July 2012

Trade Deadline Alien Landing: Hunter Pence to the #SFGiants

Look what came true

As if having one awkward athlete wasn’t enough, the Giants, losers of five straight games, including the ugly-fest played last night, the Giants have traded for OF Hunter Pence and cash from the Philadelphia Phillies, who is reportedly on his way from Washington D.C. The Giants will give up OF Nate Schierholtz, and prospects Tommy Joseph, and RHP Seth Rosin.

Pence, 29, and under control through 2013 for one last arbitration year, is not known for his defensive abilities, but more for his bat as he is sporting a  a .271/.336/.447 line with a .339 wOBA. 17 HR, 10 of those outside of his 2012 home ballpark of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. In 20 G and 82 PA at AT&T Park, Hunter Pence has a .329/.366/.566 line with a 125 OPS+ with 5 HR over the course of his career. He’s batted the majority of his games in the 3rd and 4th slot this season with the Phils with more of them coming in the clean-up spot, but I’m not so sure that’s where Bochy will put him. Do you put Hunter 3rd and put switch hitter Melky in between him and Buster? Do you put Melky 2nd and FINALLY put someone like Theriot lower in the lineup? That awaits but my guess is it’ll go like this for now:

Blanco/Pagan

Theriot

Melky

Pence

Posey

Belt

Scutaro

Crawford

Pitcher

Going to the Philadelphia Phillies will be minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, ranked as the #5 catcher on MLB.com for the Giants organization, and hasn’t been doing too badly for Richmond (the AA affiliate) with the numbers, but you know who is blocking Joseph and sooner or later one of the catchers between him and Andrew Susac would be going. RHP Seth Rosin is also included on the deal and he’s been putting up good numbers as well in High-A San Jose, but is not one of the Giants’ top prospects. Doesn’t mean he can’t be good, just doesn’t project to be a big name like Tommy Joseph could be, in the opinion of some scouts.

Speculation only: Hunter Pence is already making 8 figures in 2012 ($10.4MM) and his last arbitration year in 2013 makes him due for another raise and that would take the Giants out of the market for any bigger names in the offseason. Should they not be comfortable with that, look for them to trade him for… something. #analysis

The Giants are still looking for a reliever, while the Dodgers have been busy loading up on guys like Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and possibly Ryan Dempster, all without totally gutting their farm system like we hoped they would. The trade deadline is 1:00PM PST.

Series Preview: #Mets (49-53) vs. #SFGiants (55-46)

Old friend Andres Torres has been getting warmed up with the bat just in time for his AT&T homecoming

I shouldn’t need to remind you about the weekend that was, and Ryan Vogelsong even is suggesting the Giants should play a little angry, which I agree would work better than playing defeated, which is what they looked like in the last halves of the last two games they played. Not lost though on Giants fans will be the homecoming of RHP Ramon Ramirez and all-around nice guy OF Andres Torres, whom everybody was sad to see go from a personality perspective. From a baseball player perspective, I thought it was time to move on and agreed with Sabean’s move for Pagan. The ovation fans give to Torres today in the 1st inning should be nothing less than moving. After all the tears though, the Giants need to get into a winning-the-series mindset with their rivals to the South in a hey-this-winning-thing-isn’t-that-difficult thinking. The Mets have 3 SP on the DL (Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey), which is why you might see guys with not that many IP under their belt this year.

Monday, July 30th: RHP Jeremy Hefner vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner

One sentence summary: Hefner just put in 6 against Washington for his first start since June 6th and struck out 7 while only seeing 2 Nationals crossing the plate while he was out there, giving his team a very real chance for victory.

Tuesday, July 31st: RHP Matt Harvey vs. RHP Tim Lincecum

One sentence summary: Matt Harvey baffled the DBacks hitters, and hopefully the Giants have seen the video on this guy, especially since the adrenaline for Harvey shouldn’t be there as much as it was for his MLB debut.

Wednesday, August 1st: LHP Jon Niese vs. RHP Matt Cain

One sentence summary: The only other healthy Mets SP with over 100 IP (R.A. Dickey the other) has had a rough July with these ER per each start in that month: 7 (CHI), 1 (WSH), 3 (LAD), 6 (AZ).

