July report card — who was the giants’ best hitter in july – mccovey chronicles

The Giants started the month of July at 44-40 and 3.5 games back of the NL West lead. They had an 18% chance of making the playoffs either via the Wild Card or by winning the division. They had a great June — a winning June, in fact. Their first winning month since 2016. The situation… evolved… and after another batch of injuries and treading water-level play, the Giants ended the month a bit worse than they began it.

Losing Brandon Belt indefinitely to a bone bruise didn’t help, nor did losing his backup, Pablo Sandoval, to a hamstring pull which will similarly have him out indefinitely. Jeff Samardzija’s season was lost when shoulder inflammation was revealed and Johnny Cueto’s 2019 season ended before it began with the recent news that he’ll very likely need Tommy John surgery.

But it wasn’t all bad. Both Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez maintained their respective emergence, Steven Duggar and Austin Slater came up and played well, and Evan Longoria returned from the disabled list following a broken hand. That doesn’t mention how Derek Holland became a more efficient strike thrower (and strikeout pitcher) working well in both the bullpen and the back of the rotation. This play happened:

By ERA, 5th in the National League (3.90; 6th in MLB), but by ERA- (the park and league adjusted measure of ERA) they were 100, or league average. But their teamwide 21% strikeout rate was 0.6% higher than their season rate (meaning they struck out batters at a higher rate than usual), and I suspect that’s because of the promotion of Ray Black. Who’s the best pitcher on the team?

Will Smith led the pack by 0.4 fWAR, but if you’re just looking at the big picture: all the pitchers you felt were good were actually good. Smith is the de facto best pitcher on the team by fWAR with 1.8, half of which came in the month of July. Since moving to the closer role, Will Smith has become the most valuable pitcher on the Giants. He was the best pitcher in July, easily.

The Giants hit the fewest home runs in baseball last month with 16 (the Mariners were 2nd-worst with 19). They scored the 4th-fewest runs in baseball with 93. They had the worst team ISO at .111 (ISO is the batting average for extra base hits only; the Marlins were 2nd-worst at .115) and a team BAbip of .287, a little unlucky, but probably because they couldn’t hit the ball very hard. Their 79 wRC+ (the team’s ability to create runs relative to the league average) was 3rd-worst, behind the Tigers (65 wRC+) and Padres (75). They were bad. Who’s the best hitter on the team?

You might not think Will Smith’s success is sustainable and you might be right, but let’s consider that some version of the pitching performance can maintain over the final 53 games. That means Dereck might take a step back, but maybe Bumgarner takes a step forward. Watson’s dead arm phase picks up Smith’s slack, and Reyes Moronta continues to make us forget all about Mark Melancon. They can keep chugging along at July’s pace, which was not even elite, but certainly competitive. What’s unsustainable?

They jettisoned Austin Jackson (who finally hit his first home run of the season as a member of the Mets in their blowout loss to the Nationals last night) and Cory Gearrin to get beneath the CBT threshold and made zero moves at the deadline, so they’re set up to improve next year. Where they can improve the rest of this season is in the only area available now: the players on the roster have to play better. Whether that means playing above their true talent level, meeting their true talent level, or cheating, the current 25 guys on the roster are the guys the Giants are going to ride or die with the rest of the way. They all have to become good (again). Progress report grade: C-