Monday, July 26, 2010

Why have the Giants scored so many runs in July?

Ever since 2004 (Barry Bonds' final MVP season), the Giants have had a lot of trouble scoring runs.  A lot of trouble.  Those struggles continued into 2010, but they are surprisingly at the top (or at least near the top after tonight's effort) in runs scored in July.
  • 2004 850 R (7th)
  • 2005 649 (29th)
  • 2006 746 (24th)
  • 2007 683 (29th)
  • 2008 640 (29th)
  • 2009 657 (26th)
  • 2010 440 (17th)
    • April 101 (20th)
    • May 109 (23rd)
    • June 108 (22nd)
    • July 122 (1st)
The big difference maker in July has been Buster Posey, a rookie, and arguably the game's most productive hitter this month (.469 BA, 7 HR, 23 RBI).  Aubrey Huff has also been having a great July (.380 BA, 7 HR, 18 RBI).  The Giants have hit 25 HR in July alone, which is 7th best in the ML, and they are 15th best for the year.  This is unusual for the Giants, who were they were either last in the league in HR or 2nd to last from 2007-09.

Buster Posey, who is now the everyday catcher for the Giants, entered July with 1 HR in 97 AB this season, but has been on fire the entire month.  He didn't come completely out of nowhere: he was the 5th overall pick in 2008, and won the 2008 Golden Spikes Award (the year before super-phenom Stephen Strasberg, the year after regular-phenom David Price, two years after future-Hall-of-Famer Tim Lincecum and two years before uber-phenom Bryce Harper). 

In tonight's game (a 4-3 loss to the Marlins), Posey batted 4th, so he is clearly now a vital part of the Giants' playoff hopes.  That's a lot of pressure to put on a rookie, but it shows how desperately the Giants need the firepower he has provided this month. 

He had played a lot of first base this season, but became the primary catcher after Bengie Molina was traded to the Rangers on June 30th.  I doubt that it's a coincidence that he started hitting when he was allowed to settle into his natural position every day, which bodes well for the Giants. 

Posey and Huff have provided some thunder to this lineup, which they have been lacking for a long, long time.  The Giants have cooled off a bit (the big explosion in runs was between the 1st and the All-Star Break), but it's still a welcome change for them. 

Their pitching is excellent as always (3rd best ERA at 3.37), but it's the offense that has allowed them to go 16-6 in July (one of the best records in baseball), instead of around .500 like the previous two months. 

They'll probably settle more into the middle of pack in offense, which would still be a huge improvement over the last few years, and make them tough to beat.  With even a little offense, the Giants are extremely dangerous, and could be tough to stop in the NL Wild Card or even NL West race.

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