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This June was better than last June

By, like, a lot.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks
Sliding into July like...
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It was a good month for the Giants. When was the last time we said that? It’s been awhile. A really long while. They went 18-10 on the month, avoiding the dreaded June swoons of prior years.

Not counting short months, it was the first time the team compiled a winning record in a month since last June. No, wait, I’m sorry, since the June before that. It was their first winning month since June, 2016. And it was an enormous improvement over last year’s 9-18 campaign that sealed the fate of the helpless Giants.

So where did that improvement come from? Just as I did for April and May, I chronicled the improvements and regressions at each position based on Fangraphs’ WAR calculations for last June, and this June. The results are interesting! Kind of. I guess.


Buster Posey: 0.9 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.1 WAR

Total: 1.0 WAR

Buster Posey: 0.5 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.4 WAR

Total: 0.9 WAR

Net gain: -0.1 WAR

Nick Hundley’s campaign to be a starting-caliber catcher rumbles onward, and has helped the position be a strength for the Giants, even when Buster Posey has slower months.

First base:

Brandon Belt: 0.5 WAR

Brandon Belt: 0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.4 WAR

Brandon Belt - who is really, really good at baseball - missed a lot of June because . . . wait, I’m sorry, why do humans have appendixes?

Second base:

Joe Panik: 0.9

Joe Panik: 0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.8 WAR

Joe Panik is not playing incredibly well. Last June he played incredibly well. We’ll take the wins though.


Brandon Crawford: -0.2 WAR

Brandon Crawford: 1.3 WAR

Net gain: 1.5 WAR

The Giants caught a lot of flack this offseason for implementing a strategy with the first bullet point reading, “play the same players and assume they’ll play better.” But then Brandon Crawford has a month in which he is 1.5 wins better than the same time period last year, and it all makes sense.

Third base:

Eduardo Núñez: 0.6 WAR

Pablo Sandoval: 0.1 WAR
Evan Longoria: -0.5 WAR

Total: -0.4 WAR

Net gain: -1.0 WAR

Wait, I’m sorry, am I mourning the loss of Eduardo Núñez? I was not prepared for this.

Infield bench:

Jae-Gyun Hwang: 0.1 WAR
Conor Gillaspie: 0.0 WAR
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.0 WAR
Christian Arroyo: 0.0 WAR
Aaron Hill: -0.3 WAR
Ryder Jones: -0.4 WAR

Total: -0.6 WAR

Alen Hanson: 0.3 WAR
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.0 WAR

Total: 0.3 WAR

Net gain: 0.9 WAR

Last June, the Giants most valuable infield bench option had eight plate appearances. It turns out that when your backups aren’t notably below replacement level, your team often performs better.

Right field:

Hunter Pence: 0.4 WAR

Andrew McCutchen: 0.7 WAR

Net gain: 0.3 WAR

Remarkably, the Giants only played one person in right field for all of June, both last year and this year. Less remarkably, Andrew McCutchen is better than Hunter Pence.

Left field:

Austin Slater: 0.6 WAR

Hunter Pence: 0.0 WAR
Mac Williamson: -0.1 WAR

Total: -0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.7 WAR

Last June, the Giants played Austin Slater a fair amount, and it paid off. You won’t hear me say this ever again, but the Giants should be more like the 2017 Giants.

Center field:

Denard Span: 1.2 WAR

Gorkys Hernandez: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: -0.8 WAR

The Gorkys Hernandez parade rolls on, but . . . holy heck I do not remember Denard Span putting up 1.2 WAR last year, let alone in one month.

Outfield bench:

Gorkys Hernandez: 0.3 WAR
Orlando Calixte: -0.3 WAR

Total: 0.0 WAR

Austin Slater: 0.1 WAR
Gregor Blanco: -0.1 WAR
Austin Jackson: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: -0.3 WAR

/Fart noise

In total, Giants position players in June were worth 1.6 WAR fewer than in June of 2016. So where exactly are those wins coming from? I think you know.


Ty Blach: 0.5 WAR
Jeff Samardzija: 0.5 WAR
Matt Moore: 0.2 WAR
Johnny Cueto: -0.1 WAR
Matt Cain: -0.5 WAR

Total: 0.6 WAR

Andrew Suarez: 0.8 WAR
Chris Stratton: 0.7 WAR
Madison Bumgarner: 0.5 WAR
Dereck Rodriguez: 0.5 WAR
Derek Holland: 0.5 WAR

Total: 3.0 WAR

Net gain: 2.4 WAR

Gaining 2.4 WAR from starting pitching in a single month is insane. Doing so without your number two and three pitchers is even more insane.


George Kontos: 0.3 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.3 WAR
Cory Gearrin: 0.2 WAR
Steven Okert: 0.1 WAR
Hunter Strickland: 0.1 WAR
Kyle Crick: 0.0 WAR
Dan Slania: 0.0 WAR
Bryan Morris: -0.1 WAR
Josh Osich: -0.2 WAR
Mark Melancon: -0.2 WAR
Derek Law: -0.3 WAR

Total: 0.2 WAR

Will Smith: 0.7 WAR
Tony Watson: 0.5 WAR
Reyes Moronta: 0.5 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.2 WAR
Mark Melancon: 0.2 WAR
Cory Gearrin: 0.1 WAR
Hunter Strickland: 0.0 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.0 WAR
Pierce Johnson: 0.0 WAR

Total: 2.2 WAR

Net gain: 2.0 WAR

Gaining 2.0 wins from a bullpen in a single month is nothing short of ridiculous. But it turns out Will Smith, Tony Watson, and Reyes Moronta are really, really good pitchers. At least at the moment.

In all, the Giants pitching gained 4.4 WAR from last June to this June. That is 100% unsustainable, as Chris Stratton so kindly reminded us on Tuesday, but thankfully Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are coming back, so maybe that will ease the blow of regression.

On the whole, the June, 2018 Giants were 2.8 WAR better than the June, 2017 Giants. More importantly, they won nine more games, so take that, WAR makers.