Archive for Giants

Elegy for ’18 – San Francisco Giants

With the Giants’ core likely entering its decline phase, a rebuild may be in the cards.
(Photo: Ian D’Andrea)

Goodnight, moon. Goodnight, even-year World Series wins. Goodnight, bowl of mush. Goodnight, even-year playoff appearances. Goodnight, Jeff Samardzija’s arm…

In 2018, the Giants beat out the Padres in the NL West. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much else.

The Setup

With three World Series championships over the decade and a fourth playoff appearance, it’s hard to have that much pity for the Giants, who have won more than their share of trophies.

Having aggressively spent after the 2015 season, signing Johnny Cueto and Samardzija in free agency just a week apart, the Giants can’t be blamed for lack of effort. The $251 million invested in the team that offseason was third in baseball. And it paid off, too, with Cueto and Samardzija combining for over 400 innings and 8.1 WAR, in addition to Madison Bumgarner, who had yet to start suffering a freak injury at the start of consecutive seasons.

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If Not Aaron Judge, Then Andrew McCutchen for Yankees

When Aaron Judge went down with a wrist injury at the end of July, the Yankees didn’t appear to be a club in dire straits. While there would be no replacing the American League’s 2017 WAR leader, the team would still be in decent shape, having entered the season with three talented outfielders beyond Judge in Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Things haven’t quite worked out as expected, though. Stanton has played mostly designated hitter, while Gardner has struggled offensively. The result: a possible weakness in the lineup where one wasn’t anticipated. With the Yankees’ acquisition of Andrew McCutchen, however — a deal first reported by Buster Olney — the lineup should benefit considerably.

Joel Sherman has reported that two prospects would go back to the Giants if and when the deal is confirmed, including infielder Abiatal Avelino. The 23-year-old reached Double-A in 2016, spent some time in three levels last year, and moved back and forth between the two highest minor-league levels while destroying Double-A pitching and struggling in Triple-A.

Update: Jim Bowden is reporting the other player in the deal Juan De Paula, currently a starter in Low-A, and Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Yankees are splitting the roughly $2.5 million remaining on McCutchen’s deal. 

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The Yankees Are Andrew McCutchen’s Landing Place

A week ago at the site, Craig Edwards endeavored to find a new home for Andrew McCutchen. The outfielder had just cleared revocable waivers and, with the Giants’ season effectively over, appeared destined to finish the 2018 campaign with another club. Which club, precisely, wasn’t clear. Whatever team he joined, however, would likely both (a) possess a reasonable chance of making the postseason and (b) feature a clear weakness at a corner-outfield spot. McCutchen, in other words, would have some value to a contending club receiving less-than-ideal production from either its left or right fielder.

To identify the most probable landing spots for McCutchen, Edwards published the following graph, featuring the projected rest-of-season WAR figures for each contender’s corner-outfield positions, with the stronger entries to the left and the weaker ones to the right. Towards the middle of the graph was a mark denoted as the McCutchen Line. McCutchen would, in theory, represent an upgrade at all the posts to the right of that line.

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Daily Prospect Notes Finale: Arizona Fall League Roster Edition

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Note from Eric: Hey you, this is the last one of these for the year, as the minor-league regular season comes to a close. Thanks for reading. I’ll be taking some time off next week, charging the batteries for the offseason duties that lie ahead for Kiley and me.

D.J. Peters, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Level: Double-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: 7   FV: 45+
Line: 4-for-7, 2 HR, 2B (double header)

Notes
A comparison of DJ Peters’ 2017 season in the Cal League and his 2018 season at Double-A gives us a good idea of what happens to on-paper production when a hitter is facing better pitching and defenses in a more stable offensive environment.

