Nobody said it would be easy for the Giants' offense this season. The organization, MLB experts, and fans alike all understood this team was entering the 2019 season with solid pitching and defense and a lackluster offense. Just how lackluster, however, was a somewhat intriguing mystery that all would have to wait to be revealed.
Well, 11 games into the young season, things look just about as bleak as one would have projected. Now, I must attach the obvious disclaimer that the first 11 games of a full 162-game MLB season is the epitome of a small sample size. That being said, analysis can still be done and early general conclusions drawn using the first two weeks' statistics and information. Let's take a look at exactly where the G-Men rank offensively against the rest of the 30-team league.
Runs Scored: 30 (t-26th)
Batting Average: .203 (26th)
On-Base Percentage: .264 (27th)
Slugging: .313 (27th)
OPS (On-Base plus Slugging): .577 (27th)
Homeruns: 7 (t-25th)
Extra-Base Hits: 25 (23rd)
Strikeouts: 97 (t-8th)
Those early offensive numbers are horrifying. The good news is that it is, indeed, still very early in the season. Any team can point to an 11-game stretch, in any season, where their performance in particular areas was atrocious. However, should the Giants have any aspirations for challenging the NL West powers in '19, they had better get their act together at the plate.
So, if the orange and black were to get their act together offensively, who will most likely be responsible for their success? Let's take a look at those who are experiencing some measure of early success, in spite of the team's general inability to sustain any kind of marked success with the bats.
The "Baby Giraffe," as commentators Kruk and Kuip so endearingly refer to the Giant first baseman, looks to be the most potent and well-rounded offensive weapon in manager Bruce Bochy's lineup. After Monday night's 6-5 loss to NL West-rival San Diego, during which he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, Belt's 2019 stat line looks like this: .237 AVG, .310 OBP, .810 OPS, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R (38 AB). Considering Belt tends to produce consistent offensive numbers ever year, his career averages (adjusted to per-162 game rate) should be a pretty solid indicator of what to expect from his this season: .266 AVG, .355 OBP, .811 OPS, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 76 R (548 AB).
While his .667 OPS isn't jumping off the score sheet or striking fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers, make no mistake, B-Craw is seeing and hitting the ball well in the early-going. He also, like Belt, happens to perform incredibly on-par with his career averages each season. Crawford's 2019 stats appear underwhelming at present: .289 AVG, .325 OBP, .667 OPS, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R (38 AB). However, he should play up-to and possibly even above his career averages of: .000 AVG, .000 OBP, .000 OPS, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R (0 AB)–(adjusted to per-162 game rate).
That is the extent of the players who can be said to be performing even somewhat well at the plate for the Giants so far this season. Their offense is truly anemic at this point, placing incredible strain on every pitch and defensive play in every game. The problem with lackluster offensive firepower is that the pitching staff basically has to perform under high-stress conditions every time they take the mound. Instead of the usual high-stress moments of late inning relief in one-run games and the like, every pitch becomes one on which the fate of the entire game hangs. That can and usually does spell disaster for pitching staffs and teams, in general, when runs are scored sparingly.
If there is a team, a manager, and an organization that can succeed under such conditions, though, the San Francisco Giants are it. Fans remember how the 2010 World Series champions made a living of scraping by with one or two runs, placing incredible nightly hardship on the starting and relieving pitchers to perform at an elite level every time they hit the field. It was so eloquently named "torture," and Giants fans remember it well. Get the antacids and the various coping mechanisms ready, 2019 appears to be another torturous campaign. Let's hope the Brandons can do some heavy lifting; maybe Posey and Longoria can rekindle some veteran success. Health will play a leading role with each of these players – if they stay healthy, offensive production should readily follow.
Photo: Ian D'Andrea/Wikimedia