwise, we’ll have to examine what’s going on with them, and the things that are going on aren’t good.
Exactly which things aren’t good? Thanks for the question, Hypothetical Reader. Let’s talk about those things.
Let’s start with the overall one and then go from there. The Giants currently have a team wRC+ of 73. For comparison, Kirt Manwaring, Jose Vizcaino, and Omar Vizquel each had a wRC+ of 75 when they were with the Giants. Hector Sanchez had a wRC+ of 74. In essence, the Giants are sending up Hector Sanchez for every plate appearance of every game in 2017.
That’s a terrible sentence that should be emphasized, so I’m gonna do it as a pull quote now:
Oh, seeing it so starkly just hurts. It’s an important hurt, like washing out a cut with soap, but that doesn’t make it not painful.
So what have the Giants been doing so badly? To put it bluntly, everything. They don’t hit for average; they’re hitting .231 as a team, which is the fourth worst team mark in the majors. Their walk rate of 7.1% is tied for the second worst in the majors. And they don’t hit for power either; their team ISO is .122, which is the worst mark of any major league team. Add all that up and it will not surprise you that they have the worst team OPS in the majors, the worst wOBA and wRC+, though they’re somehow only the second worst team in runs scored per game, so let’s all send the Royals a gift basket for sparing us that one.
Leading the majors in sacrifice flies, though! If you want to see a team that hits a bunch of sac flies, then you made a good choice, friend.
Would you like to dig into the advanced stats and see if they will help? The team as a whole has a .271 BABIP, so maybe we’ll see some reason to hope there (SPOILER: We won’t). The Giants are 23rd in the league in hitting line drives, which sounds bad but is actually a victory because they’re not bad enough that it feels right calling them the eighth worst line drive hitting team. They are hitting very few balls in the air, and hitting home runs more rarely on the fly balls they do hit than any team in the majors. They are making the sixth most soft contact in the league, and the absolute least amount of hard contact. So when you plug all their data into this expected BABIP formula from Fangraphs that was published a couple years ago, what do you get? Their BABIP should be .271.
The Giants have not been unlucky on balls in play; they’ve been bad. They have completely deserved the poor results they’ve gotten. There is no real single answer for what they should do other than be better. Hit the ball harder. Square it up more. Play hitters who hit the ball hard instead of not hard. Do good baseball things instead of the myriad bad baseball things they’ve been doing. That’s it. That’s really it. Good luck to all of us with that.