A’s, Giants playing Nuanceball, and don’t count them from October


Can we rearrange the MLB schedule so that the Giants and A’s meet at least one series a month?

The two teams meet again this season, August 20-22 at the Colosseum, but that’s not enough. It was fun, lively, and interesting baseball over the weekend at Giants Stadium, and it reinforced what we knew coming in:

They might be the two best teams in baseball, and they could also be the two most interesting teams.

They kind of co-invented a new style of baseball: Nuanceball.

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It’s the creative use of low-valued players to build a strong and (for opponents) really boring team.

The A’s were the first with this style, and the Giants co-opted it. A’s skipper, Bob Melvin, unintentionally named him.

Melvin spoke recently about super practice Tony Kemp and said, “He’s gone from a utility player and a nuance type guy, pinch runner, pinch hitter, day off for someone, to a guy who has value. and must be in alignment almost every day.

I’m not even sure nuance is the right word, but Melvin is baseball’s most teaching skipper, so let’s go. The A’s have been so successful in the last few seasons using nuance type guys and letting them develop that some of those players have become go-to players like Ramon Laureano and Mark Canha.

Now it’s the Giants playing Nuanceball to the next level, taking two of three over the weekend to maintain the MLB’s best record, despite losing 6-2 on Sunday.

MLB crates must be sweating, envisioning a Giants-A World Series with names like Wilmer Flores, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Tony Kemp. Oh, the exciting TV promotional ads: World series: dig the nuance!

Hey, it could happen. The Giants, even with the loss, won 10 of 12, and they fought to the end on Sunday. The A’s won 12 of 19.

You know what? Baseball could do worse. The Giants are hitters on Sunday tied for the MLB lead in homeruns at 114. Both teams play excellent defense and squeeze every drop of talent from their rosters, in both the big and the minor leagues.

And nuances aside, both have elite stars playing at a high level after serious meltdowns of varying duration: Matt Olson and Matt Chapman for the A’s, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt (currently injured) for the Giants.

Chapman has a 15-game hitting streak. Posey took a few days off with a hesitant back, but had two hits on Sunday and beat .326 with a .967 OPS. HOF numbers.

It’s fun to see the big stars come to life after disturbing dives, but it’s the nuances that give Bay Ball a unique flavor.

The Giants routinely lack five or six nuanced guys in their starting lineup. That includes Mike Yastrzemski, although he has pretty much left some nuances behind, but still staples an unexpected, late career, and out of nowhere celebrity.

The Giants, like the As of the last few seasons, are masters in the art of moving pawns on the chessboard and defeating the kings and knights of their opponents. Call it the Giants Gambit.

Sunday was not a classic example of Nuanceball, although Kemp contributed two walks and a nice defense on second base. And backup wide receiver Aramis Garcia scored two RBI singles. (The previous two games, Giants backing receiver Curt Casali had some big hitting nights.)

But the As’s showed another aspect of Nuanceball, which is solid fundamentals execution credited to solid practice. The A’s were leading by a 3-0 no-command in the sixth, one out and runners in the first and third, when starting pitcher Cole Irvin established perfect safety pressure, conceding a point and keeping a three-point rally alive.

Irvin credited assistant batting coach Eric Martins with putting the A’s pitchers through tough bunting drills.

The Giants, likewise, make critics believe who laughed when manager Gabe Kapler hired 14 coaches, many of whom had no big-league experience.

Still, the Brandons (Crawford and Belt) and Posey credited the coaching staff with helping them get off baseball’s unwritten roster.

Crawford was out of the starting lineup on Sunday with a day off, although he stoked up as a pinch hitter to end the game. Crawford will surely get votes for Returning Player of the Year. He became Boom-Boom Brandon, in the NL’s top 10 for homers, RBIs, strokes and OPS.

If it was 15 years ago, there would be steroid whispers. This time around, it’s pretty clear that Crawford has benefited from some innovative coaching and hard work – the new steroids.

Most of the big league power rankings put Bay’s two clubs in the top five. We’re too far into the season to consider either team a fluke.

Something very interesting is going on, but you have to look at it closely because it is nuanced.

Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @scottostler

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