D.J. Peters’ Production
Year AVG OBP SLG K% BB% BABIP wRC+
2017 .276 .372 .514 32.2% 10.9% .385 137
2018 .228 .314 .451 34.0% 8.1% .305 107

Reports of Peters’ physical abilities haven’t changed, nor is his batted-ball profile different in such a way that one would expect a downtick in production. The 2018 line is, I think, a more accurate distillation of Peters’ abilities. He belongs in a talent bucket with swing-and-miss outfielders like Franchy Cordero, Randal Grichuk, Michael A. Taylor, Bradley Zimmer, etc. These are slugging center fielders whose contact skills aren’t particularly great. Players like this are historically volatile from one season to the next but dominant if/when things click. They’re often ~1.5 WAR players who have some years in the three-win range. Sometimes they also turn into George Springer.

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What Buster Posey’s Hip Surgery Could Mean for His Future

It’s been a forgettable season for the Giants as a team (63-66 at this writing), and earlier this week, we got a clue as to why — at least with regards to Buster Posey. The 31-year-old catcher has been hobbled by a right hip injury, and season-ending surgery to repair his labrum and clean out bone spurs is reportedly “imminent,” according to executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean. While there’s no concern that Posey will do additional damage by continuing to play, the goal is to give him enough time to recover from the surgery before the beginning of next season.

“Recovery time is what it is, it’s six-plus months,” Sabean told KNBR on Thursday night, “and if you hit the mark well enough you should be able to perform in spring training and hopefully start the season on time.”

With MLB announcing this week that Opening Day for the 2019 season would be on March 28 — just over seven months away — Sabean’s timeline leaves relatively little margin for setbacks. Cactus League action will have just gotten underway by the time he hits the six-month mark.

Via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s John Shea, Posey began experience soreness in the hip in late May and the problem has lingered, bothering him both while catching and while hitting. Via MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, he’s known about the looming likelihood of surgery since before the All-Star break. Selected to the NL All-Star team for the sixth time in his 10-year career, he opted to miss the game, receive a cortisone shot, and rest. Some break.

“You know me pretty well,” Posey told a Chronicle reporter regarding the hip, “and I don’t want to make any excuses for anything. It’s been something I’ve kind of pushed through and played through.”

The injury is the primary culprit in The Case of Buster’s Missing Power, as Posey has been unable to fully utilize his lower half in the service of driving the ball. He’s gone 44 consecutive games without a home run, tied for the second-longest streak of his career; he went 47 games during the second half of 2016 and 44 games from last August 9 until April 4 of this season. Posey’s current numbers (.284/.357/.382, five homers, 106 wRC+) all represent career lows, excluding his incomplete 2009 and 2011 seasons (a cup of coffee in the former, a gruesome collision — you know the one — in the latter). Since the All-Star break, Posey is hitting just .271/.327/.302 for a 78 wRC+ in 104 plate appearances, with three doubles representing the entirety of his extra-base hits total in that span. For an elite hitter with a career line of .306/.374/.465 (132 wRC+), that’s way out of character.

On the one hand, it would seem to be good news that the cause of Posey’s sagging production has been diagnosed and is treatable. On the other, one has to wonder how much impact such a surgery will have on a catcher heading into his age-32 season. While several position players have undergone hip surgeries in the past decade — a partial list would include Ike Davis, Carlos Delgado, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Gordon, Mike Lowell, Logan Morrison, Alex Rodriguez, Corey Seager, Steven Souza, and Chase Utley — it would appear that relatively few catchers have done so.

Via the subscription-based Baseball Injury Consultants site, run by my former Baseball Prospectus colleague Corey Dawkins (who set up BP’s injury database which, lamentably, is no longer being updated), I found only four major-league catchers who underwent what was described as a hip labrum surgery: Todd Hundley (2004), Matt Treanor (2008), Rob Johnson (2009), and Devin Mesoraco (2016). Treanor and Johnson were light-hitting backups, and Hundley, an NL All-Star in 1996-97, had become one by that point; in fact, he never played professionally after the surgery.

