The Resurgent Giants Offense
As recent as about a month ago, the Giants offense was pretty terrible. After suffering through historically one of the worst starting lineups last season, 2010 was shaping up to be more of the same. In three games in Oakland, the Giants scraped together one run in what can only be described as one of the most painful series in recent memory. In short, things looked bleak.
And then something changed. Aaron Rowand was suddenly no longer a fixture in center field. Bengie Molina began to start 3-4 times a week. When Molina or Rowand would play, they’d be batting 7th or 8th, well out of harms way. Pat Burrell replaced John Bowker in the outfield and was immediately given a starting job. Freddy Sanchez actually proved the front office right for re-signing him. While Buster Posey arrived amidst the singing of a choir of angels, Andres Torres, Aubrey Huff, and Juan Uribe started playing like All-Stars. All this has culminated in the Giants actually having a respectable offense to (finally) compliment an amazing pitching staff.
Look up and down the lineup on any given day and it actually looks like a group of guys who can go out and score 4-6 runs a game on any given day. From the 3rd to the 8th spot in the lineup, the Giants actually have guys who can hit the long ball. And the icing on the cake? They’ve managed to do all of this largely without the help of Pablo Sandoval, who’s been struggling to find his stroke for a good part of the season.
So who can we attribute this newfound success to? Let’s start distributing credit where it’s due. The first kudos go out to none other than Bruce Bochy for fighting the urge to play Aaron Rowand every day, allowing Andres Torres to emerge as one of the most productive lead-off hitters in baseball. For all my criticism of Bochy early on this season, recently he’s handled the starting lineup better than I could hope for, even if his Guillermo Mota obsession has gotten the Giants into some 8th inning trouble of late.
Second prize for jump starting the Giants offense goes out to Aubrey Huff. I hate to say I told you so. So I won’t. But back in December when I called for the Giants to sign Aubrey Huff over Adam LaRoche, expectations were low. He was coming off of a career-worst season split between Baltimore and Detroit, and the smart money was on a continued slide down Regression Hill. That said, even my most optimistic expectations didn’t see this kind of production coming. Things being the way they are, we have our first legitimate hitter not named Pablo Sandoval to emerge in a long while.
As nice as all this offense is, it must be taken with a grain of sand, a concept familiar to Giants fans. Pat Burrell isn’t going to hit over .400 (shocker), the league will eventually figure out Buster Posey if they haven’t already, and Edgar Renteria will sneakily meander is way into the starting lineup when he comes off the DL whether we like it or not. All that aside, it’s not hard to feel good about Giants baseball right now. The weak links on the roster (I’m looking at you Eugenio Velez) are down in Fresno, while, for once, the players who should be playing, are playing. After the Orioles series though, things get a little tougher, with series against the hot-hitting Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Dodgers. Things won’t get any easier, but the proper adjustments seem to made for the time being.