I attended the San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers game in Los Angeles Saturday night, which allowed me to observe the Giants from a different vantage point than when just watching on television. You see the same pitches, swings, and glove work. But I guess you see them differently when at the yard, engaging your sixth sense to pick up on energy, body language and team synergy, among other intangibles.
So here are some observations I made Saturday night that I made at Dodger Stadium that I may or may not have made had I been watching from my living room…
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- SF Giants farm system: Updated top 31 prospect rankings
- SF Giants pitching prospects week in review (8/22-8/28)
- SF Giants hitting prospects week in review (8/21-8/27)
- SF Giants top catching prospect Joey Bart activated off IL
Observation 1: Madison Bumgarner remains the team’s ace, but from what I saw last night, Johnny Cueto is the Giants’ best pitcher. It’s not all that surprising: from 2011 to when he was traded mid-2015, Cueto’s highest season ERA with the Reds was 2.82. That is an impressive feat, considering that Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark is routinely among the top two or three home run stadiums in Major League Baseball. While there are other factors that go into a pitcher’s success, home runs are a big one, and now Cueto is pitching in a park where long balls go to die.
In those same 4½ seasons (I’m intentionally excluding Cueto’s mediocre run in the American League with the Royals, for several reasons), Bumgarner only had one season with a lower ERA than Cueto’s highest—2.77 in 2013, which happens to be the same year Cueto posted 2.82. And that’s while Bumgarner pitched his home games in San Francisco.
So, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Cueto maintained an ERA slightly above or even a tad below 2.00.
That said, if the Giants reach the postseason, Bumgarner is probably still their horse.
Observation 2: Denard Span was the perfect addition to the top of San Francisco’s lineup. He gets on base, and he is fast. Plus, by batting him lead-off, it appears to have taken pressure off Angel Pagan, who is thriving in the ninth hole and effectively gives the Giants consecutive leadoff hitters in the lineup, with being next up.
Pagan’s success could be more due to him actually being healthy for a change, but still, the current arrangement is working. Pagan is leading the National League in runs scored, with 13, and is in the top 5 in batting average and on-base percentage.
Span, meanwhile, has yet to get hot with the bat (hitting just .244) but has scored eight runs. That’s a pace for more than 100 runs…which doesn’t mean much when talking about the first two weeks of the season, other than it suggests that when he’s batting his normal .300 and getting on base more than 35 percent of the time, he’ll be among the league leaders in runs scored.
Observation 3: Matt Duffy seems out of place batting sixth. Though he’s not a prototypical No. 3 hitter, I thought the lineup fit together better with him there, followed by Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
Stay tuned for more observations in Part 2…