If you are a Giants fan, or are even slightly aware of the situation out in the NL West, you are quite conscience of the downward spiral the Giants are currently in.
Once only a half game out of the number one spot at the start of the Toronto series, they have found themselves 4.5 games back and sitting in fourth place. So the question arises, whats changed?
Well, the answer to that question is everything, and its in a constant state of change. With the return of Edgar Renteria, the addition of Pat Burrell, and the rise of Buster Posey, the Giants have found themselves with a lot of quality players, a problem most teams would love to have.
However, this problem is coming back to haunt the Giants as of late, due to the perplexing managing decisions of Bruce Bochy who is receiving all sorts of complaints from Giants fans, and rightly so.
As it lines up right now, the Giants have the potential to put out a starting lineup that can and has included the following players (last names only): Molina, Whiteside, Posey, Sandoval, Uribe, Renteria, Sanchez, Huff, Rowand, Torres, Burrell, Schierholtz. Not only does this list include twelve names for 8 positions, but also Posey, Huff, Uribe and Sandoval can all occupy a different position depending on the set up.
This disarray causes for big time repercussions in the overall performance of the team. To further enunciate on these drawbacks, I have listed the three which I have felt been more crucial during this team slump.
Imagine yourself standing in the batters box about to hit. The pitch that you are about to see can range from 75-98 MPH, can move in about four general ways, and can be thrown from three generalized arm angles.
Now imagine yourself taking batting practice. The pitch that you are about to see will be about 75 MPH, will have no spin or movement, and will be put in a location of your desire. Definitely, not the same thing.
In order to be best prepared for the in game situations, it is best for the professional hitter to see those pitches everyday and not get lulled into the batting practice thinking too much. Therefore, if the hitter is not seeing the quality of pitches as will be seen in games every day, he will suffer for it.
Similarly, the place in the lineup determines how the at bat will go. It determines how many men are on base, the attention you will draw from the pitcher, whether you are trying to hit for power or average, and even how selective you can be at the plate.
To illustrate my point, the 3-5 hitters will see better quality pitches, will have men on base and the pitcher in the stretch, and will be hitting for more power, whereas the 7-8 hitters will be trying to extend the inning, will not get the attention as much from the pitcher, will be trying to get on base instead of drive men in, and will be pitched to differently with the pitcher waiting in the 9th spot.
Very different, yes? The problem here is that here is a list of those who have hit in both the 3-4-5 and the 7-8 holes: Molina, Renteria, Rowand, Posey, Sandoval, and Schierholtz.
And what are the reprocussion of all this hitting confusion?
Since the beginning of the Toronto series, here are before and afters on player averages. Sandoval .279-.274 Uribe .285-.270 Posey .310-.297 Sanchez .340-.299 Huff .309-.293 Schierholz .275-.269 Torres .292-.272 Renteria .326-.331 Rowand .220-.229 Molina .254-.257.
Take what you wish from these statitics, but there seems to be a downwards trend in the heart of the Giants order.
When the lineup is a incoherent and day to day as it is now comes the inconsistency of the defense put out behind the unlucky pitcher. With the influx of players and the randomization of Bruce Bochy, the Giant's defense is left with 4 players that play a position consistently, which remains Molina, Whiteside, Renteria, and Sanchez.
However, on a given day, the defensive setup can be and has been completely different the day before. The extent of the mixing and matching has Huff playing both corner outfield positions and first, Uribe playing all infield positions minus first, Posey playing first and catcher, Sandoval playing first and third, and Torres playing whatever outfield position suits Bochy's fancy on that given day.
The result of this commotion is six errors in the last 11 game, which was previously an excellent mark of 24 errors in 65 games. However, it goes beyond simply statistical errors, and translates into less exact matters. Huff, while a solid fist baseman, does not have the arm to play corner outfield positions. Sandoval, while a similarly solid third baseman, does not have the height or the digging ability to play a great first, and both his arm and Posey's arm are wasted at first.
Renteria, while a competent fielder, does not have 50% the arm that Uribe possesses, which is wasted at second. Similarly, Uribe does not have the reactive skills to play the third that Sandoval does, as he is much more inclined to charge the ball, a habit he got into playing short.
The constant shifting of the defense at any one time makes the team vulnerable in one aspect, weakening it from its maximum potential, which we know is quite good.
3. Lack of Midseason Form
You might now be wondering why this third and final category isn't something concrete, say baserunning or pitching. Well, the short answer is that although baserunning has been abysmal (Pabloooooooo!) and pitching has been maybe a tiny but shaky, neither of those can be blamed on the shifting of the lineup.
However, what all this change means ultimately for the Giants and where is ultimately hurts is no one on that bench, save maybe Whiteside and Ishikawa has reached midseason form.
When an athlete tries to describe how they are feeling physically by saying either offseason form, midseason form, or post/presseason form. Offseason meaning maybe they put on a few pounds, pre/post season meaning they are a bit tired and/or beaten up, and midseason form meaning they are in a zone.
Let me try and explain it this way to help you get a better understanding of what I am getting at. When the average baseball player shows up to the park, they know pretty much whats going on. They know what time the game is, what team they are facing, and what pitcher they have throwing along with the pitcher they will be facing.
However, the most important constant most baseball players know as they step into the locker room is what position they will be playing and where they will be hitting in the lineup. This adds a sense of security, calm, and focus to the athlete, allowing them to get into a mindset that will best allow them to approach the game ahead.
However, right now the average Giant player shows up to the park not knowing what position they are playing or where they are hitting, and heck, they might not even know if they are playing at all! Without this consistency, this flow, the ballplayer cannot lock down that mindset that allows them to reach a physical level of ability which they best describe as "midseason form".
Losing 7 out of 11 games from rather mediocre teams on the road and at home usually signals that something isn't right. At that point the managers job is to fix it or instill positive change. Here the situation is exactly the opposite. In order to turn this ballclub around, Bruce Bochy needs to install positive consistency , which in this case is its own weird form of positive change.
Let the players find their midseason form, and this club has lots of potential, you just wait and see.
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