These Saber-Savvy San Francisco Giants

The Giants? They’re just a bunch of stat geeks. Look at some of the aspects of their play on the field, and it’s clear that this is not a club that sticks only with tradition. Talk to Bobby Evans, Vice President of Baseball Operations, and you get a sense of a team with a strong process that includes inputs from both the old and the new school of baseball. And this isn’t some sort of new phenomenon in San Francisco.

Some of their most innovative moves have come recently. Look at their lineups against left-handed and right-handed pitchers this year, and you’ll see a team rife with platoons. Though taking the platoon advantage is no new thing, it’s possible that they are taking it to new heights. Only two players on the team (Buster Posey and Angel Pagan) will cross the 600-PA threshold this year. That’s on par with a rebuilding team like the Astros (one) and Cubs (two), and less than most of the other contenders like the Braves (five) or Brewers (five). Yes, the Nationals (three) and Reds (two) are similar, but there have been more injuries on those teams.

The Giants, on the other hand, were built to take advantage of their depth. Utility bats like Joaquin Arias and Ryan Theriot were specific acquisitions that the team targeted this offseason because of their versatility and handedness. “Having seen [Brandon] Crawford‘s defense and having known that he struggled at the plate, especially against lefties, we absolutely wanted a right-handed utility infielder,” said Bobby Evans. And so the Giants went into the season planning for platoons at first base, second base, in right field, and at shortstop — rare for a contender, but a strong way to take the platoon advantage as often as possible.

That philosophy extended to the bullpen this season. It may not have been by plan, but the Giants are currently employing a platoon at closer. That unique situation is one that the sabermetric community has desired for some time. Some have dabbled, but few have stuck with the plan for any length of time.

Once again, the Giants’ success with the tactic is a credit to their planning. These important bullpen pieces that are collectively playing the role of The Closer are hardly newcomers — draftee Sergio Romo, trade acquisition (and extended) Javier Lopez, free agent Jeremy Affeldt, and free agent Santiago Casilla are all veterans. “Once it became apparent that we should go back to a shared role, the makeup of the staff was key to our success,” said Evans before praising the work of Pitching Coach Dave Righetti and Bullpen Coach Mark Gardner. Specifically, the coaching staff fostered a mentality or an approach that have helped them get high-leverage outs.

Interchangeable relief aces, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, all being used in situations that allow them to succeed — that sounds pretty saber. “There’s no lack of passion here for the closer,” says Evans, but “we have a group of guys that can all be a factor late in the game.”

There have been some head-scratchers this year. 261 of Ryan Theriot‘s 343 at-bats have come in the second slot in the order, despite his specifically poor walk rate and generally below-average bat. Does Bruce Bochy decide the lineup on his own? While “the lineup is mostly his,” Evans affirmed that his manager is “very good about using the information that is available to us, and in fact asks for it and is very committed to looking at different lineup constructions.” The front office “could make it tough on him if the relative choices were limited,” Evans added. “We all like to play lineup shuffling,” but “there’s some genius on [Bruce] Bochy’s part, in getting the best out of his guys,” said Evans as he pointed out that sometimes, it’s about evening out the lineup at the bottom, too. On-base percentage is just one factor.

In general, it is on-base percentage that keeps many from appreciating some of the innovative things that the Giants do. From 2006-2011, the team had the second-worst walk rate in the National League, and they also scored the fewest runs. This year, the walk rate is up to ninth in the NL, and they’ve scored the sixth-most runs. Was on-base percentage something the team targeted this offseason? What happened in those other years? Where were the walks?

Maybe we got too emphatic about the home run, and we maybe we got too emphatic about the defense behind our pitchers. We have never lost sight of the value of getting on base, though. — Bobby Evans

It’s a difficult question for Evans to answer. Part of it is just the personnel available to the team. There were those years when Barry Bonds got hurt, Evans pointed out. There is a way to explain to players the value of getting on base while also allowing players like Pablo Sandoval to shine, he adds. But he admitted that “our club has had some success and failures that we’ve learned from.” For example, the Giants “have to make sure that there are rewards for players coming up that show good patience and get walks,” and maybe they weren’t emphasizing that in the past.

