On July 2, the San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 10-4. It marked the third straight game that the team had scored at least 10 runs, a rather remarkable run. They wouldn’t score 10 runs the next day (they settled for 7, good for a 30-run series in San Diego), but their offensive hot streak was far from over.
From June 30 through July 17 - a stretch that included a chunk of off days for the All-Star Game - the Giants eclipsed the 10-run mark on six occasions. They scored more than five runs ten times in a span of 14 games.
Since then, the Giants offense has gone colder than Klondike bar. In the nine games since, the team has failed to score more than five runs even once. Here are their run totals during that time:
1 run: 3 times
2 runs: 1 time
3 runs: 2 times
4 runs: 1 time
5 runs: 2 times
The screams during the hot streak that the team would regress have certainly been proven accurate. The regression hit extremely hard.
Admittedly, the team has still gone 6-3 in those games, the result of quality pitching and extremely timely run placement. Their three losses have come by a combined 14 runs - their six wins by a combined six, because they’ve literally had six consecutive victories that were by the slimmest margin allowed by baseball rules.
During this nine-game regression-filled run, the team’s weighted runs created plus (wRC+) has been 62, meaning they’re hitting the ball 62% as well as the average team. Not surprisingly, that mark is 28th in MLB over that span.
I decided to glance at who is most responsible for the team slump, and oh my, there’s a lot to look at there.
It’s been difficult to watch Brandon Belt struggle, but struggle he has. He’s 6-40 with one double, three walks, and 11 strikeouts, good for a wRC+ of -2, the worst mark of any position player on the team.
Kevin Pillar - who has never been a good hitter but caught fire when the team did - came plummeting back to earth. He’s 6-38 with three doubles, one walk, and eight strikeouts, giving him a wRC+ of 12 (reminder: 100 is average). Austin Slater, it turns out, is not one of the best hitters in the world, and has sported a wRC+ of 40. Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey cooled off in a big way, with marks of 45 and 65, respectively.
There have been some bright spots. Alex Dickerson isn’t letting his teammates’ struggles bring him down. He’s 7-23 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. That wRC+ of 177 has been vital in keeping the Giants afloat. Stephen Vogt has been great in a reserve role, going 5-16 with three doubles, four walks, and six strikeouts, good for a 157 wRC+.
Mike Yastrzemski is still doing good things (131 wRC+), which is encouraging, and Zach Green has been a good hitter in an extremely limited sample. Pablo Sandoval has been exactly league average, which, on the bright side, is an enormous step up after he got left behind when the team heated up.
But on the whole, the team can’t hit. They’re not finding hits, and when they do, they’re not going over the fence.
Regression was inevitable. That said, regression that was this steep still wasn’t likely, so a bounceback should be expected. Hopefully it’s as strong as the regression.