50 Games: Is Belt an All Star? Who is our best pitcher? Hitting Left & Throwing Right


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Episode Transcript

Benjamin: Welcome back to the San Francisco Giants edition of the For The Fans By The Fans podcast. In the show, we bring you your weekly dose of all things, San Francisco Giants baseball from the Fan's perspective. I'm a lifelong giants fan and your host, Benjamin Shapiro. As the Giants Hover right around 500 about 50 games into the season, we welcome back Adam Grossman. Adam is a lifelong giants fan that lives in Seattle, Washington, and he moonlights as an operations and demand planning consultant. Adam graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree  in mathematics, so he's very mathy, and he's going to talk us through some of the statistics he's been digging up based on the Giants' performance of the first 50 games of the season. But, before Adam goes all mathematics on us, we want to tell you that this podcast is brought to you on behalf of our friends at fanatics

Benjamin: Fanatics is the global leader in licensed sports merchandise. They have the world's largest collection of official sports apparel from the leagues, teams and players you love. That means if you're like my buddy Adam and you're ready to buy your Allen Henson Herndon, whatever the second baseman who's been playing this week's jersey, you can go onto fanatics and get accustomed made Jersey for a little less than a hundred bucks. We're lucky enough to be a fanatics affiliates, so if you want to help us out, you can go to the link in the show notes for this show or an FTF btf.com/fanatics, and when you buy your giants gear, they'll give us a little kickback to help to pay for the production of this show. So with that said, Adam, I took the first vacation with my wife since our baby was born. I missed an entire week of baseball. I have no idea what's going on. What happened? 

Adam: It's been pretty 500 $8,500. Yes. That's how the giants season this pin this far right? Pretty 500. 

Benjamin: Well, the last time we talked it was doom and gloom. Both of us were depressed. Ben Suarez were getting shelled. They were for games under 500 and we were sitting here ready to just pull the plug and let the water out of the bathtub and after that I think they won four series in a row and they were for games ahead of 500 and then before I left they got the living shit kicked out of them in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Adam: Yeah, they lost seven of eight. 

Benjamin: Yeah, they got their butts kicked by the phillies. I think they got swept and four and they drop three or four against Pittsburgh and I said forget it. I'm out of here. And went on vacation. So didn't watch much baseball in Columbia. They were up and down. It looked like we were good and then we were terrible. What happened? 

Adam: They finished up that road trip in Cincinnati and Cincinnati is pretty garbage and I went two out of three from there and then they split a four game series at home with the rockies and the rockies are good. They're above 500 team and they split them $500. So there are a couple of games under $500 right now. They've got a a pretty tough stretch coming up over the next three weeks, you know, they just lost last is an understatement. Lost the astros 11 to two last night to kick off their road trip, but they play to you in Houston and then three in Chicago and then they could go to course field for the first time, play three against the rockies, and then they come home for a stretch against the phillies who beat him up good when they were in Philadelphia and then Arizona who has been on a pretty bad slide lately, but they're still at the top of the nlst 

Benjamin: actually they're not. I'm looking at the schedules now. The rockies are up by half a game. Bears on a second place 

Adam: that's breaking news. Arizona has been garbage, so hopefully that'll continue. I think they've lost like 10 or 11 or something like that and then just rounding it out. They go on the road against the nationals and all six of those teams are multiple games above 500. So I think it's going to be a really interesting stretch. This next couple weeks is really gonna. Tell the giants trajectory, 

Benjamin: but I'm looking at the NFL west and I see Arizona obviously came back to Earth right there now two games over 500 in their last 10 there. One nine. So that's awful. Last six games in a row. Colorado's first place by a half a game, but there are only three games above 500 were two games out in the enl West again below 500. And then why in the weeds is the dodgers at 21 and 27. Four and a half games back like the division is coming back to earth and the big concern for me is not necessarily whether the giants are going to win but it's just given the dodgers the ability to come back into it. I still think we're going to be a little over 500 at the end of the year and I think victory for us to season. Is the dodgers not winning the world series and us being competitive? Yeah, 