That leaves Mesoraco as the closest comp, but not necessarily an apt one. A former first-round pick and touted prospect — he made the top 25 on the lists of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeline in 2012 — Mesoraco didn’t hit much from 2011 to -13 (.225/.282/.359, 69 wRC+) but broke out in 2014 to bat .273/.359/.534 with 25 homers and a 147 wRC+, a performance that earned him an All-Star berth. He was limited to just 39 games (including a mere 18 starts behind the plate) in 2015-16, undergoing left hip surgery in the former year and both left shoulder and right hip surgeries in the latter year. Since that nightmarish stretch, he’s hit just .214/.307/.384 (86 wRC+), and earlier this year was traded from the Reds to the Mets in exchange for Matt Harvey. Given so many major injuries, it’s fair to wonder how much of Mesoraco was left on operating tables, but I don’t think his plight offers much insight into Posey’s future, either as a catcher or as a hitter.

It’s a future the Giants are heavily invested in, with salaries of $21.4 million per year from 2019-21 and then a $22 million option and $3 million buyout for 2022, Posey’s age-35 season. That the Giants have made a habit of playing Posey at first base regularly — 13 times this year and an average of 28 a year since 2010 (excluding 2011) — probably works in his favor in the long run. He’s caught 885 games in his career, never more than 123 in a season. By comparison, the top 10 catchers in JAWS — a group that I believe will one day include Posey — averaged 1,265 games caught through age 31. Reprising the upper end of a table that I created for a recent piece about Yadier Molina (1,302 games caught through age 31, if you’re asking):

Top Catchers’ Games Caught Through Age 31 and After
Rk Name Career Peak JAWS Caught Through 31 Caught 32+
1 Johnny Bench+ 75.2 47.2 61.2 1624 118
2 Gary Carter+ 70.1 48.4 59.3 1400 656
3 Ivan Rodriguez+ 68.7 39.8 54.3 1564 864
4 Carlton Fisk+ 68.5 37.6 53.0 875 1351
5 Mike Piazza+ 59.6 43.1 51.4 1064 566
6 Yogi Berra+ 59.4 37.0 48.2 1227 469
7 Joe Mauer* 54.7 39.0 46.8 920 0
8 Bill Dickey+ 55.8 34.2 45.0 1186 522
9 Mickey Cochrane+ 52.1 36.9 44.5 1271 180
10 Ted Simmons 50.3 34.8 42.6 1514 257
Average 1265 498
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference
+ = Hall of Fame
* = active.

Given that the next three guys in the JAWS rankings are a pre-war catcher (Gabby Hartnett), a guy who died in a plane crash at age 32 (Thurman Munson), and a guy who spent substantial time at first base (Gene Tenace), I figured cutting the table short would suffice. Posey currently ranks 16th in JAWS among catchers (40.7 career WAR/37.1 peak WAR/38.9 JAWS). He’s already surpassed the peak standard (34.5, seventh all-time) but is short of those for career WAR (53.5) and JAWS (44.0). Via Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, Posey was forecast to wind up sixth on that table above, with a line of 60.7/37.9/49.3.

I don’t know what moving Posey to first base would do to the projections, but the concept has relatively little appeal for the Giants, both because he’s an excellent defender and because the team also has a very good first baseman in Brandon Belt. On the first note, Baseball Prospectus, whose Fielding Runs Above Average metric includes pitch-framing, rates Posey as 156 runs above average for his career; that’s fifth since 1949, though the framing element of that overall figure only goes back to 1988. Posey is 4.4 runs above average this year. As for Belt, signed through 2021 with an annual salary of $16 million, he’s an above-average first baseman (5.9 UZR/150) as well as hitter (127 career wRC+, 120 this year). While he’s played 78 career games in the outfield, mostly in left, his UZR/150 there is -5.9. He might improve with more reps there, but such a chain of events clearly isn’t one the Giants are eager to pursue.

