Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Vogelsong Enigma

Vogelsong is struggling to return to 2011-2012 form. And he hates cereal bowls a lot. (photo: dailyrepublic.com)

We love the game face. We love the bull-dog determination. We love the playoff performances last year that helped them win it all.

But everything has gone south for Ryan Vogelsong so far this year. The question is, why?

I’m not going to pretend that I know, and I’m going to guess he would just called it an unlucky slump, and there is certainly some truth to that. I’m not trying to single Vogey out in this article, as Cain is worth of one as well (so that may be coming soon). However, Vogelsong is that guy we all pull for, the underdog, and I want to at least consider why this may be happening.

In a stunning turn of events for the first 25 games of the season, the Giants are second to LAST in starting staff ERA at 4.27 and only ahead of the team that just swept them (SD at 5.33). This is abhorrent, Twilight zonish, perplexing. This staff is supposed to be part of the NL-elite, not within the neighborhood of the Padres or Rockies. Of course Cain and Vogey are the two main culprits, with ERAs of 6.59 and 6.23, respectively. Only Bumgarner is keeping the Giants from the cellar of this statistic, with a sparkling 1.87 ERA.

Back to Mr. Game Face’s statistical breakdown:

Vogelsong has a .303 batting average against and has allowed 10 BB and 7 HR in 30.1 IP, while his WHIP is almost as high as my cholesterol at 1.55.  He gave up 17 HR ALL SEASON last year in 189.2 IP and only 8 HR by the all star break when he had 110.2 IP.

Why so many big flys?

Clearly when batters start hitting the ball out of the park with more frequency than a Kardashian getting fat, they are not being fooled. Hitters are making contact more often with pitches in the strike zone, and more alarming, is the BABIP has skyrocketed into 2012 Timmy territory from .284 to .330. Homeruns per nine IP is a video-game like 2.08, almost triple what he allowed last year, and approximately 1 out of 5 fly balls have traveled over the fence, just a bewildering statistic. Most of the other metrics (K%, BB% and pitch selection) have not changed dramatically, and the problem seems to be isolated in not being able to fool opposing hitters as often with balls in the strike zone. This may be correlated with a drop in the timing differential between his fastball and changeup, two pitches that make up 60% of his pitches delivered. His fastball is 1.4 MPH slower this year (89.4 vs 90.8),  and the change up, ironically, is slightly faster by 0.4 MPH, which makes the timing differential an average 1.8 MPH smaller, which is a sizeable 23% difference. The lowered chance of throwing opposing hitters’ timing off will only serve to hurt Vogelsong in the long run.

I’m not hitting the panic button yet, and neither should Giants fans; it’s only 5 starts, for crying out loud. He did tail off for the last 2 months of the regular season last year, but we can’t say it’s the start of his decline connected to this year, as he had a stellar playoff run. If tossing bowls of cereal across his kitchen gets him motivated, then lets all hope he has stock in Crate and Barrel and a good maid service.

– Chad

Stats that will alleviate your panic:

  • Giants are only 2 games back of AZ/COL
  • After 25 games last year, the Giants were 2 games worse at 12-13 and 5 GB of LAD.
  • The Giants have lost all 5 of Cain’s starts; surely that will turnaround (right?)
  • Giants are second in batting average in the NL at .267
  • Giants are second in batting average in the NL with runners in scoring position
  • Torres won’t EVER do that again
  • Scutaro won’t EVER do that again
  • Ok, those last 2 aren’t stats
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Episode 44: The Willie McCovey Episode

Stretch

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It’s been a while, but the boys are back with the first podcast of the 2013 regular season.

