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Off-day fun, 7/16 edition

July 17, 2012

NL West Standings

Yeesh, the three teams still in contention all appear decidedly average if judged by run differential. The Diamondbacks, despite their six-game deficit, should be encouraged by that fact—yet they continue to dangle Justin Upton on the trade market, the fools. The Giants rank 5th in the National League in runs allowed and 12th in runs scored. Today I present a potential in-house solution to the run-scoring problem.

Gregor Blanco and rest

Gregor Blanco is a king for making this catch, but he may be bringing the offense down.

In a lot of ways, Gregor Blanco’s season has resembled Andres Torres’ 2010 campaign. This is not a groundbreaking claim, but bear with me. The Giants signed both in the offseason for next to nothing, and both players played impressively enough in spring training to earn a roster spot. Both 2010 Torres and 2012 Blanco sustained their hot streaks into the early part of the regular season, and parlayed that into a starting role and the lead-off spot in the lineup. 2010 Torres fell off near the end of the year (39 wRC+ in Sept.), bringing his batting average down from around .300 to its final mark of .268. Blanco is not as good of a defensive outfielder as Torres and he hasn’t displayed as much power (4 HRs in 292 PAs compared to Torres’ 16 in 570). Furthermore, it seems that Blanco’s numbers are falling off sooner than Torres’ did, what with his 67 wRC+ so far in July to go with his figure of 81 in June.

I’ve heard Kruk and Kuip suggest, multiple times, that Blanco is being worn down by all the playing time he’s received since earning the starting job in May. It’s a reasonable hypothesis, as Blanco has only once, for the Braves in 2008, played a full season—144 games and 570 plate appearances, to be exact. Perhaps, then, his body isn’t conditioned to withstand the rigors of daily baseball. But this is all just conjecture until we consult THE FACTS, which I have just done. They are of course presented in table form.

Here is a log of Blanco’s games immediately following off days—that is, of all the games that took place one day after he did not play any baseball. I made the table orange because too often do I choose the same light browns, but orange is a little ugly.

And here is a log of Blanco’s games that occurred after three or more consecutive days of playing baseball.

And to summarize the results concisely, here is a document named “summarytable.png”:

Note: I just realized my numbers don’t include hit by pitches and errors, so they won’t match up precisely with the real numbers. Sorry, but those are fluky anyway, by definition.

Granted, the samples are small, but the splits are striking. Kruk and Kuip seem to be onto something here, I think it is best to limit the number of consecutive days Blanco plays.

Who will be the lucky gent to benefit from Blanco’s reduced playing time in this proposal? I believe Nate Schierholtz to be the best option. Nate owns a stark lefty/righty split: his wRC+ against righties is a robust 124 this season in 107 PAs, which is consistent with his career numbers; against lefties his wRC+ is a frail -4. This season, Blanco owns a mild lefty/righty split: 105 against lefties, 96 against righties. Nate is enough of an improvement against righties—and Blanco is sufficiently bad after playing multiple days in a row—that the Giants’ offense stands to gain untold riches just by putting Nate in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, say, half the time.

 

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