WASHINGTON D.C. — Chris Stratton had to wait 42 extra hours to make his start at Nationals Park. He made the most of it.
On a sunny day in the nation’s capital the rookie had by far the best outing of his big league career, striking out 10 to lead the Giants to a 4-2 win over the Nationals. The win was Stratton’s first of the year and just the second of his career.
Here are five other things to know from the first half of a split doubleheader …
—- Stratton’s previous career high in strikeouts was four. He had five by the end of the third inning Sunday. His final line: 6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts.
—- Stratton pitched just the fifth double-digit strikeout game of the year for the Giants, and the first in more than two months. He now has as many double-digit strikeout games this year as Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Stratton had previously whiffed double digits three times in the minors, most recently in 2106 for the Sacramento River Cats.
—- Josh Osich entered with two on in the seventh and got pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy to fly out to left. That’s good work.
—- Joe Panik did most of the damage at the plate, tying a season-high with three hits. Panik, hitting leadoff, made it 3-0 with a two-run, two-out single in the top of the second.
—- Hunter Strickland came on in the eighth. He was booed as soon as the bullpen door opened, and it got very, very loud when he was announced as the new pitcher. The boos turned to cheers a few minutes later when Anthony Rendon smoked a two-run shot to left. The fans returned to booing when the inning ended and Strickland walked to the dugout.
The Astros and Giants had seemingly opposite seasons in 2017. While the Astros won their first World Series title in franchise history, the Giants put together a historically bad season with a 64-98 record.
Of all the Astros, José Altuve enjoyed the greatest season of them all. And one Giant can relate to the 5-foot-6 slugger.
Altuve became just the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to win a batting title, MVP and World Series all in the same year. The last to do so was Buster Posey in 2012, the second of his three titles with the Giants.
In 2012, Posey hit .336 to win the batting title. He then received 422 voting points to edge out Ryan Braun (285) to win the National League MVP.
Altuve hit 10 points higher than Posey at .346 to win the 2017 batting title. But, Altuve received less voting points (405) than Posey to beat rookie Aaron Judge (279).
SAN FRANCISCO — It was revealed Thursday night that Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s National League Most Valuable Player. The rest of the MVP ballot shows why the Giants are chasing Stanton so hard this offseason.
Led by Stanton, 22 different players were listed on NL MVP ballots, which have 10 spots. Two of the top five finishers — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — were Rockies. Four different Diamondbacks got votes, led by third-place finisher Paul Goldschmidt. The Dodgers had five players listed on ballots, including rookie Cody Bellinger, who arrived a couple of days after Christian Arroyo and finished ninth in MVP voting.
The Giants? They didn't have a single player receive an MVP vote, continuing a theme during awards season.
The team built around pitching did not have any players listed on the five-person Cy Young Award ballots (full disclosure: I had a vote). There were no Rookie of the Year candidates, either, and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year running sometime in early May. The 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which the Giants didn’t have a single player listed for any of the four major awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The lack of award-season love is a reminder of how deep the hole is, but it’s also a sign of how much help the Giants need from their stars in order to dig out of this hole. This isn’t as simple as fixing the center field defense and upgrading the bullpen.
Buster Posey had a good season, but his 12 homers, 67 RBI, .861 OPS and 4.3 WAR (ranked 17th in the NL) didn’t get any love at the end of a 98-loss year. Posey had been listed on at least one MVP ballot every season since 2012, when he won the award. This is the first year since 2007 that the Giants did not have a player listed on an MVP ballot.
The organization has had similar success in the Cy Young balloting, with Tim Lincecum winning twice and Madison Bumgarner finishing in the top 10 in each of the previous four seasons. A dirt bike accident cost Bumgarner any shot of getting votes this year, and also likely cost him a third Silver Slugger Award in a season that started with two homers on Opening Day. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto finished fourth and sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, but Cueto had a similarly forgettable season.