NL West Report: Giants the Champion of Tight Wins

"My beard has more storage space than my tight pants."

The Rockies wasted no time in building a sizable lead in the NL West, blazing out to a 7-1 initial road trip on the year over the Pirates and Mets.  In four consecutive games (April 10-14), the Rockies eked by with one run wins.  No one was apologizing - the Rockies had a strong bullpen after all, and division titles are built with close and ugly wins.  That one-run win success would not last, as the Rockies have lost five of their last nine games by a single tally.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have horded the wins in tight ballgames.  In going 6-0 last week, the Giants won five one runs games, including four consecutive running.  They aren't apologizing - the Giants have a strong bullpen after all, and division titles are built with close and ugly wins.  Will that one-run win success last?

NL West Standings

W L PCT GB ONE RUN GAMES
San Francisco 21 16 .567 0 12-3
Colorado 19 16 .542 1 6-7
Los Angeles 18 20 .473 3.5 5-3
Arizona 15 21 .416 5.5 6-6
San Diego 15 22 .405 6 5-7

(updated 5.13.2011 at 8:41 AM MDT)

San Francisco has been doing a lot of winning in nail-biters, as their recent push has vaulted them to 12-3 in one run games. That is best in MLB, followed by Kansas City's 10-5.  Consequently, the Giants have only outscored their opponents by two runs this season, a smaller run differential than the Tigers, Athletics, and of course - the Rockies - among others.  That places Bruce Bochy's club at a rather mediocre Pythagorean W/L of 19-18.

It should be noted that the Giants are a team that is fairly well built to outperform their Pythagorean and have a strong record in one run games.  The bullpen is strong at every position at the back end, and the offense/pitching dynamic will lead to many tight games decided by bullpens.

They cannot, however, maintain a .800 win percentage in one-run games.  That is good bullpen plus exceptionally good breaks.  That will regress down, but how much?  It is the gambler's fallacy that San Francisco is "due" to be nine game under .500 in 1-run contests the rest of the season to even the score.  A flip of the coin has the same probability of heads regardless of the result of a prior flip.  Consequently, with their pen, they might finish with ten or more wins than losses in such tight affairs.  

Still, that will slow from the pace that has them one paltry game ahead of Colorado.  Once the Giants stop combining skill with good luck and timing in critical situations, some of those one run wins will become losses.  So while the Giants have usurped the flailing Rockies by one game for now, they have done so by playing like a .500 team that wins close games.  

Just as the Rockies' issues with Ian Stewart, Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez were masked early by wins, the Giants' run of double-U's have masked that their offense is still struggling, scoring more runs than only the Twins and Padres.  Rockies fans may be concerned with their offense, but at least their is the likely return to production from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.  Who will be the savior for the Giants?

 

Take the jump for news on all the teams.

NL West Report

Arizona (15-21, 4th, L4, 5.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-5.  1-2 @ Padres.  0-3 @ Giants.  Despite going just 1-5 last week, the Diamondbacks actually outscored their opponents over the last six games 17-16.  All five losses were by one run.

You Should Know:  The axe-throwing Josh Collmenter will be in the Diamondbacks' rotation, starting tomorrow.

Divisional Change: Lost one game in the division and fell into fourth place.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Dodgers.  2 game home series vs. Padres.  2 game home series vs. Braves.

News:  Nick Piecoro wrote that the Diamondbacks would be open to dealing some of their infield depth for a starting pitcher.  Joe Saunders, Armando Gallaraga and Barry Enright all had ERAs over 5.50.  On that front, Ken Rosenthal speculates that Kelly Johnson would be a prime candidate to be dealt.  He would have to start hitting first...

