We’re a month into the season, which is when stats and sample sizes almost start to make sense. But you have to be careful. There is still a lot of noise out there. For example, the Giants are hitting .278/.341/.486 when they play in a ballpark with a retractable roof. That doesn’t mean they should put a retractable roof over AT&T Park.
I mean ...
Well, if it really will help them hit, how bad could it be?
Hrm. Are we talking an extra 10 dingers a month? Twenty? Think there’s room for negotiation, here.
Regardless, while the splits from April don’t have to be meaningful or predictive, they can be interesting. Some of them will surprise you. Some of them will not. But if you’re wondering just how the Giants got to where they are, they’ll help you figure that out. To the splits!
The Giants fare worse against left-handed pitching
We knew this was going to be the case back in December. So this is not a surprising development. The Giants are hitting .238/.294/.354 as a team vs. right-handed pitchers, and they’re hitting .221/.282/.336 vs. left-handers, a difference of 29 OPS points.
It’s not a significant difference, though, and it helps that they have a better record against left-handed starters than right-handed starters. But the early returns have lefties being the problem we thought they were going to be against the Giants’ lefty-heavy roster.
I didn’t expect this next one, though ...
The right-handers are incapable of hitting righties
Or anyone, really. But before you blame the Giants’ lefty-heavy roster for their problems, remember this breakdown:
Right-handed batters vs. RHP: .568 OPS
Left-handed batters vs. RHP: .743 OPS
Right-handed batters vs. LHP: .628 OPS
Left-handed batters vs. LHP: .596 OPS
The lefties are struggling against southpaws, as expected, but they’re making up for it against right-handers. The right-handed hitters aren’t doing anything well.
The bench is a problem
Giants pitchers are hitting .104/.120/.271 with two home runs in 52 plate appearances this season.
Giants pinch-hitters are hitting .146/.200/.220 with one home run in 46 plate appearances.
A breakdown of those 46 PA is a who’s who of struggling hitters:
Conor Gillaspie - 12
Aaron Hill - 6
Gorkys Hernandez -5
Chris Marrero - 4
Nick Hundley - 4
Kelby Tomlinson - 4
Hunter Pence - 3
Brandon Crawford - 2
Denard Span - 2
Jarrett Parker - 1
Mike Morse - 1
Tim Federowicz - 1
Brandon Belt - 1
The Giants earned that Morse pinch-hit homer, then. They were absolutely due. I’m assuming that at least one or two of those guys will start hitting some line drives, but it hasn’t been fun so far.
Oh, my goodness, outfielders, no
Hunter Pence’s homer helped his overall numbers creep back toward respectability, and I’m still a believer. And, indeed, right fielders as a whole are hitting .280/.336/.374. Not ideal, but there’s something to work with, at least.
Center fielders are hitting .167/.241/.225.
Left fielders are hitting .155/.231/.216.
I knew they weren’t doing so hot collectively, but my stars, that is oppressive. Both positions have been filled with people who were hurt (Aaron Hill, Jarrett Parker), put on waivers (Chris Marrero), or in the middle of a calamitous slump (Gorkys Hernandez, Drew Stubbs). It’s hard for so many people to combine their production into those lines. Actually kind of impressed.
The Giants are hitting better with runners in scoring position
That’s .255/.322/.352 with runners in scoring position, compared to .218/.275/.350 with the bases empty. Hey, it allows me to not have to deal with those silly debates about if teams can collectively, quantifiably be worse in clutch spots.
The Giants are a normal offensive team ... from the fifth through eighth innings
In the fifth inning, things start happening, with the Giants hitting .280/.336/.458 in 119 plate appearances. If that sounds good, that’s because it is. According to sOPS+, which measures this split against the rest of the National League, the Giants are 10 percent better than the average team. They have a .727 OPS (99 sOPS+) in the sixth inning, a.747 OPS (120 sOPS+) in the seventh, and a solid .756 OPS (112 OPS+) in the eighth. For four innings in the middle of each game, they can hit like an average team.
That’s cool, but that means the problem is the other innings, so let me just check and OH MY SWEET C
Inning 1: .606 OPS
Inning 2: .564 OPS
Inning 3: .596 OPS
Inning 4: .418 OPS
Maybe they should just play without the fourth inning, like when hotels pretend not to have a 13th floor. As you would expect for a team that’s often down and facing closers, the ninth-inning splits are ugly, too: .149/.220/.203, which is good for a 23 sOPS+, easily the worst in the league.
Cherish those four innings in the middle, then. Cherish them.
Giants pitchers really like AT&T Park
You knew this, but the actual numbers are worse than you probably thought:
Sample size! AT&T Park! Both of them apply, but it basically means that the Giants pitchers turn hitters into Eugenio Velez at home and Carlos Correa on the road.
The Giants are far, far worse when pitching with runners in scoring position
With runners in scoring position, the Giants’ opponents are hitting .281/.352/.433. With the bases empty, they’re hitting .229/.290/.360.
The real answer is somewhere in the middle, but if you were looking for a nugget in these splits that would suggest poor luck, this might help. On the other hand, the Giants have been pretty tough against opponents with two outs and runners in scoring position, and the same is true for “late & close” situations. So if you were wondering if Melancon and the like are getting bit by the same bugs that Santiago Casilla was last year, it’s not showing up in a month’s worth of splits.
The Giants haven’t pitched well in Coors Field this year
Well, I’ll be.
Pitchers are doing better with Nick Hundley behind the plate
Again, this isn’t meaningful. At least, it doesn’t have to be. But it’s interesting to me, so you have to read it. Opponents are hitting .229/.299/.346 with Hundley catching, but they’re hitting .266/.325/.439 with Posey behind the plate, with just three innings separating them. Pitchers have allowed nine homers with Hundley catching; they’ve allowed 18 with Posey catching.
Is Posey calling for too many fastballs down the middle? My column:
Left-handed batters are jerks
Right-handed batters vs. Giants RHP: .632 OPS
Left-handed batters vs. Giants RHP: .824 OPS
Right-handed batters vs. Giants LHP: .677 OPS
Left-handed batters vs. Giants LHP: .596 OPS
Walk every left-handed batter intentionally? My co
Take all of these stats with some huge rocks of salt. A couple of weeks can mess them all up and change the narrative completely. By the start of June, the Giants might be hitting left-handers, and we might be crowing about how much production they’re getting from their outfielders and off the bench.
Until then, this is what we got. April is over, and there are the splits. If you start feeling dejected, remember this moment:
It’ll fix you right up.