What Has Led To The Giants Downfall?

There are many reasons why the Giants have fallen so quickly. You could point to the absence of Angel Pagan; since he was acquired from the Mets, the Giants are 163-124 when he plays, and 53-66 when he doesn’t. “It’s amazing the different in record when he’s out there versus not,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The numbers speak for themselves.” As an emotional leader of the club, he is the most indispensable player on the team. Gregor Blanco, his replacement, is a huge drop-off offensively. Pagans wRC+* in May was 124; Blanco’s in June was a putrid 77.

Another reason is the complete power outage from Michael Morse. Morse has lost his extra-base hit ability recently for a variety of statistical reasons. To establish how far he fell, his wRC+ in June was 77, as compared to 160 in May.  He has become less patient at the plate in June, with a 2.2% walk rate, compared to his 8.3% clip in May. He has also hit more fly balls in June, as his GB/FB ratio of 1.33 vs. 1.59 in May. These stats indicate that Morse has tried to do too much and hit home runs to make up for the absence of Belt and Pagan. Part of his struggles are influenced by poor luck: his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was an unsustainably high .343 in May. Therefore, he was due for some regression, explaining his .286 BABIP in June. Moreover, he has actually hit more line drives in June, at 24.6%, compared to 20.8% in May.  In summary, Morse’s struggles can be attributed to bad luck and an over-aggressive approach at the dish.

As far as the pitching goes, Sergio Romo isn’t the only problem.
Team Pitching Stats
Month
K/9
K/BB
HR/9
K%
BB%
K-BB%
AVG
BABIP
LOB%
ERA
FIP
xFIP
May
7.96
2.8
0.59
21.500%
7.700%
13.900%
0.227
0.281
77.300%
2.91
3.26
3.57
June
6.83
2.93
0.62
18.600%
6.300%
12.300%
0.241
0.286
63.700%
4.31
3.35
3.73

As you can see in this chart, the numbers across the chart are down. Luck plays a large part in it; in May, the Giants pitchers stranded 77.3% of base runners. That mark is unsustainable in the long run, thus the regression to 63.7%. The collective FIP (essentially what the ERA should be) hasn’t changed much, but the ERA has skyrocketed. The pitching staff as a whole has gotten unlucky, and should improve in the near future. Even without looking at these stats, the Giants are built to win and win now. In a matter of days, their struggles should be in the rearview. Belt comes back soon, moving Morse back to left. Unfortunately, Pagan suffered a ‘minor’ setback and is seeing a back specialist in Los Angeles.

*Weighted Runs Created (wRC): is an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs. In Runs Created, instead of looking at a player’s line and listing out all the details (e.g. 23 2B, 15 HR, 55 BB, 110 K, 19 SB, 5 CS), the information is synthesized into one metric in order to say, “Player X was worth 24 runs to his team last year.” While the idea was sound, James’ formula has since been superseded by Tom Tango’s wRC , which is based off of wOBA.

Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+): measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average. League average is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than league average. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so a 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average

-Ben Leonard 

Cover Image: By Lisa Suender on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons