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May 2018 was kind of, maybe, sort of better than May, 2017

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You have to squint a little, though.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies
It wasn’t a good month, so here’s a handsome baseballer to admire.
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

There have been better months of baseballing than what the San Francisco Giants did in May, 2018. Thank goodness that month is over.

Now, let’s spend as little time as necessary remembering it. I’ll make this one quick, I promise you. This isn’t any more fun for me than it is for you.

Still, there are silver linings to everything (your toilet may be clogged but wow, what a nice toilet you have), and the eternal silver lining for the Giants is that it’s no longer 2017.

Ron Howard: Actually, the Giants had a better record in May, 2017 than in May, 2018.

Irrelevant. All of 2017 was a sinkhole of suck, and May just happened to be the magical month where their record dramatically outperformed their play to the tune of being only three games below .500. This May was five games below .500, but the team was a bit better.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

I am so, so sorry if you now have that horrendous song stuck in your head.


A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Wins Above Replacement at each position for April 2017 and 2018. This is the same exercise, but for May. WAR statistics from Fangraphs.

Catcher:

2017
Buster Posey: 1.5 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.3 WAR

Total: 1.8 WAR

2018
Buster Posey: 0.7 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.2 WAR

Total: 0.9 WAR

Net gain: -0.9 WAR

Buster Posey: Good at baseball, but probably slowing down. If you would like a glass of tequila or seven, now would be a good time.

First base:

2017
Brandon Belt: 0.4 WAR
Mike Morse: -0.2 WAR

Total: 0.2 WAR

2018
Brandon Belt: 1.2 WAR

Net gain: 1.0 WAR

Brandon Belt is good. Did you know Brandon Belt is good? Have I told you Brandon Belt is good? Brandon Belt is very, very good. Brandon Belt is so good that he has been worth 2.4 WAR this season, which is second among position players in the National League. That is very, very good.

Second base:

2017
Joe Panik: -0.4 WAR

2018
Alen Hanson: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: 0.8 WAR

Alen Hanson was almost a win better than Joe Panik was this time last year. And Hanson was placed on the Disabled List on May 12.

What.

No really. What.

Shortstop:

2017
Brandon Crawford: 0.2 WAR

2018
Brandon Crawford: 1.7 WAR

Net gain: 1.5 WAR

Count me firmly among those who were starting to believe that Brandon Crawford may never be a good hitter again. Count me equally firmly among those who could not be happier to be wrong.

Third base:

2017
Eduardo Nunez: 0.4 WAR

2018
Evan Longoria: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: 0.0 WAR

On the bright side, that’s a 0.1 WAR gain over what Christian Arroyo did in May. I’m sorry, is that not a bright side?

Infield bench:

2017
Aaron Hill: -0.1 WAR
Kelby Tomlinson: -0.2 WAR
Conor Gillaspie: -0.3 WAR
Christian Arroyo: -0.5 WAR

Total: -1.1 WAR

2018
Pablo Sandoval: 0.0 WAR
Miguel Gomez: -0.1 WAR
Kelby Tomlinson: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.4 WAR

Net gain: 0.7 WAR

The infield bench is bad, yet dramatically better than before. Your 2018 Giants: Bad, Yet Dramatically Better Than Before.

Right field:

2017
Hunter Pence: -0.2 WAR

2018
Andrew McCutchen: 0.5 WAR

Net gain: 0.7 WAR

McCutchen is starting to find his groove, and that is a very good thing.

Left field:

2017
Justin Ruggiano: -0.4 WAR

2018
Gregor Blanco: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: 0.1 WAR

I forgot about Justin Ruggiano, and now I see why. I don’t want to forget about Gregor Blanco, though the numbers suggest I should.

Center field:

2017
Denard Span: 0.1 WAR

2018
Gorkys Hernandez: 0.6 WAR

Net gain: 0.5 WAR

Gorkys Hernandez is not an All-Star, but that was an All-Star level month, and without it, who knows where this team would be.

(Further down the toilet. This team would be further down the toilet.)

Outfield bench:

2017
Orlando Calixte: 0.0 WAR
Drew Stubbs: -0.1 WAR
Gorkys Hernandez: -0.1 WAR
Mac Williamson: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.5 WAR

2018
Austin Jackson: 0.2 WAR
Mac Williamson: 0.1 WAR
Austin Slater: 0.1 WAR

Total: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: 0.9 WAR

Not gonna lie, I would not have guessed that Jackson was worth 0.2 WAR this month. I don’t remember him even playing this month. But we’ll take what we can get.


So there you have it! The May, 2018 Giants were 5.4 WAR better than their predecessors. Hot damn! That’s terrific, and this is where the article ends.


Crap, so, apparently pitchers also exist.

Ugh. Okay, fine. Buckle up. Here we go.

Starters:

2017
Jeff Samardzija: 1.5 WAR
Johnny Cueto: 0.9 WAR
Matt Moore: 0.2 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.2 WAR
Matt Cain: 0.1 WAR

Total: 2.9 WAR

2018
Andrew Suarez: 0.2 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.0 WAR
Derek Holland: 0.0 WAR
Jeff Samardzija: -0.4 WAR
Chris Stratton: -0.5 WAR

Total: -0.7 WAR

Net gain: -3.6 WAR

Presented without comment.

Relievers

2017
Josh Osich: 0.2 WAR
Mark Melancon: 0.2 WAR
Bryan Morris: 0.2 WAR
Hunter Strickland: 0.1 WAR
Derek Law: 0.1 WAR
Steven Okert: 0.0 WAR
George Kontos: -0.1 WAR
Cory Gearrin: -0.1 WAR

Total: 0.6 WAR

2018
Will Smith: 0.4 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.2 WAR
Reyes Moronta: 0.2 WAR
Tony Watson: 0.2 WAR
Dereck Rodriguez: 0.1 WAR
Derek Law: 0.0 WAR
Hunter Strickland: 0.0 WAR
Josh Osich: 0.0 WAR
Pierce Johnson: -0.1 WAR
D.J. Snelten: -0.1 WAR
Jose Valdez: -0.2 WAR
Cory Gearrin: -0.3 WAR

Total: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: -0.2 WAR

13 relievers in May. 13! And Cory Gearrin is, sadly, still not very good.

Unlike the position players, the pitchers managed to be 3.8 WAR worse than in May 2017. As someone who lived through May, 2017, I can say emphatically that I did not know that was possible. I really didn’t.

Put it all in a cocktail shaker, and out pours an additional 1.6 WAR over last year’s May.

That’s decent improvement. But 2017 was so bad that decent improvement really isn’t enough.