Dear San Francisco Giants fans: It’s not Bruce Bochy’s fault. No, it’s not his fault the bullpen has blown a save opportunity 28(!!!) times this year. He hasn’t pitched an inning. No, it’s not his fault the Giants, with less than two outs, can’t get a runner home from second or third. Bochy hasn’t taken an at bat this year. The Giants bullpen has been this bad all year. Their offense has been really bad since before the break, and frankly there was no way Jeff Samardzija and others were going to continue to perform at the levels they were. The Giants epic collapse doesn’t start with the skipper. It starts with the players, and ends with the GM.
The Giants Woes are not Bruce Bochy’s Fault
The San Francisco Giants first half “glass carriage” has turned into a pumpkin. Giants fans are sour about it, and rightly so. Unfortunately, their blame has been misplaced. Social media is the land of hot takes, and the Giants fanbase seems to be full of some particularly incendiary ones. To many are holding Bruce accountable for the players’ failure to perform in August. Some things, like continually trotting out Santiago Casilla in the ninth inning, warrant questions. But is it as simple as he can’t do his job anymore? Unlikely.
Where’d Belt and Crawford Disappear To?
The “Brandons” have been a staple on the Giants since 2011. Brandon Crawford had always been a “defense only” type of player, until last season. Crawford hit 22 homers last season and while he’s below that pace on the home runs this season, he’s actually on-track to finish with a higher average, more runs scored, and more RBI than he recorded in his career year of 2015. Crawford, prior to the All-Star break, was hitting .281 with an OPS of .800. Post All-Star break, Crawford has hit .245 with an OPS of .697. His glove stayed hot after the break, but his lack of run contribution has been a major killer.
Brandon Belt was a deserving All-Star first baseman this season. It seemed he had finally put it all together at the plate and was “punching his weight.” His pre-All-Star average of .302 and a .928 OPS led the way for the Giants in the first half. His post-All-Star Game drop in production has been a major killer for the Giants as well. A .223 average and .733 OPS just isn’t getting the job done. In 100 fewer at-bats than the first-half version, second-half Belt has six more strikeouts.
Compounded by the lack of production from Crawford and Belt, the middle of the lineup has taken a big hit. The struggles of both of these players actually round them out to their career averages. The lack of production at the plate from another player though has been the most disappointing.
What’s Wrong With Buster?
Buster Posey hasn’t been himself lately. Unfortunately for Giants fans, feeding him a snickers doesn’t turn him back into his old self. Recently, he broke up a 160+ at-bat homerless streak, and is enduring his worst year of production as a pro. Posey has just 13 home runs so far and a paltry 68 RBI, good for third on the team. Players getting his kind of money are expected to produce more.
A big issue is that seven of his thirteen home runs have been of the solo variety. Is it his fault players in front of him aren’t getting on base as much? Definitely not. However, his average with runners in scoring position and two outs is .203. In 2015, that average was .377. So while Buster’s protection in the lineup isn’t helping, he is also struggling to get runners home. Of course, the Giants have blown a total of 28 save opportunities this year, and those losses don’t directly fall on Posey either.
The bullpen woes are well documented, and a lot of people want to place the blame for them on Bochy. That blame is misplaced, because Bochy wasn’t the one who assembled the bullpen, saw the issue prior to the trade deadline, and chose not to fill that hole. That falls on the shoulders of the GM. Are we really blaming Bruce for not trusting his bullpen after they gave up 28 winning situations in the ninth? 28! If they end up winning half of those, they’re NINE games up on the Dodgers.
The Giant’s bullpen has been a dumpster fire because the aging pieces were never replaced. With the issue staring him straight in the face, Giants General Manager Bobby Evans went and got a seventh inning guy, and not the ninth inning guy they so desperately needed.
Another issue for the Giants is their bullpen acquisition at the trade deadline. Will Smith? The Giants gave up their top pitching prospect for a seventh inning guy, at best. So far he’s been a better version of Javy Lopez. For what they gave up, they could’ve gotten Mark Melancon, or even added to the Matt Moore deal and got Alex Colome. They really did fail to address the worst ninth inning situation in baseball, and are now paying the price for it.
Does that fall on Bochy’s shoulders? Bochy has some say over transactions, more about the players going out than those coming in. Unfortunately, that trade has been a swing and a miss for Bobby Evans.
Stop Blaming Bruce
There is a whole lot more to what’s going on with the Giants than Bruce Bochy’s management. Too many people want to place the blame on the manager, when he can’t control the fact that the pieces they acquired, like Will Smith, didn’t fit their exact needs. If any blame should be placed, first and foremost, it goes to the players. They’re getting the at-bats and throwing the pitches.
Then, it goes to guys like Bobby Evans, who failed to address the closer situation at the deadline, when they were at the top of the list in blown saves. A manager who has led a team to three titles in five years shouldn’t be the first person blamed. Look at what has changed around him first. Stop blaming Bochy for things he can’t control.