The Giants scored nine runs on Monday night. This was a positive development, and I welcome it. Not only did it put them just one win away from avoiding 100 losses, but it pushed their overall team numbers up. Which is good. Because they have work to do.
Back in August, I wrote about how the Giants were faring when it came to adjusted OPS. There’s a primer included there if you aren’t familiar with the stat, but I use it all the time.
So instead of OPS, it’s better to use OPS+, also known as adjusted OPS. There are probably stats that are better than this one (wRC+, for example), but OPS+ is easy and it’s on Baseball-Reference.com, and their Play Index allows me to search throughout history. The benefit of OPS+ when it comes to evaluating the Giants is that it takes AT&T Park into consideration already. It’s park-adjusted. You can compare adjusted OPS for the Giants directly with other teams in the league.
In that post, I focused on how many players had an OPS+ better than the league average. At the time, there were six. Two of them got there with a laughably small sample size. Two of the other ones were there because of a notably small sample size. And then there were two starters. I made sure to point out that the sample sizes likely meant there were going to be changes.
There were changes. There are just three batters on the 2017 Giants with an OPS+ better than the league average now:
- Buster Posey, 125 (556 PA)
- Brandon Belt, 116 (451 PA)
- Joe Panik, 103 (551 PA)
Panik is probably safe even with a five-game slump, but there are no guarantees. As of now, this means that of the 27 position players the Giants have used this year, 24 of them have hit worse than the league average. That means there haven’t been random relievers getting one plate appearance and a walk, like Santiago Casilla. There hasn’t been a single backup or call-up who hit just a little better than expected, only to get sent down because of a roster shuffle. There’s been Posey, Belt, and, lately, Panik. That’s been it.
Instead of focusing on the number of Giants hitting better than the league average today, though, I’d like to focus on the entire team. Back when I wrote that original post, the Giants’ team OPS+ was 81, which is awful. As of Tuesday morning, though, their team OPS+ is ... 81. Which is still awful. It’s bad enough that I went searching for the worst team OPS+ in team history. I found it!
Giants team OPS+, 1958-2017
It’s right here. This is a worse offense than the 2008 Giants, with Bengie Molina hitting cleanup and Aaron Rowand protecting him. Worse than the 2009 Giants, which wasted one of the greatest team pitching seasons ever. It’s worse than the 2011 Giants, who had Rowand leading off for 46 games before he was released. Worse than the 1985 Giants that lost 100 games. All of them. It’s worse than all of the teams since the franchise has been in San Francisco.
It can get worse, too. All of those marks up there include the Giants’ pitchers, who aren’t expected to hit. When they don’t hit, it isn’t a surprise. It’s almost by design. So Baseball-Reference also has the Giants’ OPS+ numbers with the pitchers completely removed. They won’t get to take credit for Madison Bumgarner and Ty Blach, in other words.
How do the 2017 Giants fare when you take the pitchers out of the equation?
Giants team OPS+ without pitchers, 1958-2017
|Season||OPS+ without pitchers|
|Season||OPS+ without pitchers|
There are a couple teams that can compete. The aforementioned 2009 team. The 100-loss team of ‘85. Still, none of them have been worse than the 2017 Giants. And when you remove the pitchers, you can see just how hard it usually is for the Giants to find a roster full of hitters who are dramatically worse than the league average. Even in the oddest of years, they’ve usually avoided embarrassment.
There are five games left. There’s still a chance the ghosts of 2009 will take back their rightful crown. Hitting like Monday night would be preferable, then. While OPS+ might be an inscrutable stat to you, which takes away some of the impact this bizarro record would have, all you need to know is this: There’s a stat that purports to evaluate how a team hits, and it makes sure that league-wide offensive levels and park effects are taken into account. According to this stat, this team has a chance to be the worst collection of hitters in the 60 seasons the team has been in San Francisco.
The good news is that almost everyone is under contract next year, so don’t worry Giants fans. This is all probably going to work out.