In an alternate universe, I had a fancy introductory paragraph to this article, in which I waxed eloquently about fielding, snaking my way around a narrative before artfully revealing the suspenseful conclusion. Aha! a commenter would gasp. Oh my! another would say, before returning to their conversation about the best way to soak dry legumes.
But no. This is not that reality. Instead, here is where all that meandering would have led to:
The San Francisco Giants have committed 31 errors, third-most in the Majors, and tops in the National League.
The San Francisco Giants have a fielding percentage of .979, third-worst in the Majors, and worst in the National League.
The San Francisco Giants have a Fangraphs defensive rating of -15.5, which is worst in the Majors.
The San Francisco Giants have a UZR/150 mark of -9.4, which is worst in the Majors.
(Psssst, hey, Bryan. Do I have to keep writing this article, or can I just stop here? This seems sufficient, don’t you think?)
Before saying more meaningful things, I would like to commend the following position players for having the courage to say no to their peers, and not just do things because their friends are doing it: Nick Hundley, Kelby Tomlinson, Mac Williamson, and Austin Slater. Congrats, you strong, independent group of errorless bench individuals.
Defense wasn’t supposed to be a weakness for this team. The outfield alignment was tremendously suspect, but the infield projected to be one of the stingiest defensive groupings in the league.
Instead, the infield looks about as interested in stopping hard hit baseballs as I was when I was seven, fielding grounders from 11-year olds, slowly coming to the realization that maybe I didn’t have a future as a second baseman. The outfield bobbles and drops baseballs like a drunk college kid trying to play catch with a scoop of ice cream (sidenote: while not effective, terribly fun).
It’s not good. But there’s a silver lining, as there always is when I fabricate one out of nowhere to try and feel better about otherwise morbid things. There are ways they can get better!
Bring up Steven Duggar
Duggar nearly made the team out of camp. Then, when he didn’t, it seemed like the Giants were just waiting to get past the deadly slew of lefty pitchers, and would then call him up. And then that didn’t happen, and more things didn’t happen, and here we are, with Duggar bopping along in Sacramento while the entire Giants offense plays hacky sack tag team in center field.
Steven Duggar: good at center field defense. Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernandez: /fart noise.
Recall Austin Slater
Is Slater a better defensive option in left field than Blanco or Hernandez? Probably, and I’m certainly ready to see something new, regardless. But while that may be a question mark, here’s something that isn’t: Slater is absolutely a better defensive left fielder than Brandon Belt, who is suddenly playing all kinds of left field, and Belt is emphatically a better defensive first baseman than Pablo Sandoval, who is inexplicably playing all kinds of first base.
Return Evan Longoria to his home planet
If you tuned out the beginning of the season, some aliens captured the Giants new third baseman. After a week or two, they returned the half of his baseball soul that plays offense, and he’s been mashing ever since. They held onto the half of his soul that plays defense, for some cruel reason that we’ve yet to figure out. The reigning Gold Glove winner has committed seven errors this year.
This is the point in the article where I remind you that errors are a tremendously flawed statistic and he has looked way better than seven errors would suggest, but still . . . return the exceptional defensive third baseman, weird alien baseball thieves.
Make Alen Hanson some chamomile tea
When I was five, my pet rooster attacked me. I didn’t realize he couldn’t kill me, so when he started running, hopping, and angrily shaking his wings toward me, I ran like my adolescent existence depended on it.
I still remember that feeling, vividly. I imagine it’s the same feeling Hanson experiences when he sees a routine ground ball approaching. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the way he backs up in terror and seems to move away from the ball, rather than towards it.
Thankfully, on offense Hanson does similar things to his predator that my family did to mine so . . . you know what . . . this got weirdly dark. I didn’t need to go there, did I?
Ummm . . . play better defense, Giants.