In any case, on-base ability is something that is attractive to the team. “It’s one of the things that attracted us to Brandon Belt,” Evans said. The Giants’ scouts are well incorporated, but it’s all part of their proprietary information system that helps the team make their decisions.

Proprietary information system?

Apparently, the Giants have taken advantage of Silicon Valley — their IT department is celebrating it’s 20th birthday. They’ve been building an internal scouting system since the early 90’s, at the behest of current General Manager Brian Sabean. Crucial to the system is video — Vice President, Player Personnel Dick Tidrow has been pushing the envelope on video usage since he came to the Giants 16 years ago — as well as a collection of “publicly available data resources and articles,” PITCHf/x and HITf/x data, and eventually FIELDf/x data. That’s right, the Giants see FanGraphs content and data.

“It’s a one-stop shopping place to evaluate players and the roster,” said Evans, but in a way it’s all about Brian Sabean. Sabean is “all about the process, a process that is repeatable and that will lead us to the best decision,” and that’s why he helped build the system, and that’s why he has full-time staffers maintaining and perfecting it.

“Decisions here clearly can’t be made on video or the relative feel of the players’ makeup alone, nor what a sabermetric analysis might reveal on it’s own — Brian’s big on taking all the elements and not putting too much weight in one area.” — Bobby Evans

Talk to Evans about the final roster spot on the postseason roster — one that might go to Aubrey Huff — and you realize there’s a lot of gray area in baseball. “We’re looking for a blend of experience and the ability to contribute,” Evans said, “and as a fairly young club, having a veteran presence can be a strategic advantage for us.” Huff has a strong chance of making the roster because of that, but also because the other options “have all had mixed reviews at the big league level, too.” It will be all hands on deck for that decision, and he’s glad to have Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy leading the way. His coach, in particular, “studies the game as much as anyone” he’s ever seen.

And he’s one of the longest-tenured managers at this point, too, Evans points out. Along with the longest-tenured GM in Brian Sabean, and one of the longest-tenured scouting directors in Dick Tidrow. Is there really a chance they kept their jobs this long without the benefit of studying the numbers?



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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Herbalist
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Herbalist
3 years 9 months ago

I can’t really rip into Sabean and Bruch Vichy now that they are division champs; although I am still skeptical of your article.

You got one thing right: Bobby Evans is legit and should be GM one day.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 9 months ago

Bruce Vichy = bizarre freudian slip of the month club selection

'StrosFan
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'StrosFan
3 years 9 months ago

…or, more likely, perhaps that “slip” was nothing more than the result of an iphone auto-correct.

baycommuter
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baycommuter
3 years 9 months ago

Didn’t you know that if your mom drinks Vichy water during pregnancy it increases your skull size?

Rah-ool
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Rah-ool
3 years 9 months ago

He’s also an excellent Little League coach

jcxy
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jcxy
3 years 9 months ago

I’d caution against mixing the concepts of roster composition and game day management too much. For instance, you tout the bullpen usage (post Wilson injury) at Sabr-savvy, but is the original makeup? Those who ripped the Affeldt deal (or, by extension, the Papelbon deal) weren’t doing so because they didn’t think they were good players–I’m sure most wouldn’t be surprised at all by the years they’ve had–but rather that they weren’t being paid a dollar value commensurate with their “actual” value. IMO, that’s still very much a debatable point the degree to which it’s smart for a contending team to “overspend” on bullpen arms.

Benvolio
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Benvolio
3 years 9 months ago

It wasn’t simply the dollar amounts, but the context. If Affeldt and Lopez were the only way the Giants could spend that money, it would have been a “spend” versus “not spend” decision, and few would be able to justify the Giants were better off dodging market inefficiency by getting rid of those two RPs.

No, the argument was the money spent on relievers could have been used to sign Carlos Beltran, who was coming off of a monster season between NY and SF. It made sense in pre-season, but in retrospect it was the smart baseball move. While Beltran still has good power, all of his other numbers have dampened as we would expect with age. He’s still generating value for STL but not much surplus. And the Giants weaknesses this season have been middle relief pitching, which would have only been exacerbated by turning loose Lopez and Affeldt.