Adam: I think so. The nos is shaking out a lot like we talked about at the start of the season where aside from the dodgers being surprisingly terrible through the first 50 games, which I don't have any heartburn about. We talked about the giants, rockies and diamond backs just kind of beating up on each other throughout the season and San Diego being San Diego and that seems to be the case, so I'll take a middling to below average dodger team in that mix as well. And then as far as the giants being competitive, the thing that I'm happy about is that there are at least a couple of compelling story lines. Hopefully we'll talk about brandon belt and. All right. Eat some crow along with the rest of the universe along with the rest of twitter. Yeah, exactly. Giving Brendan Belt is due, but then I've been doing some just light number crunching on the giants pitching and pitching staff and I think there's some interesting things to talk about there over the next couple of weeks. 

Benjamin: The thing that occurs to me going back to just looking at the standings or the home and away splits, so a the giants or four games over 500 at home and five games under on the road and a lot of that has to do with you last for in Philadelphia and three in Pittsburgh, so that road trip was a disaster in terms of the games that we've played away from at and t park. The other thing that's interesting to me is just going back to the dodgers. They're nine and 14 at home, so they're hovering around 500 when they are away from Chavez Ravine, but man, they stink in La. 

Adam: Fortunately I don't follow the dodgers closely enough to give any educated guesses on why that's the case, but I'll take it whatever. Yeah, exactly. I'll take it anytime the dodgers are doing crappy anywhere, I'm fine with me. 

Benjamin: So let's talk about who's been playing. Well, I, I kind of get the sense of what happened while I was gone. They were about 500. They came back after a crappy road trip, got healthy against Cincinnati and did all right against the rockies. What are you seeing in terms of who's playing well and why are they playing the way they are? 

Adam: The person who's really carrying the team right now over the last couple of weeks and really through the front half of the season is written brandon belt. He is the best hitter right now across the board in the National League. He's like number six in the majors in terms of accumulated war in the League, 

Benjamin: I'm looking at windover replacement. He's a too, so he's clearly pretty far ahead of the average first baseman. It's got a three, 13 batting average. He's got 11 home runs, 29 Rbis, 51 hits and the big thing for belt is 48 strikeouts 26 walks, so in the total number of 163 at bats, he still his 40th strikeouts, which I think leads the team, but he's getting on base and driving the ball. 

Adam: Yeah, well I was reading an article on fan graphs specifically. Yeah, that was published I think earlier this week. That was basically like time to give brandon belt is due and they were saying that he's always had a good eye at the plate. He's like 13th in the league over the last three years in terms of plate discipline and everybody kind of poo-poos is power numbers because of the park that he's in and he's kind of more of a contact spray hitter, but he's got 11 home runs this year as well on pace to hit over 20 home runs for the first time in his career. 

Benjamin: Hang on a second. Yeah, he's well over on pace to hit 20 home runs for the first time in his career. I'm sorry I can't get that excited about the best power hitter on the team. Hitting 20 home runs. I get it. It's the park, but like where 20 home runs is like the shortstop in Cincinnati. It's not a lot of home runs. They play half the games away. 

Adam: If you're really going on pace, he's on pace to hit over 30 home runs. 

Benjamin: I would get a little excited about a giants player hitting 30 home runs, but 20 home runs it's like, to use a term from my dad was us who gives a shit. 