Thursday, August 2nd: RHP Chris Young vs. LHP Barry Zito

One sentence summary: If you’re excited to see these two pitchers duke it out, you’re the only one.

How about some offense?

The Mets as you might remember, were hanging around the top half of the NL East for a while, but then injuries and regression set in and here they are at four games under. Interesting to note that some of their colder guys for the season are the ones that are doing their best to carry the team. Ike Davis (.484 wOBA & 6 HR Last 7 days, .305 wOBA & 20 HR overall) is the scariest bat right now, and Andres Torres is even doing his part (.403 wOBA & 21.7 BB% L7, .303 wOBA & 14.4 BB% overall). It wouldn’t be right if a Hairston wasn’t doing well, and Scott has a little somethin-somethin going (.403 wOBA L7, .349 wOBA overall) and as you see, is actually having a pretty decent season as well. They have four guys with double digit HRs — Ike Davis (20), David Wright (16), Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda (12), but only two guys with double digit SBs in David Wright (11) and Andres Torres (10). David Wright also had a crazy high BABIP and AVG to start the year off but has predictably fallen and now stands at .332 and .365, respectively. Oh by the way, the Mets are also 2-8 in their last 10 games.

The Giants however are a remarkably better 4-6 in their last 10, with an offense that got shut out in two straight games, in case you hadn’t heard. To nobody’s surprise, the Giants only have one guy with a wOBA over .350 in their last seven days, and two above .300 — this is the time where you incorrectly guess the two: Buster Posey (.385, .374 wOBA overall), and Brandon Belt (.336, .318 wOBA overall). I would’ve got half the answer wrong, too, don’t worry. The Mets may be just the trick to awaken the Giants bats with their being prone to being lit up, or you know, this could be where the Mets get closer to .500 due to facing a cold set of bats. This should be a series the Giants can at least split, but science says that if the Giants continue to score 0 runs for their pitching, they will not win any games. You’re welcome for that hard-hitting analysis.

Series Prediction

Monday: Giants win (While fans shed tears for Andres Torres, Mets shed tears watching their hitters get beat by Bumgarner)

Tuesday: Giants win (Harvey’s 2nd start goes nothing like his 1st; Giants only add a reliever before the deadline)

Wednesday: Giants win (Closest game of the series shows the fans something can bounce their way)

Thursday: Mets win (Zito-Whiteside connection doesn’t work)

I’m an optimist, I know.

Series Preview: #Dodgers (53-47) vs. #SFGiants (55-43)

Expect to see these guys occupying the 3-4-5 spots in this weekend’s Dodger lineups: Kemp, Ethier, and newcomer Hanley Ramirez

A new heart of the lineup comes into San Francisco this weekend wearing Dodger blue, so if this series doesn’t go as perfectly as the last one did, don’t be surprised. Their starting lineup isn’t the laughing stock it used to be, injuries are relatively healed, and although confidence may not be pouring from their pores, both teams know this series now has two lineups with a respectable set of beasts to deal with.

Friday, July 27th: RHP Stephen Fife vs. RHP Matt Cain

One sentence summary: Should be an interesting game for both teams, as an unfamiliar foe faces one whom has established his dominance as one of the better pitchers in baseball.

Saturday, July 28th: RHP Chad Billingsley vs. LHP Barry Zito

One sentence summary: Barry Zito facing RHH will be what to watch as those guys have a .338 wOBA against him as opposed to the .249 wOBA LHH have against him in 2012.

Sunday, July 29th: LHP Clayton Kershaw vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

One sentence summary: If it seems like Clayton Kershaw only gives up a couple of runs to the Giants, it’s because that’s what it is: the vast majority of Clayton Kershaw’s starts versus the good guys have seen him allow 0-2 runs, only once more with 4 ER (5/18/2011).

California Offense

Neither of these offenses are really built to blow you away any day of the week, but each team has their guys that’s been doing their best to carry their offensive lineups. The Dodgers recently — and here you see the dangers of small sample size — have seen hotness from guys like Juan Uribe (.505 wOBA last 7, .243 wOBA overall), Adam Kennedy (.417, .292), and new guy Hanley Ramirez hasn’t been there long, but has had time to put up numbers in the past week as well (.522, .335). The boppers consist of the 3-4-5 guys in Matt Kemp (14 HR), Andre Ethier (11), and Hanley (14); the speed guys are Tony Gwynn (13 SB), and HanRam (15). Dee Gordon has 30, but he’s out right now.

