Freddy Sanchez Ain't Your Hero
I'm still not too excited about Sanchez, but what struck me was that I was actually looking forward to his activation because the Giants so desperately need ... something. They've talked about calling up prospect Buster Posey, but GM Brian Sabean, in his infinite wisdom, has declared that Posey simply isn't ready. They've also said that they aren't interested in free agent Pat Burrell, who they could get for pennies. (I harbor no illusions about Burrell's bat, but it should be noted they said the exact same thing about Jorge Cantu, who would be a pretty welcome bat on this squad.)
In any event, Sanchez is back, and has been capable in his first few games. But as The Wolf said in Pulp Fiction,
"Let's not start sucking--"
OK, this is at least somewhat of a family blog. I probably shouldn't finish that quote. But, if you'd like to see why I think Giants fans should temper their expectations of Former Batting Champion Freddy Sanchez, read on.
Yes, Freddy Sanchez has won a batting title. That's quite impressive - but just for giggles, let's take a look back at the last 15 years of Batting Titles in the National League.
OK, it's not 15 years, it's 16 - just so I could include all four of the consecutive batting titles Tony Gwynn won, and that strike-shortened .394 average in 1994. In related news, Gwynn was pretty damn good.
And that's sort of the point of this chart. Look at the names -- is there one name, one outlier? Sure, Derrek Lee in 2005 won with a pretty low average at that -- while that might look a bit odd a few years from now, nobody should forget Lee as being a very solid, often very good hitter in the National League. (And a free agent signing the Giants could have made easily before the 2004 season but apparently never showed interest. Thanks again, Brian Sabean.)
No, the obvious outlier here is, as it turns out, Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez.* This batting title, for those who don't live in the Bay Area, is mentioned a lot when it comes to Sanchez. Defenders of the trade for him mention it often, and his return from the DL this week was seen as a big benefit for the team.
* Curiously, the AL equivalent of this batting title outlier? Former Giant Bill Mueller, while with the Red Sox in 2003.
Yes, in 2006 he hit .344 and he is a .299 career hitter. That's pretty solid, right? I'm not going to argue otherwise. But folks should understand that this is a guy with almost no power, and absolutely zero speed. (I find this shocking - speed should be almost required for a middle infielder. It also gives me quite a bit of concern about his defense.)
|Bruce Bochy or Lou Brown?|
Putting a guy with absolutely no power into the most important spot of the lineup would be the most depressing thing I've heard in awhile, until you allow me to indulge in a small rant about Bruce Bochy.
See, the only benefit of batting Sanchez third was that the red-hot Andres Torres was batting ahead of him. Torres is no savior himself, but no bat has been hotter on the team of late.
|I'm getting concerned about "Boch"|
I'm not going to even get into the idiocy of batting your pitcher eighth - when Tony LaRussa did it, I mocked him and Bochy won't get any longer of a leash. It's far too clever by half, and it's not like Lincecum wields a particularly potent bat. He's a good hitter ... for a pitcher.
But worse yet, somehow Torres was moved to the end of the lineup -- if you're moving the pitcher up, it's because you want to increase the chance of folks in the top three of the lineup getting more bats with men on base. When Torres is still hitting hot, the lineup should be as such:
- Andres Torres
- Freddy Sanchez
- Pablo Sandoval
- Aubrey Huff
- Benjie Molina
- Aaron Rowand
- Mark DeRosa / Nate Schierholz / John Bowker
- Juan Uribe / Edgar Renteria
Sure, Rowand seems to hit best in the leadoff spot, but he's not a leadoff hitter. We're paying the guy a lot of money, he needs to produce wherever he hits. Uribe is the best run producer on the team, so batting him eighth seems to make little sense - until you realize that Uribe's run production is both a function of where he's been hitting and how terrible the rest of the team has been (on an individual basis) of producing runs. They've scored runs and won a suprising amount of games, but it's been a great combination of timely hitting by a variety of folks. (That's a good thing, of course. My point only is that Uribe's stats shine bright mostly because there's few other lights in the room.)