Top 5 Giants, 2017 by the numbers, The All Backyard Team

With us today is the Adam Grossman. Adam is a life-long Giants fan that lives in Seattle Washington and moonlights as an operations and demand planning expert. He graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in Mathematics and is going to talk us through his thoughts on the Giants offseason and his undying love for Matt Cain.


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Episode Transcript

Benjamin: Welcome back to the San Francisco giants addition to for the fans by the fans of Ben j Shap Llc podcast. In this show, we bring you your weekly dose of all things San Francisco giants, baseball. From the fans perspective, I'm a lifelong giants Fan and your host Benjamin Shapiro. Today we're going to kick things off by talking about the [inaudible] 18 San Francisco giants spring training as the gigantic to rebound from the worst season ever in franchise history with us is Adam Grossman. Adam is a lifelong giants fan that lives in Seattle, Washington, and moonlights as an operations demand planning expert. He graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in mathematics and is going to talk us through some of his thoughts on the giants off season and his undying love for Matt Cain. But before we get started, I want to tell you that this podcast is brought to you on behalf of our friends at fanatics. 

Benjamin: Fanatics is the global leader of licensed sports merchandising. They have the world's largest collection of official sports apparel from the leagues, teams and players that you love. So that means if you're like my buddy Adam and you want to buy a three foot long replica of the Matt Cain, perfect game ticket stub fanatics is the place for you were lucky enough to be fanatics affiliates. So if you want to help us out, go to F, Taf, btf dot coms slash giants, which stands for, for the fans by the fans.com/giants. And they'll give us a little kickback to help us pay for the production of the show whenever you buy your giants gear. 

Benjamin: OK? So onto our conversation with my best man, Adam Grossman. Adam, how the hell are you bud? 

Adam: Doing all right. 

Benjamin: First Time on a podcast, right? 

Adam: First Time podcast or a long time listener of podcasts. 

Benjamin: Welcome to the big leagues. I'm butterflies. Little nerves. Palms getting a little sweaty. 

Adam: Yeah. Well, you know, I don't say that the smartest things when I'm not being recorded and I hear that a, that wouldn't your recorded. It drops your Iq by about 10 points. So, uh, so yeah, you know, I'm sure we'll figure it out. 

Benjamin: Can't be worse than the 2017 giants season. So let's just let her rip. Uh, let's start off a little story time with Adam Grossman. Adam, your whole family is full of baseball fans. Tell me what's it like to have your wife a whisper? Sweet nothings about baseball into your ear when you go to bed at night. 

Adam: Well, that's kind of how we got our first son, our son, uh, who's, who's almost four turns four in May. And then our daughter abby is a turning two and may as well as well. And uh, she is growing up to be a baseball fan. Um, I guess the, the difficult spot that I run into is that kate is a, is a Yankees Fan. Thankfully she's not a dodger's fan, but, uh, you know, I certainly give her quite a bit of flack for having grown up in the Pacific northwest and picking the Yankees for their, their quote unquote historic background when, uh, when the mariners were only a couple of hundred miles away. Um, but yeah, you know, it's, uh, it's, it's great because I love baseball. I grew up watching baseball obviously in the, in the bay area. Um, my dad was a baseball fan than we'd go to the, the stick whenever we got a chance to go. Um, and, you know, it's just awesome being in a, in a space and in life where, uh, you know, I don't have to, to, you know, hide off to or go off, uh, to, to get my baseball fix. It's something that kind of revolves around the family, you know, we're going to spring training in a, in a couple of weeks to both see the giants as well as the mariners. And that's not something that I have to pull teeth to go and do. It's something that, uh, that everybody's excited about. 

Benjamin: So rumor has it. Grossman is absolutely tearing up the Pacific Northwest Backyard League. 

Adam: Quite literally. He's a, uh, he's tearing up the grass in the backyard. Um, you know, he's, he's three and a half at this point in time and uh, he's hitting, hitting free pitch, which is pretty awesome. Still got some work to do on his, on a stance, not exactly the most, uh, the most coachable. He wants to do it all himself. Uh, but yeah, I mean he's, he's always loved picking up a ball and swinging a bat. Fortunately we've been in, we've got enough of a yard that he can do that outside and a, not so much inside, but uh, there's a lot of parenting around a no baseball bats inside and no swinging inside. So 

Benjamin: stance after any major league baseball players we talk and eat cal ripkin. 

