The Giants, as you may have noticed if you haven’t been put to sleep by the lack of offense in every Giants game, are suffering from a lack of offense. In August, they’re scoring 3.42 runs per game, and in their 19 games so far this month, they’ve scored more than 3 runs just 6 times.
But this hasn’t been a problem the whole year. It’s really just in the second half that the offense has imploded. In the first half, the Giants were 16th in the majors and 6th in the NL with a team wRC+ of 94; if you remove pitchers from the equation to get a more equal look at them compared to AL teams, they were an eminently respectable 11th in the majors. That’s actually a pretty solid offense. They’re not going to sing songs about it in the halls of Valhalla, but it’s perfectly fine.
In the first half, the Giants as a team hit .252/.317/.394, which for a 2018 baseball team is totally acceptable. They walked 8% of the time and had an ISO of .143, neither of which are especially good numbers, but they’re not terrible in some otherworldly way; the ISO especially was brought down by playing in a park that suppresses power so badly, so they were probably just slightly below average in terms of power, which a team can deal with.
And then, the second half. Alas, the second half.
The second half Giants are hitting .228/.282/.337, which for a baseball team in any season in my lifetime is totally unacceptable. They’re walking 6.4% of the time and their ISO is a staggeringly pathetic .109, which, thanks for the shout out to MCC, guys, but I think we’d all rather see some dingers. The only piece of good news is that their team wRC+ is 69, which is a terrible offensive statistic, but a nice number to make jokes about.
As I was researching this article last night, I checked out this niche site called Fangraphs to see how individual Giants have been hitting in the second half. And oh boy, the numbers were not good.
Well, okay, so those wRC+ numbers are wrong. Well, they’re probably wrong. There’s about an 80% chance those numbers are wrong.
Let’s check again, just to be sure:
I think I liked it better when they were all 4.
Let’s sum up the guys we can’t really complain about: there are Ryder Jones and Kelby Tomlinson, who both had fewer than 10 PAs and are now in Sacramento; there is Pablo Sandoval, who is out for the year; there is Andrew McCutchen, who has legitimately been a good hitter and is therefore likely to be traded; there is Austin Slater, who we actually can complain about because he hasn’t shown much power in the majors this year, but whose OBP is still making him a perfectly decent bat; and there is Evan Longoria, who isn’t hitting well, but whose numbers do at least clearly indicate that he has any business playing Major League Baseball.
The rest of them have been bad. Time to dive into the numbers a little bit more!
Yeah, that’s the stuff.
Bryan talked about wOBA and xwOBA when he discussed the offense yesterday; put simply, wOBA is one number that represents how a player has performed, and xwOBA is what you would expect that number to be based on how a player has hit the ball. It’s calculated on the same scale as OBP, so anything under .300 is terrible, .320 is average, .340 is good, and anything over .370 is pretty great. So how are the Giants doing in the second half? Oh, you’re not going to be happy you asked.
2nd Half wOBA vs. xwOBA
There are guys who have been unlucky — Gorkys Hernandez should be just very bad instead of godawful and Nick Hundley should be almost okay instead of terrible — but that paints a terrifying picture. Joe Panik and Alen Hanson have both been lucky; they’re godawful, but they should be godawfuler. Brandon Belt has 100% earned his terrible second half numbers. Austin Slater is hitting the ball about as well as Hernandez, but just getting better results. Steven Duggar’s performance is less promising than it seems.
Some of the unlucky Giants have just gone from very bad to very, very bad. We already touched on Gorkys, but Brandon Crawford has fallen off a 100 foot cliff in the second half and earned it; you could say it should only be a 70 foot cliff, but that’s not really addressing the core problem, is it? Hunter Pence sure is a swell guy and he tries very hard, and he’s also just two points of xwOBA (and 30 points of wOBA) below Fangraphs’s demarcation line for “Awful.”
There are a few players who should be better enough that they’d be good hitters. Buster Posey, even with the bad hip, is actually leading the team in second half xwOBA; it’s not showing up on the field, and at some point he’ll stop playing this year, but the way he’s hit the ball should lead to better results. Andrew McCutchen is pretty much the only Giant hitting well, and he should be hitting a little better, and Evan Longoria should be average instead of below average.
Of the three players the Giants have right now who are doing the right things at the plate, only Longoria is expected to keep playing through September; Posey will have surgery at some point, and the trade rumors around McCutchen are relentless. The answer to the Giants’ offensive woes is that the guys who are left need to be better. That may seem obvious, but it’s all there is.
The Brandons were phenomenal earlier in the year, and it’s on them (and the coaching staff) to get back to it. Even if you don’t have a lot of hope for Pence, or think Gorkys can replicate his incredible May, there’s plenty of hope that Austin Slater will rediscover the swing that he had in the minors (he did hit a long home run tonight), or that Joe Panik will get back to hitting the ball like he did earlier this year (we’ve had two different articles about how he’ll be fine!) and actually be rewarded for it, instead of hitting the ball extremely badly and still not be rewarded for it.
But they have work to do to turn things around. Right now, other than a few guys, the whole team is doing everything wrong at the plate. The process is bad. The results are bad. The offense is bad. If that’s what you’ve been thinking when you watch them, well, the numbers say you’re right.