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How would the lineup do in this postseason?

Using some surface data and wild speculation, let’s see how the Giants might’ve hit in the playoffs.

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It sure has been a fun postseason, which means it’s the perfect time to draw attention to the fact that the San Francisco Giants aren’t in it. Maybe you’ve all made peace with the 81-81 season, but for the good of this premise, I’ve chosen not to. How would the Giants actually be doing if they’d somehow taken the Phillies’ place this postseason, a concept that’s not wacky at all:

The actual impetus for this post is a tweet from Friday:

Ignoring — for the moment — the context of these plate appearances, I first wanted to get a sense of just how well the 2022 Giants did against 95+ mph fastballs. I made a definite mistake in gathering the data in that I used effective pitch velocity instead of release point velocity, but I’m not going to go back in and redo this because this is just for fun. Besides, an argument could be made that perception matters as much to hitting as actual velocity. Anyway, this is just supposed to be a quick, fun and dirty exercise; so, with all that in mind:

As a team, the Giants saw 13,869 fastballs (grouped in Baseball Savant as 4-seam, 2-seam, cutter, sinker) out of 24,342 pitches over the course of the season. That’s 57% of the pitches all Giants hitters saw in 2022. Of those, 3,875 were 95+mph (15.9%).

The Giants’ line: .241 / .339 / .357

NL line: .241 / .325 / .378 | MLB line: .240 / .324 / .374

So far, not bad. The Giants as a group were within the range of the rest of the league. I’ve constructed this theoretical lineup + bench to look at this from the player level, too. One thing you will need to imagine: because the Giants would be in the postseason, they might’ve played Evan Longoria differently down the stretch and he might not have wound up with his finger fracture and might therefore still be on a postseason roster.

C1 - Joey Bart
C2 - Austin Wynns
1B - Wilmer Flores
2B - Thairo Estrada
SS - Brandon Crawford
3B - Evan Longoria
LF - Joc Pederson
CF - Austin Slater
RF - Mike Yastrzemski
DH - J.D. Davis

1B/OF - LaMonte Wade, Jr.
IF - David Villar
IF/OF - Ford Proctor

And to get a sense of just how good the Giants’ various lines are, I will use wOBA and the scale, which for reference here:


J.D. Davis (.423), Evan Longoria (.417), Austin Wynns (.378), Mike Yastrzemski (.376), Thairo Estrada (.372)

That’s roughly the group you’d say are the Giants’ best hitters — yes, even Austin Wynns. But it’s not all about Austin Wynns. Certainly, in any postseason series, the reliable guys will disappear at times and it will require another group to step up. The Giants, thankfully, have another tier who have been capable against velocity:

It All Averages Out

Joc Pederson (.364), Austin Slater (.346)

I like this pair an awful lot, and I had assumed I’d find Pederson in the top group just because he had a solid season overall. And on second thought, I figured maybe his wOBA was skewed towards being higher against right-handed pitching. It is — .380 vs .326 left-handed pitching — but not when it comes to high velocity. In that arrangement, his wOBA vs. righties was just .340. He saw 95+ in 16% of the pitches thrown to him by RHP (1,685). In a miniscule sample of just 28 pitches from LHP, he was 4-for-10 with a home run (.548 wOBA) against 95+.

Meanwhile, and predictably, Austin Slater’s wOBA against left-handed pitching throwing 95+ at him was higher than his total season rate, at .378.

Oh no... no-no-no-no-no-no-no...

Wilmer Flores (.306), Brandon Crawford (.293), LaMonte Wade Jr. (.282), Joey Bart (.273), Ford Proctor (.221), David Villar (.215)

Practically half of a potential postseason lineup features not merely below average production against high velocity, but actually very poor performances. In-season, Villar, Proctor, and Wade had very few at bats compared to the rest, but it looks like teams figured they could just pump fastballs by them — and they were right.

For Wilmer Flores, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that: he crushed lefties throwing heat with a .390 wOBA in 81 fastballs of 95+ (out of 2,426 pitches from lefties). So, they didn’t really throw him fastballs — which makes sense. He is a lefty-masher, and what better way to mash than to let the pitcher provide the power?

Brandon Crawford had an interesting reverse split of .291 wOBA vs. RHP and .307 vs. LHP, but I admit I’m being a little generous calling that “interesting.”

Remarkably, the top 25 of NL hitters (min. 1,000 total pitches seen in 2022) in this year’s actual postseason (not the imagined one I had you enter where the Giants replaced the Phillies) cuts off at .341, so this entire group is in the above average to excellent range for wOBA:

Myers, Castellanos, Machado, and Bader (now in the AL on the Yankees) are all who remain, so obviously, batting average against 95+ is not the only measure to look at when trying to make any sort of predictions about performance in the postseason. Teams are facing the absolute very best each has to offer. No quixotic minor leaguers with control issues. No guys being skipped for workload management, nobody trying out new mechanics.

The previously mentioned 27.1% K rate speaks a lot more to pitcher talent + sequencing success than it does to general skill — such as these Statcast measures can be considered skill — at hitting 95+. On the season, the Giants had a strikeout rate of 23.9%, 9th-worst in baseball. The only playoff team worse than that was the Braves at 24.6%, 3rd-worst. If by some miracle the Giants had made it into this year’s postseason, it would’ve wound up being not much different from last season’s playoff run: silenced bats and a first round exit.