In the end, the decision to retain Lopez/Affeldt was made by a Giants organization with perfect or near-perfect information about itself. We at Fangraphs don’t know all the things the Giants FO know, and from the outside it looked like an wasteful deal.

Fatbot
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Fatbot
3 years 9 months ago

The problem is the Giants are the anti-stat geeks in that every move they make turns out opposite of what the stats say should happen. For example, I’d like to take a look at any proprietary information system (TM) that knew taking Scutaro away from Coors Field would cause a jump of 170 pts in OPS. And if it really predicted Scutaro would strike out at half his career rate and of course have his BABIP jump 70 points over his career number, that is indeed real genius.

Give the Giants credit in that they constantly attempt to resurrect players that have mediocre stats, like knowing Scutaro is a player of character that outplays his stats in the right situation.

Paul
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Paul
3 years 9 months ago

Well, for Scrutaro:
2011 (Red Sox) wOBA .343 .299/.358/.423
2011 (Rockies) wOBA .302 .271/.324/.361 in an hitter dream land

So maybe the Giants are super saber-savvy as they knew that a regression to the mean was coming up

Rob
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Rob
3 years 9 months ago

To cite the number of players expected to reach 600 PA and use it as evidence that the Giants have made good use of platoons is terribly flawed logic. Had Cabrera not been suspended, and Sandoval not spent so much time on the DL, they would easily have 4 players above that mark. Another reason that they haven’t had many players reach 600 PA is because they began the season with pretty bad players at a number of positions. Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill began the season in a platoon at first, but I wouldn’t say that it was very functional. The only real evidence that the Giants are ahead of others in the use sabermetrics in the entire article is the Giants VP of baseball ops saying that the Giants are ahead of other in the use sabermetrics.

There may be some truth to the premise of this article, but there is not sufficient evidence here to support it.

dan6491
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dan6491
3 years 9 months ago

I totally agree with Rob, and would like to add that, if the Giants abandon closer by committee in 2013, does that mean that the Giants-as-Neanderthals narrative is back in? One season is not a trend.

Kellin
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Kellin
3 years 9 months ago

So to go a step further, the opening day roster had platoons in mind at 1b , 2b , SS , and RF with switch hitters at 3b, LF and CF. Oh and the backup catcher is a switch hitter too. That seems like they were taking the platoon advantage pretty seriously to me.

Kellin
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Kellin
3 years 9 months ago

sorry meant for that to be a general reply, not to Dan specifically

Scott
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Scott
3 years 9 months ago

This isn’t strictly on-topic, but…remember how Fangraphs ranked the Giants’ baseball operations 27th out of 30 teams? (Link: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2012-organizational-rankings-12-san-francisco/)

Hopefully future versions of the org rankings can judge teams objectively on their entire baseball operations staff (for the Giants, that would include Bobby Evans and Dick Tidrow, for starters), and not just based on the GM. Also, I know this is a stats-oriented site, but it seems like those rankings judged teams’ baseball operations by how closely they adhered to the sabermetric ideal, and not necessarily how well the whole organization was able to scout, draft, develop, and sign players.

I know this sounds petty coming at the end of a successful season for the Giants, like “I told you so!”, but there was a lot of disagreement at the time of the rankings as well. Hopefully future rankings will be more balanced and based on a team’s full baseball operations staff, and not on dislike for a particular GM like Brian Sabean (who has his faults, but has been better recently on avoiding terrible free agent signings).

Rob
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Rob
3 years 9 months ago

I don’t think those rankings are at all based how closely teams adhere to the “sabermetric ideal”. Teams 8-3 are Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, Philly, Anaheim, and Texas. I’d say that none of those teams would be in the conversation for most sabermetriclly inclined, but they all have demonstrated a good ability to develop players, steady management, and sustained performance year after year.

