Recapping 2018: San Francisco Giants Edition | The Process Report

Recapping 2018: San Francisco Giants Edition

With the end of the regular season comes a time for reflection for the majority of baseball fans. What went right? What went wrong? You probably have a few ideas where your teams fell short or exceeded expectations, but what about a completely emotionless point of view? Throughout this season I have shown what batter and pitcher production looks like when we regress balls in play to look more like what the players should have seen using exit velocity and launch angle. The offseason will be no different as I take a team by team look at how the season fared for the team, while going a little deeper on a handful of players from each. The order will mirror the final team rankings running in reverse order so you can expect to find some depression leading to elation here. It’s going to take some time, but I would like to get one to two of these out each week which should allow for every team being covered before our glorious game returns to continue threshing our hearts. Here’s a link to the report for this club from last offseason.



Coming off a disastrous 2017 season the San Francisco Giants hoped doubling down on veteran players would patch over massive internal issues. The lack of depth in the lineup became exposed, but it was the pitching that became the more interesting tale. A cascade of injuries to the staff created an opportunity to trial several young arms to see which would be able to start, contribute in the pen, or perhaps not be a useful piece now or later. That experience in a losing season is plenty valuable, and while some bright spots emerged none profiled as a top of rotation piece. The lineup will continue to be a struggle going forward as stars fade with little on the way to supplement or replace their great contributions. Selling off will not be popular for a new General Manager, but it appears to be the best path forward if the club hopes to become playoff relevant in the near future.

Looking at payroll in current dollars you can see that San Francisco has consistently carried a $100M+ payroll since 2000. The past decade has seen consistently escalating total payroll figures boasting win totals more in the 80-100 range than the 60-100, though there have been some downer years mixed in there. The past two years show a team that paid an awful lot of money to not win all that many games, however. Credit to the team for hoping to pry their window open, but this might be the end of the line for many faces that have become entrenched in the memories of all Giants fans.

Turning the focus on this past season you can see an offense that came out of the gates fairly well, but they were not able to hold that momentum all season as injuries ravaged good players, and the team found precious little to replace those good sticks. Trading Andrew McCutchen later in the season removed their likely best hitter after less than a season in the NorCal.

With the offseason already starting to dwindle and many teams to go the coverage of individual players will be limited going forward, but you can still find seasonal charts for prominent players at the bottom of this post. After playing all of his life in Pittsburgh the 2018 season saw Cutch first traded to the Giants, and then when contention proved unlikely he was traded again to the New York Yankees. During his stint in San Fran he hit fairly well with strong walk rates balanced by a league average strikeout rate. He threw in some good pop, though his actual performance shows more league average production than the very strong expectations. McCutchen hit lefties a good deal better, but showed little weakness against same-handers with his underperformance being fairly equal against either hand. He’ll hit free agency coming off a fairly strong season at the plate even as his defensive production continues to trend downward.

Andrew McCutchen

Keying the strong start to the season for the offense was Brandon Belt who again showed what a monster he can be when healthy. Unfortunately, he also showed that those times are fleeting as first an emergency appendectomy interrupted the strong start, and then a knee injury cut off the end of his season. The effects were obvious even before the decision to call it as he showed a linear downward trend in production over the course of the season. Additionally, you can see a massive uptick in strikeouts prior to that decision. Owed a lot of money it’s possible an enterprising team unafraid of risk will see Brandon Belt as a strong buy-low this offseason, and getting out of that park could lead to his actual production closing in on the across the board higher expected production.

Brandon Belt

Throughout his outstanding career the Giants have gone as Buster Posey has gone. In his best years the team has managed to climb to the pinnacle of the sport, and while his production this year was still strong, he saw the fewest plate appearances of his career since his leg was broken for him. The expected production was above average throughout the year, but you can see declining actual production possibly hinting at the hip injury sapping his power and ultimately requiring surgery. Note, however, that this did not show up in his exit velocity or launch angle data which stayed in a tight band for much of the season.

