The Giants scored 10 runs last night so this article doesn’t belong in the I HAVE A COMPLAINT section (which — hmm, maybe that should be an actual section of the site)... even though I’m about to get very nit picky but for a larger purpose.
Andrew McCutchen doubled in the first inning and Evan Longoria doubled in the eighth inning. In both those innings, the Giants scored (3 in the 1st and 1 in the 8th). In both those innings, a Brandon absolutely crushed a pitch to deep left center field and both times Billy Hamilton ran back and made the catch.
Thankfully, Sami was able to get me the .gif of Hamilton’s play in the 8th...
And you’ll just have to take my word for it regarding McCutchen in the first.
You know, I know, everyone involved with the Giants knows that AT&T Park is just not fair to hitters. Left-handers, right-handers — doesn’t matter. If you absolutely crush a ball, most of the time, you get humiliated by the marine layer and limited to warning track power. Or the dimensions in right center field keep you in the ballpark.
If you’re a standard major league baserunner, you know that a ball hit in the air means you go “half way” from your base to the next base, putting yourself in the best position to advance if the ball falls for the hit or there’s an error; if it’s caught, you’re able to get back to your bag quickly and safely. In the aforementioned instances, McCutchen and Longoria did this and wound up staying at second base after the long flyouts.
The Giants need to score as often as possible. Bumgarner’s return doesn’t automatically mean the team ERA drops a full run and suddenly the high leverage situations don’t eat the low leverage relievers alive. They are scoring more through 42 games (4.07) than they did in 162 last season (3.9), but just to put into context exactly what the Giants need to do to improve their circumstances: last year’s Astros averaged over 5 runs a game and so did the Nationals. The Dodgers averaged 4.75 runs per game last season. The Giants’ current roster has no chance of matching any of those teams, but even just to get to their 2016 average of 4.41, they’ll need to be better than they have been... and they haven’t been totally awful!
With no chance of making moves to add more big bats and no chance of reducing Austin Jackson to a 4th outfielder until Hunter Pence returns, the Giants have chosen to eschew dynamism... but to what end? I propose they simple be more aggressive on the bases.
If you’re a Giants baserunner who’s somehow managed to make it all the way to second base, either you or your coaches might consider the possibility that a fly ball hit to certain parts of the yard might necessitate putting yourself in a position to tag up and advance when you’d normally go halfway.
Andrew McCutchen making it to third base in the first inning doesn’t necessarily change that inning, but a runner on third base definitely changes what the pitcher does and how the catcher handles him. Longoria getting to third base in the eighth inning might not have led to more runs, but then again, Longoria’s double didn’t lead to anymore runs... and I think Longoria could’ve made it to third despite Hamilton’s catch and throw.
But, again, this isn’t about last night. This is something I’ve noticed over the years. Certainly, personnel has a lot to do with this. The Giants aren’t populated with many speedy or even smart baserunners. And there’s also the whole thing about making outs at third base. I’ll also allow that both Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are still learning about the park and learning about their teammates hitting tendencies. And yet, The Giants will keep crushing pitches that stay in the yard. Will the baserunners take the extra 90 feet more often to put the team in better positions to score?