by DrLefty

I found last night’s loss to the Rockies at Coors Field absolutely excruciating. And that’s saying something because I was in person at Wrigley Field last week to see two terrible losses that were beyond disheartening. Those of you who found last night’s game exciting and entertaining have an ally in MrLefty. As we were watching it, he was expressing real-time glee at the idea that the Giants could be no-hit but Logan Webb could still win 1-0. I, on the other hand, was horrified, feeling like I was watching a slow-moving (metaphorical) train wreck. When I said that it was the worst loss of the year, he immediately pushed back that the two Cubs games we saw together last week were worse.

I think the difference between those of us who hated last night’s game and those who enjoyed it is context. People being entertained by the game liked the idea of seeing something unusual and quirky. How unusual? Well, there have only been seven examples in baseball history of teams being no-hit and still winning. And the Rockies have never in their history thrown a no-hitter of any description at Coors Field. As mentioned on the broadcast last night, the only no-hitter ever pitched at Coors was thrown by visiting Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo in 1996, only a couple of years into the ballpark’s existence.

Speaking only for myself, I didn’t want to be amused by the Giants making history last night. Even if they’d managed to win 1-0 or 2-1, I would still have been troubled by the offensive ineptitude they showed. Chase Anderson had an ERA over 7 before last night’s start and hasn’t won a game all year. That’s different than being shut down by a legitimate Cy Young candidate like Justin Steele or Blake Snell, both of which have also happened to the Giants in the last two weeks (and if you go back a couple of weeks earlier, you can add Spencer Strider, twice). I was already thinking ahead to the remaining 15 games, most of which will be against much better teams than the Rockies, and the possibility of a playoff series, however unlikely that may feel at the moment. If they can’t beat Chase Anderson in Coors Field with their own ace on the mound absolutely dealing, how are they possibly going to navigate the next two weeks? Anyway, that’s how my mind was working during the game.

There’s not really a right or wrong way to feel about this. One view is living in the moment; the other is being aware of the bigger picture. How did Webb, the only bright spot, feel about it? From the gamer:

There are no consolation prizes. Not this time of year.

So when the Giants lost a walk-off heartbreaker to the Rockies, 3-2, on Friday night at Coors Field, starter Logan Webb didn’t hesitate with his answer when asked whether he takes solace in another sterling performance on the mound.

“To be honest,” he said, “no.”


“The goal is to win the game,” he said. “And we didn’t do that.”


So moving on. The Giants, who moved to the top of the four-team scrum trying to win the third wild card by not playing on Thursday, made the mistake of actually playing on Friday. With their loss and the other three teams all winning (thanks for nothing, Braves and Cubs; I never expected much from the Mets), the Giants are now at the bottom of the scrum today. And that’s where the “sea of mediocrity” title comes from. The Giants are extremely mediocre. Some nights, like last night at Coors and the three games at Wrigley, “mediocre” feels way too generous. But they’re still in the scrum for that last playoff spot because the other three teams are just as mediocre. In fact, even the first two teams in the wild card race (Phillies and Cubs) have been playing middling ball. Those two teams at the top are 4-6 in their L10, the Diamondbacks and Reds are 6-4, and the Giants and Marlins are 5-5. If any one team gets hot, it’s probably party over for the others. But it doesn’t seem like that’s happening.


Detailing the Mediocrity

MrLefty and I kept arguing about all this as I headed to bed last night. “They’re still in it,” he reminded me. “Just get in the playoffs and you never know. They weren’t favored in any of their championship years, either.” On paper, of course he’s right. The Phillies made it all the way to the World Series just last year from the third NL Wild Card position. Conversely, the Giants had the best record in MLB two years ago (seems longer, doesn’t it?) but didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs. So you never do really know.

But I don’t see it, either with my eyes or in Fangraphs. Let’s break down what “mediocre” looks like as of today, with a little over two weeks to go in the 2023 regular season.



This is still the strength of the team. The Giants are fourth in the NL in team ERA. They’re third in saves, near the bottom in home runs allowed, and last in walks allowed (by a lot). Though Webb will not win the Cy Young Award this year, he’s a legitimate candidate who should finish in the top five in voting. He currently leads the majors in innings pitched, the NL in WHIP, and he’s fourth in ERA and tenth in strikeouts. In Fangraphs WAR, he’s the fifth most valuable pitcher (after Zack Wheeler, Strider, the Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen, and Steele, and ahead of Snell). Camilo Doval, despite last night’s loss, is still tied for the league lead in saves with 37.

But there are a lot of troubling signs. Since August 1, when things really started going south for the Giants, their bullpen is just eighth in the NL in ERA (4.13). Given how they’ve constructed their pitching scheme (with no real rotation until very recently), this is a big problem. Most notably, the three worst bullpen ERAs since August 1, in reverse order, are by Tyler Rogers (5.27), Taylor Rogers (4.50), and Doval (4.40). Obviously the five-alarm fire is the hitting, or lack thereof, and we’ll get to that. But the Giants counted on their bullpen and especially counted on those three guys, and they have not performed well over the past six weeks.