Adam: That's a really good question. What's funny is, I think it was, this is going to be a totally random one, but I think it was David Justice in, back in the bar when the, when the braves, like in 1992, 93, he had that really a upright stance with the bat kind of over. Yeah, over as had an almost like would face you while he was batting a amateur right-handed batter. And he kind backs that way and I keep on trying to get them to turn sideways. But he just wants to stand and face right there. I mean his hips are kind of always open and he's all, all arms. But uh, you know, David Justice was a pretty big dude. And just basically swung the bat heart and quick. He's a line drive hitter like that. So there's a, there was a flash in the pan, man. He used to kill us back in the day. 

Benjamin: Well, if you're, you're teaching them at a, you know, maybe you want to work on some outfielders skills because it doesn't look like the giants can raise an outfielder to save their life. So change the conversation to do exactly what I told you I wouldn't do in the sense of it. We're going to play a little game here and I'm going to call this our first for the fans, by the fans pop quiz where I'm going to fire off some quick questions that I haven't told you and I just want some fast responses. Are you ready? Sure. Great. Awesome. Who name your top five giants of all time? 

Adam: How man? My top five giants, like the ones that I've seen are just rapid fire. Answer the questions. Matt Williams, Matt Cain, Buster Posey. You know, I always liked Bob Melvin because he had that awesome mustache even though he, uh, even though he was a relatively marginal catcher, um, to you, who's a fifth that's good bonds, you know, I just, I love, I love bonds just because everybody hated them. And I think that everybody is such a frickin hypocrite 

Benjamin: for. Everybody's got an asshole. He's ours. Exactly. The barrier for listening. OK, question two, what's the favorite game you've ever attended live? 

Adam: Oh, ah, there's two of um, pick one. I'd say game seven of the pnl of the CS against the cardinals. The rain game, the Marco Scutaro rain game. That was my favorite because we went to game six and game seven and we were down three to going into that, uh, into, into those two games a. and we went to those games back to back and that was just the best 48 hours of baseball. I, I'm pretty sure I'll ever, ever experience a close second was the, I guess it was the Nfl d, s, I guess it was [inaudible] in 2010 against the phillies. And that was the rally snuggie game. And I don't even remember all the details on that one. All I know is that I just. I ended up wearing a snuggie that was a promo item that was bright orange when the giants were, I think we were down in the eighth or ninth inning and just threw it on as the rally snugging. We ended up winning it. 

Benjamin: There's an iconic photo from that game with me standing behind you making a halo in you with your arms out like touchdown Jesus. And somebody else with a mustache will have to post that on the. For the fans by the fans website somewhere. 

Adam: I'm sorry for running over you on that one. You were taking that photo, the halo in the back of some random dude, 

Benjamin: right? That's right. That's right. OK. Let's move on to the next question. What's the worst game you've ever attended live? 

Adam: That's an easy one. I want to say this was back in like 2003. All I know is the terrible Bernard years. 

Benjamin: I guess it wasn't 2003. He was late or not, but it was an 18 inning. One to nothing game where we lost to the diamond backs again, one to nothing and it was one of those awful really cold nights. And Marvin Bernard was out of the infield. Yeah, but I mean not only that, but he was like over nine with 23 men left on base. Who's your most hated dodger of all time? Probably Matt Camp. I would go mike Piazza. Fuck that guy. Yeah, I didn't like my. It's the opposite of your Bob Melvin. Take that mustache. Deserve to be in a porn. Not on a baseball field. I say Bob Melvin. I met Bob Brenly did say Bob Melvin. There was the two bobs. Then they both were the catchers and both ended up being managers and Brent. Liza was the one that won the world series in. Turned out to be a totally nice guy. 

