Game Recap: DBacks Clinch NL West

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 1.

Well, there goes the NL West. Orlando Cabrera accounted for the Giants’ lone run with a solo shot in the fifth inning, and the Giants failed to add to that. Matt Cain took a one-run lead into the seventh, but a Chris Young RBI double, and a Paul Goldschmidt two-run triple in the eighth inning, gave Arizona all the runs they’d need.

Congratulations to the DBacks. They’ve earned it. Justin Upton has had a hell of a season, and up until recently, was the favorite for the NL MVP. The pitching duo of Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have combined for nearly 10 wins above replacement, even more if you account for their bats (it’s looking like Hudson will win a Silver Slugger). DBacks position players, meanwhile, have combined for 30+ wins in value, which is roughly twice that of the Giants (15.3).

This entire season has come as somewhat of a shock (and, of course, a massive disappointment). I figured Buster Posey would lead this team to another division title; I knew Aubrey Huff would drop off, but nobody could have seen this coming: his .675 OPS is the worst ever by a San Francisco Giants first-baseman, and it’s nearly 100 points worse than the previous worstTyler Kepner just named him the NL’s least-valuable player; I thought that, by now, Brandon Belt would be a mainstay in the lineup, and a strong candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year; and I expected the Giants to get something — anything above replacement level — out of the shortstop position.

You can’t predict baseball. You just can’t.

Splash Hits: Cody Ross, Brett Pill, Ian Kennedy

After last night’s outing, Clayton Kershaw has now made 11 starts against the Giants in his career (12 total games). He’s also surrendered 11 earned runs to San Francisco over his career (79 innings), posting a stellar 1.25 ERA. The Giants have a collective OPS of .485 against Kershaw in those 79 innings. A few links to ease the pain…

Giants

Free Agent Stock Watch: Cody Ross: MLB Rumors – MLBTradeRumors.com
Cody Ross would have been better off hitting free agency last year, after the Giants won the World Series and Ross hit five postseason home runs on his way to winning the NLCS MVP.

A risk that paid off – McCovey Chronicles
On the Giants taking a huge risk in 2008 that’s paying off now.

Teams With 3+ SP Under Age 30 With 30+ GS & ERA+ > 99 In Same Season » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive
Since 1901, how many teams had 3+ starters, age 29 or younger, with 30+ Games Started and an ERA+ of 100+ in the same season?

Prospect of the Day: Brett Pill, INF, San Francisco Giants – Minor League Ball
Prospect of the Day: Brett Pill, INF, San Francisco Giants

MLB

Baseball Prospectus | Spinning Yarn: Removing the Mask
Quantifying the heretofore hidden contributions of catchers.

A Discussion About Evaluating Pitchers | FanGraphs Baseball
A conversation about pitchers, pitching metrics, and end-of-season awards.

Kennedy’s fastball-first approach – Baseball Analytics Blog – MLB Baseball Analytics
The 26-year-old righty has increased his fastball usage from 55 percent of his pitches in 2010 to 66 percent in 2011.

Were the Best Closers Just Failed Starters? – Beyond the Box Score
Were the best closers just failed starters? This week, Rob Neyer pointed out that Mariano Rivera never actually did fail as a starter. How about the other elite closers in history?