The SF Giants mustered three runs across the plate against the Texas Rangers in a 9-2 loss on Saturday night. It was their fifth time in the last 10 games that they scored three or fewer runs. Is this a slump or part of a larger trend of subpar production?
Is the SF Giants lineup in a slump or part of a larger trend?
On Friday night, Ross Stripling yielded two earned runs across five innings in a bulk innings role against the Rangers. That should be enough to keep the team in the game and he certainly did a nice job against a tough Texas lineup.
However, when he allowed back-to-back solo home runs in the top of the sixth inning to Nathaniel Lowe and Mitch Garver, it felt like an insurmountable deficit for the Giants' offense. They did claw back, scoring one run in the ninth inning, but that was just not enough.
The offense has been the focal point lately and not for a good reason. The Giants are 16-19 since the start of July, which is not bad, but so many of those losses are due in part to the bats going silent.
The pitching staff continues to be a strength of the roster as it has posted a 3.90 ERA, which is the eighth-best mark in baseball. Lately, they have been pitching with no margin for error from the lack of offensive production and Stripling's outing in Friday illustrates that point.
As a whole, the Giants' lineup has posted an 85 wRC+ since the start of June 1. That is the fourth-worst mark in baseball. And, it is probably not a neighborhood to live in given that the Colorado Rockies (70 wRC+), Chicago White Sox (83 wRC+), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (83 wRC+) are some of the occupants.
This is a long stretch of subpar production that is leaking into its third month now. It is hard to chalk this up as a slump since slumps usually take place over weeks not months. Not surprisingly, the Giants have several problem areas with the roster over the last 60+ games:
Second base - 55 wRC+ (28th in MLB)
Shortstop - 48 wRC+ (29th in MLB)
Outfield - 84 wRC+ (29th in MLB)
In some sense, you can overlook second base and shortstop because those are positions where teams will often make the trade-off between offense and defense. The return of Thairo Estrada should help the all-around numbers at second base, but the defense at shortstop has been mixed as Giants shortstops have posted -14 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and +2 Outs Above Average (OAA). The Giants did add a veteran infielder to the organization on Saturday. Presumably, to address the production at shortstop.
Getting below-average production from the entire outfield unit over a stretch that spans more than 33 percent of the season is tough. When the season began, the Giants envisioned Mitch Haniger, Mike Yastrzemski, and Michael Conforto adding length to the lineup.
However, Haniger has missed substantial time this season and Yastrzemski has made three, separate trips to the injured list. Excluding a hot stretch in May, Conforto has been largely disappointing as his production has hovered around league average.
Could the Giants have addressed some of this at the trade deadline? It is possible, but it might be a case of too many holes and not enough spackle. Nevertheless, the front should have done more at the trade deadline, in my opinion, given that the team is in the thick of a playoff race.
It is hard to think that the lineup will continue to struggle this badly. Yastrzemski is expected to return soon and Haniger is not far behind them. There is still time for the offense to turn it around. Plus, the Giants still have a hold on the second Wild Card spot with a 62-55 overall record.
They need to show improvement quickly because the season is winding down. There is hope that they can do so, but over a relatively large sample, the bats just have not shown nearly enough.