Adam: Yeah. But that trend sells him short right now. You know, he's ops is over a thousand. He's doing really well. The article is talking about why and he's opened up his zone more particularly against four seam fastballs. He's really hitting balls that are up and in and down in a way at a much higher percentage than he has been over the last couple of years. And yeah, strikeouts are up a little bit, but he's definitely hitting the ball more and he seems to be hitting it with power. So hats off to brandon belt and beyond that he just looks more all. Sorry. Yeah, I mean he looks more allstar and my big gripe with belt over the last couple of years has been like, yeah, there's numbers. Look all right, but their mop up numbers that he's the guy who was hitting to run double when they're down six in the eighth inning and he's getting a sweet pitch to hit. But to the contrary, I was watching a game against the rockies, I think it was Saturday or Sunday and they were tied five, five in the bottom of the eighth and he came up and hit a three run bomb and it's like three run homer and the top five five to put them up, eight, five in the eight. That's what you want a power hitter to hit. And he's been doing that. So he's not only hitting well, but at least over the last couple of weeks he's hitting timely. 

Benjamin: Yeah, I always coupled the brandon's in my head because they came up around the same time. They have the same name there, infielders, and to me like brandon belt is the more powerful of the two. They're both good fielders, but the difference between branded belt and Brandon Crawford, to me, Brenda Crawford's lower average, much more clutch traditionally and belt was like, hey, the numbers look great, but when it matters, like that's not what you see when you look at the stats at the end of the day. And I feel like that's flipped a little bit. I actually in front of me, I'm looking up the batting splits for May, so for this month, and what occurs to me is Brandon Crawford is hitting 4:53 this month, so he's actually on fire. Buster Posey, baton, three-fifty, belts, batting three slash 25. Allen Hanson and other guy. I'd love to talk about batting 3:16. I know he went down like there are some guys that are really slap in the ball around the field when you look at May and it's not just belt even though he's, I think been the most consistent this year. There's some other guys that are getting hot and the other one that I want to talk about is Andrew mccutchen. When I left Andrew mccutchen was hitting 100 

Adam: and then when you left and now he's hitting 45, which is not too surprising. The guys consummate Allstar. 

Benjamin: Yeah. The slow start was concerning and I think when we left last time when everything was doom and gloom, we were saying the guys that we brought in are getting their routines down, getting comfortable with the new park and they're going to be better. And I really think we're starting to see that we're looking at mccutcheon batting 2:43 for the season. He's only got the three home runs in Longoria's to 51. He's got eight home runs. So you're getting some production out of. I'm still not a high average, but you're home grown talent as much as we give the giants farm system a hard time. Bell spatting three, 13 Crawford's batting 309 that won't last. Posies batting three. Oh four. He got a couple of guys that are hovering around 300. It's been the guys that came up through the farm system that are carrying the team so far. 

Adam: I mean granted the pharmacists eight years ago. But yes, I think the thing that's going to be interesting is that right, they go on the road over the next couple of weeks and they really hit a slew of hitters, ballparks. And so their bats are hot at the right time and it's going to be real interesting to see how hot they stay. And they could put up some really big numbers going into Chicago and obviously Colorado. So that'll be fun to see. On the flip side, they're pitching as me really, really concerned over the next couple of weeks. They very well could be losing some solid nine to seven games, 

Benjamin: you know, who drives me up the wall and is just looking like a terrible contract Jenzabar just so Marsha, oh my God, I get it coming off the injury. Give him some time. He's a proven, let's call them a proven starter. Basically he's a 500 picture or maybe a little below with like a foreign era. His era is over six right now. Stratton's come back to Earth Block. Like everybody's era of our starters, excluding Johnny Quedo. The lowest era is four point three seven. The starting pitching is a problem and the bullpen has actually been pretty good. It looks like. 

Adam: So I actually want to talk about this. This is where I did some research because not only has their starting pitching been a problem from an era standpoint, but they've been a problem from an ending standpoint. So the thing I get concerned about is that their starters are just not going very deep into the game. And well that's fine in the first 50 games if you keep that up through a season, you basically just burned through your bullpen and by the end of the year your bullpens just garbage and you can't keep up. And I think this is what happened to the rockies a couple of years ago when they got out to a really hot start and then they hit the all star break and they lost 40 of their last 60 games or something like that because their bull pen just died on them. So I started looking at how deep the giant starting pitchers were going into the game compared to the rest of the league. And the average starting pitchers 

Benjamin: can, I guess. 