Kelly Johnson

#2 / Second Base / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-1

195

L

R

Feb 22, 1982

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Kelly Johnson 34 133 15 25 6 0 4 7 12 41 6 0 .188 .265 .323

Keith Law released his first mock draft, covering the top ten picks.  He has Danny Hultzen going to the Diamondbacks with the third pick.  CollegeSplits tweeted some impressive stats on Hultzen this week:

Just about any stat on Danny Hultzen is jaw-dropping. 112:12 K:BB ratio. 31:2 with men on base. 19:0 w/RISP. #mlbdraft

Law has high school pitcher Dylan Bundy going to Arizona seventh as compensation for Barret Loux.  While Law is the draft expert and I am not, this projection seems pretty foolish.  Bundy would be worth a top five pick, and even if he drops to Arizona, the pick is not protected, so it would be surprising for them to take a risk on a player who fell further than he expected.

In the vein of the draft, Sprankton at AZSnakepit put together an awesomegraphic of Diamondbacks' draft choices in their team history.  

The bullpen was bad in 2010, and the pen is much better in 2011, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Some women can't resist a man in tattoos.  I wonder how they feel about a man with tattoos wearing pink cleats?

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  Willie Bloomquist is on a rehab assignment and could return soon. Zach Duke threw two innings in a rehab start last week.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Zach Duke hand 03/22/2011
Geoff Blum knee 03/22/2011
Willie Bloomquist hamstring 04/22/2011
Star-divide

Los Angeles (18-20, 3rd, W2, 3.5 GB)

Last Week: 3-3. 1-2 @ Mets.  2-1 @ Pirates.  The final game of the series in Pittsburgh was rained out after three innings.  No makeup date has been announced.

You Should Know:  As tweeted by Jon Weisman, thebest OBP of any infielder in Dodgers history is ... Jamey Carroll.

Divisional Change:  Gained one game in the division and took sole possession of third place.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks.  2 game home series vs. Brewers.  2 game home series vs. Giants.

News:   Jerry Sands is a cautionary tale for any Rockies' fan who thinks the answer is a AAA player hitting over .300 in Colorado Springs.  Sands hit .400 and clubbed five home runs in 10 AAA games and was a legitimate top prospect for the Dodgers.  But Sands has struggled against big league pitching, and we could expect the same from any Sky Sox wearing purple.

Jerry Sands

#47 / Left Field / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-4

220

R

R

Sep 28, 1987

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Jerry Sands 19 66 7 14 7 0 0 9 8 17 2 1 .212 .293 .318

In case you're curious about the latest on McCourt vs. MLB, MLB TradeRumors has your rundown.  Recently Bill Shaikin wrote that bankruptcy might be Frank M cCourt's best chance of retaining the Dodges.  Oh, and Steve Soboroff is whining again.

Hong-Chih Kuo has gone from All-star reliever to punchline, as the southpaw has gone on the DL with the "yips."  Kuo has had the condition before, the fascinating phenomenon where a pitcher suddenly forgets how to throw strikes.  The condition was once known "Steve Blass Disease," so named for the pitcher in the 1970's.  Dodgers' beat writer Ken Gurnick talked with Blass about the yips and Kuo

Transactions:  Recalled Scott Elbert from AAA Albuquerque (5/11).   Recalled RHP Kenley Jansen from AAA Albuquerque (5/6).

Injuries:  Placed Hong-Chih Kuo on the 15-day DL with an anxiety order.  Rafael Furcal took batting practice Sunday.  He will likely start a rehab assignment tomorrow.  Casey Blake started baseball activities on Tuesday.  Blake Hawksworth is day-to-day with a strained groin.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Casey Blake elbow 04/25/2011
Marcus Thames quadriceps 05/03/2011
Rafael Furcal thumb 04/12/2011
Jonathan Broxton elbow 05/04/2011
Hong-Chih Kuo other-excused 05/10/2011
Hector Gimenez knee 04/09/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Blake Hawksworth groin 05/12/2011

Star-divide

San Diego (15-22, 5th, W1, 6.0 GB)

Last Week: 3-3.  2-1 vs. Diamondbacks. 1-2 @ Brewers.

You Should Know:  The Padres had 23 hits on Wednesday, the most they compiled in one game since they had 24 in a game on August 12, 2003 against the Braves.  The opposing pitcher that day was Greg Maddux.

Divisional Change: Gained one game in the division.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Rockies.  2 game road series @ Diamondbacks.  2 game home series vs. Brewers.

