The San Francisco Giants Are a Little Too Good at Hitting Solo Home Runs
For most of the 2017 season, San Francisco Giants hitters have had to work really, really hard to get bodies across home plate.
It's been a struggle with the bats, with the Giants sitting 28th out of 30 teams in runs scored. They've tallied 160 runs for an average of 3.48 per game, which also ranks 28th. Their .232 team batting average is 27th, their .290 on-base percentage is 29th, and their .358 slugging percentage is last in baseball. They've hit just 38 home runs, tied with the Boston Red Sox for the fewest, and, when they do hit an occasional dinger, they're doing it without anyone on base.
That's 18 solo homers since the last homer with a runner on for the Giants. They now have 46 RBI on 38 home runs this year.
— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) May 23, 2017
San Francisco's problem is two-fold: The top of their lineup isn't getting on base, and the rest of the lineup isn't hitting the ball out with any regularity.
The Giants have hit just six homers with at least one runner on base all season. (SIX. SIX!!!! Come on, guys.) The closest team is the Kansas City Royals, with 15, a wide margin that demonstrates just how lousy San Francisco has been in that department. They're hitting .238/.302/.322 with at least one runner on base, making them an incredibly frustrating offensive team to watch.
There are just two players in the Giants' lineup with a weighted runs created (wRC+) over 100, those being Buster Posey (172) and Brandon Belt (123). The rest of the team is packed with players who are producing at lower than the league average.
Brandon Crawford has an on-base percentage under .300 (.296) as does Denard Span (.296), Eduardo Nunez (.293), Nick Hundley (.263), Christian Arroyo (.265) and Gorkys Hernandez (.255). There simply aren't enough Giants hitters getting on base with any regularity.
Part of the issue is patience at the plate. As a team, San Francisco has swung at 48.1% of pitches seen, the third-most in baseball. Their contact rate and swinging-strike rate are both middle-of-the-pack in MLB, but they're just not hitting the ball hard. Their hard-hit rate (as calculated by FanGraphs) is a meager 27.8%, which is worst in the league, while their 20.9% soft-hit rate is tied for fourth worst.
So, the Giants are swinging at more pitches and doing less with them than, well, just about anybody.
There doesn't seem to be an easy fix for this issue, either. Improving on their 7.2% walk rate (third worst in baseball) would help, but when you're a team that doesn't have much power, pitchers aren't going to be afraid to throw strikes. San Francisco hitters simply have to do more damage with pitches they see in the zone, something that is certainly easier said than done.