Having a great baseball ops staff means nothing if the person who makes the decisions doesn’t listen to them. That’s why the GM gets the credit and the blame for the entire staff.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 9 months ago

You’re looking at the overall rankings. I’m only looking at the baseball operations rankings. Atlanta was tied for 11th in the baseball operations rankings (with a below-average 48 on the 20-80 scale), despite the fact that they routinely are known as an organization that has great scouting, drafting, and player development (and their major league results reflects this). Because they don’t have a reputation for being a stat-heavy franchise (and I don’t even know if that’s true), they are penalized. They should probably be in the top 5 for baseball operations.

Philadelphia is 23rd in baseball operations, Detroit is tied for 14th, Anaheim is 11th, Texas 5th, St. Louis 8th. I don’t really have a problem with any of those rankings, although you could argue Detroit or Philly should be higher. In general, I think the overall rankings are pretty good. But the rankings still seem to overly penalize front offices that are not considered “stat-heavy”.

And I have seen no evidence of GMs having a “great baseball ops staff” and not listening. Are you thinking of a particular example?

Rob
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Rob
3 years 9 months ago

I didn’t realize you were referring to only the baseball ops rankings…your argument makes a lot more sense there. I have not seen evidence of GMs ignoring their baseball ops people either; my comment was meant more that when we talk about (and judge) any particular GM, we are generally judging their decisions and performance, which are largely influenced by their baseball ops staff. I don’t think it’s really possible to separate a GM from the staff around him…the GM is simply the “face” to which we assign our opinions of a teams baseball ops.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you that the GM does seem to represent the front office, for better or for worse, and it can be difficult to separate opinions on the GM from the rest of the front office. Especially because it is so difficult to quantify what exactly the GM does versus the Assistant GM, or the director of baseball operations, or whatever.

I’m really just basing my opinion on the Braves having a good baseball operations department, for example, on the success of the major league team and on the Baseball Prospectus podcast, because those guys talk to baseball executives and scouts and they have a clearer idea of who does what, and who is doing a good job. And maybe they’re wrong too! It’s just really difficult to know. Fangraphs does a good job with the information they have, but there’s always room for improvement.

MrKnowNothing
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MrKnowNothing
3 years 9 months ago

I kinda feel like the Rangers have a p. good sabre-friendly mindset.

Grant Brisbee
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Grant Brisbee
3 years 9 months ago

I a) respect the hell out of FanGraphs and the amazing crew they’ve assembled and, b) making a living that’s partially based on nitpicking the Giants to death. But even I found that ranking way, way, way too low. It was pretty far removed from reality.

Nivra
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Nivra
3 years 9 months ago

But is this the real Grant Frisbee? JT Jordan is that you?

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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3 years 9 months ago

I’m superstitious so I’m hoping Fangraphs stick it to the Giants again in the future like this, as it seems to bring the Giants good luck.

In 2010, BP’s annual called STRONGLY for the Giants to fire Brian Sabean. I didn’t buy that annual, after buying all the others in the 2000’s, and I haven’t bought one since. They have some sort of vendetta against the Giants that comes out in their writing.

GotHeem
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GotHeem
3 years 9 months ago

I think you are reaching a bit with the evidence of platooning. I do like the idea of exploiting the market inefficiency of platoon players similar to the A’s and I hope the Giants look to continue this bullpen setup in the future. Regardless on my skepticism on your evidence, I really enjoyed the article and I love that my favorite organization also uses the data off my favorite website.

Rally
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Rally
3 years 9 months ago

I agree. While it makes sense to platoon for some players, it’s hardly innovative. They are just doing things that Casey Stengel or Earl Weaver did before the personal computer was invented.

channelclemente
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channelclemente
3 years 9 months ago

So now Bochy is a contemporary of Stengel and Weaver? Well, maybe he is in that regard, nice comps.

soladoras
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soladoras
3 years 9 months ago

To properly evaluate a FO you also need to take into consideration the moves they attempt to make but are unable to do so. The Giants are notorious for having their first options fall through and their backup options turning into gold. For example, Aubrey Huff was their 2nd or 3rd choice to sign for 1B heading into the 2010 season, after failing to sign Adam LaRoche. It’s hard to “credit” the FO for signing a guy who produced 6.2 WAR when they preferred the guy who produced 1.2 WAR that season.

JT
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JT
3 years 9 months ago

What did the system think about the Wheeler for Beltran trade?

