Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pablo Sandoval's hot start

Pablo Sandoval is mashing this April, and he's not yet 25:

Overall, he’s hitting .328 with a .400 OBP and slugging .603. That’s good for a .423 wOBA. And, unlike last April, he doesn’t have an outrageous BABiP. Which isn’t to say it’s not well above average, it is at .341. But when you consider it was .382 last April and certainly not sustainable, and that his career BABiP is .325, his .341 mark so far this season seems more reasonable and less of a red flag.

What’s also interesting to me, though, is that he’s striking out roughly twice as often. His 20.7 strikeout rate is roughly double what he’s done in his career. But just maybe, that’s a good thing. Why, you might ask? Because he’s seeing more pitches so far. In 2008 when he came up, he saw 3.10 pitches per plate appearance, which is wholly awful. With a mark 3.44 in 2009 he improved it quite a bit, but it was still basically terrible. And he duplicated that with a 3.43 mark last season. But thus far in 2011 it’s been 3.80, and that’s sort of something to behold with the Panda. Anything approaching four pitchers per at bat seems like miraculous progress.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tim Lincecum's evolving repertoire

In case you haven't stumbled upon it yet -- it was linked by Rob Neyer on Friday and I also introduced it at Bay City Ball last Tuesday -- I wrote about Tim Lincecum's awesome slider and improved fastball at the Hardball Times:

At the end of the 2010 season, Cain taught Lincecum a new slider grip, his slider grip—it’s been a pretty excellent pitch for Cain in his career. He began using it on Sept. 12, and the results were awesome. Since he began throwing that pitch, including the playoffs and his first two 2011 starts, he’s thrown 78 innings with a strikeout rate of 10.73, a walk rate of 2.19 (K/BB ratio of 4.90) and a 1.85 ERA. He’s simply been better than ever, and half of those starts came against playoff teams in the NLDS, NLCS and World Series.

Go check it out.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Giants' bullpen: Shutdowns & Meltdowns

I wrote about a couple of stats -- shutdowns and meltdowns -- I learned of on FanGraphs yesterday, thanks to Steve Slowinski, over at Bay City Ball. I wasn't shocked to learn which Giants' relievers had the best shutdown to meltdown ratios. Here's an excerpt:

I’ve also recently heard such ridiculous statements as: “I just don’t trust Romo, he’s always giving up big hits.” Well, he may not be Wilson, but he’s more trustworthy than Affeldt, Lopez, etc. Things like giving up game-wining home runs to Manny Ramirez tend to stick out in fans’ minds, while the countless number of times he whiffed batter after batter with his patented Frisbee slider do not.  Biases develop throughout a long season and throughout several seasons while fans follow a team. The most significant moments often cloud the judgement of the observer. Be mindful of this – Aaron Rowand is not the worst player of all time, Barry Zito‘s not the worst starter. And no, Jack Morris is not a Hall of Famer despite his heroic, 10-inning shutout in game seven of the 1991 World Series; these biases go both ways.

Read it all at Bay City Ball, and don't miss Chris' Brandon Belt graph or Otis' thoughts on last night's hams, either.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Losing to the Padres

Why I'd rather have a hole in my head than watch the Giants lose to the Padres again. Plus:

Other things that are better than watching the Giants lose to the Padres:

1) Listening to every Nickelback song ever recorded in a single sitting
2) Watching From Justin to Kelly
3) Watching my fiancĂ© file her nails – which just so happens to be my nails-on-a-chalkboard poison
4) Watching Yuniesky Betancourt play baseball
5) Listening to Joe Morgan disparage sabermetrics
6) Reading every word Murray Chass has ever written…

700,062) Instead of muting the television and watching the playoffs: closing your eyes and just listening to Tim McCarver and Joe Buck

The entire piece is at Bay City Ball.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giants' (and Huff's) weekend

For those of you that missed the Giants game last night, here's Aubrey Huff's outfield contribution -- and the Giants' entire weekend, really -- in a nutshell. I promise it'll bring you more enjoyment than watching the actual game:

funny gifs

Giants hand three of four to Bums

In the Giants' defense... wait, this is starting to sound like an oxymoron. What an ugly, ugly, weekend. Here's what I wrote at Bay City Ball, touching on Zito's slowball, Tejada, the bullpen and Huff's... whatever you want call what he was doing in right field:

The Giants gave the Dodgers a drubbing on Saturday afternoon, beating them 10-0 behind a what-we’ve-come-to-expect start by Matt Cain. It was a six-inning, four-leaf-clover charmed effort with only three strikeouts. Three strikeouts! What a fraud. Fortunately, his luck will run out in another 1,000 innings or so. Other than that, they looked (and smelled) like hot garbage on Thursday, Friday and Sunday while more or less handing three of four to the archrival Dodgers...
It’s too early to be too concerned about this. It really is. For one, Huff didn’t get nearly enough reps in the outfield in spring training. When Cody Ross went down with a calf injury late in the exhibition schedule, the Giants’ brass were forced to more seriously consider Belt as an option to make the club. Prior to that, the Giants were not seriously considering the possibility that Huff would have to play right field. Not so soon, anyway. Still, though, San Francisco owes Huff $22 million over the next two seasons and he’s currently a man without a position. If Belt continues to produce – we have reason to believe he might, given the quality of his at bats so far – Huff’s not going back to first. And at his age, he’s not going to get any better as a water buffalo grazing in the outfield grass.

Read the whole enchilada here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Analysis of Freddy Sanchez extension

Yesterday, the Giants extended Freddy Sanchez for another year (2012) for another $6 million. After the jump, I'll peel off a few-hundred words on how I feel about the deal.


Actually, me and the fiancé are about to go check out Win Win; it looks good, and I really enjoy Paul Giamatti. I really do. Plus, I have a quicker way to break this deal down. That's what I call a win win.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lincecum's Opening Day velocity

Tim Lincecum didn't have either his best changeup or best slider last night, but he got by, despite the defense behind him playing terrible.

His line was seven innings, five hits, three walks, five strikeouts and one unearned run. He took the loss. It was understandable, though, as Clayton Kershaw wasn't just better, he was brilliant. With the shadows and glare masking his pitches in the early going, it was no wonder he was sending the Giants' hitters back to the dugout shaking their heads. He outpitched the Giants' ace.

But if there was one thing specifically that was encouraging -- aside from Brandon Belt's impressive debut -- it was that Lincecum's velocity was both quality and steady. According to the PITCHf/x tool from Brooks Baseball, Tim threw 57 fastballs (40 four-seam, 17 two-seam). His four-seam heater averaged 93 mph and he topped out at 95. His two-seam fastball averaged just over 93 mph and topped out at 94.7. More impressive than that, it hardly waned even into the seventh inning:

Pulled from here.

Compare that to his velocity on Opening Day 2010:

Pulled from here.

From the very first start of 2010, he showed an inability to maintain velocity throughout the game. Lincecum will probably never be a high-90s power arm again. But hopefully, with an apparent commitment to conditioning, Lincecum will be able to maintain above-average fastball speed with his devastating changeup and the nasty slider he rolled out in September and rode to a World Championship in October and November.

I wrote about Santiago Casilla yesterday at Bay City Ball. My thoughts on his spring (and day) were far less encouraging.