In the four Game 3′s of their respective series after the AS Break, the Giants are 1-3, and those 3 losses are the only losses after the Kansas City festivities, so since they’re 9-3 in their last 12, you’d expect some of the guys to be doing quite well. Buster Posey’s been reminding everyone what a healthy Posey can do for you (.452 wOBA & 2 HR L7, .376 wOBA & 13 HR overall), Ryan Theriot has been showing you what he does (.444 & 2 SB, .295 & 11 SB), and Nate has been showing you he can be great (.434 & 2 HR, .319 wOBA overall). Melky (10 HR) has finally joined Buster in the double digit HR club, but with Pablo probably out for the weekend (and maybe more?), we might not see another member of the 10+ dong club ’til August. The four guys lighting some fire on the basepaths are Blanco and Pagan (both with 17 SBs), along with Melky and Theriot (11 SBs). Apparently Ryan has stolen 20+ in 4 different seasons, and right now is on pace for 18, so he’s someone to keep an eye on, especially if he stays in that #2 slot.

Series Prediction

This series should provide for a lot more drama than the last one, and it’s a wonder if you might even see a whole new set of guys on Sunday in Dodger blue since we’re hearing the Dodgers are trying to land another bat AND another starter. Stay tuned on that one.

Friday: Giants win (Matt Cain doesn’t care about your new lineup)

Saturday: Giants win (Both offenses do unusual things like score many runs)

Sunday: Dodgers win (Clayton gets his as Giants can’t sweep another one)

Remember: No matter how this series goes, the Giants and Dodgers will still have 9 games left against each other, with 6 of them being in Los Angeles.

Look Into Melky’s Eyes

 

Look into those eyes. What are they saying to you? Do they say, “I’ve played with 4 different teams in the last 4 seasons?” Are they trying to tell you he’s on pace for 225 hits? Do they also question you when you endlessly cite BABIP to predict his inevitable fall? Maybe.

Sometimes we don’t appreciate what The Melky does. Other times, we dress up as deliverymen from a different decade and go on instagram to see pictures of his newborn baby. I don’t do either, because 1) I don’t have a costume like that and 2) I don’t have an Instagram account or even know how to take an Instagram (is that what the Instagrammers say?). This article is to show you in numbers that I appreciate what he does. I should make this perfectly clear to my readers though that you should never just rely on numbers for every argument you make about a player’s performance. I feel like a lot of guys that argue with the beat writers live and die by the number… don’t do that.

Anyway, you may be wondering how Melky Melkethed last year in KC while the trade idea for him for Dirty was not even a glimmer in Brian Sabean’s eye.

BEHOLD!!!:

 

My conclusions: Skinny Melky is putting up some fat numbers. If you rolled your eyes at that joke, you’re welcome. Take it and use it.

Interesting numbers and differences to look at though, like May of 2011 vs. May of 2012 as Melky went from mediocre in 5/2011 to out of his mind in May ’12, and is probably one of the biggest reasons why his 2012 numbers may be so much more ballooned relative to ’11 and thus may lead to so many more green rectangles for the Melk Man come contract time. I mean, unless August and September/October see Melky tank like Emmanuel Burriss, then Melky’s looking like all his numbers across the board should be what I’ll estimate to be around 20 points better if his numbers stay somewhat close to what he did in 2011. It’s looking like an over-.300 BABIP is not difficult for him to replicate now since he only couldn’t do it within the last 2 seasons in May of 2011. (Disclaimer: This is not saying Melky can do it for the easy majority of the next five-six years, I’m not willing to blindly guess that far into the future.)

So look into those eyes again:

 

Do they tell you he’s 11th in OBP in the bigs? 17th in wOBA? 5th in BABIP? Whether you think I made those numbers up or not, what those eyes should tell you is Melky’s here to produce, and here to hit, and should continue to do so over the final 64 games of the season for the Giants of San Francisco.

I hope those images don’t give you nightmares.

“We need to do something”: Reacting to a trade

Los Angeles has Hanley, but will they get any other big names?

Good Morning! Why did you go to sleep?

