The San Francisco Giants offense is not good.
You don’t need me to tell you this. You’ve been watching the games, or if you haven’t, you’ve been reading about them.
Now, we can dissect the relentlessly uninspiring offense all we want, but it boils down to something remarkably simple: The Giants offense is bad because the components making it up are bad.
I know, I know. It’s a little bit out there. Stick with me.
To display the offensive futility, let’s look at OPS+, which is a nice, simple, clean stat. It’s merely OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), weighted for league average, which is 100. A batter with a 125 OPS+ has an OPS 125% as good as the average player, while a hitter with a 50% OPS+ is slashing at half the league average rate.
It’s not a flawless stat, but the more complex metrics echo its sentiments vis-à-vis the Giants, so let’s keep it simple, stupid.
19 players have taken at bats for the Giants this year, and exactly three of them have been above average.
One of those three is pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval (116 OPS+). Another is pitcher Madison Bumgarner (114 OPS+). Only Brandon Belt (105 OPS+) represents an honest-to-goodness everyday baseball hitter who is hitting baseballs in an everyday manner.
Everyone else has been below average with their Louisville Sluggers. We’re 14.2% through the season, so let’s see where they all are, and grade their chances of ascending into the “above average” category.
2019 OPS+ with Giants: 84 in 16 plate appearances
2019 OPS+ with Giants and Twins: 97 in 21 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 104
2017 OPS+: 83
2016 OPS+: 99
Austin’s numbers have been limited due to his lack of playing time, which is the result of a nagging injury, being a platoon player, and being an in-season acquisition. We’ll know more when we see him, you know, bat.
Chance of being above average offensively this year: Very good. The Giants are using Austin strictly as a platoon player, meaning almost all of his playing time will come against lefties. For his career, he hits .281/.354/.576 against lefties.
2019 OPS+: 83 in 74 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 106
2017 OPS+: 127
2016 OPS+: 115
Let this serve as your reminder that Posey once sported a 171 OPS+ for an entire season. I don’t say that to depress you. I say that so that we can all remember that Posey was a helluva lot more than a good hitter for his position - he was an elite hitter, full stop.
He’s not anymore. But maybe, just maybe he’s coming around and adjusting to having a movable hip once more.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Quite good. Hip surgery is scary, and if Posey continues his struggles, everyone would understand. But it seems much more likely that he was simply taking his time to recover and return to full health and comfort.
Over his last five games, Posey is hitting 5-for-14, with two doubles, one home run, three walks, and just one strikeout, for a slash line of .357/.471/.714. Those five games are as important in evaluating him as any of the other five.
2019 OPS+ with Giants: 82 in 66 plate appearances
2019 OPS+ with Giants and Blue Jays: 52 in 83 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 94
2017 OPS+: 86
2016 OPS+: 81
Last week I wrote about how even though Pillar had had the biggest hits of the season for the Giants, that was wildly overselling the offensive player he was.
Unfortunately, he has done the near impossible: Made me look smart.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Very, very slim. Pillar is 30, and has never had an above average hitting season in his career. Will that change in 2019? Ummm . . . no.
2019 OPS+: 79 in 98 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 90
2017 OPS+: N/A
2016 OPS+: N/A
Duggar’s bat looked a lot better in center field than it does in right field. But while it’s a bummer the team moved him to a corner, they’ve done plenty to assuage the fears that they wouldn’t play youngsters. Duggar has 12 more plate appearances than anyone else on the team this year.
And he’s show flashes of power.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Not great. Duggar has the pop and the speed to eventually be an above average offensive player, if everything develops nicely for him. He’s fighting the odds of that happening this year though. However, his glove is good enough to make up for that.
2019 OPS+: 68 in 75 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 81
2017 OPS+: 92
2016 OPS+: 65
Parra has certainly been given the chance, as he’s been the de facto starting left fielder since taking over the job a few days into the season. He may become a platoon once Austin is ready, and offensively, that would be a very good thing.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Exceptionally slim. Parra has already dug himself a hole, and he’s only been above average offensively in two of his 11 years at the MLB level.
Enjoy the outfield assists, because you won’t get much offensively.
2019 OPS+: 66 in 86 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 89
2017 OPS+: 99
2016 OPS+: 127
You had to be really optimistic to see Longoria returning to form this year, but you had to be really pessimistic to see him falling this far.
The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, and he’s quietly been stellar over the last week-plus. In the last eight games, Longo is 8-for-30, with two doubles, a triple, a home run, two walks, and four strikeouts. That’s a slash line of .296/.367/.556, which is an All-Star player when paired with the defense he’s been playing.
If he can maintain anything even close to that level of play, the Giants will be stoked.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Coin flip. Betting on Longoria to have a good offensive year after the last two seasons is not recommended. But he clearly still has a lot of talent, and the fact that he’s been a significantly better defensive player this year than in the last two years perhaps suggests that he’s doing well physically. At this point, Longoria’s spectrum of plausible OPS+ outcomes is something like 60 - 125. That’s something.
2019 OPS+: 49 in 48 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 81
2017 OPS+: 94
2016 OPS+: 118
Solarte was an above average offensive player his first three years in the league, and now he’s working on his third-straight season below that trust 100 OPS+ mark.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Not good. He’ll rebound from the 49 mark, but still fall short of 100.
2019 OPS+: 43 in 85 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 98
2017 OPS+: 85
2016 OPS+: 108
Congratulations! You stuck with this article long enough to get to the super depressing section!
Crawford’s bat has been miserable this year. So miserable that he has the third-worst OPS+ on the team, despite running into an 11-game hitting streak. Over the last four years, Crawford has averaged 30.8 doubles and 15.3 home runs per season. Through 23 games this year, he has two doubles and no dingers.
The power isn’t there. Driving the ball isn’t there. After leading the league with 11 triples in 2016, Crawford has had three - total - in 1,249 plate appearances since.
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Not likely. Crawford has the ability to get hot for long stretches, and last year he was a hair away from average. A resurgence could happen. It probably won’t, though.
2019 OPS+: 37 in 26 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 68
2017 OPS+: 546 (!!!!! . . . . . . in two plate appearances)
2016 OPS+: -31
Kratz is a soon-to-be 39-year old backup catcher. What exactly did you expect?
Chances of being above average offensively this year: Negative.
2019 OPS+: 33 in 71 plate appearances
2018 OPS+: 77
2017 OPS+: 102
2016 OPS+: 88
It’s hard to swallow the truth, but the truth is that Panik - who sported a 129 OPS+ in his age-24 season, is not a good offensive player. Is he 33 OPS+ bad? No. But the optimism that sprung from a .426/.449/.511 Spring Training line evaporated with the leftover beer cups in the Arizona sun during those games.
Panik’s been unlucky - in the last few days he’s had two rockets that found gloves. But more than anything, his bat skills are simply failing to result in hits these days.
Like Crawford, Panik has two doubles, no triples, and no home runs.
Put another way, the Giants middle infielders have combined for the same number of extra base hits as Chris Davis, who literally set the MLB record for his inability to get hits.
We’ll end a depressing article on that depressing note.