by DrLefty

A few days ago, I was envisioning a title for today’s Out of Left Field along the lines of “The Giants Will Never Win Again” because that’s sure how it felt. They were finding new ways to lose everyday–bad starting pitching, bullpen meltdowns, defensive gaffes, bad situational at-bats…in some new combination.

Thankfully for me (and all of us), the last two games happened. After the Memorial Day game in which the Giants beat the NL-leading Phillies 8-4 but also lost their leading hitter, LaMonte Wade Jr., to a hamstring injury, the Giants played seven straight games (including a 1-0 win the next day over the Phils) in which they scored a total of 19 runs, and you don’t even have to be good at math to know that’s not good. But then the bats woke up on Wednesday, and in their last two games, both wins, they’ve scored 14 runs on 25 hits. (That’s good, but I’m gonna nitpick: They also stranded a cajillion runners in those two games and were 4 for 23 with runners in scoring position. The offense is showing signs of life, but they’re not out of the woods yet.)

I’m still not over how bad they looked in the six-game losing streak, and their overall metrics are still discouraging: They are two games under .500 with a -25 run differential and an expected W-L record of 29-35–meaning that as bad as they’ve looked at times, they actually should be worse. They are 4-15 against teams with winning records. (Luckily for the Giants, there aren’t that many of those.) They are 19th in team batting average and 13th in OPS and runs scored. I was surprised it was even that good, given how anemic the offense has been in stretches. Even worse, they were built to be a “pitching and defense” first team, and…not so much. They are 25th in team ERA. The starters are 21st and the relievers are 24th, but those are hard stats to parse in their case because of all the openers and bullpen games and starters who don’t go deep into games (with one shining exception, whom I’ll get to). They’re 15th in team defense, which could be worse but isn’t anything special.

And yet. I look at the standings this morning, and there are the Giants, sort of in playoff position. I say “sort of” because they’re tied with two other teams with identical records (31-33, same as the Cubs and Reds), and the Cardinals have the same winning percentage (.484) at 32-34. I assume there are various tiebreakers, but I’m not interested enough to research them on June 8. Check back with me in three months.

So I watch this team and then I look at the standings and realize they’re in playoff position, and all I can think of is Indianapolis Colts’ coach Jim Mora and his high-pitched rant when a hapless reporter asked about his (flawed) team’s playoff chances. Hard to believe that’s over 20 years ago now.Β  But maybe I’m being too harsh and on Together We’re Reds and Together We’re Cardinals and so forth, those fan bases are equally convinced that their teams suck.

So anyway, here we are. But rather than leave things on a negative note after one of the Giants’ better wins of the season, I’d like to highlight three bright spots of the past week.

Bright Spot #1: Logan Webb.Β There are regulars here who have dismissed Webb as not being good on the road and “not an ace” (gasp, he gave up two whole runs in seven innings to the defending World Series champions last night!!!). As to “not good on the road,” in his last three road starts (Pittsburgh, New York, Texas), he’s gone 20 total innings and given up five earned runs. His home-road splits for the season are still pretty skewed (1.71 ERA at home, 4.06 on the road), but they are absolutely trending in a good direction. As to “ace,” Webb is currently fifth in the NL in fWAR for starting pitchers at 2.1. He trails Chris Sale, Ranger Suarez, Zack Wheeler, and Tyler Glasnow–and not by much (Sale, the leader, has 2.4 WAR). As for more traditional counting stats, he leads the league in innings pitched (again) and is eighth in ERA. If Webb isn’t the Giants’ All-Star representative this year at this point, I’d love to hear who would be.

 

Bright Spot #2: Wilmer Flores.Β Flores had been having a very rough season until a couple of days ago, but now he’s hit three home runs in two games, including a grand slam in Arizona that broke that game open. With Wade out for the foreseeable future (I’ll be surprised if he’s back before the All-Star break), they really, really need Flores to be a credible alternative for awhile. With all respect to Trenton Brooks and his long-awaited MLB debut, he ain’t it.

 

Bright Spot #3: Heliot Ramos.Β Obviously we all know what a good job Ramos has done since he came up on May 8 when the Giants were on that road trip from hell where they lost a bunch of players to injuries. That was a month ago today. But it’s worth digging a bit further into just how good Ramos has been. There’s the obvious slash line: .320/.416/.515/.931. Did you know that he’s currently sixth among all NL outfielders in FWAR at 1.5…despite having fewer than half as many at-bats as some of the outfielders ahead of him on the list? Did you know he’s tied for second in the NL in defensive runs saved among outfielders with 7, trailing only Michael A. Taylor with 8? Did you know that Ramos, according to an article by Andrew Baggarly a few days ago, has more pitches per plate appearance than Wade Jr. has?

 

I said above that Webb is the Giants’ logical All-Star at this point, and he’s certainly deserving, especially when you consider his Cy Young runner-up season last year (the guy who won is NOT going to be an All-Star this year). But Alex Pavlovic and Cole Kuiper on Giants Talk this week were discussing the question: Heliot Ramos…All-Star? It’s not as ridiculous of a question as it sounded on the surface. Consider that Juan Soto is a Yankee, Bryce Harper is a first baseman, Mookie Betts is a shortstop, Acuna Jr. is out for the season, and that the top 10 NL outfielders by WAR include #ForeverGiant Mike Tauchman, and…it’s not as absurd as it seems. If Ramos kept up his production for another 2-3 weeks, who knows?

 

And OK, I know we’re only a week into June, but how about THIS graphic?!

 

Today’s Game

Giants at Rangers, 1:05 p.m., Globe Life Field

Spencer Howard vs. Andrew HeaneyΒ 

Oh, goodie. Lefty starter for Texas, so probably Austin Slater will be leading off. He’s 0 for 9 lifetime against Heaney, in case you were wondering.

 

We’ll let Jim Mora take us out today. Still as classic and epic as it was in 2001. Lefty out.