Rockies vs. Giants series preview: First place San Francisco brings balanced squad to Colorado

Justin K. Aller

F the Giants, mostly, but that's because they're pretty good at baseball.

Statistics are often times wonky. Guys can hit .200 and still be decent-to-good offensive players. Pitchers can have an ERA in the 3s and not be looked at twice as one of the better hurlers in their league. One of the reasons the stats crowd can be so overbearing -- and that the traditional crowd grows tired of hearing about numbers all the time -- is because they hold more meaning in the game of baseball. That's a result of having 30 completely different environments, creating the need for park-adjusted metrics.

Those metrics become really, really interesting when it comes to the San Francisco Giants. They have a guy in their lineup who is hitting .197 but is considered 11 percent better than league average due to pop in his bat and a decent eye at the plate. And, they have a pair of pitchers with ERAs in the low- to mid-3's who are right around league average.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that baseball is weird, and the Giants are the prime example.

But, as weird as they are, the Giants are also in first place in the National League West, taking a 28-17 record into Coors Field for a showdown with the second-place Rockies. San Francisco's record is the best in the NL, and the team has gotten to that point on the strength of their offense, which -- again -- doesn't look that great on the surface. But, when you take into account their run-suppressing home environment, the lineup looks a lot more imposing.

Pos


PA

HR

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

LF

Tyler Colvin*

24

1

2

9

.364

.417

.773

234

LF

Mike Morse

161

10

10

40

.277

.329

.534

144

C

Buster Posey

168

7

21

19

.278

.369

.444

134

1B

Brandon Belt*

139

9

8

38

.264

.317

.504

133

CF

Angel Pagan#

173

3

13

22

.321

.370

.440

133

RF

Hunter Pence

199

3

18

28

.279

.347

.425

122

C

Hector Sanchez#

74

2

4

24

.288

.324

.455

122

SS

Brandon Crawford*

164

5

17

35

.241

.323

.433

116

2B

Brandon Hicks

142

7

20

41

.195

.321

.415

111

3B

Pablo Sandoval#

172

3

12

32

.220

.279

.340

78

OF

Gregor Blanco*

62

0

9

14

.140

.283

.200

43

MI

Ehire Adrianza#

41

0

1

12

.162

.179

.216

14

IF

Joaquin Arias

64

0

3

8

.150

.190

.150

0

OF

Juan Perez

23

0

0

7

.050

.095

.050

-56

There is also a player on that list who homered twice against the Rockies in the last meeting between the two teams and hasn't homered since (and didn't homer before that), but let's not talk about that. Instead, we'll talk about Morse, who is hitting for a ton of power despite striking out a bunch and hardly walking. Morse is on pace for his best season since 2011 because of course he is. Did you forget which team we're talking about?

Anyway, as good as the offense has been, the starting pitching has been equally disappointing.

Pos


ERA

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

H9

HR9

BB9

SO9

SP

Tim Hudson

2.09

60.1

159

2.97

0.812

6.7

0.6

0.6

5.7

SP

Madison Bumgarner*

3.25

52.2

102

2.98

1.424

10.1

0.9

2.7

10.1

SP

Ryan Vogelsong

3.62

49.2

92

4.14

1.329

8.7

0.9

3.3

7.1

SP

Matt Cain

4.33

43.2

77

4.75

1.305

8.2

1.4

3.5

7.4

SP

Tim Lincecum

4.74

49.1

70

3.91

1.561

10.8

1.3

3.3

9.5

I'm sure the Giants were expecting Bumgarner to be much more than a league average pitcher, and Cain's batted ball regression from last year has continued even though all of his peripherals are still roughly the same. Lincecum is an interesting case. The 30-year-old right-hander has impressive strikeout numbers and he's OK at limiting walks, but boy does he give up some hits. He isn't scheduled to start in this series, and that's probably a good thing for him; Lincecum has allowed 26 hits and 13 walks in his last 19⅓ innings at Coors Field.

The Giants have a bullpen:

Pos


ERA

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

H9

HR9

BB9

SO9

CL

Sergio Romo

2.21

20.1

152

4.21

0.639

4.4

1.3

1.3

7.5

RP

Santiago Casilla

1.48

24.1

227

3.32

1.11

6.7

0.4

3.3

6.3

RP

Jean Machi

0.42

21.2

810

2.2

0.877

5.8

0

2.1

7.1

RP

J.C. Gutierrez

3.66

19.2

92

3.89

0.915

6.9

1.4

1.4

7.3

RP

Javier Lopez*

2.25

8

155

5.45

1.25

6.8

1.1

4.5

3.4

RP

Yusmeiro Petit

5.23

31

64

3.53

1.323

9.9

1.2

2

9

RP

Jeremy Affeldt*

1.98

13.2

172

1.83

1.098

7.9

0

2

8.6

RP

David Huff*

3.55

12.2

96

4.57

1.105

7.8

1.4

2.1

5.7

RP

George Kontos

0

2


2.07

1.5

13.5

0

0

4.5

RP

Jake Dunning

0

0.2


7.57

1.5

0

0

13.5

0

It's pretty good, as you can see. Mostly, Jean Machi is terrific, but he's gotta start coming back down to earth at sometime. Meanwhile, Sergio Romo continues to be his volatile self. He wasn't great last year, but he's converted 15 of 16 save opportunities in 2014 while walking virtually no one and giving up a hit about every two innings.

As a team, the Giants are the best team in baseball at limiting walks, so it would behoove the Rockies to be aggressive against their staff. That's something Colorado hitters have no problem doing; the Rockies have drawn the fourth-fewest walks -- and see the fewest pitchers -- in all of baseball. That approach should work for them this week, but the real question should be whether or not Colorado pitchers can get San Francisco's lineup out consistently enough to win.

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