News:   Brad Hawpe is eager to return to Coors Field tonight.  Hawpe has been improving of late for the Padres.

Brad Hawpe

#11 / First Base / San Diego Padres

6-3

210

L

L

Jun 22, 1979


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Brad Hawpe 31 98 8 21 6 0 1 7 6 32 0 0 .214 .264 .306
Keith Law projects the Padres to select the exceptionally talented prep shortstop Francisco Lindor tenth overall in the June amateur draft.  The selection is unprotected, as it is a compensation draft choice for failing to sign 2010 1st rounder Karsten Whitson.
Randy Flores is in AAA Tucson, but as Jayson Stark points out that Flores can opt out on his contract on Sunday if he doesn't get called up to Coors Field.
Starting pitcher Josh Geer struggled last season with home runs.  This year, Geer is struggling with skin cancer.
Jed Hoyer dealt five relievers for two bats this off-season, and the bullpen continues to be an exceptional unit.
Just in case it crossed your mind, the Padres are unlikely to pursue Milton Bradley.

Transactions:   Transferred Jarrett Hoffpauir from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.  Called up C Kyle Phillips.

Injuries: Placed C Nick Hundley on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique (5/6).  Orlando Hudson, Jarrett Hoffpauir, and Joe Thatcher have been making progress in returning.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Orlando Hudson hamstring 05/04/2011
Nick Hundley oblique 05/05/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Joe Thatcher shoulder 03/22/2011
Jarrett Hoffpauir quadriceps 03/22/2011
Mike Baxter thumb 03/22/2011

Star-divide

San Francisco (21-16, 1st, W6)

Last Week: 6-0.  3-0 vs. Rockies.  3-0 vs. Diamondbacks.  The Giants are got, having won six straight, but they are hardly outclassing their opponents.  In fact, their six game sweep of a homestand was the first in MLB history where the winning team failed to score more than four runs even once.

You Should Know:   The offense has failed to score more than four runs in any of their last eight games, reaching 5+ just once since April 28.  Their offensive weaknesses have by no means gone away.  

Divisional Change:  Overtook Colorado to take over first place by one game.

This Week:  3 game home series @ Cubs. 2 game road series @ Rockies.  2 game road series @ Dodgers.  

News:  Grant Brisbee wrote about baseball, like with analysis and stuff, and his topic (Ramon Ramirez) is of interest to Rockies fans.  He might not look impressive, but he's a darn good reliever.  Still, I prefer Jorge de la Rosa.

Ramon Ramirez

#52 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants

5-11

200

R

R

Aug 31, 1981

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Ramon Ramirez 1-0 17 0 0 0 1 0 17.0 9 2 2 0 3 12 1.06 .71
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey is not having a good year, and JT Jordan at McCovey Chronicles has found it is because Posey is no longer driving the ball to the opposite field.
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Buster Posey 34 119 12 29 2 0 4 19 14 23 3 0 .244 .336 .361
The prospect pipeline for the Giants isn't dry.  Selected five slots before Tyler Matzek in 2009, Zack Wheeler is having a very good season for High-A San Jose.  Adam Foster of ProjectProspect had this to say about the right-handed starter:

Zack Wheeler is more impressive than Madison Bumgarner was at the same age. Better arsenal across the board.

Speaking of Wheeler, Jon Heyman thinks the Mets would trade Jose Reyes to San Francisco if  Sabean gave up Wheeler.

Transactions:   Optioned IF Ryan Rohlinger and IF Emmanuel Burriss to AAA Fresno.

Injuries:   Activated Andres Torres and UT Mark DeRosa from the 15-day DL (5/10).  Barry Zito threw off a mound for the first time on Wednesday.  Pablo Sandoval has begun fielding groundballs.  Santiago Casilla is scheduled to make his first rehab appearance tonight in Single-A.  Buster Posey had some time off after being clobbered in the facemask a couple times.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Santiago Casilla elbow 04/01/2011
Barry Zito foot 04/17/2011
Pablo Sandoval hand 04/30/2011

Day to Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Buster Posey other-excused 05/12/2011
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