Adam: Yeah, go for it. 

Benjamin: The average starting pitcher goes five and two thirds. 

Adam: Yeah, roughly five and two. Yep. 

Benjamin: And the giants are going four and two thirds. 

Adam: Not that bad, but they're like a third of an inning less, which is a big, for those of you who are math had the top staff in the league. So like the Indians, the Astros', the nationals, they're starting pitching is going six and six and two thirds, so they're getting a full anything more out of their starters than everybody else in the league. And the giants are in the bottom third. They're like 30th percentile followed up by the race who are getting like four and two thirds and actually had Sergio Romo pit start a game or two games this year in the last week on the side there. 

Benjamin: The ironic thing is Sergio Romo is a starting pitcher and Pablo Sandoval has an era of zero. 

Adam: No, it's actually the rays are doing this thing where they're basically like starting their bullpen first and then they're just trying to get through 27 innings, which from an analytics perspective might be an interesting experiment and you can do that when your payroll is like $26,000,000. But anyway, essentially the giant starting pitching is going to five and a third. And then when I looked deeper into their actual individual starters, that five and a third innings is really skewed because Johnny Quedo had to complete games at the start of the season, you know, he started five games in those 32 innings, whereas high block is doing five innings and stratton's going about five innings and Suarez is five innings or so. So they're not going very deep into the games. And subsequently their bullpen, which has been pretty decent, has a top 10 innings on it through the first 50 games. 

Adam: That's just not sustainable. And now they go on the stretch of three weeks where they go against good hitting teams. They could end up in a situation where some of these guys really get shelled and don't go more than two, three, four innings and they end up eating up a lot of innings and putting a big tax on their bull pen. That's my big concern. Over the next couple of weeks. I think they'll end up being 500 ish. But I think the real underlying question is going to be how much do they have to tax their bullpen in order to be at that $500 level over that period of time. They've got a whole damn until you get what vm gardener is supposed to come back in two weeks. 

Benjamin: I hear what you're saying and I think that the reason to be relatively optimistic is you're really pitching with your third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh starters, right? Who is the best starter on this team? It's not the guys that are pitching right now. So Marja has been dramatically disappointing. Key should be the best starting pitcher they have right now and he's actually the worst. And maybe you could say that Suarez is the worst, but some are just should be leading the staff. He's the third pitcher and the first and second are out and it's just not happening. And Chris Stratton has coming back to Earth and tie block is just sort of what he is. He's a four and a half run era and hopefully a 500 pitcher, but probably a little bit under that. And I think the reason to be optimistic is in two weeks it looks like you're getting bombed gardener back and then in another two or three weeks after that you probably getting quite old back. And so say goodbye to Suarez and I'm not sure who they would actually send down. Maybe Holland when Quedo comes back, but you know, you're getting to theoretically elite level pitchers which should solve some of this problem. So I just look at it as they just gotta put their finger in the dike and hope that the whole thing doesn't collapse for the next couple of weeks. 

Adam: And that's what I'm saying is going back to the start of the pod and the next three weeks really I think sets a trajectory for their team through the summer. If they're below $500, 

Benjamin: if they're hovering around 500, 

Adam: you know, if they're down six and it really chewed through their bull pen. They got a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks and after that. But if they're able to kind of, like you said, hold the line with their starters and that their bats can give them some breathing room over the next couple of weeks. Then they're interesting going through the summer and they can give a guy like Suarez, a bit of a breather. You know, he's a young guy. He's like, yeah, 24 and it's this first year up and it's a lot of innings to go through in your first season. And I think it would be good if they could get a couple of these guys back and send them down to the minors just to catch his breath a little bit and work on a couple of things and then bring them back up and late June, July so that he can get his confidence as well as little bit of a strength back 