It’s been observed that the Giants’ defense is much better than it was last year, despite their MLB-leading 102 errors and NL-leading 13 passed balls. And it’s true that, relatively speaking, especially if you look at some more sophisticated metrics, the Giants are not as bad defensively as they were in 2022. Last year they were dead last in MLB in defensive WAR (dWAR) and in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and 28th in Outs Above Average (OAA). This year they are (currently) 12th in dWAR, 23rd in DRS, and seventh in OAA. So yes–that’s better. However, it’s hard to look past actual errors when they result in runs scoring that decide the game–like last night’s game, the loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, and plenty of others.

It’s also fair to note that the improvement in defensive metrics is a bit skewed. Two players, Patrick Bailey and Thairo Estrada, lead the majors in dWAR at their respective positions. As a team, the Giants lead MLB in dWAR at 2B and are third at catcher. So those two players and positions have improved the overall picture substantially since last year. (They obviously didn’t have Bailey last year, and Estrada wasn’t nearly as good defensively.) The rest of the infield is not bad: 8th in MLB in dWAR at 1B, 12th at SS, 9th at 3B. After last year, I’ll take top half of MLB happily, and they are elite at catcher and 2B (at least when Bailey and Estrada are playing those positions).

The outfield, however, is another story. To keep it brief, the only good defensive outfielder on the Giants this year is Mike Yastrzemski. As a team, they are 26th in dWAR in LF, 28th in CF, and a less awful 13th in RF. Looking at just one stat, DRS, Yaz is +8, Brett Wisely (remember him?), is +1, and everyone else is either 0 or negative numbers. This is why I’m screaming every time Gabe Kapler lifts Yaz for a pinch-hitter in the late innings of a close game.

“Mediocre” seems like a fair assessment of the team’s defense, with the notable exceptions of Bailey, Estrada, and Yaz. But after last year, mediocre is progress. Sad, but true.



I won’t belabor this because we all know the grim realities here. Over the season as a whole, the Giants are a bottom-half team: 17th in WAR, 18th in wRC+., 22nd in runs, and sixth in strikeouts. And that’s for the whole season, which includes the “good” parts–a nice six-week stretch in May and June that included a ten-game winning streak in which they averaged eight runs a game. That good part happened, which is why it’s been so frustrating and bewildering to watch what’s happened since then. Here’s a quick comparison of the “good”  and “bad” parts of the season and what happened after it. I’ll start the “good” part with May 15, which was the week the Giants called up Bailey, and end it with June 22, the last day of their winning streak. I’ll define the “bad” part as August 1 through today, so roughly the same period of time.

Good Part of the Season (May 15-June 22): 3rd in WAR, tied for 5th in wRC+, 3rd in runs, eighth in batting average. Interestingly, they were only 25th in home runs during that six-week period, so that wasn’t really what propelled them.

Bad Part of the Season (August 1-September 15): 23rd in WAR, 23rd in wRC+, 29th in runs, 28th in HRs, 29th in SLG, 22nd in OBP, 24th in batting average.

The contrast between those two six-week periods is so stark that hopefully people way more knowledgeable than I am will be trying to figure it out over the offseason. What happened to the hitting? Was it injuries? Fatigue? Mediocre players being overexposed? Pitchers adjusting to the Giants’ approach? Here are some notable contrasts regarding individual players. I’ll limit it to 50+ plate appearances during each six-week period and use wRC+ as the metric.

  • Joc Pederson: Good part, 167; Bad part, 101
  • Patrick Bailey: Good part, 135; Bad part, 89
  • LaMonte Wade Jr.: Good part, 132; Bad part, 104
  • J.D. Davis: Good part, 124; Bad part, 91
  • Wilmer Flores: Good part, 113; Bad part, 137
  • Brandon Crawford: Good part, 112; Bad part, 39
  • Michael Conforto: Good part, 107; Bad part, 123
  • Mike Yastrzemski: Good part, 107; N/A (not enough PAs in this period)
  • Mitch Haniger: Good part, 103; N/A (not enough PAs in this period)
  • Blake Sabol: Good part, 99; Bad part, 79
  • Thairo Estrada: Good part, 91; Bad part, 84
  • Casey Schmitt: Good part, 48; Bad part, 45

So there you have it, and all I can say is thank God for Wilmer. Only he and Conforto actually hit better in the “bad” part of the season than in the “good” part, and Conforto’s is a smaller sample size because he was out for awhile.

Taking all of this together: The Giants have a good/above-average pitching staff, mediocre defense that would be much worse overall without the contributions of three specific players, and terrible hitting. Math is not my forte, but I’d say that adds up to “mediocre.” There are (much) worse teams. There are (much) better teams. The Giants, along with the Reds/Marlins/Dbacks, are just kinda there. And this is why Farhan Zaidi and Kapler are getting one more year at this point. Their results are not good enough to warrant an extension, but they’re not bad enough to warrant being fired…yet. They are…wait for it…mediocre.


Today’s Games

Game 1: Giants at Rockies, 11:10 a.m., Coors Field

Keaton Winn vs. TBD

Game 2: Giants at Rockies, 5:10 p.m.

TBD vs. Kyle Freeland

Keaton Winn is MyGuy™, and I’m interested to see how he does today. I thought he was terrific in his previous start. As for the rest of it…well, it’s baseball and you just don’t know. Lefty out.