This is the fourth edition of the San Francisco Giants Mailbag, which is a weekly post that involves answering Giants fans’ questions about the team. I asked fans over Twitter this week what questions they had, and I chose three to answer in this week’s Giants Mailbag article.
Jake Peavy has been the sparkplug for this San Francisco Giants team in the final months of the 2014 MLB season.
Ever since he was acquired by the Giants, he has provided them with exactly what they needed when they acquired him. He provides them with stability in the starting rotation, he provides veteran leadership and playoff experience, and he provides energy. Also, his fierce loyalty to his teammates is unmatched.
Peavy has given the Giants the boost that they needed to make it into the postseason.
He has had a similar effect on this Giants team to another Giants player that was acquired at the trade deadline a couple years ago.
After having the best record in baseball near the beginning of the season, the San Francisco Giants are stuck in a serious downturn right now. The Giants’ struggles started on June 9th, and since then, they’ve lost 20 of their last 27 games.
Heading into the 2014 season, the Giants’ projected starting lineup was supposed to be something like this: Angel Pagan CF, Marco Scutaro 2B, Brandon Belt 1B, Buster Posey C, Hunter Pence RF, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Michael Morse LF, and Brandon Crawford SS. At first glance, this looks like a playoff-worthy starting lineup. However, some of these key players have suffered injuries this season, which has led to some of the Giants’ struggles.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The San Francisco Giants have played great baseball and shown much improvement so far in the 2014 season. The Giants knew that 2013 was disappointing in many different ways and that they would have to go back to fundamentals in Spring Training to have a more successful season in 2014.
Obviously, it’s still very early in the season, but the Giants have improved in several areas that they struggled with last season. There are still some areas that need work, but thankfully for the Giants, they have lots of time to improve in those areas.
Here are three good signs from the first 10 days of the 2014 season for the Giants:
1) Brandon Belt’s hot streak at the plate has carried over from last season. Belt is currently hitting .342 and has a .737 slugging percentage with five home runs and nine RBI. He leads the Giants in home runs, RBI, and runs.
After hitting .350 with five home runs and 13 RBI and having a 1.051 OPS in August of 2013 and hitting .341 with two home runs and 15 RBI and having a .910 OPS in September of 2013, Belt was set to have a breakout year in 2014. Even though it’s early, it seems as if that prediction will come true.
Belt is on pace to have an All-Star caliber year, and he could possibly even hit 25-30 home runs this season.
2) The Giants’ offense so far this season, specifically their power numbers and their hitting with RISP, has been impressive. As of Wednesday, the Giants rank first in MLB with 13 home runs, whereas in 2013, the Giants ranked second to last in MLB with 107 home runs for the whole season. Obviously, it’s early in the season and the Giants played their first four games in the hitter-friendly Chase Field, but the power displayed so far by Belt, Buster Posey, Michael Morse, and others has been impressive.
These are all impressive, especially given the fact that the Giants struggled so much with runners in scoring position last year. In 2013, the Giants left an average of 3.70 runners in scoring position per game, which ranked 26th in MLB.
The Giants’ offense has looked more powerful than last season, and Angel Pagan deserves a lot of credit. Pagan is hitting .447, which leads the Giants, and has a home run and eight RBI. He also leads the Giants in OBP with .488 and hits with 17. Pagan has also hit safely in all nine of the Giants’ games so far. Pagan is healthy, and the Giants’ offense is benefiting greatly from his presence and his hot hitting.
3) Tim Hudson has become a fan favorite because of his dominant pitching so far. He’s started two games so far, and he’s gone 2-0 and has a 1.15 ERA, 11 strikeouts, no walks, and a 0.64 WHIP in 15.2 innings. He’s allowed opponents to hit just .182 against him, and he’s allowed just 10 hits and two earned runs.
Every single one of these stats is excellent, but one of the important stats to the Giants is the fact that he’s pitched 15.2 innings in two starts. So far this season, Hudson is the only Giants starting pitcher to complete seven innings, and he’s done this in both of his starts.
Last season, Giants’ starting pitchers threw too many pitches, made too many early exits, and this taxed the bullpen and Posey. Hudson’s efficiency and low pitch counts are already greatly benefiting the Giants.
Here are three bad signs from the first 10 days of the 2014 season for the Giants:
1) Besides Hudson, the starting pitchers haven’t shown some much-needed stability. One of the main reasons why the Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2013 was because their starting pitchers struggled, besides Madison Bumgarner. They need this to change in 2014, and so far, they haven’t proven they can be more reliable as a staff.
So far, Matt Cain has a 5.73 ERA, Tim Lincecum has a 9.90 ERA, and Ryan Vogelsong has a 9.00 ERA. Bumgarner has a 1.74 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched more than 6.1 innings yet.
Vogelsong’s struggles have been the most concerning, because he has faced serious velocity and mechanical issues since returning from injury last season. Hopefully Vogelsong, and the pitching staff as a whole, can bounce back.
2) Marco Scutaro started the season on the DL, and there haven’t been any updates so far on his status. Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group reported that Bruce Bochy has no idea when Scutaro will be back with the team.
“I really don’t know,” Bochy said when asked about Marco Scutaro. “I know he’s doing baseball activities. I don’t even have a target date for you and I don’t think Dave Groeschner can even have that for you.”
So far, Scutaro’s absence hasn’t been too troublesome for the Giants because of the emergence of Brandon Hicks, the versatility that Joaquin Arias possesses, and the defensive prowess of Ehire Adrianza. However, it has to be a little concerning that the Giants don’t have a timetable for the return of their 2012 NLCS MVP and 2013 All-Star.
