San Francisco Giants

Inside the numbers: a look at the Giants’ (early) two-out magic

So far this season the Giants have scored 31 out of their 47 runs with two outs. They are hitting a remarkable .304/.377/.529, and with men in scoring position it is an even more incredible .461/.533/.629.

Brandon Crawford SF GiantsIf you take the Giants’ numbers as a team with two outs and RISP and compare them to the individual league leaders in this young season, San Francisco would rank third in batting average, fifth in on base percentage and 26th in slugging percentage. I would say that is pretty good.

Have the Giants been fortunate? Yes they have.

If you take a look at the Giants batted ball data, with two outs they have 18 line drives, 29 ground balls, 18 fly balls, and 8 pop outs. If you subtract the home runs, then take the league average batting average on balls in play for each of the batted ball types, you would expect the Giants to have had 23 hits — they have actually had 26.

The 23 hits on balls in play would take the Giants down to an average of .274, not nearly as good as .304 but still a very good average.

The biggest area that is due for regression is the two out homers, not that too many people should be surprised by that. the Giants have hit five such home runs on 18 fly balls. That’s a rate of 27.7%, which would put the Giants as a team among the elite sluggers in the league. The league average in that category is 10.5%, and last season the Giants had home runs on just 7.2% of their fly balls.

So should you head to Vegas and bet that the Giants will keep this going for the rest of the season? Nope, not unless you’re a tech millionaire and money has lost all meaning to you.

Here is the thing — just because there’s a lot of talk about how these rates aren’t sustainable, that doesn’t mean the Giants are due for bad luck in the near future. All it means is that you should expect the results to regress toward what is normally seen, toward league average.

The great thing, however, is that those runs that have scored … they count. They have six wins, thanks in large part to those runs, and the Giants don’t have to give those back. The Giants have been fortunate to start the season, but they were already a pretty good team. So even if they revert back towards their true talent level (both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus has them as a .530 winning percentage team), the wins they’ve booked thus far make the path to the playoffs a bit more likely.

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