Giants

Why Giants' advanced stats show bigger picture of struggles in 2019

Giants

The eye-test can be deceiving -- and plenty of times wrong -- but much of the Giants' season thus far is obvious. 

They're bad. 

The traditional stats on the back of a baseball card speak volumes about the 2019 Giants. Through 30 games, they rank 29th out of 30 MLB teams in batting average (.214), last in on-base percentage (.275), 28th in slugging percentage (.347), and 27th in home runs (24). 

To put their team slash line into context, MLB averages for batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are .253, .320 and .415. 

While the eye-test has been clear for many aspects of the team this season, there's always a bigger story than just looking through your own lens. With the first month of the season in the books, here's a look at several advanced stats provided by Baseball Savant that have played a big role in the team's 12-18 record.

Exit Velocity

Kevin Pillar might have looked like Barry Bonds in his first seven games on the Giants, but the stats show he simply hasn't hit the ball that hard. 

Pillar and Brandon Belt are tied for the team lead in home runs with five. But Pillar has the second-worst exit velocity on the Giants, with an average of only 83.8 mph. Only Yangervis Solarte (80.5 mph) is behind. 

As a team, the Giants have an average exit velocity of 86.3 mph, which is in the bottom three percent of the league. The MLB average is 87.4 mph. The Giants have six players -- Solarte, Pillar, Gerardo Parra, Steven Duggar, Erik Kratz, and Joe Panik -- below the league average. 

 

Additionally, the percentage of hard-hit balls from the Giants clearly correlates to their low exit velocity as a team. They have seven players -- Solarte, Parra, Pillar, Panik, Duggar, Brandon Crawford, and Kratz -- below the league average of 34.2 percent. As a team, they are at 33.7 percent.

Launch Angle

Launch angle. Launch angle. Launch angle. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? 

No? Ok, good. 

Here's a bit of an explainer on the term. On average, a swing with less 10 degrees results in a ground ball, between 10 to 25 degrees is a line drive and 25 to 50 degrees is a fly ball. 

Currently, Belt (25 degrees) is the lone Giant to have a launch angle that consistently produces fly balls. The Giants have six players whose launch angles should result in line drives and five who have a ground-ball swing. 

As a result, the Giants' hits have been 22.6 percent fly balls, 24.4 percent line drives and 45.1 percent ground balls. League averages across the board are 21.7 percent, 25.6 percent and 45.7 percent. 

The Giants as a team have an average launch angle of 12.2 degrees, which is slightly above the MLB average of 11 degrees. 

Lack of patience 

Not only do the Giants rank last in on-base percentage, but they also rank last in walks with just 72 as a team. Much of this comes from their hitters chasing pitches and not working deep into counts. 

The Giants are chasing 31.2 percent of balls they've seen, which is more than three percent higher than the league average of 28.1 percent. And they're only making contact on 55.9 percent of pitches that they've chased, well below the league average of 60 percent. 

Led by Pablo Sandoval (46 percent) -- a notoriously good bad-ball hitter -- and Pillar (40.8 percent), the Giants have eight players that are chasing more balls than the league average.

Barrels

We're actually referring to pitching here and we're going to get quite nerdy. Bear with me here.

Here's Statcast's definition of Barrel: To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands.

The Giants have an elite case here in reliever Will Smith and worrisome one in starter Derek Holland.

[RELATED: Giants' pitching struggles on tough homestand]

Of the 169 pitches that Smith has thrown this season, zero have been barrelled. Not a single one. He has a 3.38 ERA in 11 appearances this year, but that's largely due to three earned runs Sunday against the Yankees. 

Holland has been the opposite of Smith. He has allowed 14 barrels this season and his 18.2 barrel percentage is in the bottom-two percent of baseball. Holland, 1-4 with a 5.34 ERA, was recently placed on the 10-day IL with a bruised left index finger.

 

Through the first month of the season, the Giants find themselves in last place of the NL West. The eye-test has shown us what a struggle this season has been so far, and a handful of advanced stats paint an even bigger picture.