Benjamin: And the funny thing was that either up really liking Matt Williams and as time goes on, I'm like man, Matt Williams, like with the backs and everything. Like he kind of seemed like a jerk, you know? Yeah. He didn't get along with a lot of people feel like after his baseball career, but he was always a little bit of a serious heart and Bob Brenly was one of those guys. I was like, that seems like a dude I want to go and have a beer, a beer with. I want to hear stories from Bob Metal. I guess that's why he's in the booth, but are more like a beer or seven. Hey, give me three words that describe how you feel about Tim Lincecum and a Jersey that doesn't count as one. Good for him. Three words that describe how you feel about Frank Gore and a Detroit Jersey. Keep going, man. 

Benjamin: I would have gone with not a dodger for Tim lincecum and that's a concussion for Frank Gore. Had been frank or in a colts uniform and probably the last four years that he was in the nine or uniform fair. Uh, what do you think? Pablo Sandoval, his current weight is up a WHO's the giants? Fifth starter at the beginning of the year. Tie blatch who's the giants? [inaudible] starter at the end of the year. Some retread from another team that they've picked up at the trade deadline. Jesus. So that means that you think that they are competitive and adding pieces? No, I think they're getting a guy who's a salary cap dumped from another team. I don't know, like somebody like a CJ Wilson. I don't even know if he's in the league anymore. But you know what Tim lincecum not a chance. Not a chance in hell. Yeah. Uh, OK. Total winds for the giants, including the [inaudible] playoffs. [inaudible]. How many of those are playoff wins? Zero. Zero, right. Congratulations. You've passed your first pop quiz. Thanks. That wasn't so bad. I think I'd give myself like a c plus on that. 

Adam: Like, you know, 70 to fill you mixed up friendly and Melvin and in a lot over a few questions, but you made up some ground on Pablo Sandoval is current weights. So. Well done. All right. Let's talk about 2017. And what happened? You're. The reason why I invited to be on this podcast is a. I like talking to you and be your, my mathy friend. So by the numbers or what's your view of what happened in 2017, to put a pretty brief and fine point on it. Not a happened in the 2017 season. I think we all know that. But uh, you know, when you first asked me to go and then look at how bad the giants were in 2017, my first inclination was, well, I'll just go and go on fan graphs and go in and pull a bunch of data on this and just see how bad they were. 

Adam: So that's Kinda what I did. I pulled all of the team's stats, batting, pitching and team defense for every giants team from 2017 back to 1986 or 1985, which is like 33 seasons and just started stalking him up to look at the data. And I will qualify this by saying like, I'm not a saber metrition or anything like that, but I analyze data a decent amount from a career standpoint. So this is by no stretch of the imagination. Anything that a scout would be excited to hear, but I think gave me some pretty good context on how terrible the giants were in relative terms to the period of time that I've been watching them pulling the batting and pitching staffs. Did you look at the difference between starting and relief pitching or are you just looking in aggregate at batting and Petrick? Um, I looked at both but most it's aggregate because it was easier to do team stats in aggregate, but then I also looked at a kind of depth chart information and fangraphs is great. 

Adam: I mean if you're a baseball and like the stats I highly recommend going and just sticking your nose into a bunch of the links on there. There's some pretty neat stuff on, uh, on that site. Tell me, uh, in 2017, was the case that the giants couldn't hit, couldn't pitch, or is this the most obvious question? And the answer is both. It's both, but it gets worse. They couldn't hit, they couldn't pitch and they were terrible defensively. So that's a pretty big departure from the last few years. Right. And that's what was really surprising about this. So I'll hit you with a couple of numbers. Well, the way that I evaluated this is that there's the ability to do, I guess they can calculate war on a team which is wins above replacement from a team perspective, and for those who are not familiar with war, it's an incredibly complex calculation done by a bunch of super nerd like Phd Mathematicians that it tells you basically like the value of a player in games, one above an average player. Um, and then I guess they aggregate all that up and give you a team more. And so the giants, just to give you a little bit of perspective there, from a batting perspective in [inaudible] and in their world series, years in 2010, 2012 and 2014, there was the war for battle was between 20 and 25. 

Benjamin: They weren't great lineups. I mean they were good and competitive. Those teams were built on pitching and defense. 

Adam: That's right. Where versus like the Barry Bonds years were 30 to 35. 