Buster Posey

When the Giants gave up an ok, but hardly massive return for Evan Longoria and his contract, it was impossible for fans not to be excited about gaining a player who was once upon a time a great bet for 7+ WAR. Unfortunately, that was a long time ago, and Evan is a completely different player now. He still strikes out around the average, maybe a little better, but it came with the tradeoff of a non-existent walk rate. You can also see that his exit velocity fell off as the season carried on with hardly any change in his launch angle. The park might be a culprit in his subpar actual production as he showed a fairly solid and continuous gap over the final two-thirds of the season. Longo can still get into a ball as evidenced by his spray below, but it’s easy to see him as more of a flawed low-OBP slugger than in the past, and something that is likely to continue.

Evan Longoria

Strong stretches out of the pitching were few and far between, but the end of the season did show a prolonged stretch of better performance. This bodes well for a team that saw several youngsters pressed into a bigger role than the team probably would have liked, but at the least the team gained information on each of them, and might have found a couple that profile as pretty useful going forward. Additionally, the bullpen saw a couple of standout performances from an old hand and a new face to go with several other serviceable options.

One of the better options that presented over the course of the season was Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan. He looked something like a league average pitcher making him an above average starter, and his actual results paint an even rosier picture. A large uptick in batters faced likely led to a bit of fatigue as the season wore on, which mostly manifested in a reduced strikeout rate towards the end of the season. He also induced softer contact at slightly higher angles so it wasn’t all bad. Entering his age-27 season next year he’s no longer young, but similar performance will see him as a mid-rotation pitcher or better in a wonderful park.

Dereck Rodriguez

Giant legend Madison Bumgarner’s season didn’t get off the ground immediately after breaking his hand on a comebacker at the end of Spring Training. Upon his return he showed mostly average or worse performance with the end of his season being particularly ragged. Looking at actual results, however, shows a maestro that can pitch to his friendly ballpark with aplomb. His first poor stretch owed quite a bit to an elevated walk rate that he was able to get under control, leading to a run of success, but consistently harder hit balls as the year went along eventually caught up to him by the end of the year. In the final year of his uber-friendly team contract he should draw considerable interest around the league, but with a new General Manager assuming the reins it is hard to see the player going anywhere until the trade deadline. With a return to past success he will likely bring back a similar haul as the offseason, but of course there is the risk in getting there.

Madison Bumgarner

Coming out of nowhere, Reyes Moronta had one of the more unheralded seasons in the game this year. He consistently showed production that was around .050 xwOBA points better than average or around 15-20% better than average. This came from an incredibly strong strikeout rate that rarely dipped below 30%, though it did come with some walk issues that typically ran from 10-15%. In addition to the strong strikeout rate he also did a great job of nullifying hard contact, and with much of that on a line or in the air in this park meant an awful lot of balls finding gloves. Relief performance can be especially volatile, but it is likely Moronta will see higher leverage going forward leaving him as a sneaky good pickup in all fantasy formats.

Reyes Moronta


Below you will find the rest of the prominent players from this past season and how they broke out in four different ways. I will save the commentary here as the charts speak for themselves once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking at, and by cutting down on the verbiage it allows for looks at more players. Each chart looks at a rolling 100-plate appearance (or ball in play) average with the top left showing each player’s true and actual wOBA* over the course of the season. Top right shows the rolling strikeout and walk plus hit by pitch rates, and the bottom left shows the exit velocity and launch angle combinations for every ball in play. Lastly, the bottom right quadrant shows each player’s exit velocity and launch angle over the course of the season. Feel free to start a conversation on twitter if you have any questions or want to talk about any of these players. More than happy to have those chats.

Joe Panik

Brandon Crawford

Nick Hundley

Pablo Sandoval

Gorkys Hernandez

Gregor Blanco

Austin Slater

Hunter Pence

Alen Hanson

Will Smith

Tony Watson

Sam Dyson

Johnny Cueto

Derek Holland

Jeff Samardzija

Ty Blach

Andrew Suarez









Chris Stratton



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