The San Francisco Giants own the worst home record in baseball in 2008, but still remain relatively competitive in a less-than-stellar National League West.
What's more remarkable is that for the first time in its eight-year existence, AT&T Park has not lent itself as a friendly confine. With the exception of 2007 and 2005, which were losing seasons by the Giants, their overall record in their new ballpark has been pretty much over .500.
Even in 2007, when they were 20 games under .500, they were only three under at home. Their record in their new ballpark, up to this year, is 322-246, for a .567 winning percentage.
But for some reason, in 2008, it's just not there. The Giants look lost at home. So far this year, they are 18 games under .500, and 14 under at home. It isn't just the team though. Players seem to get weaker in the park.
For example, Tim Lincecum has an 8-1 record on the road, with a 2.11 ERA, but when he comes to AT&T, he is only 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Aaron Rowand is hitting only .255 at home, but .322 on the road.
So what caused this park to become the Giants' kryptonite? Simple. In a pregame segment, there were Giants who talked about the park being built for a left-handed power hitter. Not just left-handed hitters, but a singular slugger: Barry Bonds.
When this park was built, in the height of the Bonds era in San Francisco, it was to be the image of the park to have Bonds hitting home runs into the bay. He did, a whopping 34 times out of the 47 times it has been done. The very architecture is designed to be reachable by a powerful left-handed, home-run hitter, which the Giants had.
This was also when Bonds still had some speed, so even if he didn't hit it out, the power alley in right center always created an extra-base hit.
The wall in center field is 399 feet away, and eight feet high. In left, you have to get it over the cars, which are 340 feet away and 11 feet high. The right-field brick area is very hard to hit home runs out of, and combined with the typical San Francisco winds, power surges have not happened for the Giants at all this year.
The question at hand is what to do?
I agree with Giants beat-writer Chris Haft, who says that they just need to plow through the rest of this season. Weather the storm, get the playing time in for the young guys, and start fresh next year.
The home record won't look good, but you're not going to get back to .500 by stressing about it. Maybe the addition of a DIFFERENT left-handed power hitter (see my article about CC Sabathia) will help them move on.