30 in 30: The San Francisco Giants
2016 Record: 87-75
2016 Finish: 10th in MLB, 4th in NL
2016 in Review
How does a team win with little to no offense? Serious question. How does a team win with little to no run support? Because that's what the Giants managed to do in 2016. The San Francisco Giants averaged 4.38 runs per game, which finds them in the #19 spot compared to all other MLB teams. Their team OPS of .724 is good enough for 22nd in the MLB. The Giants offense was both evenly dispersed across the slash lines, but that doesn't make for easy baseball in 2016's MLB.
Brandon Belt had the most home runs on the Giants roster in 2016, coming in with a whopping 17. You know who else had 17 homers in 2016? Matt Wieters, Danny Valencia and Max Kepler. Sean Rodriguez the utility bench guy for the Priates in 2016 had 18. And Brandon Belt had the highest total on the Giants. Angel Pagan, who just turned 34, had a very strong offensive year for the Giants, too. Pagan and the Giants seemed to have adopted the grind it out hitting style of the Kansas City Royals and it worked, but that's just the offense.
The Giants also played 55 one run games in 2016, more than any other team in the Bigs. It's easy to see how the Giants scrapped by this season. However, when you live by the one run ballgame, you die by the one run ballgame. Which leads us to...
The Giants Starters did a great job this year. Madison Bumgarner was his nasty self again, Johnny Cueto was unstoppable, Jeff Samardzija was as advertised and the acquisition of Matt Moore at the deadline was a great addition as well. The bullpen was not as solid.
At the All-Star break, the Giants had the best record in baseball at 57-33. Not too bad! The shakes out to a Win% of .633! That’s awesome! All the Giants had to do was win at least half of their games after the All-Star Break and they would be sitting high atop the NL West. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED! Let’s put it this way if the season began after the All-Star Break the San Francisco Giants would have finished tied for 27th out of 30 teams. Never in the history of baseball has a first place team had a greater difference in Win% from the first half to the second half in the history of the game. What happened? Well, they stopped scoring more runs than the other team. In baseball, a winner is decided by counting the number of runs each team has after 9 innings. The team with the most runs is deemed the winner. Therefore, to win baseball games you must score runs. The Giants decided to not do that. In 72 games San Francisco scored 291 runs. The pitching staff gave up 280, 272 of which were earned. That’s not great. Another thing that is not great: The Giants bullpen.
It is difficult to watch someone struggle. Sometimes you wish you could help, you wish you could lighten their load, lend a helping hand. That was not the case for the Giants bullpen. 25-24 for the year, they blew 32 out of 75 save opportunities giving them the 25th best save percentage in baseball. The Giants will spend $72.5 million on starting pitching this year and close to $25 million on their bullpen. Those numbers don’t add up to the results they got this year, and these pitchers only get more expensive next year. Changes needed to be made.
The Signing of Mark Melancon is the best remedy for the shaky Giants bullpen.
In his career, Melancon has completed 168 saves in the 191 save situations he's ever been in. 87.9% of the time that Melancon comes in and can get a save, he gets the save. When you compare him to Chapman, he's only 2% off. That's not too shabby, especially since, Chapman just hit a huge payday with New York. So why didn't Melancon get an $80 million dollar payday like his other counterparts? Well, it's a small, but visible reason; he doesn't have the power. Of the 6,000+ pitches of Melancon's that were tracked by PitchFx, a sum total of 0 PITCHES EVER WENT ABOVE 95MPH. Melancon is a throwback to a simpler time when Closers only had two pitches. Mark has a fastball and a nasty, NASTY Cutter. That's it. That's all he has. A Bartolo Colon-like Fastball and a Mariano Rivera like Cutter.
The other thing that makes Mark "The Shark" so deadly in the 9th inning is the fact that he throws both of his pitches at a pretty even rate. Aroldis Chapman throws his fastball 80% of the time, and Kenley Jansen relies on his cutter 88% of the time. However, Melancon throws his Cutter and his fastball at a 60/40 rate, tipping more in the favor of the cutter. This gives Melancon a mental advantage. It's the same reason why Bartolo Colon has lasted 100 years, he knows where to put the ball so you can't hit it, and he knows how to disguise his pitches, so you can't know what's coming until it's in the catcher's mitt.