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San Francisco Giants: Statcast studs and duds of the first half

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 19: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Evan Longoria #10 after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 19, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 19: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Evan Longoria #10 after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 19, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 23: Stephen Vogt #21 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 3-2 in 10 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 23: Stephen Vogt #21 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 3-2 in 10 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Table 2: Hitters with the most to show for their quality of contact

Name                        wOBA            xwOBA          Difference

Stephen Vogt            .327               .304                  .023
Mike Yastrzemski    .308               .293                  .015
Pablo Sandoval        .366               .356                  .010
Kevin Pillar                .289               .288                  .001
Steven Duggar         .268               .276                -.008
League Avg.              .322               .321                  .001

You might see the results of these tables and think: “Wow, the San Francisco Giants have really been unlucky this year, maybe that wild-card idea isn’t so far-fetched.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is where things get complicated since xwOBA doesn’t take into account park factors.

It makes it easier to compare players from different teams but makes it difficult to draw conclusions for players in extreme home environments. Playing in a pitcher’s park,n a pitcher, it’s fair to expect Giants hitters to always underperform their expected stats a bit and for pitchers to outperform a bit. The question is, by how much?

For one, different profiles of hitters should do better than others. Belt, a left-handed power hitter without incredible pull-power is worse off than anyone. There is probably no archetype more hampered by Oracle Park’s design. Yet, even for his career, he’s only underperformed his xwOBA by .020 points. Posey, a right-handed hitter with a more all-fields approach, has only underperformed by .012 points for his career.

That bodes poorly for the players at the top of Table 2, especially Vogt and Yastrzemski who aren’t exactly putting up big numbers with their good fortune. Obviously, Sandoval stands out as the only hitter who’s been both lucky and above league-average. The good news for him is that even with pretty severe regression, he’s still in line for a surprising renaissance season.

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