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4.17.2006

Mirage 

After 11 games, the Giants' new motto is either:

a) Enjoy It While It Lasts!

or

b) They've Gotta Start Hitting At Some Point!

The Giants 7-4 win-loss record could just as easily describe the ratio of smoke to mirrors they're using. [Ed. note: Seven smokes to four mirrors? What?]

By most measures this is the worst hitting team in the major leagues. Fewest runs. Fewest runs per game (an even 4.0). Lowest batting average. Lowest slugging percentage. 22nd in on-base percentage. Fewest home runs. 25th in doubles.

The only plusses so far: they haven't been caught stealing (8-for-8) and they lead the majors in fewest strikeouts.

So it must be the pitching, right? Not exactly.

The staff is last in the majors in strikeouts (61) and fourth in walks allowed (54). That's the type of ratio only Kirk Rueter's mother would love. It is atrocious, usually associated with teams like the Kansas City Royals that rely on the Jimmy Gobbles and Jose Limas of the world. The S.F. staff has been fairly stingy with the hits (less than one an inning) and the home runs, which is good, but the high walk rate (more than one walk every two innings) ensures plenty of opposing runners on base. So what's going on?

Two answers:

1) The Giants have gotten exceedingly lucky. Balls in play have managed to find gloves (line drives hit right at Bonds, for example). Soon enough, those balls will manage to find alleys and other wide-open spaces.

2) The Giants have a fantastic, watertight defense. Sure enough, they've only committed three errors and turned 16 double plays (third highest in MLB). They've only surrended one unearned run, but that's not such a wide advantage: seven other teams in MLB have given up either one or two unearned runs.

Could it be that the Winn/Finley outfield rotation, the full-time installation of Feliz at third base, and the good health of Durham at second have suddenly made the Giants a defensive force? Let me crunch some sabermetriffic data here...hmm...err...the answer is Not Bloody Likely. Bonds and Alou have the range of Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare, and no matter how much Omar Fu is unleashed upon the world, the slow and/or elderly infield isn't going to prevent an inordinate number of Scott Munter sinkers from being slapped through various holes.

I hate to say it, but the pitching-and-defense honeymoon will soon end. Runs will be scored. Let's hope the Giants also score some of those runs, or the most exciting thing 'round these parts will be summer reruns of Bonds on Bonds.

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