Talking Points

  • Giants return with 21 of 25 members from the 2012 WS team
  • Surprise guys who made the team, Nick Noonan and Guillermo Quiroz
  • We talk a bit about our amazing experience at Media Day in February, and the opportunity to interview many of the Giants players. (if you missed it, go to our YouTube channel for the treasure trove of video interviews with Posey, Lincecum, Belt, Crawford, Zito, Romo, Bochy)

The Week in Review

  • Giants first week of the 2013 season and they go 4-3, taking 2 of 3 from LA and losing the last 2 to StL, and winning the first one from Colorado.
  • Pence is HAWT: 3 HRs in the first 7 games, .292
  • Lots of cold hitters: Scutaro, Posey, Belt, Torres all under .200  

The Big Question

  • Any concern about Cain or Vogelsong or Lincecum? Nahhhh

Armchair Manager

  • Would you have pulled Cain earlier on Sunday?

Tweet At Me, Bruh

  • Chad: “Bay Area Sports Guy @BASportsGuy Get me some shots of sad cheerleaders, stat! AND Wendy Thurm @hangingsliders: Obligatory sad cheerleader photo dot tumblr”
  • Willie: @Nicolevolgelsong is now following us, we win

Our New Favorite Guy

  • Willie: Chad Gaudin – great pickup, really good stuff and looks like he’ll be a fixture in the pen this year
  • Chad: NICK NOONAN! first hit and fun name
  • Ben: Brandon Crawford, Honorary Mention: Aubrey Huff

We Should Hate This Guy

  • Chad: The designer for the Giants WS Gold jerseys…SF logo on a HOME jersey?
  • Willie: Clayton Kershaw
  • Ben: Jose Castillo

Why We Will Win It All

  • Chad: Because they have home gold jerseys with the SF on the chest
  • Willie: This team should be better with no Huff, Torres back and Lincecum should at least be better than last year, full season of Pence and Zito having a resurgence
  • Ben: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE

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Clayton Kersaw is Leading the Giants by 1 Game

I think Kershaw closed his eyes on this swing

So today didn’t go quite as we all would have liked, and no, it was not an April Fools’ joke. Take solace in the fact that Clayton Kershaw beat the Giants, with his masterful pitching, and of course, his first career MLB home run off of Kontos in the bottom of the eighth to break a scoreless tie. Entering today’s game, Kershaw owned a 1.37 career ERA versus the Giants, and obviously lowered it by pitching a complete game shutout today.

Who knows what would have happened if Bochy had brought in Affeldt in the 8th instead of sticking with Kontos (Affeldt was warming up in the 7th, and the Dodgers had 2 lefties to lead off the eighth). I bring this up because I saw some buzz on Twitter (clearly full of even-tempered Giants fans) already chastising Bochy’s first non-move of the season. Kontos was solid in the 7th, and hey, shit happens. Yeah, Kershaw ain’t Don Robinson, Matt Cain, or Babe Ruth with the lumber, but every dog has his day, even at the plate.

The bullpen effort was a bit of a comedy show in the eighth, with a wild pitch, a walk, a botched bunt coverage, a hit batsman, extra base hits, and of course, the Kershaw home run, all leading to 4 runs, but they’ll be fine. There’s always more focus on the results of the first day of the season. It’s like a new toy you unwrapped as a kid at Christmas. You love it, caress it, play the hell out of it for the first hour or two before it usually ends up lost or in the toy bin to only get a little attention from time-to-time.

I mean, both the Astros and Dodgers are in first place right now. That won’t last long, right?

How to comfort the black and orange faithful out there:

  • The first game of the season is the equivalent to the first 18 SECONDS of an NBA game
  • The D’backs swept the Giants to open the 2012 season (and look what happened)
  • The Giants lost their first game against the Dodgers in 2012 (9-1) and lost 2 of 3 in that first series (and look what happened)
  • Panda went 2-4 and played good defense today (elbow, elbow, elbow)
  • Posey cut down a speedy Crawford attempting to steal third
  • Pence hit one to the left field wall
  • Posey lined out hard to third base that would have set up second and third with one out
  • Despite a tough first inning (29 pitches), Matt Cain looked solid out there, delivering 6 innings of shut out ball
  • I nice stiff rum and coke (or three)

Let’s hope the G-men can get back on track tomorrow.

Chad

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