I’m sorry, but I just can’t stay silent anymore: The Giants aren’t having a good season.
I said it.
It’s like a weight has come off of the shoulders of the monkey that was on my back. Couldn’t hold it in anymore, I’m so sorry, but I speak from the heart.
Anyway, one of the reasons for this disappointing season is that the Giants can’t “hit.” And while this would seem to be a desperate, team-wide slump, the data suggest that it’s even worse than we might have thought. Marc Simon of ESPN regularly calculates a stat called hard-hit rate, which is the percentage of at-bats that end with a hard-hit ball, as defined by a game-tracking service.
According to this stat, the Giants don’t have one of the 60 best hitters when it comes to hitting baseballs hard.
Updated hard-hit rate leaderboard. Look at the gap between Ryan Zimmerman and everybody else!— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 8, 2017
Top 60 here pic.twitter.com/K8yQTnrQwk
This isn’t the same stat that FanGraphs uses, but they also have a version, and according to them, Hunter Pence is tops on the team. He ranks 71st in baseball in hard-hit rate. Brandon Belt is next (111th), followed by Joe Panik (153rd). If Buster Posey had enough at-bats to qualify, he would rank 142nd.
If there’s good news, it’s that Eduardo Nuñez is the only Giants player in the top 10 when it comes to soft contact. He’s also the only player in the top 100. Which means that the Giants are big ol’ soggy middle bowl of porridge when it comes to hitting the ball hard. They’re not a bunch of dribble-masters, but they can’t hit the ball hard enough to get it over heads or fences.
It’s not just the hard-hit rate stat, either. According to Statcast, the Giants also don’t have anyone in the top 60 when it comes to exit velocity, topping out with Buster Posey at #68 and Hunter Pence situated nicely right behind him.
These are stats that shouldn’t be affected by AT&T Park, in other words. This is why the Giants have allowed more than twice as many home runs at home (11) as they’ve hit (5). The park hurts a team’s ability to hit home runs. The weak contact hurts more.
Anyway, the Giants are rolling into New York to face the Mets, who are also inexplicably awful. They can at least commiserate together. But if you’re wondering what’s wrong, the Giants not hitting the ball hard is a pretty good place to start.