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Entries in San Francisco Giants (49)


Carlos Beltran's West Coast Hacking

Seeking to upgrade a wheezing offense and hold off the Diamondbacks in the NL West standings, the Giants acquired Carlos Beltran from the Mets in late July. San Francisco paid a dear price for the switch-hitter's services, parting with top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, but Beltran's impact bat figured to boost the Giants' chances of another playoff payday.

A little more than a month later, San Francisco now sits six games back of the D-Backs. And while Beltran batted .289 with a .391 OBP and a .513 slugging percentage in Queens, he has fallen victim to the Giants' team wide, Captain Trips-like offensive malaise. In 80 plate appearances, he's hitting just .260/.288/.377.

With 25 games left on the schedule, the Giants face a large, though not insurmountable deficit in the standings -- Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds give the club less than a one-in-five chance of clinching a playoff spot. If San Francisco is to have any chance of catching Arizona, they'll need Beltran to re-discover the plate patience that he seemingly left on the East Coast.

Beltran has drawn just three walks with the Giants. That's 3.8 percent of his plate appearances, compared to a 14.3 percent walk rate while with the Mets. Nearly three-quarters of his PA with his new team have come from the left side of the plate, and he's chasing lots of pitches thrown high out of the zone:

Beltran's swing rate by pitch location as LHB with Giants

As a right-handed hitter, he's going after pitches thrown inside:

Beltran's swing rate by pitch location as RHB with GiantsOverall, Beltran has chased 38 percent of pitches thrown out of the zone since his trade to San Francisco. To put that in perspective, that chase rate is in Yuniesky Betancourt/Alex Gonzalez territory and is a full 10 percentage points above the league average. Who knows, maybe Beltran started taking swing tips from Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand.


Ryan Vogelsong's command

Ryan Vogelsong has been a surprisingly effective addition to the San Francisco Giants' starting rotation this season.  His comand is one reason he's been fairly successful since his first start on April 28th.

Ryan Vogelsong - All Pitches
All heat map data from 2011 (Click image to enlarge)

For the most part, Vogelsong keeps the ball away from opposing batters.  As Dave Golebiewski pointed out back in June, Vogelsong will also throw his fastball inside to righties.  But overall, he's successfully managed to keep the ball away from both righties and lefties.  In fact, the 34 year old righty seems to have tightened up his control even more in the last month and a half:

Ryan Vogelsong - All Pitches
(Click image to enlarge)

To both righties and lefties, Vogelsong is nailing the outside black.  Opposing batters are hitting him a bit better in the last month and a half (.329 wOBA compared to .291 on the season), however.  Most of this is coming from lefties who are OPSing 155 points higher against Vogelsong, compared to their season average. 

Since it looks like the Giants and Diamondbacks will be battling it out for the NL West division title over the next month and a half, Vogelsong will probably need to maintain his command in order to help his team come out on top.


Under the Weather, Lincecum Blanks Phillies

Tim Lincecum was scratched from scheduled starts against Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday while battling a stomach illness. On Thursday, he returned to the mound and had Phillies hitters feeling nauseous. Lincecum went six scoreless innings, striking out six batters and walking four while surrendering three hits. Lincecum's fastball didn't have its typical zip, but he compensated by going to the soft stuff more often.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel summed up Lincecum's stuff, as well as his frustration with his offense:

"Tonight I saw 90 [mph] fastball, 92 at the best," Manuel said. "I saw a good changeup. I saw a breaking ball. I saw a cutter. Good pitching, but at the same time we can beat that."

Perhaps still feeling the effects of that stomach bug, Lincecum averaged 91.1 MPH with his fastball on Thursday, compared to his 92.4 MPH overall average this season. He went to that lower-octane heater less often than usual: Lincecum threw 42 fastballs in 101 pitches (41.6 percent), compared to his 55.4 percent average in 2011. Phillies hitters missed just one of the 17 fastballs that they swung at.

With his fastball not fooling hitters and his breaking stuff missing the mark (a little more than half were thrown for strikes), Lincecum called on his changeup often. He threw 33 on Thursday, with excellent results. Philly missed 10 of the 20 changeups swung at, flailing at the pitch as it tumbled out of the strike zone:

Location of Phillies hitters' swinging strikes against Lincecum's changeup Lincecum got four of his Ks with his changeup, all of them swinging.  Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley all fell victim to the change.

As his four walks and 11 first-pitch strikes in 25 batters faced suggest, Lincecum wasn't at his best on Thursday. But he adapted his approach, realizing that while his fastball wasn't as nasty as usual, he had a killer changeup that could shut down Phillies hitters.