Recapping Madison Bumgarner's historic season opener

Recapping Madison Bumgarner's historic season opener

PHOENIX — Madison Bumgarner woke up on Monday leading the Majors in strikeouts, which wasn’t a surprise. He also woke up as the MLB leaders in homers, which … well I guess nothing with Bumgarner can really be that much of a surprise anymore.

The big left-hander simply raised a bar that’s already impossibly high when he hit two deep homers on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. Before his next start, Saturday at Petco Park, Bumgarner will be passed by quite a few position players on the leaderboard. So let’s take this opportunity to look back once more at what he accomplished Sunday … 

  • Bumgarner became the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two homers on opening day. It was his first multi-homer game, making him the fourth pitcher since 2006 to pull that off. The list: Dontrelle Willis, Micah Owings and Noah Syndergaard, who might be the closest thing we have to Bumgarner currently. Only three other pitchers have even homered on opening day since 1970: Rick Rhoden, Joe Magrane and Clayton Kershaw, who did it against the Giants in 2013. 
  • Bumgarner’s first homer tied the franchise pitcher record held by Johnny Antonelli and Hal Schumacher. He passed them in the seventh, when he hit career homer No. 16. 
  • In case you were wondering, the record for single-season homers by a player who was primarily a pitcher is nine (Wes Ferrell, 1931). 
  • This was a fun one from the Giants’ PR staff. The other Giants with two homers on opening day: Elliott, Mays, Williams and Barry Bonds. That’s a hell of a list to join if you’re a hitter. Bumgarner did it as a pitcher. 
  • Via Elias, Bumgarner became the first player to homer in his first two at-bats of the season since Bryce Harper in 2013. 
  • Also from Elias: Bumgarner has 13 homers in his last 199 at-bats, a rate of one every 15.3 at-bats. Albert Pujols has a career home run rate of one per every 15.5 at-bats. 
  • From Mark Simon and Sarah Langs of ESPN Stats and Info, Bumgarner’s seven go-ahead homers match former Cardinal Bob Forsch for the most by a pitcher since the DH was implemented. 
  • Also from ESPN Stats and Info, Bumgarner has 13 career homers on fastballs. On fastballs alone, he would be the active home run leader. Yovani Gallardo is second with 12 homers on all pitches. 
  • Bumgarner now has multiple homers against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. According to Sports On Earth, he joins Carlos Gonzalez and Joey Votto as the only big leaguers with multiple homers off those two guys. 
  • Via Statcast, the only players with multiple homers of 112+ mph since this has been tracked are Bumgarner and Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, we've now referenced Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton when talking about Bumgarner's power.  
  • Via Daren Willman (@darenw, and a must-follow for baseball fans), only 16 players had multiple 112+ mph home runs all of last season. Bumgarner did that in his first two at-bats of 2017. 
  • Bumgarner now has the four hardest-hit pitcher homers of the Statcast era. They tracked him yesterday at 112.5 and 112.1 mph
  • The Giants did not have a single homer last season that exceeded either of the two blasts. You have to go back to Jarrett Parker’s big day in Oakland in September of 2015 to find a harder-hit Giants homer. Parker’s was 114.3.
  • Bumgarner’s two homers yesterday traveled a combined 838 feet. 
  • Finally, Bumgarner’s day job. As I wrote yesterday, that was the best stuff he’s had on the mound in years. Bumgarner’s fastball averaged 93.3 mph, which is harder than his max velocity in 2016. It wasn’t just the fastball, though. Bumgarner had excellent depth on his breaking pitches and he tossed one curveball at 79.1 mph, 1.2 mph harder than any curve he threw last season. 

Bumgarner usually ramps up the velocity as the year goes on, so there might be more to come. When you consider that he’s still just 27 years old, this all makes sense. Bumgarner is in his prime, and after two seasons of tinkering with mechanics, it seems he has found something he likes. Bumgarner often looks back at the stretch run in 2014 when talking about his ideal delivery. On Sunday, he smiled when asked if he’s getting closer to where he wants to be.

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said. 

Why Duane Kuiper believes Derek Holland is 'perfect guy' for Giants

Why Duane Kuiper believes Derek Holland is 'perfect guy' for Giants

Farhan Zaidi made his second notable move (see Pat Venditte) as president of baseball operations on Monday when he re-signed lefty Derek Holland to a one-year, $7 million contract.

Both Holland and the Giants wanted the reunion.

For Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, the move makes complete sense.

"Holland's the perfect guy to sign," Kuiper said on Wednesday on KNBR 680. "Think about all the boxes he checks: He wants to be here, he had a good year, he's a left-hander, he got lefties out in a division where there's a lot of left-handed hitters, he's a good guy, he's great in the clubhouse. He checks all the boxes."

While Holland can pitch out of the bullpen, he's expected to slot somewhere into the Giants' rotation with Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, Dereck Rodriguez, and Andrew Suarez.

Holland got a sizable raise from his 2018 salary of $1.75 million, but Kuiper believes it's actually a good deal compared to what other starting pitchers have been getting on the free agent market this offseason.

"He's a lot more expensive this year than he was last year," Kuiper said. "But he's not off the charts, like 'Ah man, what are we going to do?' He's the perfect guy and I don't think Farhan is close to being finished with this roster."

During a conference call on Monday, Zaidi noted that there's still a lot of time to add players to the roster, and is specifically looking to address the outfield situation.

"We have quite a few guys that we're looking at in the outfield mix," Zaidi said. "I'm still optimistic that we're going to add on that front. We've obviously got a group of guys that we like, but they're inexperienced. Adding some experience and known production in the outfield is something we'd like to do."

Giants mascot Lou Seal becomes ordained and officiates friend's wedding


Giants mascot Lou Seal becomes ordained and officiates friend's wedding

This is probably the most important thing you will read today: Ron Manlapid and Angela Kim are newlyweds, and they had the assistance of Giants' mascot, Lou Seal.

That's right. The new couple had Lou officiate their wedding recently, and it looked perfect:

Lou got ordained especially for his friend, and "Sealcurity" member, Manlapid.

There are some things to think about here ...

First of all, there is a lot of respect to give to a mascot who requires a full-on security team. Secondly, are we happy or a bit scared to know just about anyone can be officiated these days?

Either way, the Giants themselves offered "CongratLOUlations" to the happy couple:

Get it? Because of his name ... Lou? 

Many blessings to Ron and Angela.