The Giants have deferred questions about the ramifications of Posey’s surgery until after it’s done, but as I noted in my post-mortem a couple of weeks back, it’s already clear that while he may remain the face of the franchise, the team can no longer afford to treat him as the centerpiece of the lineup given his health and what now amounts to two years of good-not-great production out of the last three (he had a 115 wRC+ in 2016, 128 last year). Nonetheless, here’s hoping that he comes back strong enough to regain some of the offensive stature he’s lost and to continue his Cooperstown-bound career behind the plate.


Finding a Landing Spot for Andrew McCutchen

Entering the year, the Giants had hopes of contention, with Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen joining a core of position players that included Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey plus Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto to lead the rotation .

Roughly four-fifths of the way through the year, however, the Giants have no hopes of contention. With a record under .500 and a competitive National League landscape, it is pretty clear that this will not be their season. Further dooming their 2018 campaign is the news that Posey will be out the remainder of the season with hip surgery. The Giants are passing players through waivers to prepare for any trades that might benefit the club. The most likely candidate at this point appears to be Andrew McCutchen.

The Giants’ troubles aren’t McCutchen’s fault. The former Pirates star has put up a 112 wRC+ and 1.4 WAR on the season. That’s less impressive than nearly all his seasons in Pittsburgh but still a rough approximation of the 119 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR for which he was projected before the start of the year. That makes McCutchen a productive player, one who would serve as an upgrade on a team with a hole, if not over a decent everyday player. Along with McCutchen comes his remaining salary which is somewhere, in the neighborhood of $3 million. The combination of McCutchen’s play and his salary scared teams off during the waiver process as he reportedly went unclaimed.

Unclaimed doesn’t necessarily mean unwanted: there are teams that could use McCutchen that might not love the idea of taking on his salary, as well. San Francisco can now negotiate with any team and can, if they choose, pay down some of McCutchen’s salary in an effort to make a deal more attractive. At the trade deadline, Jay Jaffe surveyed the positional replacement-level killers and found several teams — including the Astros, Diamondbacks, Phillies, and Rockies — lacking in the corner-outfield spots. For the most part, those teams have opted not to fill those holes.

Taking a look at the potential landing spots from another angle, let’s look at each contenders’ projections at both corner-outfield spots.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 8/21/2018

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Johan Quezada, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Level: Low-A   Age: Turns 24 on Saturday   Org Rank: 46   FV: 35+
Line: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 6 K

Notes
This was Johan Quezada’s first career appearance in full-season ball. An imposing mound presence at a towering 6-foot-6, he has recovered from the shoulder surgery that cost him all of 2017, and his velocity has returned. He sits 94-97 with extreme downhill plane created by his height, and he’ll show you an average slider every once in a while. Quezada’s breaking-ball quality and command need to develop as they’re understandably behind due to his limited pro workload. He’s a older-than-usual arm-strength/size lottery ticket. On the surface, he seems like a candidate for extra reps in the Arizona Fall League.

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The Giants Are Going Nowhere

A trade of Madison Bumgarner both (a) would be interesting and (b) is unlikely.
(Photo: Arturo Pardavila III)

The 2018 season is looking like another one in which the Giants’ even-year magic has deserted them. Amid a barrage of bad news about Brandon Belt, Johnny Cueto, and Pablo Sandoval — not to mention unsettling signs regarding Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey — they were inactive at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and now look ill-suited to leapfrog nearly half the league in order to get to October. After a crushing 3-1 loss to the Astros on Monday night via Marwin Gonzalez’s three-run homer off Will Smith with two out in the ninth inning, they’re 57-57, six games out of first place in the NL West and six back in the Wild Card hunt. Their playoff odds (2.8%) suggest they’re fated to play out the string.

