It’s no mystery to Giants fans that the 2018 team has struggled to produce runs in clutch situations, or any situation for that matter. But what is the cause for the recent Giants offensive blackout?
We broke down the numbers to try to get a clearer picture of what’s been plaguing team that was considered a sports dynasty only a few years ago.
“If you put your finger on what our problem has been, we’ve got a 1960s offense,” Brian Sabean said on KNBR 680.
In the past 20 years of Giants baseball, the 2018 team posted a staggering amount of offensive worsts, including: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, runs per game, and strikeouts.
“You just need to have better players,” Gary Radnich said. “I know it sounds like a simplified answer, but I really think they just really don’t have the talent right now to keep up with other teams.”
So, what happened?
The Giants built their dynasty on the back of great pitching performances from players like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. It was no surprise that the front office doubled down on pitching in 2015 with free agent signings including Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. However, these players struggled to stay healthy in their tenure with the Giants, and in 2018, would combined play only 19 games while eating up $41.63 million of the Giants’ $181 million salary.
The MLB as a whole saw a drop in power in the Giants’ championship years. But the league trended toward power, leaving the Giants’ heavy pitching artillery of little use. 2017 actually posted the most amount of home runs in MLB history. With a sport that’s trending toward power, a slew of injuries, and some veterans posting their worst seasons, it’s no wonder the Giants struggled to stay above .500 this year.
Buster Posey, while ending his season with an impressive slash line of .284/.359/.382, posted the worst numbers of his major league career. Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, and Andrew McCutchen also had offensive falloffs in the 2018 season.
“The Giants’ issue is they don’t have enough extra base power,” Larry Kreuger said. “The top-nine teams in extra base hits, eight of those teams are going to October or are still alive for October. Where do the Giants reside? Twenty-ninth, second-to-last in extra base hits— that’s where it starts and that’s where it ends.”
With little extra-base power, the Giants have played the most amount of games decided by under three runs in all of Major League Baseball at 108 games. These are wasted opportunities for easy wins. The Giants are 52-19 when they score four or more and 21-66 when they score three or less.
So, what do the Giants do moving forward?
“Go out and get somebody like Bryce Harper who can at the very least draw walks, get you some home runs, get you some RBIs, and maybe sell you a few tickets.” Radnich said.
However, the Giants have a $197 million luxury tax cap in 2018 to contend with, along with debt accrued from exceeding the previous cap for the past three years. A big-ticket free agent might be tough on the Giants’ wallet.
Whatever the solution, one thing is obvious: something needs to change in the Giants offense.
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