As a way of expressing hyperbole, I’ve sometimes said that the Giants are “indescribably awful”. Well, that’s no longer true. After losing their 10th straight game (4-1 to the Braves), it’s incredibly easy to describe them. The San Francisco Giants are a professional baseball team in name only. There’s nothing positive about the team on a surface level — anything good about it must come from intellectual exercises of the highest level.
Thanks to injuries and many years of foolhardy roster management, the Giants are playing out the string with a roster that only a team intentionally trying to be bad would field. Coincidence has conspired to make the Giants do what they swore they’ve never do: tank.
The Giants are tanking and there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s the worst kind of failing because it’s without a plan. Being bad and gaining high draft picks is no plan, it’s the codified reaction to teams being bad, intentional or not. So, now this team is in a free fall, which is definitely the position a $2.85 billion franchise wants to find itself in after a long stretch of success.
A September loss to a playoff team is no reason to reevaluate everything, but tying franchise history following a season that nearly set new franchise history in futility is certainly the time to really take a look around and take stock of the situation. What will the Giants do? What can they do? There are no easy answers or quick fixes and wins aren’t walking through that door.
You want analysis? Fine.
The Giants are bad. Here’s how:
They can’t hit
Evan Longoria hit a double, the 19th extra base hit in 10 games this month.
They make bad decisions
Alen Hanson’s defense was a liability all night; Chris Shaw compounds an inability to work a count and make contact consistently with below average defense. In the top of the fourth inning, he made a running catch on an Ender Inciarte fly ball but didn’t put himself in a better position to field and throw the ball home, allowing Nick Markakis to score the first run of the game. His throw him was miserable.
They have no above average major league talent
Ranking the Giants’ abilities
And as anyone will tell you,
The Giants are unremarkable in every way.
If you want to jump down my throat about discounting Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez, Reyes Moronta, and a few others, that’s understandable. I’m watching the same games as you are and my takeaway is that what they have is not enough, and so I necessarily must call into question everything about the team.
Because, holy hell, we’ve gotta write about the Giants 50 times a week, no matter their record.
This was pretty cool, though. Try to explain what happened here, too.
The Giants found a way to get a hit. pic.twitter.com/hLyjlkQsKS— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 12, 2018
Meanwhile, as bad as the Giants have been this month, Austin Slater has managed to sort of stand out from the pack. Tonight was a great example of what I mean. It was more weird than bad, but at this point, in the absence of winning, weird is more bad than good.
In the first inning —
That’s not his fault, it’s AT&T Park’s, but it just goes to show that even when he does something right he can’t do anything right. It should be noted that Charlie Culberson’s back-breaking home run had a 68% hit probability (it was also barreled), a 100 mph exit velocity and 29 degree launch angle. Slater just hit it to the wrong field... something he’d do later when he lined into a double play with runners at first and second and on a pitch that was middle-in and probably should’ve been pulled.
In the second inning, Alen Hanson’s wide throw pulled Slater off the bag to give the Braves a two-out baserunner. It wound up not hurting Suarez in the moment, but it did served as a reminder that Slater is listed as two inches shorter than Brandon Belt (6’-2” vs. 6’-4”) and doesn’t play Gold Glove caliber at first base anyway.
And then there was a sharp ground ball off the bat of Johan Camargo in the top of the 3rd that Slater couldn’t wrangle. He had to turn back on the ball to grab it, but he couldn’t keep the ball in his glove and get a handle on it to throw to Suarez covering at first base.
They scored it an error and it nearly led to a disastrous inning, because on the next pitch, Freddie Freeman hit a three hopper that took off on Austin Slater just before the lip of the grass and he had to jump to catch it. It was good that he was already playing deep behind the bag, but again, it just served as a reminder that Brandon Belt is the Giants’ best first baseman and no matter where they’ve put Austin Slater this season, he’s looked shaky in the field.
Later, Ty Blach came in to relieve Pierce Johnson after Johnson walked Ronal Acuna on four pitches and then gave up a single to Charlie Culberson to put runners at the corners with no outs. Blach (somehow) got Freddie Freeman to scorch a 90.8 mph line out to first base and Slater was right there to snag it and then tag out Culberson who was off the bag for a crucial double play.
I say “crucial” based solely on the situation but not the context — an abstraction. It’s good to kill a rally like that with a double play, and it was a fine play for Slater to make. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because the Giants only scored a run, but his 0-for-4 night didn’t help.
In my game preview, I underrated Mike Foltynewicz:
He’s certainly performed a bit better since [the Giants last faced him], but over his last 15 starts (3.17 ERA in 88.0 innings, 99 K: 30 BB), he’s gone more than 6 innings just three times. Now, that probably has more to do with third time through the order penalties and the Braves being able to rely on an above average offense and solid bullpen, but he has not been remade into a top of the league-level rotation ace.
He threw just 39 pitches through 4 innings and at one point, the esteemed Grant Brisbee tweeted:
The last nine-inning shutout under 90 pitches in the majors was Jeff Samardzija in 2015 against the Tigers.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) September 12, 2018
No reason for looking that up, really.
He didn’t break a sweat tonight. It’s hard to underrate him on a night where he pitched a complete game and only got into trouble in the ninth inning, but it also feels like he shouldn’t get an A for tonight’s performance because it came against the Giants. I mean, at this point, not even the Giants are interested in the Giants:
Available for sale! We've got Ronald Acuña Jr's 3rd career triple in store now! Take home this or any other piece of memorabilia at From the Clubhouse behind homemade in the promenade level! #SFGiants #chopon pic.twitter.com/JRgiV49kkz— From the Clubhouse (@SFGAuthentics) September 12, 2018
Along this line, let’s take a moment to spotlight former farmhand Charlie Culberson. He replaced Johan Camargo in the third inning due to injury and that was almost an upgrade to the lineup. His 2-run home run in the top of the fifth off of Andrew Suarez was the game-winner.
He’s hit 17 home runs (in 695 plate appearances) since the Giants traded him to the Rockies for Marco Scutaro back in 2012 (he was the Giants’ sixth pick — their third pick in the first supplemental round of the 2007 draft, the same one where they made Madison Bumgarner their top pick) and had a nice career for himself.
Also, his 115 OPS+ would lead the 2018 Giants.
If you weren’t sure about skipping tomorrow’s game, it’ll be streamed exclusively on Facebook.