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Giants allow just four runs, still swept by Reds

The best game of the series still wasn’t a very good game.

San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Panik was 1-for-4 on Sunday, and while that doesn’t seem like it means a whole lot, I’m here to argue that it does. His OPS dropped from .751 to .741, and his OPS+ dropped below 100.

If you’re not familiar with OPS+, it’s pretty easy. A hitter with a 100 OPS+ is exactly league average. The stat takes ballparks into account, so someone who hits .270 at AT&T Park won’t be treated the same as someone who hits .270 at Coors Field. Hitters who are below that 100 OPS+ mark are doing worse than the average hitter.

Twenty-six batters have had a plate appearance for the Giants this season, which is about a fifth over. Of those batters, three of them have been above average:

  • Buster Posey
  • Brandon Belt
  • Madison Bumgarner

Panik has been fine, especially for a middle infielder, and he’s in fourth place. Christian Arroyo is hitting for power, at least, and his 88 OPS+ is the fifth best on the team, tied with Brandon Crawford.

After that, Ty Blach is rolling with a 78 OPS+, and that’s good for seventh best.

Every other player has been terrible. Not bad. Not okay-with-a-disclaimer. Terrible. That’s 20 players, including pitchers, who are have an OPS+ below 75. Every bench player the Giants have tried has been terrible. Every member of the starting lineup who wasn’t mentioned up there has been terrible. Pence, Nuñez, Span? Terrible. The first two have an OPS in the low-.600s, and Span wishes he could get there.

Tomlinson, Hundley, Morse, Hernandez, Parker, Stubbs, Hill, Gillaspie, Marrero? Terrible. All of them. Not a single April surprise in the bunch. The only bench players with an on-base percentage above .300 are Tomlinson (.316) and Tim Federowicz (.333), and both of those come with some context. Tomlinson has a .594 OPS, and that’s literally the highest mark on the bench, regardless of sample size.

Just about every hitter on the Giants has been actively, incredibly bad. Posey’s been pretty good. Belt’s been pretty good. Everyone else has been completely lost, from the leadoff hitter to the starting pitchers.

The Reds have Scooter Gennett, and he has a .518 slugging percentage for some reason. There’s a guy named Patrick Kivlehan with a .938 OPS on their bench. Arismendy Alcantara is hitting .360, and he’s scored more runs than Denard Span this season. This isn’t to suggest that the Reds are great and/or lucky. It’s just to point out that normal teams get contributions from somewhere. Anywhere. It just happens by way of distribution.

There are no oases in the Giants’ lineup or the bench, though. There isn’t a surprisingly effective veteran, dominating rookie, or oddly resurgent ex-star. There’s nothing but outs and outs and outs, the kind of outs that can stack up 27 high and let Scott Feldman walk away with a shutout in Great American Ball Park.

I would say that’s before we get to the pitching, except I’m not worried about Johnny Cueto. He’s great, he’s fine. The 87 runs allowed in the Reds series is disturbing and troubling — and as long as we’re bringing OPS+ up, it’s worth noting that the Giants also have the worst ERA+ in the National League, too — but the pitching isn’t what’s annoying me for this specific game. It’s the hitting.

Ground ball to second. Ground ball to second. Lazy fly ball. Ground ball to second. Lazy fly ball. And when the Giants actually hit into some rotten luck, it makes it seem extra unfair, as if every team doesn’t benefit from the same thing. Except it’s not extra unfair. We just notice it more because it’s the most exciting part of the afternoon. Everything else is ground ball to second. Lazy fly ball. Ground ball to second.

The Giants have as many home runs over the last 30 days as Ryan Zimmerman, and while it feels like cheating to draw a direct comparison to the hottest hitter in baseball, it’s more of a way to point out that one hitter can get so hot, he’s effectively every successful plate appearance for the entire Giants team, just in human form, taunting us. The Giants don’t have anyone who’s half that hot. As such, they’re the worst team without a DH in baseball. Bless u for making the disclaimer necessary, Royals.

If you’re playing along with the home version of our game Worst Start Ever, the Giants are still trailing the 1972 Giants (9-23) and 1991 Giants (10-22). But there’s a chance that this team has the worst pitching in the league and the worst lineup, too, so don’t count them out.

If you came here for objective analysis, I can’t apologize enough. I’m sorry, but this is abuse, in other words. The Giants were just swept by the rebuilding Reds, who might be better than them, and I’m awash with emotions. None of them are positive. They were outscored 31 to 5 in the series, but it never felt that close.

Remember when Gorkys Hernandez drove a ball into the gap? That was just about the most exciting offensive moment of Sunday’s game. A nice, hard hit that went where fielders couldn’t get it. Imagine that. It was something. Christian Arroyo did it, too, so they’re co-players of the game.

Johnny Cueto’s four-run start was the best start of the series. Not even sure if I’m bringing that up to be snarky or complimentary. It was a fine start, really, with just a couple hiccups.

Somehow, two team doubles and a four-run outing just wasn’t enough for the ol’ Giants, who teased us with a series win in Los Angeles, but are almost certainly a bad team. Looking forward to the July speculation that ends with them trading absolutely no one.

They kept Chad Gaudin for no reason in 2013, remember. Eduardo Nuñez will be here forever.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day outside. I’m going to put dead animal flesh on a heat source and think about what I’ve done wrong. I implore you to do something similar.