Benjamin: to use a football metaphor. There's CJ Bedford who was the starter for the niners and basically the niners put them out there in the middle of the season and just said, hey look, we need somebody who's going to get the ever living shit kicked out of him. So the guys that we actually want to start don't get hurt, so get out there and good luck and take one for the team and that's absolutely what's happening to Suarez right now. It's one of the reasons why I think they brought up swarez not bad. It's like someone's getting shelled and I think that bed they probably think has a higher ceiling. We're like hoping you could take one for the team and just ignore your era. Just go out there and try to stay in the game. That's Beth third, which is also spelled beat hard. That's kind of what it is. It's like you're going to take your lumps. Just go out there and try not to get murdered. 

Adam: Yeah, it's compelling story lines. I think at the end of the day there are 500 team, but they're worth watching, which is at the end of the day, what's important. If I were down in the bay area, I would be going to Wednesday afternoon day games with this team. 

Benjamin: They're good enough to sit in the sun and watch for an afternoon instead of working. 

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. 

Benjamin: So let's look on the bright side and talk about, we have this thing where you get to pick a guy who's your guy for the team so early in the season, so I'm not going to ask you to stick to one. Give me your three top candidates for your guy on this team. 

Adam: I'm always a posy guy. I know that's a pretty vanilla answer. I'm a vanilla dude when it comes to that kind of stuff and I'm gonna totally do it and jump onto the bandwagon. I'm excited to see brandon belt. I want to see him do well. He's an interesting guy for this year and you know he's been injured. I want to see Mac Williamson. I want to see him come up and do well. He's probably the one guy that when he came up like, man, yeah, some fresh blood. He's hitting the ball out of the park and I just want to see him back on the field again and see what he's got. 

Benjamin: We overlapped with one player. I think the guys who I think are going to be my guy this year. There is no one on the starting pitching staff zero. I'm excited to see Mac Williamson to and my hope is it's not a flash in the pan and he just got hot for a couple of days but that is really discovered something with his swing and we get that Justin Turner ask Kay, you bounced around and you weren't very good and then you tweak some things and now you're finally using that power that everybody else was there. So I'm excited to see him but I want to see consistent performance, you know, I think that he could really be a spark and solve some of the outfield problems. I was excited about Alan Hansen. I actually didn't see any of the games he played in because I was touring around metagene and Carta Hania, but I looked up and whenever my phone would catch some Wifi it would say that he hit a home run. 

Benjamin: So a power hitting second baseman. Like obviously joe panics can be plugged in there, but dude hit two 98 and four home runs in 14 games. I'm pretty excited about little new blood and the little pop coming off the bench and the last one I'll throw in there is I, for some reason I just like Evan Longoria and maybe it's, he's got an easy swing and at some point here I think that he is going to catch fire and if there's somebody that's gonna be a 25 home run hundred rbi to 90 hitter. Like it's brandon belt right now, but long Korea has that in him. I don't know why, I just, I like how he plays the game and I think there's some times when he just hits it and it's like it doesn't even look like he's trying hard and that bowl sale. So I'm optimistic about Longoria and I'll always have a soft spot for Pablo so I'll throw in a bonus that Pablo the pitcher very well could be my guy 

Adam: polos all about soft spots is one gigantic soft. 

Benjamin: Oh you got to love Pablo. Oh alright. Give me a couple of parting thoughts. Other things that you looked at on the way out. Any good baseball stories? What's been keeping you entertained? 

Adam: So I have to, as we've said, I live up in Seattle and unlike the giants who a lot of people don't realize this, the giants have the most number of weekday day games that are played at home of pretty much any team aside from I think like the cubs in the majors and like that was one of my favorite things was to just skip out on work in the afternoon and go and watch the giants game and be home for dinner. And this past week the mariners had a weekday day game against the rangers and so I went to that game and the mariners are perennially may even though they are doing quite well. Yeah. The mariners, they're the most a below average team in baseball. When was the last time they made the playoffs? Two thousand one. Actually. Fun Fact. The mariners have the longest streak of non playoff seasons of any franchise in the four major sports right now. 