Mind you, coming off a 64-98 season, the Giants never appeared to be a juggernaut. Offseason trades for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen did fill a couple of obvious holes, albeit with players whose best years are probably behind them, but the team’s preseason odds (23.9%) still suggested more than a puncher’s chance at relevance. Yet the Giants haven’t been in first place in the NL West since March 31, and have spent just five days in second since I last checked in on them on June 7, two days after Bumgarner made his belated season debut. Then as now, they were a .500-ish team — 30-30 before Bum’s return, and 27-27 since — but as time has run off the clock, the hits have kept coming. Not the good kind, either.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/11

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Andres Gimenez, SS, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Hi-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B

Notes
Gimenez is a 19-year-old shortstop slashing .280/.350/.430 in the Florida State League. That’s good for a 107 wRC+ in the FSL. Big-league shortstops with similar wRC+ marks are Trea Turner (a more explosive player and rangier defender than Gimenez) and Jurickson Profar, who have both been two-win players or better this year ahead of the break. Also of note in the Mets system last night was Ronny Mauricio, who extended his career-opening hitting streak to 19 games.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/2

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Today is July 2, the first day of the new international signing period. Both our rankings and scouting reports on the top players signing today are available by means of this ominous portal.

Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Chicago Cubs (Profile)
Level: Short Season   Age: 19   Org Rank: 14  FV: 40
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 8 K

Notes
Marquez has a 20:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Eugene. I saw him up to 96 last year, but he was 88-93 in extended spring training, and his body had matured and gotten somewhat soft pretty quickly. It didn’t affect his advanced fastball command, though, or his arm-side command of his breaking ball, which comprise a large chunk of Marquez’s current plan on the mound. He projects as a No. 4/5 starter with several average pitches and above-average control.

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The Giants Remain Afloat in the NL West

Madison Bumgarner made his 2018 season debut on Tuesday night, and while the Giants lost to the D-backs, the return of the 28-year-old staff ace couldn’t have come at a much better time. The team’s rotation has been a mess due to injuries and underperformance, but a surprisingly resilient offense has kept them in the thick of what’s become a four-team NL West race.

Bumgarner, who was limited to 17 starts last year due to his infamous dirt-bike accident, suffered a fractured pinkie on his left (pitching) hand via a line drive off the bat of the Royals’ Whit Merrifield back on March 23. The injury required the insertion of three small pins that were removed four weeks later. He made just two rehab starts before returning to the Giants, so despite his strong performance, it wasn’t much of a surprise that he was pulled after six innings and 82 pitches with the Giants trailing, 2-1. Of the eight hits he allowed, six came in his first three innings, with back-to-back doubles by Ketel Marte and Chris Owings and a single by Kris Negron accounting for both Arizona runs in the second inning. Bumgarner needed a bit of help from his defense to escape a two-on, no-out mess in the third, with Brandon Crawford throwing out David Peralta at the plate and then Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval immediately following that with a 5-3 double play. Bumgarner didn’t walk anybody, generated 10 swing-and-misses (seven via his cutter), and all three of his strikeouts came in his final two innings of work.

Alas, Bumgarner pitched on a night when D-backs starter Patrick Corbin and company were just a bit better. The Giants’ 3-2 loss ended a five-game winning streak, but they rebounded on Wednesday for a come-from-behind, walk-off win. At 31-31, they’re just 1.5 games behind the D-backs and Rockies, who are tied for the division lead at 32-29. With the Dodgers struggling out of the gate, Arizona took a commanding lead in April, but its May slide and L.A.’s recent hot streak have helped to turn the NL West back into a race:

NL West Standings Through April 30
Team W L W-L% GB RS RA Pyth. W-L%
D-backs 20 8 .714 132 90 .668
Giants 15 14 .517 5.5 106 124 .429
Rockies 15 15 .500 6.0 115 140 .411
Dodgers 12 16 .429 8.0 133 124 .532
Padres 10 20 .333 11.0 119 155 .381
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

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No Hitter Has Been More Patient Than Pablo Sandoval

Yesterday was a pretty good day for hitters on the comeback trail. Jason Heyward blasted a walk-off grand slam. Matt Kemp hit another home run. Ian Desmond hit another home run. Jurickson Profar hit another two home runs. And Pablo Sandoval hit his own home run. With the Giants, Sandoval’s been only a part-time player, but over 112 trips to the plate, he’s posted a 115 wRC+. He hasn’t finished as an above-average hitter since 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at Wednesday’s game. Sandoval homered in the bottom of the first. Before that, though, he took the first pitch from Clay Buchholz. In the third inning, he again took the first pitch from Buchholz. In the fifth inning, he again took the first pitch from Buchholz. In the eighth inning, he took the first pitch from Archie Bradley. In the tenth inning, he took the first pitch from Andrew Chafin. Stick with me here, because this is going to get weird. This is bigger than you could imagine.

