Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A reality check for San Francisco Giants fans…..

At some point we, as Giants fans, need to realize that there is an element of truth to the criticisms of Phillies fans regarding the San Francisco Giants storybook 2010 season. It was, as they say, “Lightning in a Bottle” and the 2010 Giants really weren’t all that good. Heck, deep into August and even into September of last year people were calling for Brian Sabean’s head based on his fifteen years in service with a mere four playoff appearances. Admit it, you didn’t see 2010 coming and neither did I.

If you look at the career numbers of any major league player there are down years and up years. For whatever reason you might espouse to, this is normal and the simple truth is that in 2010 you had the better part of 25 guys playing well beyond the stats on the back of their baseball cards. I mean seriously, if the Giants played 98 more games against Roy Halladay there is not a chance in hell that Cody Ross repeats his NLCS performance. It just won’t happen, he’s not that good. For Pete’s sake, Pablo Sandoval was benched for a significant portion of the stretch run and playoffs and he was hitting .268. If he had his 2010 numbers right now he’d have the 4th best batting average on the current 25-man roster….and the best OPS on the team.

Conversely, in 2011 we are seeing the better part of 25 guys playing at or below the stats on the back of their cards. It happens. Yes, we’ve lost Posey & Sanchez and that sucks, but the performance of the rest of the team is within the range of the players career averages or slightly below. Normal deviations and not the fault of Bruce Bochy or Hensley Mulens. Neither of those men can take a career .260 hitter (Ross) and make him into a .290 hitter. If a guy like Ross is struggling at the plate, a coach can look at the film and tell him that he’s opening his front shoulder too much…but he cannot make him correct it.

2010 was a confluence of a bunch of great performances by a bunch of average players combined with great pitching and a healthy dose of luck. 2011 isn’t. Let’s be realistic here. It’s not as if the Giants of the last 20 years are the Atlanta Braves of the same period. The team hasn’t been a perennial contender prior to this year. Heck, they hadn’t finished better than 3rd in the NL west since 2004 and only finished in 2nd or better 10 out of the last 20 years.

IF….and that’s a big if, the Giants turn things around over the next few weeks and drag themselves back into the playoffs it’ll be because the average players on the team are able to cobble together a few weeks of above average performance. I seriously doubt this will happen and so should you. They aren’t good enough. Brandon Belt is not going to turn into Buster Posey in the next couple of weeks…and even if he did, there will only be one of him and that won’t be enough. Further, it’s a fools errand to believe that September call-ups are going to turn things around. Gary Brown is not going to hop in his car and drive from San Jose to San Francisco and carry this team to the promised land…..Brett Pill won’t either.

The 2011 Giants aren’t THAT different from the 2010 Giants. You have great pitching and hodge-podge of 2nd and 3rd tier position players with one or two 1st tier players. In most seasons, for most teams, that combination is not enough to win consistently. Last year was an aberration, this year isn’t.

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