This Isn’t Barry’s Lineup Anymore

Remember the days when Barry Bonds would be the lone bright spot in a San Francisco lineup? Sure, he had Jeff Kent for a while, but toward the end would have to hit in front of the likes of Bengie Molina. It’s a different story today. The Giants currently sit four games behind the Padres in the NL West, a difference that can’t make the Friars all that comfortable. The Ginats, meanwhile, are tied for first in the NL Wild Card race. With a rotation that includes Lincecum and Cain, a hot offense could allow them to rack off a bunch of wins consecutively and quickly.

The biggest shot in the arm for the Giants offense has clearly been Aubrey Huff. After a miserable 2009, Huff has put up a .395 wOBA this season, providing the team with a legitimate power threat in the middle of the order. But the guy Huff has been knocking in, Andres Torres, has done more than hold his own: Torres has a .382 wOBA (139 wRC+); a slash line of .288/.370/.496 from your leadoff hitter and speedy centerfielder can do wonders for your club.

Don’t forget the new guys, either. Well, the newer new guys. Since being called up, Buster Posey has been everything advertised and then some. The rookie catcher is hitting .338/.386/.516, good for a .387 wOBA and 2.8 WAR in just 68 games. His performance has sent Bengie Molina, who was hitting .257/.312/.332, to Texas. ZiPS likes Posey for a .345 wOBA the rest of the way, although that may be a conservative estimate given his season thus far. Another new guy has been Pat Burrell, who apparently just needed to come back to the good ol’ National League. Since being released by the Rays after struggling for far too long, Pat the Bat has found his stroke by the bay, hitting .285/.378/.527 as a Giant. His power presence in the lineup shakes everything up and provides another threat to opposing teams.

Finally, there are the role players. Juan Uribe‘s .327 wOBA has been solid for a middle infielder, and has made things easier with Edgar Renteria (.316 wOBA) struggling. Freddy Sanchez, meanwhile, still isn’t right since coming back from injury, and ZiPS’ projection of a .314 wOBA for the rest of the season isn’t all too promising. Still, he is capable of hitting .320 for the rest of the season. Oh yeah, and remember when Pablo Sandoval was the only dangerous bat in the lineup? The big guy is having a really rough year with a .312 wOBA after a .396 mark last season; his BABIP, however, is .55 points lower than last year, and he, like Sanchez, could turn it up real quick. Finally, the addition of guys like Mike Fontenot and Jose Guillen give the bench some depth.

If you were to ask what the Giants lineup for 2010 would look like at the start of 2009, I doubt many people would throw names like Huff, Burrell, and Torres your way. But these guys are getting it done, and it hasn’t been a fluke either. The Giants can hit.




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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


17 Responses to “This Isn’t Barry’s Lineup Anymore”

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  1. Lenmb says:

    It’s fun to see how quickly a franchise can turn a struggling lineup around with some key additions.

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    • Paul says:

      Especially when those additions were like picking lotto numbers. No one expected Huff to have this kind of year, obviously Burrell was really struggling for Tampa, Torres is having a career year for a 32 yr old CF (as a more or less second year player in the majors), and Fontenot seemed to come out of nowhere and just in time (freddy is really not hitting well at all). Can they hit? Not sure still if they’re even an average offense, and watching them against the Padres at Pac Bell was pretty brutal.
      Also, it’s really easy to forget all of the moves that didn’t work this season. Wellemeyer, Molina although that seemed to work out pretty well in the end, Sanchez, relievers, bowker and nate as starters,

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  2. Gary says:

    I feel this post is unobjective.
    Freddy Sanchez has a lifetime .295 BA. He has hit over .320 in a year once in his major league career. He has hit over .300 twice. And saying that he has the capability of hitting .320 without mentioning the injury risk inherent in Sanchez seems disingenuous.
    Aubrey Huff has a ZIP ROS wOBA of .367 and I’ll take the under on that. Lifetime .349 wOBA, age 33, abysmal year last year.
    Burrell’s AVG is unsustainably higher than his career levels.
    The other contributors you mentioned are all overperforming by my standards. I think that this post, hyping the lineup, without even mentioning the possibility of regression, got my panties in a knot.

