The San Francisco Giants achieved 100% efficiency today by maximizing their talents in a wonderful bounce back game after a tough weekend in New York. Facing the Chicago White Sox in their home opener, they hit seven (7) home runs, including a grand slam in the 9th inning. The lineup was built to go long and hard and it did exactly that.
Which one was your favorite?
- Joc Pederson’s 432 ft. blast in the top of the 2nd?
- The pair of back-to-back home runs in the top of the 4th (first time in franchise history they’ve gone back-to-back twice in the same inning)? Here they are as called by Jon Miller:
For the first time since 2011, the San Francisco Giants hit four home runs in one inning.— KNBR (@KNBR) April 3, 2023
Here are all four of Jon Miller's incredible calls ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/23AWx33nLk
- David Villar’s first career grand slam?
First grand slam of David Villar's career and he made it look easyyy pic.twitter.com/LCo1z8je6i— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 3, 2023
- Or Bryce Johnson’s first career home run?
Show some love for @BryceJohnsonSF on his first big league home run pic.twitter.com/fvfjAPzdGU— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 3, 2023
They were all beautiful and perfect. Soothing cracks of the bats, all thanks to a perfect storm of the Giants needing to get the offense going coupled with a park — Guaranteed Rate Field — that’s an incubator for home runs. Nobody should expect a team to roll in and nearly tie their franchise record for home runs in a game (8) — which they would’ve done had Luis Robert not robbed Joc Pederson of a 2-homer day with a great catch in the top of the 3rd — but I mean it: this Giants lineup is built to mash. If you have any doubts about this, consider these data points:
- This morning, Jay Cuda on Twitter posted a graphic on batted ball data through the first weekend of the season and I’m putting it here because it sets up this next bit:
16 of the 25 hardest hit balls of the day (all 95+ mph off the bat) went to the Giants. 11 of those went for hits, and it would’ve been 12 had it not been for that pesky Robert! But the point is, the Giants have the gear, but the question through the comically small sample size of three games is if they would have the skill.
It certainly helped them today that Chicago’s Michael Kopech did not throw a sinker. His pitch arsenal and profile is surprisingly similar to Gerrit Cole’s, so why did he not have a Gerrit Cole-like day?
Just scanning the grids here, it looks pretty simple: Kopech was in the zone too much with his four-seamer while Cole managed to tease the zone with it better. And then there’s the simple matter of stuff. Their velocities are close enough, but Cole has more spin on both his fastball and slider. That extra movement creates more deception and makes it a little easier to time. And as Kopech got more discouraged, his sequencing might’ve even gotten easier for Giants hitters to guess.
One of the things that made Jhony Brito so effective the other day was the simple fastball-changeup movement combo. That extra deception coupled with Giants hitters having a little less time to process everything (the pitch clock cuts both ways) and having never seen the guy before certainly helped to shut them down. Once they cut Kopech, they pounced on his blood in the water.
2. The three-season Park Factor calculation has Guaranteed Rate Field as the 2nd-most home run generating park in the major leagues behind only the Great American Ball Park.
Statcast park effects show the observed effect of each displayed stat based on the events in the selected park. Each number is set so that “100” is average for that metric, and the park-specific number is generated by looking at each batter and pitcher, controlled by handedness, and comparing the frequency of that metric in the selected park compared to the performance of those players in other parks.For example, the 135 HR mark for 2018-2020 at Great American Ball Park does not mean the Reds hit 35% more home runs at their home park. It means for batters and pitchers who played both at GABP and elsewhere, 35% more home runs were observed at GABP.
And the Park Factor for the stadium going back to 2000 has shown it as well above average where home runs are concerned. We’ve seen the Giants go into hitter friendly places and lay an egg, but today was not that day.
Why doesn’t this happen every game? Oh, great question. I don’t know. But the Giants are designed to have more games like this. Of course, they’re just as likely to be a boom and bust offense for the same reasons. Guess wrong on sequencing, fewer location mistakes to capitalize on, etc. can lead to shutouts just as easily as having a starter’s number.
The home runs ought to get all the headlines, but an equally important performance can’t be forgotten (caveat to be revealed later).
Anthony DeSclafani pitched like he had just stepped out of 2021.
Now, before you start throwing at me his numbers versus the Dodgers or his unfortunate 2022, remember that he was a top 30 starter in MLB and 18th-best by FanGraphs WAR (3.0) in 2021. The Giants not only saw something in him, they helped him actualize it and then they signed him to a three-year extension. Sure, year one didn’t work out, but let’s consider this: he has a rare genetic difference that caused his ankle problems. What am I talking about? To the Chronicle!
For most of his life, it turns out, Anthony DeSclafani was pitching without a groove for the peroneal tendon in his right ankle, his body somehow compensating for that genetic anomaly until late in the 2021 season.
That’s when DeSclafani first felt ankle discomfort, which went away after a winter of rest only to return last April.
A doctor had to drill a groove in his ankle to repair the muscle, and after recovery and a good Spring Training, it sure does look like DeSclafani has started the season in a groove.
He’s at his best when he’s 94+ with his sinker and spinning his slider in the 2200 rpm range. Today, he hit 95 with the sinker, but averaged closer to 92.5, which is where it was last year. And the spin rates (2234 rpm on slider, 2174 on sinker) were in line with 2021. But he managed to hit his spots and, for the most part, stay out of trouble. He got first strikes on 10 of the 20 batters he faced, but most importantly, he was effective and didn’t lose focus.
That’s no easy feat for a guy who missed most of last season and even though he stayed healthy all spring, his workload wasn’t 100%. He had trouble in the 4th inning with runners on first and third, only one out, and the White Sox’s best hitter to start the season, Yoan Moncada, at the plate. He needed a double play and he got it.
Like the offense, DeSclafani’s start today couldn’t have gone any better from the team’s perspective. He looked as good as he ever did in 2021. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be the effective guy they’d hoped he’d be through next season.
More encouraging signs from today:
- Mike Yastrzemski went 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, and two walks, and he had a great sprint out play in center field to catch a Tim Anderson line drive. The Giants are counting on him to bounce back to at least league average with the bat and to continue providing above average defense in center, and through four games he has done both.
- Brandon Crawford continues to amaze with the glove.
- Bryce Johnson carrying over the positives from his spring with career home run #1 is great, also:
Bryce Johnson conveniently hit his first homer into the Giants bullpen. He’s going to give it to his dad. In clubhouse, he got doused with ketchup, mustard and “everything you could possibly put on a pancake.”— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 3, 2023
What are we thinking here? Whipped cream? Butter? Frosting? Sprinkles? Various jams and jellies? Fruits such as blueberries or oranges? Walnuts? Almond shavings? Banana slices?
And now... an off day.