|Giants Offense Faces Uncertainty||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 18, 2012
The San Francisco Giants offense is being badmouthed an awful lot.
Part of the reason for that is that San Francisco plays in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in all of baseball. Last year it was the worst park in the Majors for home runs, slugging and runs. And while that is one factor that drags the team's offense down, San Francisco's hitters aren't quite as anemic as certain pundits and baseball guides are making them out to be.
The team has certainly worked in the offseason to upgrade offensively without breaking the bank in the high priced free agent market. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera were acquired via trade. Both have shown the ability to hit .300, both are capable of finishing the season with double digit home run totals, and both are capable of stealing between 20-30 bases a year.
However the addition of Pagan and Cabrera won't mean a lot if the Giants don't get a healthy season out of Posey and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, both potential .300 hitters and neither of whom managed to play 60 games last season. And if the stars are to align that much, they might as well ask for a bounce back, or at least a pulse, from first baseman Aubrey Huff, who posted the worst season of his career in 2011.
The Giants need the old Aubrey Huff, or at least a shadow of him. That's because after the first five mentioned -- Cabrera, Pagan, Posey, Sanchez and Santiago -- the Giants are loaded with question marks. Huff is the team's best option for slotting into the sixth spot in the lineup; after him the team is loaded with light hitting and unproven players.
Twenty-three-year-old Brandon Belt is the best of the bunch -- and the only one who's likely to offer double-digit home run power. But Belt struggled mightily last season, getting demoted several times and hitting only .238 over his 352 at bats. It doesn't exactly make him an ideal middle-of-the-lineup guy and in fact those struggles are likely to make him end up as the fourth outfielder.
The other outfielder who could contribute is Nate Schierholtz who, coming off the best season of his career, has never hit better than .278, hit more than nine home runs or driven in more than 41 runs. While he was once highly regarded, his skills have never translated well to the big league level. At age 28, his time to prove himself is running out, and the Giants certainly can't count on him emerging now.
On the infield the bats aren't better. Sanchez and Ryan Theriot can both hit for average, but both are seriously lacking in power and combined are unlikely to muster 10 long balls. The proclaimed "shortstop of the future" Brandon Crawford, who may be destined for another season at AAA, is an all-defense, no-bat kind of player who could use some time to develop an offensive game.
Projected batting order
LF Angel Pagan
That gives the Giants something akin to half a solid offense, not a whole one. Unless the Giants decide to sign one of the veteran free agent outfielders still out there, the offense will remain extremely suspect and vulnerable going into the season. That's nothing new for this team, however. This is a team based on pitching and it has been ever since AT&T Park was built.