Wat
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Wat
3 years 9 months ago

Probably that trading a pitcher with some mechanical issues for a bat was better than trading one of their best outfield prospects. They can’t help the fact that being on a New York team will cause the hype of that prospect to skyrocket.

Graham
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Graham
3 years 9 months ago

Aren’t the Giants the first team to have installed and scrutinized Field/FX? Grant Brisbee made the point the other day that perhaps they knew just how good Brandon Crawford was defensively, and thus calculated that he would still be very valuable even with his below-average bat. It certainly makes sense that the team is leveraging whatever Silicon Valley / tech ties it may have.

channelclemente
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channelclemente
3 years 9 months ago

You do know Crawford is hitting .300+ since the AS break.

Graham
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Graham
3 years 9 months ago

Yes. My point — really Brisbee’s point — was that the Giants may have figured, before this season started, that they could afford Crawford struggling at the plate because of how much value his defense contributed. That said, the organization has always appeared to believe that Crawford can be a solid big-league hitter, and as you point out, their patience seems more and more justified as the year goes on.

FWIW, I think Crawford wins a few Gold Gloves before he’s through, and that he begins attracting some national attention soon — perhaps as soon as this year’s postseason.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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3 years 9 months ago

What should be mentioned here is that the media had reported a while back that the Giants had their own proprietary defensive metrics that they compiled and did on their own, way before any Field F/X.

That not only is an example of their sabermetric tendencies a while back, but as we saw with Crawford this season, the efficacy of that system they used.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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3 years 9 months ago

I think there is too much of a tendency to ascribe mistakes to the GM when things go wrong with a free agent signing or if something is sub-optimal. You mention by inference, Renteria and Uribe, I believe.

I liked the Renteria signing as he was a good hitter who just had a bad BABIP year, I thought, but there were bone chips that made it painful for him to hit the way he could. He ended up being injured or DLed for much of his tenure. That pushed Uribe to be the starting SS when the Giants were planning on him being the utility infielder.

Then Renteria finally tore a tendon in his arm that was causing him pain, just before the 2010 playoffs, and suddenly the pain stopped, freeing him to swing the bat like he could before. That’s why I wasn’t too surprised by his good hitting in the playoffs, the media had news of his being able to swing the bat freely and I was hoping he could get his swing tuned up in time to hit for us.

Though, if you are referring to Tejada and Cabrera last season, I think the Giants were looking to get offense that made up for the below average defense they provide, they have made that tradeoff before. Unfortunately, the process for evaluating offense appears to not be as advanced as their defensive metrics.

But it is not like sabermetric is an exact science either. Lots of people laud Billy Beane, but I’ve never seen anyone but me ask, if he’s so smart, why did he trade away Ethier, Car-Gon, Hudson for almost nothing back in return? And Ethier and Car-Gon were particularly egregious, Ethier outhit the guy he was traded for IN THE SAME SEASON, and Car-Gon hit superstardom while Beane got worse and worse prospects in return for the players then prospects he got for Car-Gon. You say batting Theriot is a head scratcher, but trades like that are a head smasher.

channelclemente
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channelclemente
3 years 9 months ago

I’d hope that the Giants staff stats guy, Yeshaya Goldfarb, would get a little bit of airtime.

DrBGiantsfan
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3 years 9 months ago

I’ve always been amazed at how much criticism the Sabes and the Giants take from this site when they have been at or near the top in team UZR rankings year after year. I’d say that is fairly strong evidence that they have actually been ahead of the sabermetric curve for a long time.

I also never understood the LOOGY hate. If you look up a list of the top 100 MLB hitters by OPS, 50 of them hit either lefthanded or are switch-hitters while of the top 100 pitchers, only 25 are lefthanded. You need those LOOGYs to get those high leverage outs in the late innings, thus metrics such as WAR undervalue them. That is not a foreign concept to sabermetrics!

