The San Francisco Giants are not a good baseball team, and that’s fine. Until the farm system develops a core of everyday players and until the Los Angeles Dodgers get attacked by the North for
enslaving bringing Baseball opportunities to Ugandan children, they’re going to float in the middle of the division and sink to the bottom in other years.
This week, they’ll take on two teams that did the tank and rebuild strategy with results that wound up on the opposite ends of the spectrum. First up, it’s the successful Process in the Philadelphia Phillies, who last year earned the label of Himbos. The losingest franchise in the history of baseball had a nice run there from 2001-2012, going 1,065-878 (.548) in twelve seasons with five straight postseason appearances from 2007-2011 that included two World Series appearances and one win.
And then the championship core got age rot and the franchise didn’t have a winning season until 2021 (82-80; they were 81-81 in 2019, Gabe Kapler’s final season as their manager). There’s an argument to be made — by Phillies fans — that the pair of Kapler years should’ve seen the end of the rebuild but that for some reason his managerial style prevented this. Then they got Joe Girardi, who proved too inflexible, and they went full Himbo with Rob Thomson YOLOing his way through the rest of the 2022 season into the World Series.
Which brings us to now, where the Phillies have gone 15-10 since a 5-10 start and arrive at Oracle Park at .500 against a Giants team I think we can all agree is not good and/or is stinky poo poo. I’m not sure that the Phillies’ way of rebuilding after their championship era was better, but right now, a quarter of their 40-man (though I’m including Rhys Hoskins for the purposes of this analysis, and he’s on the 60-day IL at the moment) is “homegrown” and that group has, thus far, generated 2.5 fWAR.
By comparison, the Giants’ 40-man contains eight players drafted or signed as amateur free agents by the team and that group has contributed 1.8 fWAR. So, not a big difference there — the difference, really, is that the Phillies are able to attract marquee free agents. Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Zack Wheeler have about 4.2 fWAR combined. It’s a lot easier to put together a good team when 1) you’re bad for a long time and 2) great players want to come play for you.
The Giants have been bad but not bad enough to have a streak of choice picks AND their player development pipeline has mostly sucked on their way to doing absolutely nothing with the minor league players until maybe this year, when we can hope for Schmitt, Luis Matos, Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison, and Patrick Bailey to maybe — if all goes well — be fantastic September players on a 75-win Giants team.
Now, I think we should all be ready to cheer like we’re peasants in an arena watching the Himbos draw and quarter the Giants, but a quick glance at the numbers suggest that we’ll still be watching Baseball, meaning anything can happen in a three-game series.
It’s true, the Phillies can hit, but they’re not hitting the ball harder than the Giants. They’re striking out a little bit less, but they walk less often, too. They lead baseball in batting average on balls in play at .327, not a preposterous number, but it will be interesting to see how they fare against the Giants’ defense. The Phillies’ defense is, as usual, still some of the worst in baseball: 25th by FanGraphs’ Defensive Runs (-10.9 runs) in MLB, 13th in the NL.
Now, a lot of this offense is likely to change now that Bryce Harper is back from Tommy John surgery. He’s 13-for-39 in 10 games, with 2 home runs, and 5 walks against 12 strikeouts. So far, the Phillies are just 5-5 since his return, and he’ll be facing Alex Wood and Alex Cobb, which could work out for the Giants so long as nobody in the bullpen except for Camilo Doval has to face him — but even then, he’s always a threat.
It’s the Phillies’ pitching that’s really doing it for them, though. They’re the best staff in the National League (3rd in MLB) with 6 FanGraphs wins above replacement. That’s technically tied with the Braves and if you go down the line the Phillies do look more like the 4th or 5th best staff in baseball — BUT, still much better than the Giants’ 2.2 fWAR (23rd in MLB). Only the Braves strikeout more per 9 innings than the Phillies in the NL.
