Mindless Optimism: SF Giants Bound for a Fall in 2008

Keith RaffelCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2008

Keith Raffel, author of Dot Dead: A Silicon Valley Mystery, sizes up the San Francisco Giants.

Hope springs eternal. 


Every spring. 

Proof:  the unending line of inane chatter emanating from the San Francisco Giants front office, from sportstalk radio, and from loyal fans about how the new-look Giants will win with youth and small ball.

They say that the team will no longer be dominated by Barry Bonds as if it's a good thing—when it is in fact a huge problem. 

In 2007, Barry's OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average) was 1.045, third in baseball behind Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.  Even including Bonds' stats, the Giants' team OPS was .708.  That was last in baseball by .007. 

Take away Bonds' stats and the team OPS was .681.  The gap between that figure and the team above was the largest in baseball. 

Let's talk about how bad the Giants hitters were.  According to Baseball Prospectus, the Giants players at the non-pitching positions ranked as follows

1B: 35th
2B: 31st
SS: 57th
3B: 48th
LF:  2nd
CF: 27th
RF: 11th
C: 9th

The Giants are bringing back Omar Vizquel to play shortstop.  He hits worse than many pitchers. The one bright spot last year—the guy in left field—will not be back.  The plan is to have the league’s ninth best hitting catcher in the cleanup slot. 

We're talking Bengie Molina here, not Mike Piazza in his prime.

Of all players in the majors last year with over 400 plate appearances, the Giants had two of the five worst: Vizquel and Ray Durham.

And they’re both back. 

No less troubling, the Giants are complementing them with a collection of No. 7 hitters: Randy Winn, Dan Ortmeier, Kevin Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz, et. al.

Is there hope coming?  No.  According to Baseball Prospectus' list of top 100 prospects, the Giants' only up-and-coming hitter is Angel Villalona.  We have a couple of years to wait, as he’s only 17.

It's hard to see how the Giants' offense has become better by losing Bonds.  I say they cannot win 75 games in 2008, no matter how good their pitching is. 

But hey—hope springs eternal.

Keith Raffel is the author of Dot Dead: A Silicon Valley Mystery