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Why Kapler isn't worried about slumping Giants lineup

NBC Sports
Alex Dickerson

Your concern level about the Giants' offense right now might depend on which website you use to look at stats. 

The ones that highlight the traditional metrics tell an ugly story. The Giants are 29th in the big leagues with a .192 batting average, 27th in OBP (.284) and 23rd in slugging percentage (.360). They're averaging 3.1 runs per game, and they have 18 total runs over the last eight games. On Tuesday night, they had two hits in a 3-0 loss.

On the other hand, they're fourth in the big leagues in barrel percentage, a stat that measures your quality of contact. They have an expected batting average (xBA) of .246, well above their actual mark and one that ranks them a slightly less concerning 20th in the big leagues. They rank ninth in expected slugging percentage. 

The Giants' lineup has been bad. It also has been somewhat unlucky

"One way to keep perspective is to look at both (sets of stats)," manager Gabe Kapler said before Monday's loss. "The traditional batting statistics that make people especially comfortable because we've seen them over and over again over the years: batting average, on-base percentage, OPS. And then we can use these expected stats to say we're doing a nice job of hitting the ball squarely. We have good barrel accuracy right now."

Kapler is very confident that better days are ahead, and he wasn't too down after watching the Giants manage just two hits off left-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Tejay Antone. (Side note: The Miley-Antone piggyback combo is one the Giants should copy at some point, perhaps with Alex Wood and Tyler Beede, when both are back.)

 

"I think this is the right time to give credit to pretty dominant opposing pitchers in Miley and Antone," Kapler said. "Both of them were executing their location and had good stuff, both worked a pretty crisp pace. I think it was more about the execution from Miley, particularly with the cutter down-and-in to righties. Our righties were having a hard time getting those balls in the air. That's the story for me, personally."

The story might have been different with a couple gusts of wind. On the coldest night of the season thus far, the Giants watched two Evan Longoria fly balls die on the warning track, including one with a runner on in a 2-0 game. 

The long ball has carried a struggling offense, with 23.7 percent of their hits leaving the yard. That's not sustainable at Oracle Park, particularly early in the year when the night games are cold and windy, but it's not what the staff wants to lean on, anyway. 

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This organization is being built on strikeout-to-walk ratio, and the Giants are in the top 10 there. They're walking at a slightly higher rate than in 2020 (up 1.9 percent) but also striking out a bit more (up 3.4 percent). Those numbers stabilize more quickly than others, but Kapler believes his struggling lineup is still firmly in small-sample-size territory.

"I think overall we've gotten some big hits, but I don't think this is the type of offense that we are," he said. "I think we're the type of offense that sees a lot of pitches, that gets pitchers on the ropes and gets big hits and produces big innings. We haven't seen that consistently from our offense this year but I believe that that's in there with this group."

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