Benjamin: OK. So when we're out of our mind to just blasting the ball out of every park on the planet, it's 35 when you're a competitive top third of the league, you're in the twenties. What were the giants last year? 

Adam: Nine. Nine. 

Benjamin: So I was expecting a negative number or how does that work there? Nine wins over replacement as a team 

Adam: aggregate. That means you take all of their players. Every player is either a positive or a negative and you know, you're. So this is like buster Posey for with a war as opposed to, you know, it wasn't a team full of Gregor Blanco's where, who would have probably a negative, I guess I can look him up, but he, he'd definitely be in the zero to negative. 

Benjamin: I just assume that if you have a team that's so under performing overall as a team, that they would have a net negative war but interesting. So we're down to a nine for, for really bad offensive team. 

Adam: It gave you perspective on that. That's the second worst batting team over the last 33 years of the giants that had, who was the worst? Um, the 

Benjamin: Pedro [inaudible] 

Adam: probably it was the 1985 giants. 

Benjamin: Lost a hundred games. Yeah, they were [inaudible] the year before will Clark. Right. OK. So second worst offensive team in a generation. Talk to me about the pitching staff. 

Adam: Uh, the pitching staff was bottom third the again, to give you the perspective, 2010 giants, a pitching staff war of 18, 2012, 13, 14, 2014 was a 12 or so. The giants were going to, you know, 2017 was kind of right in that, in that space. They're pitching staff was kind of in the middle, in the middle. The funny about it is like these, these metrics are kind of skewed because they're pitching staffs in the before 2000 from candlestick were just, some of them were just awful. 

Benjamin: I guess the interesting thing about that as we look at how bad the team was, I assume the pitching was terrible and it seems like the pitching was mediocre. 

Adam: It was average. But the thing that's kind of hidden in this is that Madison bumgarner makes up like they had a war of [inaudible] and Madison bumgarner makes up three or four that and he was injured for, for the vast majority of the season. So even though he was registered on there, their war was probably closer to like a nine or so, which puts them solidly in the lower third. But you combine that with their defense and this is where things were a little interesting. And I think this is kind of interesting from a, a really a shift in how analytics has changed in baseball. They didn't have team defense stats going back to 1985, they just had fielding percentage in fielding percentage is basically like how many errors did you have versus balls that get to you. Um, and if you look at that, their team fielding percentage was six the best in the last 35 years. 

Adam: And I was like, well that doesn't make sense because I thought there, I thought their defense was garbage last year. That's what, you know, everybody was complaining about. And so I ended up pulling back to 2002 where they had team where they've had team defense stats team defense ranking was 14th out of 16. And this is like, this include stats like was our use er, which is like ultimate zone radius, which basically says how it takes like the average distance that a player goes and you know, should they have gotten to that? Could they have gotten to that ball? Yeah. 

Benjamin: I'm going to take a stab at my attempt at describing why that happens is you had hunter pence denard span and I don't even know the hell who in the outfield hunter pence was injured for the vast majority of the year with a hamstring issue, didn't cover a lot of ground. Denard span, doesn't cover a ton of ground anymore and can't throw the ball to save his life. And yet a minor leaguer in the third outfield spot. And you'll also ended up with Pablo Sandoval at third. You had nuñez playing in the outfield, a fair amount belt was injured. A bunch panic had a concussion for a little while, like their defense got shifted around so much that you weren't covering any ground in the outfield and you had replacement players in the infield throughout a fair amount of the year. I think that's an underrated part of last year is everybody was injured. At some point, Posey got heard. Baumgardner was clearly out for a long time. You lost your closer or he was playing injured. There was just. That's the underrated. The reason why I have some hope for this year is everything that could have gone wrong last year went wrong to a level that we never could have expected, like Madison bumgarner getting injured. The way he did was just just typifies the whole year a year 

Adam: inclusion that I came to as well, which was, hey, they were old and they were injured and when you're old and injured, you don't get to a whole lot. You don't even get a chance at a lot of balls that they had chances at before. And so even though they weren't making a bunch of errors, they're letting a bunch of balls drop for singles and go into the gap that would've gotten picked up before. And that shows in the team defense numbers compared to the world series years, you know, 2010, their team defense rating was a, was a [inaudible] versus, and their team defense in 2015 and 16 were, you know, 30 and 50 and 2017. There are one point six. They were terrible. And when you combine all those things together, you know, 

Benjamin: with the ball being hit all over the yard and not being able to score runs with a 68 wins 

Adam: with a yard that is big and it plays really well into a team that has good defense. Um, you know, you're not, you're hitting terribly. You have a below average pitching staff that is backed up by a defense that is awful in a park that plays big. That's how you get to 98 losses. 

