A lot has been made about the Giants’ production with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Last year, the Giants hit .173 in those situations, a historically low number. Most Giants fans went into this season figuring there’s no way the 2012 Giants could do worse than that.
And they were right. Through one month of the 2012 season, the Giants are hitting, with runners in scoring position and two outs, .173.
Yet, the 2012 Giants are scoring at a higher rate in 2012. Their 90 runs ranks ninth in the NL, much better than the 16th ranking they had last season.
So what’s the difference?
For one, the Giants are creating more RISP, 2-out situations in 2012. Their .261 team batting average is third in the NL.
In 2011, the Giants averaged 4.42 RISP, two-out situatons per game. In 2012, it’s 5.14.
And the 2012 Giants are making better contact in those situations. In 2011, they fanned 19.7 percent of the time in those situations. In 2012, it’s down to 15.9. You may say, so what, an out is an out. But when you put the ball in play, there is a chance the fielder boots it or throws it away.
You may be surprised to learn that the Giants have struck out a league-low 129 times in 2012. And it’s a league low by a longshot (34 Ks). That means the Giants can make every out by strikeout in their next game and still have the fewest whiffs in the league.
The Giants’ BABIP (Batting average for balls in play) is close to their 2011 average, up slightly to .289 from .281. But by putting more balls in play, they are creating more opportunities.
And while the Giants are not hitting well with RISP, they are hitting when runners are not in scoring position.
The Giants hit .252 with a runner on first in 2011. This year, it’s .294.
Also, last year the Giants his 121 home runs, of which 79 were solo shots (65.2 percent). You’ll remember that the record stretch of solo shots the Giants had last July?
Well, this year the Giants have 20 home runs, of which nine are solos (45 percent).
So with all this improved offense, why are the Giants playing at a rate (.545 win pct) not much better than last year (.531)?
Well, for one, the pitching this season hasn’t been quite as good. The 2012 team ERA is 3.38, compared to 3.20 in 2011. But that rise can be attributed to the 17-8 game the Giants lost in Game 5.
But it also can be attributed to a bad start. The Giants opened 1-4. They’ve played eight games in which the starting pitcher did not have a quality start. Four occurred in the first five games. Since that 1-4 start, the Giants are 11-6.
But it’s not the starters. Last year, starters had a 3.28 ERA. This year, it’s 3.25.
The bullpen hasn’t been quite as sharp. Last year, the bullpen had a 3.04 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP. This year, it sits at 3.71 and 1.631.
But again, it’s early, and a couple of bad outings (like the bullpen giving up 11 runs in that 17-8 loss to Colorado and six runs in a 9-2 loss to the Reds) can throw the numbers out of whack.
Also the fielding has been less than stellar. The Giants ranked second in the NL in errors with 25. Yet, they committed nine of those errors in the first five games, 14 in the 17 since.
So going forward, it’s looks as if the hitting will be fine, the starting pitching will be fine and the defense will be fine. And minus a few bumps, it looks like the bullpen should be fine.
Now, they just need to stay healthy.