Matt Moore was really bad this season. On a terrible team with a mostly bad roster, he was one of the worst, too. In his final start of 2017, he was as bad as he’s been all season. He couldn’t find the strike zone, and when he did, every pitch was so fat they inspired a rap verse.
And that was just the first inning.
In the second inning — his final inning (perhaps of the season), Matt Moore walked himself into some trouble, then gave up hard contact, retired the pitcher, then induced a ground ball that next year’s starting first baseman, Buster Posey, fielded and threw home a bit too high, which led to a safe score at the plate when a replay review might’ve overturned it —
Moore gave up loud contact to the next batter, then carelessly fielded a ball himself that allowed Paul Goldschmidt to reach, then gave up the loudest contact of his night to the next hitter, JD Martinez, which wound up being a grand slam to end his season.
Bruce Bochy will never claim that he’s given up, and Matt Moore will never claim that he gave up, but both those dudes definitely behaved in such a way during this second inning tonight that you could, in a kangaroo court of law, make the case that there was some “Aw, screw it”-ness going on out there.
Did Bruce Bochy fail to challenge the call at home plate because the Giants have been totally boned by replay all season long (and, really, for most of its existence?) or did he fail to challenge the call because Matt Moore is really bad?
Did Matt Moore fail to field a slow groundball because he was distracted by the constant thought of “Oh my god, I’m the worst starting pitcher in the league?” or did he fail to field a slow groundball because he is the worst starting pitcher in the league?
We’ll never get a definitive answer to these questions, so we’ll have to come up with our own answers and be happy with them. It’s highly unlikely that a pile of human garbage that is the San Francisco Giants would not give up at this late stage of the season. They have been defecated on by every team they’ve played this season and they’ve defecated on themselves every time they’ve taken the field. At some point, the smell and taste of sewage would make anyone give up.
But enough about how we’re all feeling... let’s go back to Matt Moore for a sec.
If you retain any memory of my writing or things I say on the McCovey Chroncast, then you’ll recall that I am extraordinarily dumb when it comes to statistics (yes, yes, and many other things in life) and in particular, baseball statistics, so I’ve been on the sidelines for all of this statistical revolution (though I did quite enjoy Moneyball). So I haven’t looked at the hitting data to substantiate any of this — the following all comes from my dumb stupid brain...
The strike zone is traditionally thought of as a 9-box grid consisting of three columns and three rows. Those middle three rows are, essentially, every hitter’s power zone. Now, good pitchers look like they throw their pitches in a straight line from their release point into those boxes (or off the grid entirely for balls)... but with most of the Giants’ pitchers (and especially Matt Moore), it looks like they’re lobbing their pitches from their release point towards the strike zone as though the zone wasn’t made up of boxes or window panes to smash through, but, like... silos of Quaker Oats oatmeal you’d find in your cupboard, and they need to lob that pitch up and over the lip to throw into the silo.
Here are two key at bats against JD Martinez tonight:
Okay, sure, you might argue that that’s not middle-middle in the second frame, but I would argue that’s only because Moore wore out the bottom of that middle-middle oatmeal silo from all the times he perfectly lobbed a fat pitch into it.
This, to me, is why Matt Moore looks just simply terrible. He’s lobbing pitches into three oatmeal silos in the middle of the strike zone. The silo that’s dead center? Well, a ball thrown into that silo gets smashed for a home run 100% of the time. A ball thrown into either of the other silos goes for a hit 100% of the time, too. And since these pitches are seemingly lobbed and not thrown with authority, they’re usually hit hard.
The rest of the time, when he can’t find the zone, he just looks like he can’t finish his pitches -- can’t deliver consistently. The Giants should not have any confidence in him going into this offseason and the next Spring Training. They simply can’t know what they have in him. The life on his pitches were nothing compared to his opposition, Robbie Ray. The only guarantee about Matt Moore for 2018 is that he will cost millions of dollars.
Speaking of giving up!
It’s the two-week anniversary of this interview...
... and I’d like to think that, if reminded of it tomorrow, would wholly deny ever making the statement.
Giants catchers’ offense, 2nd half (2017):
Buster Posey: 2 HR
All backups: 7 HR
Toss J.D. Martinez on the Giancarlo Stanton & Aaron Judge what-coulda-been pile.
The Giants had already signed Michael Morse three months earlier in that 2014 offseason, but even after signing Morse specifically because they thought he addressed their power needs, their scouts looked at Martinez and thought that he wasn’t worth the risk (he would’ve made somewhere between the major league minimum and maybe $2.5 million, half or less than half what Morse made). Hard to argue with how 2014 turned out, but what could’ve been in 2015 and beyond...
Maybe he would’ve just morphed into another Hunter Pence, injury prone and not nearly adequate for the Giants’ power needs. Or maybe the Giants never “fix” his swing like the Tigers did when they picked him up. The Giants have shown a distinct inability to develop power hitters. To fix hitters in-season. To condition and strength train their players so that they’re competitive with the rest of the league... a lot of Matt Moore’s mistakes look fatigue-based to some degree, unless he’s so mentally over his season that it is impacting his physical performance. But seriously, the Giants hit doubles that are home runs for other teams. Maybe Denard Span’s frequent jokes last season about the strength and conditioning coach had a little bit of truth to it.
Anyway, the Giants are bad and there’s nothing you or I can do about it, as has always been the case. There’s also absolutely nothing anyone involved with the franchise can do about it, and while that has been the case at times before in the past, it’s just agonizing this time around because it happened so suddenly and with so many of the same faces who ushered in an unprecedented era (for the Giants) of success and who are now accelerating the downfall that it can’t help but taint a little bit the days that came before.