The San Francisco Giants ended their dismal, listless road trip on Sunday. The 6-3 loss was as sad as the other five losses on the winless trip, but, as in most games, there were still a few nice moments.
Extra base hits don’t come around the Giants’ parts much these days, but there are usually one or two available on any given day. On Sunday, there were three. A double by Gorkys Hernández, a triple by Austin Slater, and a home run by Gregor Blanco.
Just as a reminder, here was the Giants lineup on opening day:
Compare that to the offensive noisemakers on Sunday and, yeah . . . not a lot of overlap. And by “not a lot” I mean “none at all”.
On the tankerific 0-6 trip, here’s the allocation of extra-base hits, as broken up by those who started the season in the lineup (hereby referred to as “starters”), and those who did not (hereby referred to as “bench”).
3 doubles (Evan Longoria, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence)
1 triple (Evan Longoria)
3 doubles (Chase d’Arnaud, Nick Hundley, Gorkys Hernández)
1 triple (Austin Slater)
6 home runs (Aramís García, Alen Hanson, Ryder Jones, Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernández x2)
They look basically the same! Until you get to the home runs, that is. Over the six games, the “starters” combined for four extra-base hits, totalling nine bases. The “bench” combined for 10 extra-base hits, totalling 33 bases. A little bit of a difference.
Admittedly, this is largely due to it being September and the Giants being awful. It’s the time of the year where half of the starters are on the recovery shelf, and the other half are being benched so youngsters can finally get opportunities.
But still. It’s a trend. Between opening day players disappointing, and bench options surprising, some of the Giants strongest contributions have come from those who began the year either riding the pine, or in the Minor Leagues.
Disregarding pitchers, here are the extra-base totals for those eight opening day starters, and everyone else:
Plate appearances per extra-base hit
Bases per extra-base hit
If you think I’m going somewhere with this, I’m not. This is merely my artistic interpretation when Bryan handed me the “The Giants Suck” coloring book. I’m trying to find a new way to color in the lines, but the lines are the same.
The point here isn’t that the Giants bench, chastised going into the season, has been some offensive revelation; it hasn’t. Hanson, Hernández, and Pablo Sandoval had their moments, but of the 15 players who comprised the “bench” unit, only García (11 plate appearances) and Jones (8 appearances) had an OPS+ or wRC+ exceeding 100.
In a game rapidly trending towards power, the unit that gave the Giants the most of that failed to have a single above-average hitter.
Not only have the Giants taken the approach of spending a lot of money on mediocre-to-decent players, but they’ve pretty much watched the modern game accelerate beyond them in the passing lane, and then turned to their passenger and said “nah, that wasn’t the modern game, that was someone else.”
If Sandoval, Hundley, Hernández, and Hanson can combine for 50-60 dingers off the bench in 2019, then that’s great. But if that’s the primary source of home runs for the Giants . . . welp.
The 2018 and 2019 Giants: Welp.