By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–Step into the world of Wins Above Replacement with me. This is the world where the elite Major League players are quantified and recognized. In 2021, the Giants’ out-of-nowhere season of 107 wins and an NL West Championship, this is where the majority of the roster lived.
In 2022, almost the entirety of the Giants’ roster has moved out. So have the wins, the adulation and the postseason aspirations.
The two biggest standouts from 2021 in regards to WAR–Brandon Crawford and Kevin Gausman–have fallen off dramatically. Crawford’s 6.1 WAR of 2021 symbolized his stature as an MVP candidate, and a daily force defensively and offensively. Outside of the now-retired Buster Posey, Crawford was the team’s MVP who regularly supplied big hits and shut down opponents with game-altering defensive plays.
This season, Crawford hasn’t participated in 45 of the team’s 121 games thus far, and his defense has slipped. At age 35 and relied upon to be a daily presence at shortstop, the game’s most demanding defensive position, Crawford has seen an increase in his errors. After a career season, that would be expected, but for the Giants’ needs, his decline has been more dramatic than expected.
Gausman moved on, lured by similar dollars and a lengthier deal than the Giants would offer. For the Blue Jays, Gausman’s been good with similar peripheral numbers to what he posted last season, but he hasn’t won as much. Last season, Gausman was 14-6 for the Giants, this season he’s 8-8 for Toronto.
In Gausman’s place, Carlos Rodon has been nearly as good. Signed as a free agent after a 13-5 season for the White Sox, Rodon’s been healthier than he was last season while winning 10 times to date. Surely, the Giants are satisfied with the transition from Gausman to Rodon.
Similarly, Logan Webb was outstanding last season, and again this season. The difference between the two seasons for Webb aren’t much, maybe just that he’s suffered a loss at home after going without a single loss at Oracle Park last season.
Along the lines of the Rodon acquisition, Jakob Junis has pitched well for the Giants in a position of need, in the absence of injured starter Anthony DeSclafani. Thought to be a spot starter/opener, Junis has spent half this season, taking regular turns in the rotation and pitching deeper in games than expected. But that’s not the entire story: Junis has declined dramatically since he was injured in June. In six starts since, he’s failed to pitch five innings in any of those appearances.
Here’s the Giants’ Top 12 WAR performers in 2021 and 2022
- Brandon Crawford (6.1 WAR) 1. Carlos Rodon (4.0)
- Kevin Gausman (5.3) 2. Logan Webb (3.9)
- Logan Webb (4.0) 3. Jakob Junis (1.6)
- Anthony DeSclafani (4.0) 4. John Brebbia (1.6)
- Buster Posey (3.5) 5. Mike Yastrzemski (1.4)
- Darin Ruf (2.9) 6. Alex Wood (1.4)
- Brandon Belt (2.7) 7. Thairo Estrada (1.3)
- Mike Yastrzemski (2.5) 8. Wilmer Flores (1.3)
- Tyler Rogers (2.5) 9. Curt Casali (1.1)
- Steven Duggar (2.2) 10. Luis Gonzales (1.0)
- Evan Longoria (1.8) 11. Austin Slater (1.0)
- Wilmer Flores (1.7) 12. Camilo Doval (1.0)
The prevailing theme of the two lists is the decline in the WAR numbers across the board. Only two of this season’s Giants would even qualify for last season’s top 12. That’s dramatic, and indicative of a team that’s already lost more games than they did all of last season.
Of those listed for 2021, Gausman, Ruf and Duggar have signed elsewhere or been traded, and DeSclafani is out for the season due to injury. So if we don’t move beyond the two lists, only one player who was on the team this season and last has improved: John Brebbia.
That’s probably not enough.
On Friday, the Giants welcome the Pirates to Oracle Park with Bryse Wilson facing Carlos Rodon. Wilson’s just 2-6 on the season, but the Pirates have won three of his previous four starts.