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    • James says:

      Based on his track record, it isn’t that unreasonable to suggest Sanchez is capable of hitting .320 over a 6 week stretch (as opposed to a 6-month stretch), seeing as how almost every guy in the big leagues is capable of putting together a hot stretch and he’s done it before for an entire season. That being said, it ain’t gonna happen.

      To me, their season boils down to Lincecum. Without him pitching well, they won’t go far in the playoffs if they even make it that far.

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      • Paul says:

        Although Lincecum has been inconsistent, he has pitched bad.
        FIP: 3.27
        XFIP: 3.39
        Just to put that in perspective, Ubaldo Jimenez, 17-3, 2.59 ERA.
        FIP: 3.09
        XFIP: 3.73
        Obviously Lincecum isn’t the top starting pitcher in the NL this year (Josh Johnson), but he is still a legit ace. What the Giants really need is a better offense, better relief pitching, and to take out one of the Padres’ starting pitchers (Mat Latos comes to mind).

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      • Paul says:

        hasn’t pitched bad

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  3. tdotsports1 says:

    Never thought I would write about Huff this year, but he has had a year!

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  4. JK says:

    This article is the definition of weak sauce. I feel that Pat is a Hack and should be forbidden from brining his nonsense to a great website like fangraphs.

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  5. SharksRog says:

    Completely overlooked here has been the impact of Andres Torres as the leadoff hitter. His .288/.370/.496/.867 has to make him one of the top leadoff men in the game. And this on a team whose last true leadoff hitter may have been Kenny Lofton.

    Throw in Torres’ Gold Glove-level defense, and he might be the Giants MVP to date. A strong argument could also be made for the more noticeable Aubrey Huff, who not only has hit with power but has played unexpected defense at three positions.

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    • Paul says:

      Do you think he’s still completely overlooked? He might not be shown on ESPN every night making plays, but as far as Giants fans and baseball fans go, he’s pretty known right now.

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  6. cs3 says:

    Re: Torres Gold Glove-level defense-

    Torres is a legit top 5 defensive OF in the league based both on sabermetric defensive stats and just based on the naked eye…He should win a gold glove, but i wouldnt be surprised if he didnt, just because he is moved around the OF positions a lot depending on who else is starting.

    Now if only Bochy would keep Torres in CF every single day. It its unbelievable that he is moved to a corner on days when Rowand (inexplicably) gets a start.
    Rowand has a slow first step, still takes poor routes to deep balls in the gap, and doesnt seem to judge balls well that are hit directly over his head. Granted, this last part is purely subjective based on watching 4-5 Giants games per week all season so far, but Torres does all those things well.

    But I guess I should be encouraged by the fact that Rowand does in fact sit most days, something everyone knew was long overdue

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  7. This team has been a pleasure to watch. Just seeing Aubrey Huff’s face light up during the first legitimate meaningful baseball he’s played in his career, or stone-faced Pat Burrell doing his best to avoid cracking a smile (you can tell) makes a difficult last few seasons completely and totally worth it. While the Giants had some great years in the early 2000s, Barry Bonds teams were never “fun.” Everyone had this serene, “I’m going to do my job and get it over with,” mentality. Now with young leadership (25 year old Matt Cain is the longest tenured Giant), this team is having fun and playing great baseball.

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  8. PhD Brian says:

    not sure why, but my thought when I read the title of this article was “Barry Larkin”. So, I expected to read about the Reds.

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  9. SharksRog says:

    Buster Posey has been a right-handed hitting version of Joe Mauer this season. Both players have done their best hitting to the opposite field and have hit there a lot.

    The most unusual statistic from Buster is that in over 250 major league at bats, he has yet to hit an infield pop up. Anyone ever hear of anything like that before?

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    • Brandon T says:

      That would certainly help explain his high BABIP and BA. I don’t know if that’s a repeatable skill, though — anyone?

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