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Looking back at the July Giants

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Ahh, things were so nice back then.

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Do you hate August? It’s okay if you hate August.

The San Francisco Giants have yet to win in August. For all we - mere plebeians who cannot travel into the future, and hopefully wouldn’t even if we could - know, the Giants will never win a game in August again. They may go 0-27. It could happen. It probably will happen, and then we’ll all sit in a corner and cry, wondering why the team didn’t trade Will Smith and Madison Bumgarner, while noted baseball hater Rob Manfred descends upon the team, states that they’re an embarrassment, and promptly moves the franchise to Tulsa.

Wait, I’m spiraling. Happy thoughts. Let’s go back to a better time. Let’s go back to . . . July.,

Ahh, July. The halcyon days of this team. I can remember it like it was the day before the day before yesterday.

July was a sensational month, in which the Giants went 19-6. It was their best monthly performance since October of 2017, when an otherwise horrible team managed to go undefeated for an entire month.

It got them into the playoff picture, saved the #ForeverGiant status of Bumgarner, and most importantly, was fun. So let’s look at everyone who donned a Giants jersey in the month, and see how much they were responsible for the team’s best July in more than 100 years.

Let’s break them down by category.

“Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play”

These fellas just wanted an opportunity to help the team, but their chances were sparse.

Zach Green - 15 PAs, .154/.267/.231, wRC+ of 41, -0.1 fWAR

Ty Blach - 3.0 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 9.00 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 0.0 fWAR
Ray Black - 2.0 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 4.50 ERA, 6.22 FIP, 0.0 fWAR
Andrew Suarez - 1.2 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 16.20 ERA, 10.42 FIP, -0.1 fWAR
Conner Menez - 5.0 IP, 6 K, 2 BB, 3.60 ERA, 7.22 FIP, -0.1 fWAR
Williams Jerez - 2.0 IP, 2 K, 2 BB, 4.50 ERA, 10.72 FIP, -0.2 fWAR

There were some encouraging performances here. I certainly want to see Menez back in the rotation sooner rather than later, and Green - a local player - had an exciting and emotional debut.

Two of these players, the slant-rhymed pitching duo of Blach and Black, are no longer with the team.

The rebellion tasked with stopping all the wins

Every superhero needs a villain. These players, grumps that they are, actively didn’t want the Giants to go on a run, and did everything they could to stop it. Alas, they were bested. They may, however, add forces and come back stronger in August.

Tyler Austin - 28 PAs, .167/.286/.333, wRC+ of 69, 0.0 fWAR
Brandon Belt - 110 PAs, .247/.336/.330, wRC+ of 82, -0.2 fWAR
Joe Panik - 75 PAs, .232/.284/.275, wRC+ of 44, -0.3 fWAR

Shaun Anderson - 23.1 IP, 24 K, 10 BB, 7.71 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 0.0 fWAR
Derek Holland - 9.1 IP, 10 K, 3 BB, 4.82 ERA, 5.04 FIP, -0.1 fWAR
Tony Watson - 10.1 IP, 9 K, 2 BB, 4.35 ERA, 5.15 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

Before you ask: Yes, it pains me to put Belt in this list. He was far from horrible, but when you account for A) the expectations we have, and B) his position, it’s hard to give him a pass, especially since he was a lot closer to horrible than to good.

Anderson had a rough month, though he somehow managed to not accumulate negative WAR despite an FIP that belongs planted on the engine of a muscle car. Make of that what you will.

“No thanks, I don’t partake”

This is the friend from your typical stoner movie, who doesn’t smoke, but isn’t a snitch, either. They hang out with the protagonists while the drugs are lit up, and maybe even make a positive comment here or there. No one peer pressures them, and they might even take the occasional toke, but for the most part they’re just there.