Last night may have been the most eventful night in some time in terms of baseball transactions, with Wandy Rodriguez being traded to the Pirates, Cole Hamels being signed to an incredible 6-year/$144MM extension, and then the cherry on top of Hanley Ramirez being shipped to the Dodgers. There are more pieces to the Pirates and the Dodgers deals, but I’m going to stick with the headliners because I don’t doubt you might have woken up today, and especially if you’re a Dodger/Giant fan you went “UUUWHHHHHHHATTTTTTTT???” which is pretty much the sound I made.

Which Hanley are the Dodgers getting?

The Hanley Ramirez the public will think of when we think of what he can do is the 2007-2010 Hanley Ramirez. In those years he put up 29, 33, 24, 21 HR; 51, 35, 27, 32 SB, an OBP of .386, .400, .410, .378; a wOBA of .411, .405, .410, .373; and an fWAR of 5.7, 7.5, 7.4, 4.6 if you’re into any of those stats.

In 2011 and 2012, we’ve seen somebody different, and granted he only played 92 G in 2011 so perhaps he should get cut some slack. The HR aren’t too bad with 10, 14; 20, 14 SB so he’s a little behind the normal pace this year; an OBP of .333, .322, which is a little concerning; wOBA of .317, .329 which repeats that concern; and an fWAR of 1.3, 1.4 which further drives home the point that he hasn’t been able to put forth what’s been expected of him.

Even if he magically bounces back to 2007-2010 Hanley due to meshing with the Dodgers clubhouse, he’s got 64 games in the regular season left with them, and you may see 10-12 more HR, and SB, maybe gets on base at a .370 clip, and gives the Dodgers maybe two or three extra wins in total (remember, 64 games left, not a larger number) than they would’ve had without him. Something of a close comparison may be the 2010 Matt Kemp that put up 28 HR, 19 SB, but a .310 OBP and a .323 wOBA — he’ll get big hits, but you can see there’s something more there and it will kill you that he’s not reaching that potential.

The consensus fear is that the Hanley of 2007-2010 shows up for the Dodgers. I believe the realistic expectation to kind of echo Wendy Thurm is 2011-2012 Hanley shows up this year, then wait and see what happens in 2013-2014, where he could return to form. He will still be good though, I’m not saying he will do nothing.

So how do we react?

Well, we take it in, and just go, “OK. The Dodgers have Hanley now.” This really shouldn’t change things for the front office because we’ve known all along the Dodgers would try to go big this season, and they might not be done in trying to get Ryan Dempster, and/or Shane Victorino, or maybe there’s other stuff out there we don’t know about (very real possibility). Therefore, the Giants knew before the Hanley deal they needed bullpen help, knew they’re trying to land someone that will help the team in 1B/RF. The only thing that changed because of last night’s Panda stretch is possibly the need for a 3B, especially if the position remains a black hole of hitting production. This deal doesn’t mean, “OHMYGAHH THE GIANTS NEED TO TRADE FOR ZACK GRINKY OR WHATEVR THAT GUYZ NAME IS… OR WHADDABOUT ELVIS ANDRUS FOR NATE SCHIERHOLTZ/?!!?” because really, with the Giants farm system (and wallet) being what it is, it’s not gonna happen.

So the Dodgers have Hanley and the Giants haven’t traded for anyone, OK. 6 days left in the non-waiver trade deadline and I’m sure you know we’ve acquired guys in August in the past as well, so getting an impact arm or bat isn’t out of the question. Relax, have fun speculating what it’ll mean, and enjoy these next couple of days from a trade deadline perspective. Just don’t panic, because if the front office isn’t panicking over that Hanley deal, why should you?

Series Preview: #Padres vs. #SFGiants

Fresh off a contract extension, Carlos Quentin and the Padres look to continue their hot post-ASG start.

The Padres are 10 games into their post-ASG, having faced the Dodgers, Astros, and Rockies, and were 7-3 through those matchups they had. Speaking of the number 10, the Giants begin a 10 game homestand that includes the Padres, Dodgers, and Mets. The Giants have been pretty good taking things one game at a time since they came back from the break (or at least, most of their players have), so you hope they can continue to take care of business.

