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Finding one stat to represent each Giants hitter

Comment starter: what is the stat that makes you curl up into a ball and sob and never stop sobbing?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Giants hitters are bad, I’ve noticed recently. How bad? Here’s a list (one day old, so it doesn’t reflect last night’s game) of 2017 Giants hitters — sorry, no pitchers — who are currently hitting at or above their career average OPS+:

  • Buster Posey
  • Christian Arroyo

That list could potentially include every position player who’s played for the Giants this year. But I know what you’re thinking: “Doug, OPS+ is a problematic way to measure offensive production. If you have to go with one, why not wRC+?”

Well, good point, Hypothetical Person Who Doesn’t Actually Have A Good Point For A Reason I Am About To Illustrate. Let’s look at the same thing, by wRC+:

  • Buster Posey
  • Christian Arroyo

Now, even if you Bryan it up and believe that the Giants are literally the worst team ever assembled, it would still be really unlikely for every player but one to underperform his career numbers. So I thought it would be fun* to highlight one stat for every hitter who’s come up to the plate at least 20 times and see where literally every single one of them has gone wrong.

*not fun

This is not to say that these stats represent true talent or anything more than a summary of one part of the miserable baseball we’ve been watching for more than a month. But if we want to think about who these guys are going to be down the road this season, which to be honest we really don’t but are going to do nonetheless, then it can be instructive to look at who they’ve been.

Buster Posey — .392 BABIP

Did you think that just because Buster Posey has been an objectively good hitter that he wouldn’t get roasted here? Don’t be silly! Yes, Posey’s results have been good so far this year, but no one can maintain a .400 BABIP, so that batting average (currently sitting at .356) is bound to decline. When it does, his numbers, though still good, will not be stratospheric/otherwordly.

Prepare for the day when Buster Posey disappoints you like the rest of them, is what I’m getting at here.

Brandon Belt — 71.4 Z-Swing %

Brandon Belt is well known for having an excellent eye and not swinging at anything outside of the zone. This year, though, he’s expanded that to more pitches in the zone than ever before, and for a team with a dearth of guys who are good at swinging the bat, watching one of the best hitters on the team take more strikes than ever — and his career average is 79%, so this is a big drop — is not a good thing.

Brandon Crawford — 3.7 BB%

Brandon Crawford’s average is just a tick under where it was last year and his power is up a little bit. His walks have been way down though, which has cost him about 50 points of OBP. This is probably not a very big deal.

Joe Panik — 51.7 GB%

Joe Panik is mostly the same player he’s always been, but he’s hitting a few more ground balls and he has a little less power. These things are very possibly related.

Hunter Pence — 11.5 LD%

This is the second worst line drive percentage of any player in the majors with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, ahead of only Rougned Odor of the Rangers. Considering how important line drives are to batting average, it’s honestly a miracle he was hitting .254 coming into the game yesterday.

Christian Arroyo — 3.8 BB%

I dunno, I shouldn’t have included him here, there are no career numbers to compare to, leave me alone.

Kelby Tomlinson — .000 ISO

Kelby Tomlinson is not likely to lead the league in slugging.

Nick Hundley — 0 HR

For someone who was supposed to be a backup catcher with a little less glove and a little more pop, the pop has been pretty glaringly absent. Yes, he has nine doubles, but this team needs someone who can hit the ball out, which is the main reason that Hundley was given the backup job over Trevor Brown and Tim Federowicz. So far, that aspect of his game has not shown up.

Aaron Hill — 1 spot on the roster at any point this season

You totally forgot about Aaron Hill, didn’t you? Good for you.

Denard Span — 83.1 MPH Average exit velocity

This is actually the worst average exit velocity among Giants hitters, and when we all watched Denard Span, we could see it. There was nothing behind his swings and he didn’t hit the ball hard. When you don’t hit the ball hard, good things don’t tend to happen. Good things have not happened for the Giants this year with Denard Span at the plate.

Jarrett Parker — 43.5 K%

If you’re striking out more than 2 out of every 5 times you come to the plate, that’s bad. In my opinion. Don’t want to ruffle any feathers here.

Eduardo Nuñez — 28.0 Soft%

Grant talked about this a bit yesterday, but Nuñez is in the top ten in baseball in terms of hitting the ball softly. Now it’s possibly to have success while hitting the ball so softly — Jacoby Ellsbury, for example, has a higher soft percentage than Nuñez, but is still having a nice year with the bat — but it’s unlikely. The four players above Nuñez and Ellsbury in the statistic, Jarrod Dyson, Byron Buxton, Jose Peraza, and Jose Reyes, are all having miserable years. Nuñez should start a club for that. He could make some friends. Friends are fun!

Conor Gillaspie — .182 BABIP

At some point, this has to turn around for Gillaspie, at least somewhat. It’s very, very tough to be bad enough to earn a .182 BABIP, so you would have to expect that he’s going to be better going forward.

Drew Stubbs — .091 AVG

On the one hand, batting average doesn’t tell us a whole lot about a hitter’s value. On the other hand, sometimes batting average can perfectly summarize the experience of watching someone hit. This is where we are with Drew Stubbs hitting .091 in 24 plate appearances.

Gorkys Hernandez — (flails hands indistinctly in the general direction of his Fangraphs page)

That. All of that. That’s what’s gone wrong.

Chris Marrero — Faced changeups 5.9% of the time

This might seem like a weird one to end on! But here’s why it tells us something: Against every other kind of pitch (as judged by Pitch f/x), Chris Marrero was either a bad hitter or an extremely bad hitter. Against changeups, he did pretty well this year. So on 5.9% of the pitches he faced, Marrero was a guy you wanted at the plate. For the other 94.1% of pitches, well, dang.

The 2017 San Francisco Giants: Well, dang. Heck of a slogan, if I do say so myself.