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It’s Probably Time to Appreciate Brandon Belt

What does it mean to be “underrated?” The label suggests public perception is not in line with actual value, which for whatever reason is obscured. The term gets tossed around often and recklessly, like many labels. But in the case of Brandon Belt, there is some merit in making the claim.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Belt ranks 11th in the majors in walk rate (13.6%). He’s tied with Carlos Correa and Edwin Encarnacion for 17th in wRC+ (135). Over the last three-plus seasons, Belt also ranks 16th in on-base percentage (.375).

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The Rarest Sight in Baseball

On May 12th, in the first inning of the Cubs’ game against the White Sox, Jon Lester did something a little bit unusual: he swung at a 3-1 pitch. Now, if Jon Lester were not a pitcher, that wouldn’t be all that unusual. Since 2011, non-pitchers (another word you might use for these people is “hitters”) have swung at 3-1 pitches about 56% of the time — 55.9% of the time, to be precise. But Jon Lester is a pitcher, and he still swung at a 3-1 pitch. And the thing is, over the same time period — that is, from 2011 (when our data starts) to present — pitchers faced with 3-1 counts have swung at the next pitch just 38.3% of the time. Of those swings, just one in five was at a pitch outside the zone, like the fastball on the outside edge at which Lester swung and missed. It’s just not something you see that often.

That’s because, if you’re a pitcher, swinging at a 3-1 pitch is usually not a very good idea. If you swing at such a pitch, you might get a hit (pitchers did hit 27 home runs last year, after all!), but you might also put the ball in play and record an out. If you don’t swing on 3-1, you definitely won’t record an out. You might still get a strike called against you, which would put you that much closer to recording an out, but you might also walk or get hit by the pitch — and a walk or hit by pitch, for a lot of pitchers at the plate, is a very good outcome. Last year, pitchers took 5,277 plate appearances. They recorded outs in 4,522 of those plate appearances (85.7%). I think it’s fair to say pitchers are looking for any means to reach base available to them. Swinging at 3-1 pitches is not a good way to do that. And so, two-thirds of the time, pitchers don’t.

Everything I’ve just said applies doubly to 3-0 counts. Even regular hitters don’t swing at those pitches all that often — just 8.2% of the time since 2011, in fact. With two strikes still available, it just doesn’t make any sense not to give the pitcher a chance to walk you, and so upwards of nine times out of 10, hitters will let the pitcher prove he can find the zone on a 3-0 count. And when it’s a pitcher at the plate, the odds of a swing on 3-0 are even smaller. Vanishingly small, in fact. Thanks to a database query performed by my colleague Sean Dolinar, I’m able to report to you now that a pitcher swing on a 3-0 count has happened only seven times since 2011, or about once a season. Seven times, out of 578 opportunities. About 1 in every 100 times. Almost never. And — here’s the fun thing about this story, I think — six of those seven swings were taken by just two men, and all seven came in the span of just three seasons. Let’s investigate the history of this strange baseball phenomenon together, shall we? Come with me on a journey back to May 20th, 2014.

Whoops! I jumped ahead in the story a little bit. That there on your screen, right above this text, is Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants swinging at a 3-0 pitch in the fifth inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies. Now, Bumgarner can hit a little bit — at least as well as the worst big-league hitters can hit, that is. His career wRC+ is identical, for example, to Drew Butera’s. And he was behind in this game 1-0 in the fifth, with two runners on base and an out in the inning to spare. Perhaps he felt that his cause would be best served by a Very Large Home Run against Franklin Morales, who at this point in the game was pitching a gem (those of you who are familiar with the life and work of Franklin Morales may not be shocked to discover it did not end that way, though it wasn’t a terrible start, on the whole).