Monday, July 23rd: LHP Clayton Richard vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

 

One sentence summary: A guy that’s given up a homer in six straight games (Richards) versus a guy that’s given up a homer in three straight (Vogelsong); should be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Tuesday, July 24th: RHP Edinson Volquez vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner

One sentence summary: Volquez just one-hit the Astros, so you know the rule on that is he’s due to for huge amounts of regression in his next start versus the Gigantes.

Wednesday, July 25th: RHP Jason Marquis vs. RHP Tim Lincecum

 

One sentence summary: Another weak lineup for Timmy to face should be sweet music to everyone’s ears, and Jason Marquis has had trouble going deeper than 6 innings into a game this year.

Offensive Notions

Always always always take small sample sizes sorta not seriously, but you’ll probably hear about these guys because of the mythical “hot bat” and I’d think they are walking into AT&T with a little bit of confidence at the very least. Chris Denorfia (.488 wOBA, .545 BABIP in last 7; .349 wOBA, .339 BABIP overall) has been doing not so bad for the Padres, as has Everth Cabrera (.422 wOBA, 40% LD% L7; .322 wOBA, 18.9 LD% overall), but that whole Padres team has been happy to see some below-average MLB pitching recently. Carlos Quentin (.383 wOBA, 9 HR) has done well over the course of his short season, and Yasmani Grandal (.367 wOBA, 5 HR in 64 PA) not so bad himself in a shorter stint. Chase Headley (11 HR, 10 SB), Everth Cabrera (18 SB), and Cameron Maybin (20 SB) all provide some of the speed for the visitors.

The Giants have had their fair share of hitters doing well, with five hitters with over a .400 wOBA in the last seven days, with a minimum of 10 PA (see how small of a SS that is?), and I wonders if you can name them: Nate (.432 wOBA L7, .318 overall, 2 HR), Crawford (.434, .273, 2 HR), Arias (.452, .276), Posey (.497, .374), and Melky (.523, .397, 2 HR). How’d you do? Nate and Crawford certainly have been surprisingly awesome recently, and you hope they can keep that up, especially with regulars like Pagan (.207 wOBA L7, .319 wOBA overall), and Belt (.114 , .317) noticeably struggling.

Series Prediction

The Giants hate sweeping a series, so why should they start now? Well, because it’s the Padres. But you don’t play these games on paper, people! Hoping for better than what I write down, but after the ASG break, I’m 9-0 in predicting games… so there’s another SSS for you.

Monday: Giants win (get used to seeing this lineup)

Tuesday: Padres win (MadBum gets Cain’d)

Wednesday: Giants win (Timmy loves him some San Diego cookin’)

 

Series Preview: #SFGiants vs. #Phillies

Carlos Ruiz has been the offensive force trying to keep the Phillies afloat while their stars were injured in the 1st half.

The Phillies have all the normal faces back in the lineup and in their rotation that you’re used to seeing, but luckily the Giants get to miss Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee while they throw out 2 of the 3 weaker links on their rotation, but especially with Cliff Lee not being involved this weekend unless something crazy happens (a la Roy Oswalt Game 4), this is another winnable series — for both sides, of course.

Friday, July 20th: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Vance Worley

One question summary: Timmy’s thrown up 0′s against the Dodgers and the Astros recently, but can he establish his fastball against a team with a more respectable offense?

Saturday, July 21st: RHP Matt Cain vs. LHP Cole Hamels

One sentence summary: Insert redundant comment about how we’ll see this matchup more in the coming years when Hamels resides in LA.

Sunday, July 22nd: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Joe Blanton

One sentence summary: The Giants just faced a guy that gave up 20 HR (Mike Minor) and that just happened to be the day he threw darts for strikes and hopefully Joe Blanton doesn’t copy that.

The Offensive Perspective

Carlos Ruiz (.424 wOBA, .365 BABIP, 27.4 wRAA, 14 HR) has done a ton of the work for the offense this year, which unfortunately hasn’t come through for their starting pitchers and relief corps enough to be 52-41 team as opposed to the 41-52 team they are today. Then again, if the Giants scored more runs for their pitchers, their record would kick so much tail, too. Hunter Pence isn’t doing too bad himself (.351 wOBA, 17 HR, 12 GIDP). Juan Pierre (21), Shane Victorino (21), Jimmy Rollins (14) is where Philadelphia gets its speed from, and I know these are all names you’re probably familiar with for one reason or another. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley just got back so if they can do damage, the Phillies might have to change course in terms of buying/selling, but the question is if it’s too late.

