Friday, April 21, 2006

A certain, je ne sais quoi


Some have it, some don't. Bad teams don't have it, and neither do very good teams, strange as that might sound.

The teams that have it, or "it", if you prefer, are a special breed of team. They are the team that "finds a way" to win, that just "gets the job done". Joe Morgan is good at spotting teams like that, but then, he's also good at confusing me four or fives times during a broadcast (thank God for Jon Miller).

What all that cliche crap usually translates to is, nobody can figure out how they're winning, but acknowledge the fact that yes, somehow, the team is doing just that.

Personally, I hate "it". There isn't a stat for it, and there isn't any way to figure out when it'll show up. There are a lot of teams that sometimes look like they'll have "it" for a while, only to be exposed later on after truth rears its ugly head. The Giants are 9-6 in 1st place in the NL West, and I'm trying to figure out how.

They're still being outscored by their opponents by a significant margin -- for those that may not like my belaboring of this point, take a look at the standings and find me another team that has a winning record while being outscored. I can save you the trouble...there isn't one. In fact, even of all the teams with .500 records, there's only one, the Angels, that has been outscored -- though only by four runs. The Giants have been outscored by 14.

Houston and Cincinatti both have been pretty lucky with a +2 over their expected win/loss record, partly due to their knack for one-run wins (Houston is 5-0 and Cincinnatti is 4-1 in one run contests). The Giants are 3-0 in one run games, and are +3 over their Pythagorean standings at this point (given the Giants runs scored/runs allowed, one would normally expect them to be about 6-9 instead of 9-6).

In essence, nobody has been as lucky as the Giants so far, but we can't expect it to continue. When 1/3 of the teams' wins have come off the pitching performance of their #5 starter, well, my hats off to Jamey Wright (is this just Mike Matheny, 2005, or what? Talk bad about the guy for all of the normally correct reasons, then he comes out and does better than everybody expected. Sheesh.), but forgive me if I don't exactly buy into a back-of-the-rotation guy as the team's best starter.

The Giants line offensively is .252/.340/.381, and the opposing teams are hitting .276/.367/.453. Being outhit is one thing, but the Giants have been outpowered -- that difference in SLG is almost totally due to being outhomered 19-10. The most obvious culprit, of course, is Barry Bonds. Steroids shmeroids, none of us expected him to be homerless after about 10% of the games had been played.

We'll see what a trip to Coors Field can do -- we can certainly hope that Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz turned a bit of a corner after last night's game, with Durham having a 2-5 night at the plate, and Feliz hitting a very important double late in the game. It'd be nice to see their OPS climb above .500.

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