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Hummmmm, Baby

Sorry to be quiet for so long. Worn out, I guess. Plus, Your Humble Blogger has had the joy of watching his beloved Giants win pretty nearly every day, which is new, different, and wonderful. On the other hand, I can't figure out how they're doing it. They're a good team all right, definitely a solid 90-win sort of team. But how come they're on a pace to win a hundred games?

The Giants have a team EQA of 0.272, which is behind the Cardinals and the Braves for third in the NL (and ever so slightly ahead of the Marlins' 0.271 EQA). So they score runs at a pretty good clip. Michael Wolverton's Support Neutral Winning Percentage pegs the Giants starters at .527, behind the Diamonbacks, Dodgers, Marlins and, just barely, Les Expos. The starters are actually 46-29, a very nice .613 winning percentage, which shows how nice it is to get run support. Atlanta's SNPct is .507, by the way, and St. Louis' is .476, so the Giants have, according to this stat, better starting pitching than the teams that hit better. And the bullpen? The Giants rank about in the middle, by Adjusted Runs Prevented, better than the Braves and Cards, but worse than the teams with good pitching. On the other hand, in the Bullpen Support totals, the Giants are next worst (to the Braves) in the league. So, according to the Baseball Prospectus stats, the Giants hit very well, their starting pitchers are good but not dominating, and the bullpen is average to bad. Which is about what I would have said about them ... but then how come they have the second-best record in baseball?

By traditional stats, the Giants again look pretty good but not great. The team ERA (not broken down into starters and relievers) is 3.78, again not as good at the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and this time the Phillies move ahead (due presumably to their superior bullpen). They do lead the league (or are at least tied with the Marlins) at getting teams to ground into double-plays, although their lead over Atlanta and Colorado is only one DP. They don't strike out a lot of hitters (10th in the league, but about even with Atlanta and a bit more than St. Louis). They don't give up a lot of home runs (thank you Pac Ball Park), but they walk quite a few. Using those stats, it looks like the Giants have the fourth or fifth best staff in the league; as they play in a pitchers' park, that probably overestimates them. I won't go into as much detail with the offense, but similarly, the unadjusted stats make them out to be the fifth or sixth best-hitting team, which underestimates them.

Back at the Baseball Prospectus, Clay Davenport has an Adjusted Standings page, where he compares the actual standings to what he might expect the standings to be, given the teams statistics. Three teams stand out as doing much better than expected: the Royals, the Braves, and the Giants. This is actually clear from the Pythagorean standings without all of Clay's work, but there it is. Three teams are overachieving, or lucky, or something. I have no idea why. I mean, I'm all happy about it and everything, but honestly, it does seem like the Cardinals and the Phillies are just about as good as the Giants, but the Giants have 67 wins, the Phillies have 57, and the Cardinals have 54. And I don't really know why.

Not that I'm complaining, you understand. Still, the only time in Your Humble Blogger's life that the Giants had a ten game lead at the end of July was 1993.

Redintegro Iraq,


What's all the fuss? The Giants just _know how to win_ . It's probably the great clubhouse chemistry. And they're playing them one game at a time. :-)

More seriously, I think the Giants have been a bit lucky, but they have a more balanced game than any other team in the league, and I think that makes their production a little steadier. And they have Barry Bonds, whose ability to raise his game when its needed has probably been worth an extra win or two. We may not see his like again for 40 or 50 years.

polls give jim brower some credit.

we'll have to see during this road trip. 10-1 at home, sweeping the 2nd place team in 4 games, that's a nice present. a couple things seem clear watching this year compared to last: felipe alou is good at juggling pitchers, and cruz is a breathtaking outfielder.

during the d'backs series, errors were a difference.

never seen a starting lineup change so often, and during a winning streak! is there a stat for "well-rested"?

Ever since '93 the Giants were about the only team to consistently play above the Pythagorean estimate every year. There was speculation that it was a Dusty Baker effect, but since Dusty's with the Cubs this year and the Giants are again above their estimate, while the Cubs are right where you'd expect.

By the way, are you sure you want to invoke that other time they had the 10 game lead? I seem to recall speculating about a Phillies-Giants playoff series with you that summer and it didn't happen. If the playoffs were to start today, we'd be looking at a Phillies-Giants first-round series.

dusty's secret weapon: felipe's own child!

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