Benjamin: So, uh, you sound very optimistic about this 2000, 18 season then. 

Adam: Well, I mean we're going to be a lot better than 98 losses 

Benjamin: was hard to be much worse. Uh, tell me how you feel about the off season moves. What do you think of the strategy? 

Adam: I think when you and I first talked about the lung Gloria and the mccutcheon moves I, I texted you back as Ma and I still feel that way about them, their math. But after going through this exercise of looking at their team, those two players basically, they were huge positions of need and I think they picked up quite a few wins. It basically transform them from a really terrible team to a team that can, that can be 500 and sell tickets. 

Benjamin: Yeah, I am in total agreement. I think that they're trying to back into the playoffs and part of this is they have an aging team that isn't quite over the hill and that they can't just have a complete fire sale yet because this team means too much to the bay area because of how much success they have. They can't trade Posey, they can't trade Baumgardner, they can't harvest the team for young value and do what the Marlin's did and hope and a couple of years or what the Aes to hope in a couple of years that they're good. So they had to add on pieces that weren't as mature as the existing roster and then all of those will come off the books relatively at the same time. They'll get rid of. But I think we both talked about this, the, the theory for you and I is that they'll dump posey and Baumgardner in a package to Atlanta when Atlanta was on the rise in [inaudible] two or three years for all of their prospects and they'll wait two years for those guys to get to the majors and they needed a couple of couple of bats to get them through that. 

Benjamin: So it wasn't just painstaking for the fans for the next few years. So trying to be competitive. Hoping bocce puts them over the edge if they get into the playoffs. But you know, I think it's a stretch to say that a team that lost 98 games is all the sudden going to win 80 six to [inaudible]. 

Adam: I think you're, you're being pretty kind in terms of hoping that they make it into the playoffs. I mean I'm sure they hope that they make it into the playoffs because there's a lot of money to be made in, in ticket sales, TB revenue for making the playoffs. But I think the reality of it is that they're in squarely 500 team in a division that is going to be pretty fine with the exception of the dodgers unfortunately. And I think the, the dodgers are going to have another 95 season and the padres and the diamondbacks and the rockies and the giants are all gonna be in the middle of the pack pretty close to 500 depending on how they injury. Bug Bites. 

Benjamin: Yeah. No, I think we, we think about it the same way vegas has the giants at a [inaudible] and a half winds and I think that they are a couple of wins better than that. A little bit over 500 and a fringe playoff team and again, I think that the reason if they are about 500 and they're competitive going to the second half of the season, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a move and add a more mature arm and spend because I think what they're doing is saying, look, we'll go over the luxury tax. That was clearly a focus for them to stay under and give themselves the option to invest in the team if it's going to make the playoffs or if they think they can or to pull back and trade assets and not have a huge cost. 

Adam: Yeah. I guess in. This is a question for you. I hear you on that. I don't know why they would be buyers when they're so talent depleted in their farm system. I think that their goal has to be, hey, you put a 500, 500 plus eighty five when on the field for the next, like you said, two or three years and you trade your strategic sellers at the deadlines when you have the opportunity to rebuild your farm system, uh, for the next to run after the Posey and bumgardner contracts are up. Cause you know, I just, I look at their farm system and they don't have jack there and I think that if you keep on trying to buy through these kind of average years, you're, you're really just mortgaging a good playoff set. A playoff runs over the next couple, a couple of years for not a whole lot. 

Benjamin: My thought going into that, sorry to cut you off. My thought going into that is that I agree that there are strategic sellers on some level and that their goal is to replenish the farm system to make another run at a championship level. I think that where they would invest is taking on budget and short term rentals to try to make it into the playoffs. It's basically will I spend the money that goes into being over the luxury tax and the money that goes into the third starter so you can bump some Arjun, somebody else, you know, into the bull pen to make the playoffs. Can I get five wins at the end of the season by having a one year starter that's going to give me two wins and I'm buying that person as opposed to giving up assets, buying somebody expensive, you know, that might be a stretch. 