Meanwhile, for the team whose fanbase is getting mocked and yelled at by angry Braves fans disputing the un-racist ways of “The Chop,” the guy who was catching the most heat from their fanbase, Melky Cabrera (.395 wOBA, .391 BABIP, 9 HR, 10 SB), continues to lead the way for an offense that enjoyed two games of 9 runs scored in that Atlanta series. Buster (.372 wOBA, 11 HR, 12 GIDP) also is swinging it well this season, as is the Panda (.361 wOBA), but I’m still looking for more bombs out of him, as is everybody else. Speaking of bombing, do you know who’s second in GIDP to Posey with 10? If you guessed Joaquin Arias, you’re either really good, or a really big cheater. Brandon Belt is mystifying people to the point where trade talks are being proposed by fans after the game today, and I’d bring up monthly splits, but it hurts. We shall see, and remember that trade deadline is July 31st.

Series Prediction

I’m impressed that I’ve been right with all 6 games thus far this post-All Star Break. Perhaps while I’m in Vegas this weekend (which might control my inability to post a series preview for the Pads-Giants series that starts Monday), I’ll put money on the Giants to win. Nah.

Friday: Phillies win (Ryan Howard parties)

Saturday: Giants win (Matt Cain Matt Cain’s Cole Hamels)

Sunday: Giants win (Joe Blanton can’t stop with the big flies)

Have a good weekend, everybody, and enjoy all the 2010 NLCS replays that are bound to show up.

In the Minority: Intentional Plunk

The whole world expects Melky Cabrera to be hit intentionally by someone on the Braves staff today. I have an issue with that.

By now you’ve heard about all the chatter about Melky Cabrera’s antics last night, and if you don’t remember, I give you a Braves fan’s perspective, because the victims can usually point out this stuff better: Article. Look for the bullet points to find why the Braves and their fans are kind of ticked.

You’ve also probably heard the Chipper Jones quote that was said post-game last night:

Fairly strong words from the future Hall of Famer, which I hope result in warnings to the benches before the game starts, as David B. suggested logic should dictate.

What I’m about to share is not a new opinion of mine, but I know it’s not popular, and also not in the majority. In fact, I’d be willing to bet this is probably an opinion shared by less than 10% of baseball fans:

There. I said it. To which I get the response that embodied the majority opinion:

“he” being Melky, of course. This is the popular thought: “It’s baseball,” and while Mr. Collazo goes into talking about his love for the “old school” ways of the game like “high socks, bent billed caps, and hustle,” this way of thinking is what currently prevails. By rule, this also means that if you’re like me and hate intentional beaning of a guy, you don’t like any of those things he mentioned since I am not of the old school way.

Let me talk about why I don’t like pitchers coming after a guy, whether or not he “deserves” it — pitchers are human beings, they are not perfect, and can make mistakes. They are used to throwing at a set area around home plate, not the batter’s box. Shift their target of where they are throwing to the hitter, and now I imagine your chances of missing your specific target (probably the buttocks or the stomach) are higher than when you’re aiming for the catcher’s mitt around home plate. Let’s say you’re the pitcher and you’re aiming to hit the batter where could you miss? You could miss low and hit the feet, you could miss behind the batter, you could brush back the hitter with an inside pitch that just didn’t hit any skin, or you could miss high and potentially hit someone’s head.

Think about hitting someone in the head with a 90 MPH fastball. Go on. I’ll give you a moment. Picture that guy on the ground. Picture the trainer and the manager trying to talk to him as he’s face down. What if he’s not OK? What if that’s a concussion? What if the batter really gets caught off guard and gets hit in the face (least likely scenario)? Does that make you feel better — like you’ve “evened the score?”

The idea of retaliating at a player by throwing at him is juvenile at best, barbaric at worst. Just because baseball has been this way doesn’t mean it needs to stay this way. I’d pull out the “this game used to be all Whites, no-DH for either league, 3-man pitching rotation, 4 divisions in all of MLB” cards, but I’d probably get the ol’ eye-roll treatment, because “that’s different from the beaning a player.” The point is that the culture of MLB can change if administration gets on it, but I know this isn’t at the top of their list (hell, DUI’s don’t appear to be at the top of their list, but that’s for another day).

