There are times when platoons are appropriate and there are times when you continually sacrifice defense for offense, or vice versa. I’m hard pressed to think either of those scenarios relate to the Giants’ odd situation at first base.
Fully aware of the “Free Belt” movement, Giants manager Bruce Bochy continues to troll his way through the early part of the season, over-analyzing matchups (not only at first base), using splits as his baseball Bible, resulting in players being played completely out of position and jack-hammering away at their confidence:
Belt won the first base job with a strong spring in Arizona and then started the first three games of the season at Chase Field. But the Giants are facing two left-handed starters this time around, and despite Belt’s .327 career average against left-handers and strong at-bats against Kershaw, Bochy said he will continue to mix and match.
Bochy likes the way the right-handed-hitting Pill has been swinging against left-handers and acknowledged that Posey will continue to get more time at first than the Giants anticipated.
“Sure everybody wants to see what (Belt) can do, and he’s going to be a part of this,” Bochy said. “But we’re in this to win games, so we’ll see what the matchups look like.”
While Belt is still working on solidifying his role with the Giants, his reputation outside of the clubhouse remains intact.
“He’s going to be around a long time,” Kershaw said. “I’m going to have to figure out an easier way to get him out.”
I like Brett Pill – a lot, actually. He provides a decent power bat off the bench and can come in to play a few positions when need be, but at the expense of Brandon Belt or Buster Posey? No, just no.
Continually jerking players in and out of the lineup (be it from a starter role or bench role) or swapping defensive positions near daily isn’t the way to breed confidence. Stability and a role tends to make players thrive and with the Giants, there is zero comfortability. Nobody knows if they’re playing when they get to the ballpark or what position they’ll be roulette’d to that evening.
Buster Posey has played in 28 of 31 games this year, with two of the three “off” games coming in the seasons first week. And despite what Bochy might believe, playing first base isn’t an “off-day”. Yes, there are days where Posey will need to play first simply to give his legs a rest, but Posey’s playing nearly 33% of his games as a first basemen which results in not only sub-par Hector Sanchez defense behind the plate, but it also forces Belt out of the lineup, resulting in a worse defensive infield at first and catcher, all the while taking the third highest on-base percentage out of the lineup. In short, it shouldn’t be something that’s happening nearly a third of all Giant games.
While a start or so a week at first for Posey is completely acceptable, the worn down catcher needs true days off – not just days off from the grinds of catching. At the same time, Brandon Belt’s game shouldn’t be at the expense of Posey (or Pill or Huff) because of Bochy’s desire to fall in love with splits or because he’s afraid to give Posey a true day off.
Play your best players at their best positions. Let the results be as they may.
It’s not that difficult.