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August was exceedingly bad, even by the Giants’ standards

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If you thought August was an improvement over last year, think again.

MLB: New York Mets at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to script a month as bad as August for the San Francisco Giants.

They entered with slim postseason chances, and exited with nonexistent ones. They somehow didn’t realize this until the final day of the month, and managed only to trade Andrew McCutchen, leaving other valuable rentals in their own parking lot.

Buster Posey and Steven Duggar had season-ending surgeries. The players who surprised earlier in the year suffered inevitable regressions that will (or rather, should) make the team a bit more hesitant about them going forward.

But all bad things have a silver lining, and the silver lining here is that the team is 68-68, which is a win and a loss away from.....well, yeah.

As I’ve done all year, here’s how the 2018 Giants performed over the last month relative to their vastly inferior 2017 product. Except, in the case of August, not vastly inferior. Or even inferior at all, for that matter.

Note: WAR stats are from Fangraphs. Perhaps Baseball-Reference would yield more optimistic results.

Catcher:

2017
Nick Hundley: 0.2 WAR
Buster Posey: 0.1 WAR

Total: 0.3 WAR

2018
Aramís García: 0.2 WAR
Buster Posey: 0.0 WAR
Nick Hundley: 0.0 WAR

Total: 0.2 WAR

Net gain: -0.1 WAR

If you’re looking for a description of 2018, this seems as good a place to start as any. Buster Posey, face of the franchise, and Nick Hundley, upper-echelon backup, played a whole, lackluster month. Then the low-pedigree rookie came in, played a single game, and squashed their value.

First base:

2017
Brandon Belt: 0.2 WAR

2018
Brandon Belt: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: -0.5 WAR

Brandon Belt had a really bad month, and if you think I’m going to spend any more time than I am contractually obligated to thinking about that, you are wrong.

Second base:

2017
Joe Panik: 0.5 WAR

2018
Joe Panik: 0.0 WAR
Chase d’Arnaud: 0.0 WAR

Total: 0.0 WAR

Net gain: -0.5 WAR

Things are not looking especially great.

Shortstop:

2017
Brandon Crawford: 0.9 WAR

2018
Brandon Crawford: -0.4 WAR

Net gain: -1.3 WAR

It wasn’t a great month to be a Giants player named Brandon.

Third base:

2017
Conor Gillaspie: -0.1 WAR
Pablo Sandoval: -0.4 WAR

Total: -0.5 WAR

2018
Evan Longoria: -0.1 WAR

Net gain: 0.4 WAR

This is the first position where we see improvement from the Giants, and they still received negative production.

Infield bench:

2017
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.4 WAR
Ryder Jones: 0.1 WAR
Jae-gyun Hwang: 0.0 WAR
Miguel Gómez: -0.1 WAR

Total: 0.4 WAR

2018
Kelby Tomlinson: 0.0 WAR
Alen Hanson: -0.3 WAR

Total: -0.3 WAR

Net gain: -0.7 WAR

The Alen Hanson ride was fun while it lasted.

Right field:

2017
Hunter Pence: 0.6 WAR
Carlos Moncrief: -0.2 WAR

Total: 0.4 WAR

2018
Andrew McCutchen: 0.5 WAR

Net gain: 0.1 WAR

You will be missed, Cutch. Also, Hunter Pence was worth 0.6 WAR last August. You probably know that because you just read it about 10 seconds ago, but I needed to repeat it.

Left field:

2017
Jarrett Parker: 0.3 WAR

2018
Austin Slater: 0.1 WAR

Net gain: -0.2 WAR

I think, at some point, the Giants should consider investing in left field.

Center field:

2017
Denard Span: -0.3 WAR

2018
Steven Duggar: 0.4 WAR

Net gain: 0.7 WAR

The lone player who provided a noticeable improvement over last year’s team is out for the year. This is going great.

Outfield bench:

2017
Gorkys Hernández: 0.3 WAR
Orlando Calixte: -0.1 WAR

Total: 0.2 WAR

2018
Gregor Blanco: 0.0 WAR
Chris Shaw: -0.1 WAR
Hunter Pence: -0.1 WAR
Gorkys Hernández: -0.5 WAR

Total: -0.7 WAR

Net gain: -0.9 WAR

I’m old enough to remember when Gorkys Hernández was the best center fielder in baseball.

Starters:

2017
Jeff Samardzija: 1.0 WAR
Chris Stratton: 0.5 WAR
Madison Bumgarner: 0.5 WAR
Matt Moore: 0.3 WAR
Matt Cain: 0.2 WAR
Ty Blach: -0.2 WAR

Total: 2.3 WAR

2018
Derek Holland: 0.7 WAR
Dereck Rodríguez: 0.6 WAR
Madison Bumgarner: 0.4 WAR
Chris Stratton: 0.2 WAR
Andrew Suárez: 0.1 WAR
Casey Kelly: 0.0 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.0 WAR

Total: 2.0 WAR

Net gain: -0.3 WAR

Ahhh, the good ol’ days of Matt Moore and final stage Matt Cain.

Relievers:

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

Total: 0.1 WAR

2018
Mark Melancon: 0.4 WAR
Sam Dyson: 0.2 WAR
Reyes Moronta: 0.1 WAR
Casey Kelly: 0.1 WAR
Ty Blach: 0.1 WAR
Tony Watson: 0.1 WAR
Chase d’Arnaud: 0.0 WAR
Ray Black: 0.0 WAR
Pierce Johnson: -0.1 WAR
Hunter Strickland: -0.2 WAR
Derek Law: -0.3 WAR
Will Smith: -0.4 WAR

Total: 0.0 WAR

Net gain: -0.1 WAR

Not sure which is funnier, the Giants using 12 relievers in August, Will Smith putting up so much negative value, or Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson putting up so much positive value. For a hilariously mediocre team, the Giants sure are full of surprises.

When it comes to August, the Giants were 3.4 WAR worse this year. Of the 12 positional categories, they saw improvement at three: right field, where they just traded their right fielder, center field, where they just lost their center fielder, and third base, where their third baseman isn’t good.

68-68 is starting to look impressive.