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Top 22 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the San Francisco Giants. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All the numbered prospects here also appear on THE BOARD, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. Click here to visit THE BOARD.

Giants Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Heliot Ramos 18 A CF 2023 50
2 Stephen Duggar 24 AAA CF 2018 45
3 Alexander Canario 17 R RF 2023 45
4 Tyler Beede 24 MLB RHP 2018 45
5 Garrett Williams 23 AA LHP 2019 45
6 Chris Shaw 24 AAA 1B 2018 45
7 Jacob Gonzalez 19 A 3B 2023 40
8 Andrew Suarez 25 MLB LHP 2018 40
9 D.J. Snelten 25 MLB LHP 2018 40
10 Aramis Garcia 25 AA C 2019 40
11 Sandro Fabian 20 A+ RF 2021 40
12 Gregory Santos 18 R RHP 2023 40
13 Austin Slater 25 MLB LF 2018 40
14 Tyler Herb 25 AAA RHP 2018 40
15 Shaun Anderson 23 AA RHP 2020 40
16 C.J. Hinojosa 23 AA 3B 2019 40
17 Reyes Moronta 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
18 Miguel Gomez 25 MLB 3B 2018 40
19 Kelvin Beltre 21 A 3B 2021 40
20 Camilo Doval 20 A RHP 2022 40
21 Melvin Adon 23 A+ RHP 2020 40
22 Logan Webb 21 A+ RHP 2020 40

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian (PR)
Age 17 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/70 30/60 60/60 40/55 60/60

Ramos is built like Yoan Moncada and comes with similar strengths and weaknesses. He runs very well, is likely to play in the middle of the diamond, has big raw power for his age, and his issues with strikeouts should give us pause about how much of these skills will actually play in games. Also like Moncada, Ramos’ swing has natural lift out in front of him, which gives him a good chance to hit for power when he does make contact.

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Mac Williamson Might Just Save the Giants

Some kind of cliff is almost certainly coming, but the Giants figure they could still have another run. For 2018 — and, right now, all that matters is 2018 — the Giants ought to be competitive. Far more competitive than they were last summer. You know the criticisms, though. The Giants are old. They might not have enough youth. And they also might not have enough power. That’s something they’ve worked to address, and their actual power is somewhat depressed by their own home ballpark, but recent Giants lineups haven’t instilled much fear. The club has been done no favors by Hunter Pence’s apparent decline.

Just the other day, 27-year-old righty Mac Williamson hit this home run.

On its own, that’s impressive. Righties don’t hit home runs to that area in San Francisco, particularly at night. But if you know anything about Williamson, you know he’s always had power. Every so often, Williamson would run into a ball and obliterate it. The issue, as it frequently is, was consistency. Williamson didn’t do that often enough. How many hitters do that often enough?

So let’s no longer look at this on its own. Since being recalled from the minors, Williamson has started five games. He homered in the first one. He homered in the fourth one. And he homered in the fifth one. Something might be brewing, here. Because Williamson isn’t just a player doing well. He’s a player doing well after overhauling the very core of his game.

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Not-So-Fresh Starts in San Francisco

In an offseason characterized by inactivity and a wariness to trust anybody over 30, the Giants made waves by trading for both Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, adding them to a lineup that last year already ranked as the NL’s oldest and least potent, even after park adjustment. So far, the gambit hasn’t paid off. On the heels of a forgettable 64-98 season, the team scoring a major-league-worst 2.88 runs per game has gone 6-10, scoring exactly one run in six of those games and being shut out three times. On Tuesday night, they were a measly Brandon Belt check swing against the shift away from being no-hit by the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin. Though both Longoria and McCutchen have had their moments, neither has come anywhere close to living up to their billing.