Benjamin: I think that it's a cost benefit analysis between what's it worth to make the playoffs and how much does that one piece that you need if you're. I think there are starting pitchers short from being more competitive. You know, if that guy comes up, you mentioned cj Wilson earlier, say Cj Wilson a couple of years ago where you have a lefty that can come in and be your third starter. What they hoped Matt Moore would be. If that guy comes up and he's on a two year contract that they're just buying for cash. I wouldn't be surprised if they did it to make the playoffs. It just depends how the team performs in the beginning of the year. 

Adam: I think the only way that happens is if tyler bed, you know, if he ends up doing well or dugger ends up being somebody that provides them a little bit more support than they're expecting, so I could see them doing that next year or the year after. But I think this year they're really in a bridge here and that's why they picked up. I think it was a great move for them to pick up mccutcheon because that guy's going to put butts in seats and these next two or three years are as much about how do you, how do you market to a fan base to continue to sell 30,000 seats, 30 to 40,000 seats and keep the revenue coming in. And I think it's a great ballpark and that's a great event to go to. It's a fun thing to go and do and there's a, there's enough fans in the, uh, in the area that you can get people to come out for the Tuesday for six packs or what have you. But I think it's a tough situation to make a good run of the playoffs at least last year. 

Benjamin: So a, you're going down to spring training. It's the beginning of the season. You don't think the team is going to be, they'll think they'll be competitive, but not at a playoff level. What are you looking for when you go down to spring training? 

Adam: Spring training is just about having fun, getting to experience baseball again. It's always a long winter. And he hit, especially up in Seattle, were having a little bit of fun, a little bit of Sun and in marches. Very welcome. And especially now at this stage, having a young kids who are excited about baseball, you know, spring training is a much smaller environment and there's a chance they get to meet some of the players and see him up close. And that's Kinda the essence of baseball for me. I mean, obviously I love the giants, but I'm as much a, an Americana kind of guy and you know, baseball is a representation for life. And uh, a great place to spend quality time with the family. And spring training's a bit of a throwback to that, you know, it's hard to go and take a family to a ballgame for 10 bucks a seat or 15 bucks a seat than 25 these days. 

Adam: Yeah, I mean we'll spring training is getting to that point as well, at least with the, with the giants. But when Kate and I first started going to spring training back in 2010, you know, it was, it was seven, eight bucks a ticket. It was like, it's minor league baseball. And I never really had an appreciation for minor league baseball until I met Kate. She grew up in Eugene and she's a Yankees fan from a major league team. But her real team that she grew up was single, a short season, emerald ems, a civic stadium. And I always kinda thought that was like, Oh yeah, why would you watch minor league baseball? And you could watch a major league team. But uh, but minor league baseball is awesome man. Like you get super close to the, uh, to the game and anything can happen because the kids that are down there, some are good. And some are not as good and you can fall on a [inaudible] run, running pretty, uh, pretty easily. Um, and it's just a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. So I'm a big fan of spring training in minor league baseball, especially with young kids. 

Benjamin: Well, I hope you have a great time while you're down there. Let's, uh, let's hop back on the pod when you come back and I want to hear what you think of the team seeing tmc in person and if you run into Wilkes-barre, 

Adam: tell him I love him. We'll do to get on man. 

Benjamin: All right man. OK, that's a wrap for today's show. Our plants do this every week. So if you want more giants baseball in your podcast feed and click that subscribe button. So we're just getting started. So, uh, we'd love for you to rate this podcast in the apple itunes store and feel free to send us any questions that you may or may have a, if you're interested in being on the podcast. Also, you know this is a podcast for the fans by the fans you can visit us@forthefansbythefans.com. Thanks again to our friends at fanatics. If you're going to buy your giants gear, head to F, Taf, BTF dot coms. Last giants and fanatics will kick us a couple of bucks to help us produce the show. Until next time, swing and a miss, and that's it.