Pablo Sandoval - 86 PAs, .224/.294/.434, wRC+ of 87, 0.1 fWAR
Kevin Pillar - 111 PAs, .236/.261/.377, wRC+ of 66, -0.1 fWAR

Drew Pomeranz - 14.1 IP, 15 K, 6 BB, 3.14 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 0.1 fWAR

Pillar’s numbers were a bit staggering, given how exceptional he was in the first two weeks of July. He fell off hard. Sandoval was the opposite, putting together a 2015-esque performance in early-mid July, before rediscovering his bat near the end of the month.

Pomeranz - now with the Milwaukee Brewers - pitched very well out of the bullpen. But he was also relegated to the bullpen for a reason, and wasn’t put in many high leverage situations.

The dream of the .500s is alive in San Francisco

Losing sucks, but what’s so good about winning? Can’t we all just meet in the middle?

Jeff Samardzija - 38.2 IP, 35 K, 7 BB, 2.09 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 0.6 fWAR
Tyler Beede - 32.1 IP, 27 K, 4 BB, 3.34 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 0.2 fWAR
Will Smith - 14.0 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, 3.86 ERA, 4.36 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

All three of these pitchers kind of felt like they deserved their own category. In fact, this category was initially labeled, “People named Will Smith,” because I just didn’t know where to put him.

Samardzija pitched very well, and would be higher up if he were the team’s fourth starter. For now, and through no fault of his own, he’s their second starter, and is being judged as such.

Smith had a bad month by his standards, but still felt like a rock in the bullpen that the team could rely on. Just knowing he was there helped them win some games.

And Beede - my, my, my. His starts were so encouraging, as he finally figured out how to limit walks. He also gave up a lot of hard hits in the process.

“Wins are pretty cool, I guess”

Every good team has good players. You want to win 85-90 games? You need good players. You need a few guys who can make an All-Star team, and a few guys that are just solidly good at the sport of baseball. These are those guys. Or at least, these were those guys in July.

Mike Yastrzemski - 88 PAs, .316/.356/.570, wRC+ of 135, 0.7 fWAR
Buster Posey - 82 PAs, .280/.341/.440, wRC+ of 109, 0.6 fWAR
Austin Slater - 73 PAs, .270/.370/.524, wRC+ of 135, 0.5 fWAR
Brandon Crawford - 91 PAs, .263/.352/.463, wRC+ of 117, 0.5 fWAR

Reyes Moronta - 12.1 IP - 17 K, 4 BB, 2.92 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 0.3 fWAR
Dereck Rodriguez - 5.0 IP, 6 K, 00 BB, 1.80 ERA, 0.82 FIP, 0.3 fWAR
Trevor Gott - 9.2 IP, 12 K, 5 BB, 3.72 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 0.3 fWAR
Mark Melancon - 11.2 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 2.31 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 0.2 fWAR
Sam Coonrod - 5.0 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, 0.00 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 0.1 fWAR

It feels dismissive of some of these performances - especially Yaz and Slater - to only put them in this category. Those two outperformed expectations so dramatically, and you can’t tell the story of July without mentioning them.

Still, if you look at them objectively, they were good-not-great. Which is good (not great)! Good teams feature good players, and great teams are built on a foundation of good players.

Dick! Dick! Dick!

When you go 19-6 for a month, you need a few players who perform so well that multiple articles are written about the phallic chants they incite.

Alex Dickerson - 62 PAs, .393/.452/.786, wRC+ of 217, 1.0 fWAR
Evan Longoria - 34 PAs, .400/.471/1.067, wRC+ of 282, 0.9 fWAR
Donovan Solano - 72 PAs, .373/.403/.567, wRC+ of 154, 0.7 fWAR
Stephen Vogt - 48 PAs, .293/.375/.659, wRC+ of 161, 0.6 fWAR

Madison Bumgarner - 30.0 IP, 27 K, 5 BB, 2.70 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 1.0 fWAR
Sam Dyson - 12.0 IP, 14 K, 1 BB, 2.25 ERA, 1.13 FIP, 0.7 fWAR

If you’re wondering why the Giants have proven wholly incapable of winning in August, you can start with the fact that four of these six players have not taken the field for the team this month, and the two that have played have combined for just eight plate appearances.