Carlos Beltran

The 2012 Giants can hit (on the road)

The San Francisco Giants already installed a beach down the right field line. Maybe it’s time to add some aquariums.

They already have water cannons in the outfield that spray water into the air after home runs. Maybe it’s time to add a massive metal sculpture where seals spin around in slow, creaky circles whenever the Giants knock one over the wall.

Hell, maybe they should put a retractable roof on AT&T Park and lower the beer prices. Anything to make the Giants feel more at home offensively, because this season comfort at the plate has been found in parks other than their own.

Put the pitchforks away, I’m kidding about those changes at Third and King … except lower beer prices wouldn’t be terrible and I have nothing against aquariums. However, there’s been a true divide in the way the Giants hit at home and away, so it made sense that Thursday night’s 14-run, 15-hit performance came in the Marlins’ sparsely populated Artificial History Museum.

It’s fun to look at a season’s worth of numbers when, in one game, a team scores as many runs as they usually do over the span of four. Their outburst put their runs per game average (now 4.09) above 4 for the first time since April ended. But take a look at their home and road averages.

At AT&T Park: 3.32 runs per game (.260/.318/.361)

Everywhere else: 4.83 runs per game (.255/.320/.398)

For the most part, the Giants’ home and road splits are pretty similar (the team’s BABIP is actually a little higher at home) except in the moderately important category of home runs. They didn’t knock one over the wall on Thursday in their first double-digit scoring game of the year, but they’ve hit almost four times as many HRs on the road (23) as they do at AT&T (6). Unfortunately I couldn’t find stats for runners in scoring position separated by home and road splits, because that could also tell us something.

After hearing Carlos Beltran freely admit that the cold kept him from getting loose and comfortable in San Francisco last August, the Giants’ lack of offensive production at home keeps popping up in my mind. Especially when I’m forced to zip my jacket high enough to cover the lower half of my face while watching games at AT&T this season. It’s windy and cold here, and I’m used to it. Most of the guys who play for the Giants spend their off-seasons elsewhere.

Last year the Giants only scored 236 runs at AT&T (2.91 rpg) and 334 on the road (4.12 rpg). Move in the fences, right? Probably rash, since 2011 was the first time the Giants had scored over 23 more runs on the road than at home since 2002, and from 2003-10 the Giants scored more runs at home than on the road seven times.

Also, the Giants’ pitching staff kind of likes AT&T.

At AT&T Park: 3.09 runs allowed per game (.209/.272/.309)

Everywhere else: 4.91 runs allowed per game (.269/.340/.430)

An interesting note on AT&T Park that someone more statistically inclined than I might be able to explore further (yes, I just flashed the Bay Area Stats Guy batsignal): last season there was a substantial difference in runs scored and allowed at AT&T Park vs. games on the road (The Giants scored 98 more runs on the road last year and allowed 76 fewer runs at home). However, from 2003 through 2010 the difference between runs allowed at home and on the road was statistically insignificant (0.5 runs per game or less), and Giants pitchers actually allowed more runs at home than on the road in both 2007 (361 runs allowed at home, 359 on the road) and 2008 (401 allowed at AT&T, 358 everywhere else).

The Giants have been a good road team, with a record of 12-11. On the other hand, they’re a relatively mediocre home team at 12-10. That’s where the lack of right-handed power hurts. The cold weather might not help either, but that isn’t changing. As I took a walk this morning against 30 mph wind gusts, that point was driven home.

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