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July 2018 was a tiny bit nicer to the Giants than July 2017

But it still wasn’t very nice.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk about the Giants in July. Don’t you want to talk about the Giants in July? No?

Me neither. So let’s make this quick.

The Giants went 11-14 on the month, which was the perfect combination of bad and silver linings to convince Bobby Evans to do nothing at the trade deadline. Too good to sell. Too bad to buy. His words, not mine.

Still, for everyone other than tank commanders, 11-14 is better than 9-16, which was last year’s July. This team remains notably better than last year’s iteration, which . . . I mean, it’s not a compliment, or anything even resembling one, but it’s what we’ve got, so I’m going to keep repeating it.

At the conclusion of each month, I’ve been comparing the 2018 Giants to the 2017 Giants at each position. It’s been a cathartic exercise, and one I developed for the sole purpose of feeling better about a team that is as passionate about being .500 as I am about selling my collection of Marvin Benard baseball cards for seven figures.

Anyway, July’s figures are not particularly encouraging. Or, for that matter, at all encouraging. But here we are. All numbers are from Fangraphs.

Catcher:

2017
Buster Posey: 0.5 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.2 WAR

Total: 0.7 WAR

2018
Buster Posey: 0.3 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.1 WAR

Total: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: -0.3 WAR

This continues the season-long trend of Buster Posey, aging legend, being a good player who is not as good as he was when younger.

First base:

2017
Brandon Belt: 0.5 WAR

2018
Brandon Belt: 0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.4 WAR

Brandon Belt is having a stellar year, but you wouldn’t know it if you woke up from a coma on July 1. Or if you’re a KNBR caller.

Second base:

2017
Joe Panik: -0.3 WAR

2018
Alen Hanson: 0.0 WAR
Joe Panik: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: 0.0 WAR

Joe Panik, still a relatively young, cost-controlled player, being not very good, is not a development I signed up for. I am protesting this.

Shortstop:

2017
Brandon Crawford: 0.2 WAR

2018
Brandon Crawford: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: -0.5 WAR

Like his fellow first-namesake, Brandon Crawford is having a stellar year, which you would not know if you only watched this month.

Third base:

2017
Eduardo Núñez: 0.2 WAR

2018
Evan Longoria: 0.1 WAR
Pablo Sandoval: 0.0 WAR

Total: 0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.1 WAR

Well. Hmm. Yeah, I’ve got nothing here. Longoria remains below-average, Sandoval’s replacement-level play remains impressive, yet not particularly helpful, and Manny Machado is on the Dodgers.

Infield bench:

2017
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.1 WAR
Conor Gillaspie: 0.1 WAR
Ryder Jones: 0.0 WAR
Miguel Gómez: 0.0 WAR
Jae-gyun Hwang: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.1 WAR

2018
Chase d’Arnaud: 0.3 WAR
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.1 WAR
Ryder Jones: 0.1 WAR

Total: 0.5 WAR

Net gain: 0.6 WAR

This is a good time to mention that the Giants have gotten a combined 2.4 WAR out of Alen Hanson, Chase d’Arnaud, and Dereck Rodríguez. Criticize the Longoria trade all you want, but they did will with the modest offseason signings.

Right field:

2017
Hunter Pence: -0.5 WAR

2018
Andrew McCutchen: 0.0 WAR

Net gain: 0.5 WAR

I can think of no better way to summarize both 2017 and 2018 than by pointing out a starter who, playing at replacement level, represents a dramatic improvement.

Left field:

2017
Gorkys Hernández: 0.3 WAR

2018
Gorkys Hernández: -0.2 WAR

Net gain: -0.5 WAR

Gorkys Hernández is not only cooling down relative to this year, but also relative to last year, as well! Yay! Yay? Poop.

Center field:

2017
Denard Span: -0.1 WAR

2018
Steven Duggar: 0.2 WAR

Net gain: 0.3 WAR

For Duggar, it’s much more about the future than his immediate impact. But his immediate impact has been….an improvement!

Outfield bench:

2017
Carlos Moncrief: 0.1 WAR
Mac Williamson: 0.0 WAR
Orlando Calixte: 0.0 WAR
Austin Slater: -0.2 WAR

Total: -0.1 WAR

2018
Austin Slater: 0.2 WAR
Hunter Pence: 0.1 WAR
Austin Jackson: 0.0 WAR

Total: 0.3 WAR

Net gain: 0.4 WAR

Hunter Pence had an above-replacement month, and that makes me irrationally happy.

Starters:

2017
Ty Blach: 0.7 WAR
Jeff Samardzija: 0.5 WAR
Madison Bumgarner: 0.3 WAR
Matt Moore: 0.3 WAR
Matt Cain: 0.2 WAR
Johnny Cueto: 0.0 WAR
Chris Stratton: -0.1 WAR

Total: 1.9 WAR

2018
Dereck Rodríguez: 0.5 WAR
Madison Bumgarner: 0.4 WAR
Derek Holland: 0.3 WAR
Jeff Samardzija: 0.2 WAR
Andrew Suárez: 0.1 WAR
Chris Stratton: -0.1 WAR
Johnny Cueto: -0.5 WAR

Total: 0.9 WAR

Net gain: -1.0 WAR

I will Venmo $100 to anyone who can provide evidence that they thought Samardzija had an above-average July.

Relievers:

2017
Albert Suárez: 0.1 WAR
Kyle Crick: 0.1 WAR
Chris Stratton: 0.1 WAR
Cory Gearrin: 0.0 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.0 WAR
Matt Cain: 0.0 WAR
Hunter Strickland: -0.1 WAR
Josh Osich: -0.2 WAR
George Kontos: -0.3 WAR
Steven Okert: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.6 WAR

2018
Will Smith: 0.9 WAR
Derek Holland: 0.1 WAR
Reyes Moronta: 0.1 WAR
Cory Gearrin: 0.1 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.1 WAR
Dereck Rodríguez: 0.0 WAR
Ray Black: 0.0 WAR
Pierce Johnson: 0.0 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.0 WAR
Mark Melancon: -0.1 WAR
Chris Stratton: -0.1 WAR
Tony Watson: -0.2 WAR

Total: 0.9 WAR

Net gain: 1.5 WAR

Two observations: First, Will Smith is really, freaking good. Like, absurdly good. Criticize the team all you want for not selling high, but at least we get to keep watching this guy pitch for our team. For a team whose best reliever was Albert Suárez this time last year, having Smith on the team makes me happy.

Second, Chris Stratton was worth -0.1 WAR as a reliever this July, as a starter this July, and as a starter last July. He was worth 0.1 WAR as a reliever last July. Give the dude credit for consistency, at least.

The Giants pitchers were 0.5 WAR better this July than last July, and, personally, I’m sending thank you notes to Dereck Rodríguez and Will Smith. The position players were worth . . . exactly the same WAR as a year ago. Not to sound like Brucy Bochy, but they simply need to play better.

The 2018 Giants: Better, But Not Better Enough.