By John Shea @real_johnshea on May 1, 2014
After posting a solid 16-11 record in April and going undefeated in March (1-0), the San Francisco Giants have secured themselves in first place in the NL West after the first full month of the 2014 MLB season. The Giants' current status as division leaders is encouraging, especially considering the team hasn't played anywhere close to their peak ability yet. After five weeks of up-and-down action, five stats stand out as weirder than predicted.
The man formerly dubbed "The Preacher" was a key offensive catalyst for the Giants in 2013, blasting a career-high 27 home runs while adding 99 RBIs. He's a free swinger, the type of hitter who doesn't wait around in the box for "his" pitch. Somehow, despite his tendency to swing out of his shoes more often than Pablo Sandoval, Pence leads the Giants with 13 walks after the first 28 games of the 2014 season -- an anomaly to say the least.
Pablo Sandoval is enduring the worst slump of his big league career, registering an inefficient 17 hits in his first 96 official at-bats, good enough for a .177 batting average. His ability to crush baseballs no longer seems apparent. While Sandoval has indeed hit the ball hard at times, the ball isn't touching grass, or the bleachers for that matter. Staff ace Madison Bumgarner owns an OPS (1.208) double what Sandoval has registered (.564).
The seemingly never-ending power outage in San Francisco finally came to an end in April. As a team, the Giants smashed 34 home runs, ranking second in that category behind the Colorado Rockies and the L.A. Angels of Anaheim (38). Brandon Belt leads the team with seven bombs but has cooled off as of late. Buster Posey and Mike Morse both own six long balls, while scrap-heap pickup Brandon Hicks has also added five four-baggers to the stat sheet.
The Giants took a chance on Mike Morse over the offseason, inking him to a one-year deal worth up to million. Morse suffered a nasty wrist injury that derailed his 2013 season, prompting teams to look the other way during free agency. GM Brian Sabean took a chance on Morse, one of which is already paying dividends. Morse owns a 1.1 OWAR through the first 28 games of the season, the highest mark among Giants' everyday players.
Right-handed reliever Jean Machi owns the weirdest stat to breach San Francisco in April: he's tied with Tim Hudson for the team-lead in wins with four. Machi has become skipper Bruce Bochy's go-to middle relief man. He often struggled disallowing inherited runners from scoring in 2013 (23), but he's been stellar so far this season, posting a microscopic 0.66 ERA with 10 strikeouts over 13.2 innings of work in 14 appearances.
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