That title may seem a little like “duh” analysis of the team’s offense. The San Francisco Giants home run problems are not limited to the hitting side of things, though.
The San Francisco Giants play in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. As pitcher-friendly as the confines are, too many baseballs are leaving the ballpark.
Entering play on Thursday, Giants starters have allowed 25 home runs. Surprisingly, all 25 home runs have not been given up by Jeff Samardzija, who gave up a staggering 30 long balls during his last full season in 2017.
It’s worth noting that home run numbers around baseball seem eerily similar to 2017, and questions about “juiced” baseballs can be found from as early as the first week of this season.
While players and teams are setting records for home runs and extra-base hits in April, this trend has not made its way to the San Francisco offense yet. The Giants are 27th in baseball in home runs with just 24 homers in 31 games.
That’s not a surprising statistic. No one expected the Giants to be an offensive juggernaut. The starting pitching was definitely expected to be better at home run prevention, though.
The table below shows each pitcher’s home run rate as of May 1:
Surprisingly, Samardzija has the lowest home run rate so far. Beyond his 0.8 HR/9 lies the concerning trend.
Ideally, starting pitchers want to have a home run rate below 1.0 HR/9, and that’s especially true of pitchers playing their home games at Oracle Park.
Holland may have an explanation for the high home run rate:
The 32-year-old allowed 1.0 HR/9 in 171.1 innings of work last season, and 1.3 HR/9 for his career, so maybe the injury is to blame.
The rest of the staff does not have any disclosed injuries at the moment, making their issues more concerning.
The good news is that Bumgarner (0.9 HR/9), Rodriguez (0.8 HR/9) and Pomeranz (1.1 HR/9) all have better career numbers than their 2019 performance.
It’s fair to wonder then if the troubling early numbers are simply a product of a small sample size.
However, it is a statistic that needs to be monitored as the season progresses. The Giants simply do not hit enough to come back from the large deficits that home runs often create.
Pitching in Oracle Park is normally a huge advantage for pitchers, especially as it pertains to limiting the long ball. The Giants starting pitchers have not been realizing that advantage.
So, while some discussions are focusing on whether to move the fences in at Oracle Park for the sake of Giants hitters, opposing hitters seem to be doing just fine leaving the park.