Lastly, why does Bochy get so much grief when he has long eschewed sacred cows like the sac bunt, SB, hit an run that sabermetricians have long held cost teams outs? Add in his longstanding love of platoon advantages and you have a sabermetrically savvy manager.

evo34
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evo34
3 years 9 months ago

To echo what Rob said above, the conclusion of the article does not follow the facts presented at all. The is zero actual evidence that the Giants are doing anything innovative based on analytics. They have a video database? No way. And they look at “publicly available” data? Sorta the opposite of “proprietary,” isn’t it.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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3 years 9 months ago

Great article, says something that major analytic sites have not been addressing well, IMO. The Giants have been very good at what they do for a while now, and it is worthwhile to figure out how they are doing it.

Thought I would tackle some points made, though, in your article.

First off, you questioned batting Theriot second on this team. I think we all wondered about that. There were a number of components in that decision, I think.

First off, once he got healthy, after his DL, he started hitting much better, he had a high OBP his first month and if you look at his batting line since coming off the DL, he batted .288/.335/.346/.681, which is not great, but above average for 2B and #2 (.325 for 2B, .327 OBP for batting second). His poor hitting early on, while injured, brought down his overall stats greatly. Had he not hit well, then I feel the Giants might have made a move sooner, but he was hitting well enough and my guess would be that what other teams were asking for was too much.

Hence the second factor, which is that the Giants went with him since he was doing OK and hopefully Franchez would heal soon, though I think it was around that time that he had a setback in his recovery, and thus did not feel the need to push hard and pay more for a better replacement.

Third, he was not the starting 2B to start with, he was one of our bench players, expected to back up Crawford (as a righty vs. BCraw’s lefty), while Franchez was suppose to return at any moment, and start at 2B. Of course, that never happened. His good hitting for a long time – to roughly the end of July – made him an adequate replacement, but his cold streak in August opened the door for Scutaro to take over once Sandoval returned and moved Scutaro out, and we all know what Scutaro did.

So I don’t think it is fair to judge Bochy harshly for batting Theriot second. Ryan actually was a good replacement for a long while, from May 25th to July 25th, he batted .311/.360/.372/.732 (batting line for 2B right now, .265/.325/.395/.720; for batting second, .269/.327/.397/.724). Then he went on an extended slump until being replaced permanently by Scutaro after the August 15th start. The Giants replaced him around the right time, once they rode his hot streak.

And the Giants installed him mostly because we had no choice at the time, he was the best replacement, Franchez still had hope of returning, and probably the cost was prohibitive then as well, that early in the season. But then he performed well for a long time, and didn’t require changing until they did. So I have no problem with Theriot getting 216 PA batting 2nd after he returned from the DL and started hitting, he was the best alternative and he took it and ran, hitting well for two months.

I would also note that I disagree with the over emphasis on walks that seems to permeate the Saberworld. Walks are good, but I view it as the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction, and is much like batting average before.

Here you note his lack of walks batting second. But pre-statistical analysis found that batting 2nd to be a key lineup position, and with the regression analysis that led to the batting lineup calculator, that showed that batting second is a key RBI position, more so than even batting third or fifth.

The focus should have been more on Theriot’s lack of power there. Despite his issue with walking, his OBP for his career is pretty adequate for batting second, it is his SLG that is lacking in the #2 spot. Just because a hitter does not walk that much does not mean that he can’t get on base that well, it just means that he does it via hitting instead of walking, which is more variable and thus not as reliable as getting walks, but still, if he can hit well overall, his lack of walks should not make him unsuitable for batting second. Getting on base is the key, not how he gets on base.

That is where being a good hitter helps for a #2 batter, as the higher your batting average, the higher your SLG. And walks do not drive in runs.

I think that is an important point many saber people miss in their analysis of hitters, sure, walking is a key component of judging a batter, but just like we now know that poor hitters who can at least get a lot of walks are valuable, getting hits is still an important skill not be be overlooked when examining a player, including for pitchers (my analysis found that if pitchers could hit more like a poor hitting shortstop, he can convert 1 loss into 1 win, changing a 15-15 season to a 16-14 season, which is a huge difference).