3) The Giants struggled mightily with defense last season, and they’ve shown some inconsistency on defense this season too. During the first game of the season, they committed two errors but it easily could’ve been more than that. They struggled with executing simple rundown plays, handling bunts, etc.
It even prompted Bochy to ask bench coach Ron Wotus if they needed to start spring training again. The Giants made a point during spring training to get back to the fundamentals on defense, and it certainly didn’t show during that first game.
The Giants have played better defense since then, but they need to keep improving.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The San Francisco Giants have one mission for the 2014 season. The Giants hope to prove that the 2013 season was a fluke and that they’re ready to contend for not just a playoff spot but also another World Series title.
Here’s a preview of the Giants’ 2014 season:
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The San Francisco Giants had a rough season. Even though they brought back a very similar roster to the one that won the World Series last year, they failed to replicate another winning, successful season.
There are several reasons why the Giants had such a poor season. First of all, they were inconsistent. The starting pitching started off horribly, so the offense had to carry the team. Then, Angel Pagan went down with his hamstring injury, so the offense started struggling. By the time the team started playing good, all-around baseball again, it was too late. The Dodgers were winning so many games that they were almost unstoppable, and the Giants had dug themselves into too large of a hole in the standings.
Another reason why the Giants failed to make the playoffs was injuries. As mentioned before, Pagan’s injury significantly affected the Giants’ chances. Although Gregor Blanco had a couple solid months earlier in the season, he wasn’t able to make the impact the Giants needed at the leadoff spot. Neither did Andres Torres. Neither of these players were expected to either, given the fact that they came into the season forming a left-field platoon.
Ryan Vogelsong was also out for a significant amount of time with a broken hand. Vogelsong struggled to start out the season. He was starting to re-gain his form in a start against the Nationals on May 20th, and then he dislocated a joint in his pinky on his pitching hand when he was hit by a pitch.
Marco Scutaro has also dealt with a couple injuries throughout the season. He sustained tendon damage to his left pinkie finger on June 11th, and he has also dealt with a sore back and hip all season. Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval have dealt with injuries too.
After making deep postseason runs in two of the past three seasons, it make sense why the Giants had so many injuries. Overly fatigued bodies are more susceptible to injury, so this must have been the reason why this Giants team had unfortunate luck in terms of injuries. In fact, Bruce Bochy pointed out that almost all of the Giants players who participated in the World Baseball Classic were injured at some point this season.
Injuries weren’t the only reason why the Giants struggled this season though. They lacked clutch hitting at times, they struggled on defense, and they had very little production from the leadoff spot. However, many of these things come back to the Giants’ team chemistry.
They have some of the best team chemistry in all of MLB. This was evident when they won the World Series last season. When one person is doing well, many other players do well too. They feed off of each other’s energy, and they truly play for each other.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true too. When one player is slumping, whether it be on offense or on defense, other players end up struggling too. When the whole team is slumping, they start pressing. Each player wants to become the player who will break the team out of their slump. Then they put too much pressure on themselves, and their game starts to suffer even more. It becomes a vicious cycle, and it happened this season for the Giants. Their clutch hitting, defense, and consistency suffered because of this.
The San Francisco Giants finished the 2013 season with a record of 76-86. They tied for third place in the NL West, and they failed to make the playoffs after winning two World Series titles in the past three seasons.
Although this sounds like a disappointing season, the Giants actually finished off the season on a great note. The Giants won 10 of their last 15 games, and since August 24th, they went 20-14 to end the season.
The Giants had essentially been out of the playoff hunt since July or August, so this run doesn’t technically mean anything in terms of standings. However, this run is definitely significant.
The Giants will now have a longer offseason than they’re used to, which will give the whole team some much needed rest going into next season. Even though they’re facing a longer offseason, they will be able to carry some of the momentum they had during that run into next season. This is significant, because the Giants can go into the 2014 season with some confidence, instead of going into next season disappointed with the results of the 2013 season.
“This game was a great way to go into the offseason,” Hunter Pence said after he led the Giants to a walkoff win in the last game of the season. “One of the goals during the rough times was to dig a little deeper and find a way to get momentum again. I think we did that.”
After witnessing the Giants impressive run the end the season, it’s hard not to think about what could have been. How much did the Giants really miss Pagan? How much did Pagan’s absence really affect the Giants?
“He changes our club, no question about it,” Bochy said. “I think we’d be in a better situation than where we are.”
On the field, Pagan provides speed on the basepaths, he’s an effective leadoff hitter, he finds ways to get on base, he has some power, he’s an excellent hitter at AT&T Park, and he’s pretty good defensively. The Giants lacked some depth in the outfield this season, and they clearly missed his presence at the leadoff spot.
Off the field, Pagan is not just their leadoff hitter, but he is their sparkplug. He is the energy and the passion of this team. He could’ve potentially re-fueled the Giants on and off the field when they were collectively slumping.
Pagan injured himself after his inside-the-park home run on May 25th. The Giants truly started struggling in June and July, and they couldn’t recover from that. The Giants couldn’t have stopped the Dodgers’ incredible run, but it would’ve been interesting to see what the Giants could’ve accomplished if Pagan hadn’t gotten injured.
“We can all see right now that we’re a good team, a championship team,” Pagan said. “This year happened to be a tough one but that happens to every team. I think the most important thing is to reflect on the year and use it as motivation and look at what is happening now.”
There’s always next year for the Giants. In fact, they like winning championships in even-numbered years. Maybe 2014 is their year to get back to their winning ways.