Adam: Didn't they set the record for wins in a season or they were like top two for wins in a season and then they haven't made the playoffs sets. Yeah, that's right. You have the yankees ruined to them. Yeah, so the fun story here is I picked up tickets behind home plate, scout them for like 20 bucks and I was like, I don't know who's pitching or whatever and who strolls out on the mound for the rangers, but Bartolo Colon, nice. I saw Bartolo Cologne pitch one of the most Bartolo, colonialist pitching performances, and the mariners put up one of the most marriner ish games. He pitched seven and two thirds shutout innings and five hit the Mariners and oh my God, these hitters, they had no clue what was coming at them and he never threw a pitch more than 86 miles an hour through nothing but it's not rockets. Oh yeah, just Turkey, Greece on the ball. Barbecue sauce. Yeah. Barbecue sauce. And they used up their mound visits to give him like Ho Hos or twinkies and between the batters. And he actually got hit by a line drive right in the gut in the third inning and didn't even feel it. No. Like they went out and checked on him and the guy got halfway out and he's like a Bot, a Bot afterwards in the postgame report, he was like, I didn't even feel it because I'm so fat. 

Adam: It was great and I have to tell you, Bartolo Cologne is just one of my favorite baseball players of this era. Could. He's like the Andre the giant of baseball. I can't hate him. I just want to see him pitch whatever I can. Like I can't get enough of Bartola Cologne pitching. It's like watching a teddy bear pitch. Yeah, it was fantastic. Give me a second story and the other one is from my backyard baseball. My son who turned four this past week since the weather's gotten nice, we go out to the baseball diamond and you know, now being for he can basically just, we're tired of going and getting balls over the fence. So we go down to the park and I played for an hour on the baseball diamond with him and part of the way through he asked me, he's like, Daddy, what's left handed? Because he's heard us talk about lefthanded hitters and Ken Griffey, Ken Griffey, Jr Jersey, and we talk about Barry Bonds and so yes, you know what's left handed? 

Adam: And I said, well I'll lefthanded is when you hit from the other side of the plate. Goes, can I hit left handed? Yeah, sure. You can switch your hands up and whatever. So I started pitching to him and he starts just raking the ball left handed down the right field line. Oh, Tito Grossman. Yeah. I expected that. He was like, okay, that's cool. Um, I'll switch back to right handed because that's how I played. And he just looks at me and goes, I like batting lefthanded. It's better. I was like, sweep back left throws right from that, you know, this is like two weeks now. All he wants to do his bat lefthanded it's awesome. 

Benjamin: Teach them to throw left handed. You got a good shot at being a reliever. 

Adam: Hey, I'm going with bats. Left throws right and plug them out into left field. And you're good to go. 

Benjamin: Emmett. Tito Grossman, you're starting left fielder for the San Francisco giants in 2030 baseball team. All right, well Adam, that's a great place for us to stop. I'm glad to hear that you're having a good time in the backyard and watching the games. And uh, that's a wrap for today's show. Our plan is to do this every week, so if you want more giants baseball on your podcast feed, click that subscribe button. Then also, since we're just getting started, we'd love for you to give us a rating in the apple itunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can always send us any questions that you might have. You can find us@forthefansbythefansdotcomorjustgotoFTSBTF.com. You can also find us on twitter, instagram, and facebook. Just search FTF bts. Lastly, thanks to our friends at fanatics. If you're going to go buy your giants gear or your mariners gear or your Bartolo Cologne, Jersey with barbecue sauce on it, good. FTF BTF.com/fanatics. And our buddies at fanatics will kick us a couple of bucks to help produce this show. That's it for this time. Go giants. So let's try to hold the ship until Obama and Kwaito get back until next time. Swing and a miss. And that's it.