Sabermetrics, as a whole, gives short shrift to hitters who knows how to hit, and I understand that, that is how our tools orient people right now, but still, we need to bring the pendulum back to the middle. Being able to get hits is a key skill, just because it is easier to discuss a hitter’s ability to walk does not mean that we should forget how important it is to get those hits. We need to look at the whole picture.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

I would also point out something I had discovered with my research: Bochy’s incredible record in one-run games. He is 470-389 for his career, a .547 winning percentage, or 88 win rate in a 162 game season. If I did my stat hypothesis testing right, assuming the null hypothesis to be that managers are .500 in one-run games, he is at the 95% significance level for being over .500 in one-run games. I also found that even though he managed only 6-7% of the NL manager-seasons during his career, he is responsible for over 40% of the seasons where a manager had a +8 or more wins over .500 in a season.

I know that this does not show that the Giants are sabermetric oriented, but I was flummoxed by how quickly the Giants jumped on Bochy when the Padres wanted to get rid of him in a bad way until I found out about his track record last season, which he did all through his time in SD, and now going full-steam ahead in the past few seasons in SF. If I knew about that back then, I would see why they jumped on him, no other manager has even as close a record to Bochy over his tenure as manager, not LaRussa (never really that good in this regard), Cox (he was good early on, then average at the end of his career), nor Baker (he’s the closest, but where Bochy has averaged 4-5 extra wins per season over .500, he’s been around half that).

I also checked Torres and while there seems to be a link between having a winning playoff contending team and doing well in one-run games, whereas Joe was not so great when his teams were losing and great when winning, Bochy had dealt with poor teams all through his tenure at SD and early in SF, just passing .500 for his career just recently (nice THT article on that), yet he has been at 8+ wins 9 times in his 18 years as manager.

And in many seasons, his team’s record in one-run games accounted for a large percentage of their final season record above .500. In 1996, they were +9 in one-run, +20 overall. In 1997, +5 while -10 overall. In 2001, +9 while -4 overall. In 2004, +10 while +12 overall. In 2005, +9 while +2 overall. In 2006, +8 while +14 overall. In 2008, +10 while -18 overall. In 2011, +11 while +10 overall.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

About OBP, what most baseball fans don’t realize is that a team cannot be rebuild overnight. There is just not enough talent out there to be found via the draft and international signing to rebuild a team in 5 years, let along one year, which is what many GMs get from their team’s fans to do their stuff.

The Giants, unlike most teams, had a clearly distinct plan (or if they didn’t plan this, I don’t know how one could explain it). For most of Sabean’s time as GM, and that is also roughly Tidrow too, so really, I would say Sabean-Tidrow, they have focused on getting pitchers via the draft. Despite pitching making up less than half of any team’s roster, they drafted more pitchers than position players in most drafts.

On top of that – and that’s where Tidrow comes in, I think – in the Tidrow era of Sabean as GM, the Giants only drafted pitchers with their first round choices when not lost due to free agency signing. They had a lot of good prospects early on, Ainsworth, Williams, Foppert, Lowry, but finally hit big on Cain, then Lincecum and Bumgarner.

Once they had those pitching pieces, plus Sanchez and Wilson already, they then started picking up position players, and that started the Barr era, really, first picking Posey and focusing a lot of early picks after the first round on position players, including Crawford and Belt, and plus Joseph, Brown, Panik, and Susac.

About the Giants free agent follies, I would note that there are not a lot of high OBP players on the market who are bargain basement players, and when a large percentage is devoted to Bonds and Schmidt, among others, you have to pick from the dregs. And often, hitters would shun the Giants as a free agent, leveraging them for higher salaries elsewhere. Plus, people forget that both Durham and Alfonzo were considered high OBP hitters when the Giants picked them up as free agents. And Randy Winn was a high OBP as well.

As a Giants fan, I’ve heard managers and Sabean say enough times about the importance of OBP to believe that they know the importance of them. Sometimes the reality is that such a player is unavailable to you so you have to make do with other players.

Slats
Guest
Slats
1 year 8 months ago

Sabean and Bochy are often looked at as dinosaurs by the media and fans, however it seems clear that real baseball people have respect for that duo, as well as the Giants product.

We often get the media’s interpretation of the Giants, which is not always flattering. They aren’t a team that’s going to sport a run differential of 180+ at the years end, but they just won their third World Series in five years.

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