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2007 Giants Report - v. 1.1
by Richard Van Zandt, BaseballEvolution.com
April 9, 2007

With the first week of the 2007 major league baseball season in the books, itís time for me to take the first of what will be several periodic checks on the state of the San Francisco Giants. 

Things are not looking good.

The team completed play on Sunday with a record of just 1-5 Ė dead last in the NL West Ė while scoring an average of just 2.33 runs per game.  Barry Bonds is hitting .222 and Barry Zito is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA.  The bullpen, suspect at best to begin the season, has been predictably lit up as well, surrendering 11 runs in 18 innings on 26 hits and producing an ERA of 5.50 and a 1.77 WHIP.  Opposing batters collectively have hit .317 against them.

Things, as I said, are not looking good.

Starting Pitching

Itís always best to start at the top and work your way to the bottom so Iíll begin with the one area in which the Giants have for the most part, been productive; the starting pitchers.

Ok, so Barry Zito is winless with an ERA over eight.  While I'm not overly impressed with his performance, he certainly could have pitched much worse.  In fact, through his first 10 innings as a Giant, he allowed only 8 hits and his ERA stood at 3.60.  His WHIP during that span was 1.20.  One bad inning and two runs charged to Z that scored on a two-out home run allowed by Brad Hennessey are responsible for the bulk of that nasty ERA.  Of course, itís never wise to pay too much attention to such numbers this early in the year.  Zito hasnít pitched as badly as the numbers indicate, and like the rest of the staff, he has suffered from lack of support.  The team has scored just once while Zito was still in the game and his run support total stands at 0.82.  Over a third of the runs the Giants have plated this season were scored in the teamsí sole win and three others were scored Sunday after the Dodgers had jumped out to a 9-1 lead.

Before the Easter Sunday debacle against Los Angeles, collectively Zito, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz had recorded an aggregate ERA of 3.10 and a cumulative WHIP of 1.28, while batters hit just .248 against them in 29 total innings.  And through the first six games, every starter  has gone at least 5 innings.  The same can not be said for the Yankees.  No, the starting pitching has not been to blame for this mess.

Relief Pitching

As noted earlier, the bullpen has been totally un-productive, also allowing 80% (8-out-of-10) of all inherited runners to score.  Closer Armando Benitez looked strong in his first outing of the season Ė throwing hard and hitting his spots - but pitching on back-to-back nights, he struggled to finish the Giants only win, entering with a 5-1 lead and allowing both inherited runners to score before finally getting out of the jam.  Still, heís the only reliever not to have been charged with a run allowed.  The rest have combined for a 5.93 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.  The bullpen is a mess.

Offense

Scoring runs is the name of the game and scoring runs is exactly what the Giants offense is consistently failing to do.  They have scored just 7 runs combined in their 5 loses and in the senior circuit, their .244 team batting average is better than only the Cardinals, Astros and Braves.  Among all major league clubs, only Seattle has scored fewer runs than the Giants' total of 14, and the Mís have played only 3 games. 

And while theyíve struggled to get runners on base (their .307 team OBP is tied for 22nd in MLB), hitting once they do get runners on has been even more difficult.  Even after going 5-for-12 on Sunday, the Giants are batting just .218 with runners on and have left an astounding 43 runners on base through the first six games.

Theyíve also struggled to hit for power, slugging just .330 so far Ė dead last in the National League Ė with only 12 extra-base hits.  Pedro Felizí home run on Sunday was just the 2nd round tripper of the season for San Francisco and the first since Bonds went deep in the teamís second game.  Only the Oakland A's had also hit as few as 2 home runs through Sunday.

Even Bonds hasnít been immune to the team-wide slump.  Though he is running well (as exhibited by his 510th career SB in the opener and a nifty running catch in the teamís second game), he has just 4 hits and 2 walks in his first 20 trips to the plate and has registered an on-base percentage of just .300.  His on-base plus slugging is just .744. 

It hasnít been all bad, though.  After all, you need to get some runners on in order to strand 43.  Ryan Klesko has hit the ball hard and collected 4 hits in 13 AB (.308).  Unlikely cleanup hitter Ray Durham is hitting .350 (7-for-20) and his .458 on-base percentage is tied for 10th in the league.  Rich Aurilia is not only hitting .316 (6-for-19), but heís also shown improved patience from his last go round as a Giants, drawing three walks and posting a .409 OBP.  His 9 total bases are tied with Durham for the team lead and his 3 extra-base hits stand alone among all Giants.

However, the teamís top two in the order, Dave Roberts and Omar Vizquel, are batting a combined .220, and right fielder Randy Winn is hitting just .182.  The much maligned Feliz is batting .250 with a .250 on-base percentage.  He is the only player on the team with more than 6 plate appearances not to have drawn a walk (0 in 20), and including his winter ball and spring training totals, he has drawn just 4 walks in his last 196 at bats.  Even his home run on Sunday came with the team trailing 9-1, meaning a whopping 30% of his career home runs (27 of 90) have been hit with the team either ahead or trailing by 4 runs or more.  Clearly nothingís changed here.

As I said before, things are just not looking good.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Richard resides in San Francisco, California and can be reached at richard@baseballevolution.com.

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