My solution: if a player is guilty of taunting a fanbase as Melky clearly was, suspend him for 1-3 games for the first offense. Suspensions gets progressively longer if they reoccur. Doesn’t mean player-fan interaction has to go down, just player-taunting-fan ratio does, and pitchers hopefully are taught to ignore the kind of stuff being done. At the end of the day, if a player on your squad goes all unprofessional on a fanbase, I think you’d rather have the taunter forced to sit than potentially have them beaned in the noggin. Just one baseball fan’s opinion.

Graphs to Make it Look Like You’re Doing Research: Belt v. Sanchez

I feel like it’s kind of ridiculous that I even have to write this

The first 200 rounds of “how shall we bench Belt” got annoying, so why not keep it going? It’s a fun game and when you look at these graphs I made, you can read this while you’re at work and pretend you’re analyzing data for your company! But shhhhh don’t tell your boss what you’re actually reading! Let’s review the fun charges against Brandon “overhyped prospect anti-do-gooder for the team” Belt:

There goes Mike Krukow breaking my heart again.

Was I the only one that thought Posey might be a little annoyed at this “personal catcher” idea and this kind of shows he knows he’s better than Hector? Maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

Gotta ride that hot bat.

Let’s look at some graphs analyzing data that I made on Excel. Hopefully these can help us in distinguishing the better hitter, because that’s what it seems to be about.

Hector Sanchez with the better batting average! All you Belt nerds have just been proven wrong!

Wait, Belt gets on base more than Hector? I is sew confuzzled now!

This Belt > Sanchez in SLG% suggests that Belt has gotten more big hits than Sanchez has this season hmmmm

My favorite offensive metric says Belt’s body of work is kinda better than Sanchez’s. Camp Hector has a sad.

Z-Swing/Z-Contact concerns pitches within the strike zone. As we see here, Sanchez does swing at more pitches in the strike zone, and happens to make more contact than Mr. Belt. Could Krukow be on to something with this “mature hitter” talk?

O-Swing/O-Contact deals with pitches outside the strike zone. Seeing as how Hectorsauras goes for more pitches outside the zone, it’s kind of hard to say that.

Wouldn’t “mature hitters” walk more?… because Sanchez doesn’t. Sure, Belt strikes out, and it’s really probably because pitchers have found Belt’s weakness and Belt hasn’t been able to adjust yet.

So if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Belt’s put forth the better body of work this season (it should be noted Belt has 106 more PA than Sanchez), but also that Sanchez is a pretty acceptable back-up catcher (who has just been put on the DL), but not if he’s taking out Belt from the lineup. It shouldn’t need to be said, but it’s also important to know that Belt fans are very likely hoping Sanchez recovers so when Posey needs a day off (not starting at 1B), the Giants don’t have as huge of a hole in the offense as they probably will when Eli hoppity-hop-hop Whiteside starts to give Buster a rest.

Brandon Belt: An Obsession

The #FreeBelt fans wear this face when Belt can’t come through, scared it means Aubrey Huff will take over his spot when Mr. 4-3 himself returns.

We’ve been spoiled with some pretty good prospects in the past years: Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Buster Posey to name a few that stand out and for the most part have succeeded greatly throughout their careers as Giants, all of those helping lead the boys to the well-publicized 2010 championship you may have heard about. After contracts offered with our heart-strings attached were signed, we went into Spring Training excited about Brandon Belt, a kid born in the fun to say Nacogdoches, Texas, and 6’5″, 220 pounds of awkward, whom some had thought would be the next hitting contributor for the Gigantes.

I’ll spare you the 2011 story and let’s fast forward to 2012.

Belt gets a lot of trash talked his way by the haters because there are things they’re probably looking for: high average, high power, and high contributions. After all, if you’ve just been subject to a year and a half of #FreeBelt, you’re probably going to be pretty impatient with the baby giraffe, especially since Hector Sanchez is probably the next best thing after Buster Posey, right?

Ok, sorry.

