Monday, October 25, 2010
Do Giants have edge in 'It'?
Dan Rosenheck suggests, in his delightfully iconoclastic way, that maybe the Giants' starters aren't as good as you think. Tim Lincecum, sure. But the other three?
It would be presumptuous to attribute those three pitchers’ strong 2010 seasons entirely to luck. First and foremost, the Giants’ defense is extremely strong: led by the versatile Andrés Torres and Juan Uribe, they finished second in the majors in Ultimate Zone Rating, an all-in-one fielding statistic compiled by an army of observers and video scouts. And Cain is a notorious oddity: his career 3.45 earned run average, amassed in nearly 1,100 innings, is a full run lower than what his peripheral numbers suggest. He may be one of the rare breed of pitchers with a genuine ability to induce pop-ups and lazy fly balls from major league hitters (as did his teammate Barry Zito during his years with Oakland).
Even taking these caveats into account, however, the 2010 Giants are hardly a historically great run-prevention team. Their hitters will probably have to pick up some slack for them to win the World Series.Probably because of my own ignorance, I've never quite bought into team Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). But the Giants also finished second in the majors in something called Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, which measures the percentage of batted balls turned into outs.
Ah, so there's an edge for the Giants, right?
Yeah. Except the Rangers finished first in PADE.
The Rangers don't fare as well in UZR. But the evidence suggests their defense is roughly as good as the Giants' ... who have a (slightly) inferior rotation (if you believe Rosenheck, and Colby Lewis) and an inferior lineup (if you believe every statistic Abner Doubleday every invented).
Statistically (and eyebally) the Giants would seem to have one real advantage: their bullpen.
San Francisco's relievers finished the regular season with a 2.99 ERA, second in the National League (behind the Padres) and, I will hazard this guess, first if you park-adjust everything.
Texas's relievers? Second in the American League (behind the Rays) and, I will hazard a guess, first if you park-adjust everything.
The Ranger bullpen doesn't seem particularly trustworthy, partly because of a few postseason meltdowns and partly because Ron Washington stubbornly refused to use his best reliever, these past few weeks, when he might have done the most good. Also, the Rangers are without strikeout artist Frank Francisco.
I keep looking for a reason to think the Giants are going to win, and I keep not finding one. Now, I understand that a lot of baseball fans (and pundits) in the Bay Area think there's something special about these Giants; that the Giants have It (whatever It might be).
Hey, I think they're special, too. And I'm a ginormous fan of It.
But I'm fairly sure there are a few Texans who will tell you exactly the same things about their team. The Rangers are special, too. Just loaded with It ... also, with pitchers just as good as the Giants, and better hitters.