It’s a lot of fun to watch the San Francisco Giants offense these days. They’ve managed to hit their way back into a race for the NL West crown. After falling to 5.5 games back of the Dodgers on July 10th the Giants now sit 1 game back of their rivals. In the race for a Wild Card spot the Giants are 2.5 games ahead of the Cubs for the final slot. Pittsburgh holds the lead by 3 games for home field in the coin flip game.
As a result of being pretty much the best offense in baseball lately the Giants have won 11 of 12 games. If you want to push it a little further they have gone 12-2 since the return of Hunter Pence.
The offense just keeps going. The Giants are 1st in hits, batting average, and on base percentage in the NL. They are second in runs scored, and have the 3rd best on base + slugging percentage. Over the last 12 games the Giants are averaging 6.3 runs a game and 12.2 hits. My dad used to tell me you should average 2 hits for every run. His story checks out.
The guy going bananas right now is Buster Posey. During this 12 game stretch he’s batting .511 with an OPS of 1.066. He’s driven in 10 runs and scored 7. It just seems like he’s always on base. Posey doesn’t have any homers over this span but he hasn’t needed them. It looks like late 2012 without the power.
Angel Pagan has been a nice surprise in the leadoff spot during this run. He’s batting .315 and has scored 10 runs. With Nori Aoki coming back he’s made a bid to stay at the top of the lineup. For my two cents, I want to see Pagan dropped back down and allow Aoki to take the top spot in the order again.
It’s not the Pagan at bats leading off an inning or game that scare me. He has been pretty good at getting on base early. It’s the ones when he comes up with 2 outs and runners on that freak me out. And so often it seems like he swings at the first pitch in those situations. When Pagan works a count he’s usually trying to get an inning going. Maybe he thinks that every pitcher wants to throw a get me over pitch to start him off. I don’t know. I just know I want Aoki batting more than Pagan. Give me the guy with a .383 OBP which is second on the team behind Posey. Pagan has just a .304 OBP and that’s the worst of any regular player the Giants send out there.
Let’s go back to Hunter Pence. The first thing that jumps out is that the Giants are 30-8 in games he’s played. In those first 18 games he played between DL stints the Giants went 12-6, in the 14 games since Pence came back this time the team is 12-2.
Over the most recent 14 games Pence has driven in 15 runs. He’s homered 3 times, the most important one was in Arizona that tied the game right after the All-Star break. Pence is batting .321 since his return with an OPS of .948. In his first 18 games that was a .282 BA and .780 OPS. He’s also managed 5 doubles and that’s come primarily from Hunter’s right field approach. He’s been looking away recently and only turning on a pitch if it drifts to the inner half.
The 2-3-4 hitters in the Giants lineup are all batting over .300. There are only 14 guys in the NL doing that and the Giants have 3 of them. Posey is 4th at .328, Joe Panik is 8th at .311, and Matt Duffy is sitting 12th with a .302 average. Panik is 3rd in hits with 113 and Posey has 110 hits which places him 5th.
There’s also length in the lineup. Brandon Belt is 2nd in the NL with 26 doubles. That surprised me a little. Let’s not forget Brandon Crawford who shares the team lead in home runs (14) with Posey. These guys help keep the line moving after the top guys are getting on base.
I know this post is all about how kick ass the Giants offense is but I can’t let 2 pitching notes go by. First, I tip my cap to Tim Hudson. With the Giants 4-3 victory over the A’s on Sunday he’s now beaten all 30 MLB teams. He’s the 15th pitcher to do it. Hudson is the 4th one of those pitchers to spend time with San Francisco. The other three are Terry Mulholland, Barry Zito, and new Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.
The other great pitching note of late is the bullpen. Over the last 14 games Giants relievers have allowed 6 runs in 45.1 innings. A miniscule 1.19 ERA. They have a 2-0 record and are 7-for-7 in save chances.
The orange and black are streaking and tearing the cover off the ball in the process. The next 3 games are at home against the Brewers, a team they swept in 3 games while scoring 17 runs back in May at Miller Park. The Brewers are not scoring runs. They managed just 5 total this past weekend in 4 games at Arizona and were shut out each of the last 2 days. Hopefully this all means the Giants can keep up their winning ways the next 3 days at AT&T Park.