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Jackie Robinson and the Integration Advantage

Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day around the majors, commemorating the anniversary — the 71st, this year — of the fall of baseball’s color line via Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. But just as Robinson’s immeasurable courage in confronting racism and the immense talent he showed while playing at the highest level deserve more than a single day for paying tribute, so too is it worth remembering the black players who bravely followed in his footsteps and ensured that baseball’s great experiment would not be a one-off. In the two decades following Robinson’s arrival, the influx of talent, first from the Negro Leagues and then the sandlots and high schools whose players previously could not have dreamt of such an opportunity, radically transformed the National League, in particular.

Led by president and general manager Branch Rickey, the Dodgers, of course, got the jump. During Robinson’s major-league career, which lasted from 1947 to 1956, the Dodgers won six pennants as well as their lone Brooklyn-era championship in 1955. In addition to becoming a pioneer of tremendous importance, Jackie himself was the game’s third-most valuable player over that span according to WAR (57.2), behind only Stan Musial and Ted Williams. While the Dodgers had a great supporting cast of white players such as Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider, those teams also got great work from two Negro Leagues graduates whom Rickey had signed before Robinson even reached the majors — namely Roy Campanella, who debuted in 1948 and went on to win three NL MVP awards, and Don Newcombe, who debuted in 1949, won Rookie of the Year honors that season, and would later win a Cy Young and an MVP award.

Though Rickey lost a power struggle to Walter O’Malley and was forced to sell his share of the team following the 1950 season, the Dodgers furthered their dominance over the NL in part by continuing to sign talented black players. Under Buzzie Bavasi as general manager and Fresco Thompson as director of minor-league operations, the organization added right-hander Joe Black (1952 NL Rookie of the Year), infielder Jim Gilliam (1953 NL Rookie of the Year), outfielder Sandy Amoros, second baseman Charlie Neal, catcher John Roseboro, shortstop Maury Wills (1962 NL MVP), and outfielders Tommy Davis and Willie Davis (no relation), among others.

Amoros, Black, and Gilliam would augment the Dodgers’ Robinson-era core, and the latter remained a vital lineup cog through the transitional phase that included the franchise’s 1957 move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and their return to powerhouse status behind the one-two pitching punch of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Neal, Roseboro, and Wills would each spend at least half a decade in the minors and/or as understudies awaiting their shots before contributing to the team’s 1959 pennant and championship, with the latter two becoming more central alongside the two Davises as the team won championships in 1963 and 1965, and added one more pennant in 1966, Koufax’s final year. Tommy Davis, a left fielder, won back-to-back NL batting titles in 1962 and -63, while Willie Davis, a center fielder, was the position’s best defender this side of Willie Mays (his three errors in Game Two of the 1966 World Series to the contrary).

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The Giants Really Didn’t Need a Madison Bumgarner Injury

A quick glance at the contract situation for the best players on the San Francisco Giants might make it appear as though the club is set up for the long haul. Of the Giants’ eight best players by projection this season, seven are locked up through at least 2020, with the eighth signed for two more seasons. Every single player expected to make a significant contribution is signed or under team control for at least two seasons, with Andrew McCutchen representing the only notable exception.

What that quick glance at the Giants’ contract situations might miss, however, is the ages of all of those contributors. With a veteran core, the Giants are very much in win-now mode and losing Madison Bumgarner — who likely won’t return until June after breaking his pinky finger — deals the team a big blow in what might be the team’s last best chance at another playoff run.

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Effectively Wild Episode 1189: Season Preview Series: Giants and Athletics

EWFI

On a Bay Area edition of EW’s season-preview series, Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about the resolution of their free-agent-contracts draft, the Lance Lynn, Neil Walker, and Jake Arrieta signings, the offseason market in review, and a Stephen Hawking baseball connection, then preview the 2018 Giants (32:07) with SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee, and the 2018 Athletics (1:07:20) with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.

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