AT&T Park has a reputation as a great pitcher's park, and the rep is well-deserved. The park keeps home run rates down and has seen increased groundball rates more than just about any park in the league. The bad news doesn't end there. Only the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers attempted fewer steals than the Giants last year. That's uncommon for Bruce Bochy's teams, if he's given the personnel.
The worst news, though, might be that the team so lacks offensive acumen. They saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance and drew the fewest walks in the major leagues, and it wasn't close. The awful resultant on-base percentage meant the meat of the order rarely had anyone to drive in, and San Francisco went patchwork to remedy the situation this winter.
The Giants value the strikeout; last season, the team punched out the most batters in baseball, after finishing second the year before. The squad's starters are workhorses with good track records for health. Their leashes seem to get longer every year in terms of innings and pitches, which is a testament to the organization's cultivation of arms.
Bochy has consistently gone to his bullpen, especially when his men have gotten into jams. San Francisco bequeathed the second-most runners in the NL last year; Bochy's recent San Diego Padres teams ranked near the bottom in that category. With a talented, untaxed bullpen in San Fran, however, that generally has done the Giants more good than harm.
San Francisco continues to inundate itself with old players whose defensive skills have eroded. Expect results on par with those players' prime values. Mark DeRosa is a downgrade in left field. New first baseman Aubrey Huff forces Pablo Sandoval back to third base, thereby worsening each position after some offseason reprieve from the Big Panda's D seemed likely.
Catcher Bengie Molina, center fielder Aaron Rowand and shortstop Edgar Renteria are all 31 or older. Their five cumulative Gold Glove Award years are in the rearview.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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