They’ve also been pretty good at suppressing home runs (11% HR/FB - 10th in MLB; 1.0 HR/9 / 9th in MLB) despite playing at Citizens Bank Park, the 6th-worst park for pitchers when it comes to home runs; and they’ve actually been better there (9.7% HR/FB, 0.8 HR/9) than on the road (11.9% HR/FB, 1.2 HR/9). Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense is no better than average at Oracle Park.
At the end of the day, though, I’m grasping at straws. The Phillies should beat the Giants easily in this series. The Giants just aren’t a very good team.
Three Phillies to watch
I already talked about Bryce Harper, who got ejected in a game yesterday at Coors Field, so, maybe he’ll get a suspension or something and not even play in game three. I don’t know. He’s very good when fully healthy, but in 29 career games in San Francisco, he’s hit just .186/.323/.333 (127 PA). It’s his worst batting average — his worst total line period — in any National League stadium. Well, look at that: I wound up talking about him anyway.
Brandon Marsh: He didn’t impress so much as make an impression after the Phillies acquired him from the Angels last season, but this season, he’s off to a roaring start: .295/.410/.545 and 90th percentile in Outs Above Average in CF. He’s definitely one of their Himbos, and he’s also a Wet Boy, and with a 36% pull rate he might just get a baseball or two wet in McCovey Cove.
Connor Brogdon: Now, he’s merely opening for the Phillies in Monday’s game, and will give way to lefty Bailey Falter. The Giants continue to struggle against left-handed pitchers, so the Giants **reeeeally** need to make some noise against Brogdon... and I think they can. An arsenal of four-seam, cutter, and changeup will work just fine against major league hitters, but Joc Pederson and LaMonte Wade Jr. are really good against four-seam fastballs and Thairo Estrada and J.D. Davis are great against changeups and cutters.
Josh Harrison: He’s been killing the Phillies this season (-0.5 fWAR) but he’s killed the Giants his entire career: .278/.335/.417 (159 PA) and specifically at Oracle Park — .279/.337/.430 (96 PA). Dude has 185 career walks in he major leagues. 10 of those have come against Giants pitching. That’s 5% of his career total. If he comes into the game as a pinch hitter and walks, the Giants are gonna lose.
And, yes, I realize I didn’t mention Kyle Schwarber (-0.4), who last season against the Giants batted .304/.407/.696 with 4 walks against eight strikeouts, and I didn’t mention anything about the fact that Gabe Kapler is facing off against his old team, but you know what, I think Phillies fans are okay with how things wound up and I think Giants fans will be just fine with Schwarber continuing to scuffle.
Three Giants to watch
Alex Cobb: At this point in the season, the Phillies are hitting a lot of groundballs. Their 44.3% is tied with the Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, and Tigers. Cobb is still leading the majors with a 64.1% groundball rate. The Giants need him to continue being their “co-ace” if they’ve got any shot in this series.
Casey Schmitt: I purposely didn’t spotlight him in the Dbacks series just because I wanted to let things play out a little more. Now that the adrenaline has worn off, let’s see what kind of player Schmitt can be while facing adversity. The Phillies will be a tough matchup on the mound and on the field — not because they’re great baserunners, but in spite of that. Will he try to force plays to compensate for an 0-for-4, let’s say? Plus, there’s something to be said about seeing what the Giants’ #4 prospect looks like against, say, Bryson Stott, the Phillies’ 1st round draft pick in 2019.
Mitch Haniger: He has to get it going. Now is the time. I said in this week’s Chroncast with Doug Bruzzone that Haniger — who sat out against lefty Brandon Pfaat yesterday — doesn’t even compare favorably to Michael Conforto. In Conforto’s first 15 games with the Giants, he hit .217/.368/.478 with 4 HR 8 RBI 10 BB and 18 K. Haniger? .179/.203/.321 with 2 HR 8 RBI 2 BB 18 K.
Giants vs. Phillies - How will it go?
This poll is closed
Phillies sweep real hard
Giants win, 2-1
Phillies win, 2-1
::lol:: Giants sweep ::lmao even::