This piece isn’t meant to tell you that Brandon Belt should be batting second. It’s not to tell you Brandon Belt is the second coming of Will Clark. It’s meant to serve as an update to you, so we may be better educated about one of the most obsessed over players that really does not have an established spot on the lineup card. The graphics I’ll put up are all easily accessible on FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, but you should stay and read my stuff because it makes me happy, and you care about my happiness, right?… Hey.. where are you going? Man… -kicks rock-

As of all games played by July 15, 2012, Belt’s BA is .250. The average BA for MLB 1B per data compiled by FG is .254.

I don’t remember the feeling when Belt was batting nearly .300, but I’m sure we were ecstatic, but remember batting average has also a little bit of luck involved in it. If the kid can get some consistent playing time, maybe he could get comfortable, but you’re not going to find a lot of people sympathetic to that viewpoint if the batting average dips to Brandon Crawford levels.

As of all games played by July 15, 2012, Belt’s OBP is .360. The average BA for MLB 1B per data compiled by FG is .333.

This has been the calling card of Belt’s game: getting on base, and this season he’s done it well, I’d say. Sure, it’s not the near-.400 it once was, but being 4th on the team to Melky, Buster, and Pablo isn’t horrible. At least it’s not 2nd to last of the guys with more than 200 PA like Theriot’s is, but that’s my bitter side coming out again.

As of all games played by July 15, 2012, Belt’s SLG is .408. The average BA for MLB 1B per data compiled by FG is .430.

His power for the 1B position yes, is barely “good” according to FanGraphs, and we’re still waiting for those HRs to come, especially against RHP, because right now, I know a lot of Belt skeptics see this when they think of Belt:

Even though most Belt supporters hold on to this as proof he has the power to do it:

Ha! That’ll show your “platoon advantage,” Mgr. Bruce!

Like the SLG%, wOBA says Belt has been good enough thus far, and should he be able to keep up the walks and start injecting some blasts into that line of his, he should be 2nd on the team in wOBA, assuming Buster and Pablo don’t explode for XBH on their own.

While we salute Belt for his ability to take walks, we’ve come to see he is prone to the strikeout, especially the swinging variety, but take a look at the pitches he swings at in 2011:

…and in 2012:

Seems like a much less passive hitter to me that has a decent idea of where that strike zone is, but you see he will swing at most pitches that are over home plate, ball or strike.

The last of the colored graphs is to update you on how he’s hitting against the different handed pitchers:

Think he’s likes the low ball from the LHPs?

The sample size is small, but for me it I would think it to be odd for a LHH to not own the four squares where Belt has a 4/14 (.286), 2/11 (.182), 3/11 (.273), 4/7 (.571) in. I’m sure the front office and Belt have the similar (and likely better) data that can tell the story to Belt like the diagrams do here. Watch to see what tomorrow’s starter RHP Jair Jurrjens does with Belt tomorrow when Belt gets 2 strikes on him (exactly 50% of his PA this year have had a 2 strike count) and see if they go low and away with a changeup. Or if they see RHP Craig Kimbrel, the 9th inning guy, and if he pounds Belt inside with fastballs at 98, or low and outside with the same knee buckling stuff.

If all this obsessing has told us anything is that yes, perhaps there is a hole in Belt’s swing and hopefully he can fix it. We also see that Belt’s numbers for a MLB 1B are about average overall, which for a 24-year old, isn’t horrible, but of course we’d love more. It’s hard to tell what he’ll become at best — can he be a guy you can count on for 20 HR/year in his prime, or is he going to be someone that struggles to reach double digits, but still with a higher OBP? These are not the only possibilities, but just the first ones that come to mind.

So temper those angry words to those beat writers, especially ones that are sold on certain players belonging to certain spots in the batting order, because unless they’ve done the research or the reading on the research themselves, why do you trust their opinion on that specific matter anyway? Access the data, get to know the data, but try not to be blinded by it. I know I fall into that trap a lot (really, more than I probably should), but there is a human side to the game that is also incredibly important that needs us not to full-fledge bury our heads in the beautiful sands of data.

Well, that’s enough obsession for one day.

Sure hope he’s batting second in the series opener tomorrow! (Because really, I don’t know any current MLB manager that would bat him first.) Here’s to hoping it happens.

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