Category Archives: Baseball Thoughts

General opinions and thoughts on anything baseball related not about the Giants (though, honestly, it’s always about the Giants)

Giants Reign Over Kansas City

At the beginning of the 2012 All-Star game, it was hard not to feel like the ESPN commentators, Joe Buck and the always eloquent Tim McCarver, didn’t really appreciate the amazingness that is the SF Giants. It might have been in part that at least two Giants trotted out in the first inning in lieu of two NY Mets (Cain for Dickey, Sandoval for Wright). Before the game, they were calling Dickey “unbelievable” and Cain “good”. They brought up the allegations of ballot stuffing and even implied that Yadier Molina should be starting (if you read between the lines with a healthy dose of west coast cynicism). That, of course, was before the Starting Four put on a clinic on how to do the All-Star games right.

After the game, McCarver could only say that they were “freaking amazing” and Buck couldn’t stop talking about how much he wanted a pair of those bright orange cleats. Ok, maybe my DVR screwed up and I didn’t see anything past the 7th (not that there was anything to watch at that point) but I can imagine they said something along those lines.

So yes, the Giants ruled Kansas City, Melky got the much deserved MVP award (for which Pandoval must have been a close second), and the NL is officially on a winning streak. However that doesn’t negate the fact that for about a week, the entire country was a little more anti-Bay Area than normal. But Giants fans didn’t do anything wrong. Aren’t we allowed to vote 25 times each? And if you happen to have more email addresses, aren’t you allowed to use those as well? This is no different from when I used to amuse myself as a kid at Candlestick by making designs in as many ballots as possible. Mets GM Sandy Alderson sent barbs via Twitter at Giants fans, but you know the Mets were trying just as hard to get their fans to stuff the boxes.

When you step back and look at it, the All-Star game is really a popularity contest, not two carefully selected teams showcasing the best of the best. This is unavoidable when the decision is made by a mass of relatively uneducated people who vote as many times as they can for their favorite players. Is Pablo Sandoval the best 3rd baseman in the game? He’s damn good, but David Wright might be a little better than him right now. Is Pablo the most popular 3rd baseman? You betcha! If you want the players with the best statistics, then have a computer pick the All-Star team. If you want the best athletes, have the players vote on all the starters. But don’t whine about the system when it doesn’t work in your favor.

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Consistency

There seem to be two schools of thought about Brandon Belt when it comes to the fans andmedia; those who think he is the team savior and those who think he’s overrated and needs to be sent back to Fresno. The former thinks the Giants need to be a little patient with him while the latter think that he’s gotten plenty of playing time and can’t cut it. I don’t think he’s exactly a savior, but I would probably side up with the patient crowd. While he has played in 96 major league games which might seem like plenty of opportunities, he hasn’t been given very consistent playing time, which I think is the crucial point.

Bochy has said on numerous occasions that they need to see what they have with the young guys, which makes a lot of sense. Assess what they can provide the team and make a decision on whether or not they will be a long term contributor to the team. The problem is you can get a good idea of how a player is going to perform at a major league level if he doesn’t get consistent playing time! Instead of focusing on the game at hand and what he needs to do to help his team win it, he will likely be thinking about whether or not he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.

Going back to last year, Brandon Belt has seen 1 streak of eight consecutive starts. He got seven games at once last year as well. Other than that, he’s had 1 five game streak, 5 four game streaks, 4 three game streaks, and all the rest of his starts were standalone or in groups of two. His longest so far this year has been 4 games. This is out of 96 total games he has played in over those two years; you do the math.

Now let me offer up a few players from bygone years who were not subjected to this.

  • Robby Thompson: started 20 out of 20 when he was brought up, batted .244
  • Rich Aurilia: started 21 out of 25 games when he was brought up (16 in a row), batted 240 with 2 HRs
  • Matt Williams: got to start 71 out of the first 73 games after he was called up (and the two he didn’t start were double headers, in which he started only one of the games), he batted .192
  • And of course there is Willie Mays: started the first 15 games in a row, he hit only .218 and 2 HR. (The day after the 15th game was a double header in which Mays went 8 for 8 and never looked back).

All four of those gentlemen above went on to have fantastic Giants careers. Imagine if they had been benched after 4 games of not performing. Of course, we don’t know that Belt will turn out like any of these guys (though I think we can say with fair certainty that he won’t be the next Mays), but we do know that those 4 great Giants likely wouldn’t have gotten the chance to find their swing and prove themselves on this current team, and, who knows, maybe that means they wouldn’t have turned into the players they were

I know this has been beaten to death over the last year and a half by anyone who knows how to type, but I’m proposing that Belt plays 20-25 games in a row. And by that I mean Bochy taking him into his office and telling him (and the press) that he will trot out there every game no matter what. That would be 20-25 games of Belt not glancing into the dugout after swinging at a ball in the dirt, not worrying about whether he will be playing tomorrow, or the rest of the year, but instead thinking about the current AB, the current game. If he could get that kind of consistency, and he still couldn’t cut it, then fine, send him down. But don’t drag it out, starting him in fits and bursts for the next 3 years until he is burned out.

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