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Week 3 Statcast standouts

Hard hits aren’t the only thing worth admiring — but they’re a start!

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have held onto the #2 spot in NL team home runs (33), but they’re decidedly middle of the pack (9th in NL) when it comes to overall offensive performance (102 wRC+ as a team). In fact, they’ve scored the sixth-fewest runs in the NL (95) at the present, but it’s still early. The Padres have somehow scored fewer (92)!

The team totals on defense, at least from a FanGraphs perspective, also tilts in the team’s favor with a +1.3 Defensive Runs. That’s 4th-best in the NL, behind the Dbacks, Brewers, and Mets. But this is a look at Statcast, and tying that in on defense and something really astounding happens: J.D. Davis leaps into the top ten of Outs Above Average.

I didn’t doctor this image one bit. This is what happens when click on the leaderboard this morning:

He and David Villar (+1) are the only Giants on the leaderboard with a positive value in this category.

But two more standout contributors in Statcast point to FanGraphs’ positive evaluation of team defense:

Mike Yastrzemski’s Outfielder Jump number has him in the top 10, too:

Statcast’s definition:

Jump is calculated only on plays that are Two Stars or harder, meaning with a 90% Catch Probability or lower. In order to qualify for the leaderboard, a player must have more Two-Star opportunities than team games / 5.

On the general OAA leaderboard, Yaz was at zero outs above average, but that’s because he has a negative in one of his range fields, but he has, overall, been a solid above average defender this season.

And Joey Bart continues to improve. Yesterday, Susan Slusser had a quick piece on Bart’s substantial improvements behind the plate.

Catching coach Craig Albernaz said that Bart has made some mechanical adjustments with his knee position to get in a better position to throw, making him quicker and more accurate, and Bart said the key for him is making sure he doesn’t speed himself up too much, even with a fast runner on base. “I’m trying to stay in the same rhythm all the time,” he said.

Statcast has him in the 100th percentile of pitch framing. He has a +1 Catcher Framing Runs on the leaderboard. Their definition:

Catcher framing is the art of a catcher receiving a pitch in a way that makes it more likely for an umpire to call it a strike. This page breaks down the catcher’s view into eight zones around the strike zone and shows the called strike percentage of all non-swings in that zone. Strike Rate shows the cumulative total of all zones. Catcher Framing Runs converts strikes to runs saved on a .125 run/strike basis, and includes park and pitcher adjustments. To qualify, a catcher must receive 6 called pitches per team game.

Hitting Heroes

Bart’s stature on defense was nearly equaled by his hitting — at least in this past week. He had 11 batted ball events (BBE) that maxed out at 108.6 mph for an average of 86.26 mph. Before I talk about what any of that means, here’s a nice bit of symmetry from 2020:

Anyway, Bart’s 86.26 mph BBE average raised his season average, which now stands at 81.5 mph. Not great, but just looking at the 11 BBE sample, that 86.26 mph average put him right in line with the likes of J.T. Realmuto, Starling Marte, Keibert Ruiz, Thomas Lane — in the 220s out of 267 qualified batters, and again, just for this week, BUT an improvement all the same. It’s only 34 PA, but his .300/.382/.333 line looks startling for a guy who usually looks lost at the plate (the 23.5% to 2.9% K%:BB% proving my point).

By the way, that 108.6 mph double last Monday was the hardest hit ball of the week by any Giant. J.D. Davis, Darin Ruf, Michael Conforto, Wilmer Flores, and Mike Yastrzemski all had decent weeks with their contact, too.

Here’s the Giants’ Hard Hit rate leaderboard after three weeks:

Pitching Paragons

The Hard Hit rate leaderboard for pitching looks a little different from this one. Before I get into that, just note that it’s the opposite: you want pitchers with a low percentage of barreled balls per plate appearance. A lower Hard Hit rate.

Great job, Tyler Rogers and Scott Alexander. I like how Doval’s 50% Hard Hit rate is balanced by him allowing contact very rarely. But as you can see, staff-wide, stuff is not so much a thing they can rely on.

Now, last week and the week before, I’ve kept track of the run value for Scott Alexander’s sinker, and this week, it’s gone up again to -6 runs. His sinker is simply the 7th-best pitch in baseball at the moment and the best sinker going right now. Period.

Since the Giants seem to be able to rev up pitchers’ sinkers and sliders, I took a look at the slider leaderboard to see if any Giants stood out there and it’s here we find Anthony DeSclafani’s 2,172 rpm spin slider at #15 with -4 Run Value.

Meanwhile, Sean Manaea’s if a +5, Ross Stripling’s is a +2, and so is Logan Webb’s. That’s a pitch all three need to get right if they’re going to be effective deep into the season.

The big takeaway from this week is that the Giants are doing okay when scaled against the league and Bart’s nice week went beyond just the eye test.