San Francisco Giants Must Increase On-Base Efficiency to Maximize Run Output

By John Shea
San Francisco Giants Michael Morse
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping two straight games at home to the road-challenged Miami Marlins, it’s becoming apparent that the San Francisco Giants are too reliant upon four-baggers to generate sizable run output. At the moment, the Giants rank as the third-best home run hitting team in all of baseball with 50 long balls. As a team, San Francisco sent just 107 balls over the fence in 2013.

The biggest reason for the Giants’ massive increase in home runs to this point of the season is Michael Morse, who leads the teams with 10 four-baggers and 28 RBIs. Morse has been a significant addition to the Giants’ everyday lineup. He provides concrete power in the middle of the order and is capable of dropping the barrel for a big blast on any pitch.

The Giants often struggle to string together runs when they’re unable to hit the ball over the fence. They boast a plus-24 run differential on the season, averaging nearly 4.2 runs per game. Their run total on the season isn’t outrageously impressive, despite frequently hitting home runs. As a team, the Giants’ collective on-base percentage is mediocre at best (.314). They also rank 21st in team batting average (.245), signifying an overwhelming reliance on home runs to generate run output.

Three everyday players possess on-base percentages that satisfy excellent production: Hunter Pence (.349), Angel Pagan (.370) and Buster Posey (.378). Those numbers are solid, although the rest of the everyday lineup has posted marginal success rates when it comes to getting on-base often. The Giants are not an extremely patient team in terms of taking pitches and prolonging at-bats, but certain players are capable of registering marathon ABs by fouling off pitches that sometimes result in walks, namely Pagan and Posey. San Francisco ranks 11th in the big leagues with 140 walks, which is 14 more free passes than what National League teams average.

Even though the Giants are capable of moving the line along by taking walks, they often struggle to scores runs by stringing together hits and walks. Their collective batting average is proof of that. Still, the Giants’ offense has been their strength for most of the 2014 season. According to FanGraphs, the Giants’ batting WAR is 15.1 whereas their pitching WAR is just 4.9. Despite being 10 games over the .500 mark in mid-May, San Francisco is touted as the 10th least efficient team in baseball in terms of wins above replacement.

The bottom of the Giants’ lineup needs to find ways to get on-base more often in order for San Francisco to sustain above average run production for the entirety of the season. Their pitching staff is no longer dominant like it was in 2010 and 2012 when the team won two World Series titles. Generating runs by sustaining rallies is something the Giants must improve upon in order to win their division and make a push for their third championship in five seasons.

John Shea is an MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @cutthroatpicks. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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