It’s no secret that the San Francisco Giants play much better with Angel Pagan, the teams catalyst, in the lineup. So, with Pagan still on the designated list, and with news of a set-back surfacing, how should the Giants lineup? Evidently, given the teams recent struggle and slump of form, something needs to be done to mix the lineup, up a little. This is how I think the Giants should lineup, providing Belt returns in time for the San Diego series.
1: Hunter Pence
2: Buster Posey
4: Brandon Belt
5: Mike Morse
8: Pitcher’s spot
The lineup is pretty normal, minus a few things: The pitcher is hitting eight, Blanco now hits in the nine hole, and consequentially Pence will leadoff, Posey will hit second and Sandoval will hit third. Belt should be right at home hitting clean-up, prior to his thumb injury he had been mashing the ball, and led the league in home runs for a while. Furthermore, he had been hitting extremely well in Triple-A Fresno, during his rehab stint.
Morse has hit fifth all year, so that is no change. Crawford has been hitting seventh/eighth this year, but is easily capable of moving up a spot in the lineup. He has exhibited this season that he can hit both left handed pitching and right handed pitching, whilst adding some power into his repertoire. Any second baseman can easily hit in front of the pitcher.
The big changes are, evidently, in the bottom of the lineup and top. You may ask; why would the pitcher, who can’t really hit, be moved up in the order? The answer is simple. Blanco has the game of a leadoff hitter, he doesn’t hit for any power, and relies on walks and singles mixed with speed to get himself into scoring position. Hitting him ninth allows him to take the same approach as a number one hitter, without the pressure of heading the lineup.
Thus, Blanco batting behind the pitcher, makes a lot of sense. So – why should Pence have to lead off then? The only issue with having a secondary leadoff hitter batting ninth is; Pence will be taking an AB with the approach of a leadoff hitter sometimes, whilst others – when Blanco is on base – he will have to take the approach of a two hole hitter – which he has done so admirably all year long. Pence, undeniably, has the best mentality of anyone on the team, and could take on this challenge with ease.
Pence has a tidy .295 batting average with a .356 on base percentage. He swiped 22 bases last year, and already has seven steals this year. He smacked 35 doubles last season, and again, has already hit 17 this year. Mix all that together, and you have a real threat in leadoff – like Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, who uses his bat to get into scoring position, Pence could do the same. But, at the same time, he most certainly has the ability to take a walk, and swipe second base.
In 2007, Pence played 14 games in the number one spot, compiling an amazing .438 OBP. You may worry about the power he possesses going to waste. Pence had 27 big flies last year, with 99 runs batted in, so, would batting him first not waste this element of his game? Certainly not. When Blanco does indeed get on base – which he should a lot more when batting ninth – Pence can hit like he has all year, knocking in runs. Furthermore, there is no harm in going deep whilst leading off, scoring himself.
Similarly for Posey, the first time through the lineup he will have to adjust to hitting second. Once more though, Posey hit second last year in nine games, and hit .325 whilst doing so, clearly proving he would be a neat fit. On the contrary, the second time through the lineup, hypothetically speaking, Posey will return to being a three hole hitter – providing Blanco gets on base.
Quick recap: The lineup isn’t copious amounts different to the normal, but does feature our pitcher batting eight. Overall, I’m not crazy, having Blanco hitting ninth and Pence leading off can reignite the Giants offense in the absence of Pagan. I doubt Bochy will read this and change anything, but hey, worth a go, right?