The San Francisco Giants’ slump of form continued last night, when they were shut-out by James Shields and the Kansas City Royals. The lineup, which combines for the seventh largest payroll in all of baseball, failed to produce, again. So – in light of my article, which criticized some of the moves Bruce Bochy has made with the lineup this season, here is how I think the Giants should lineup – in absence of Brandon Belt.
1. Angel Pagan
Pagan is the spark plug of the Giants. The Giants are incredibly good with Pagan, and awfully bad without. Therefore, it is only natural to have Pagan lead the charge and set the table. I do, however, firmly believe Pagan is a much better RBI guy than we take him for. This season, his BA/wRISP is a rather impressive .342, knocking in 17 runners along the way. Consequentially, Blanco has been inserted into the ninth spot to allow Pagan to have more RBI opportunities.
2. Joe Panik
Panik is growing on me. So much so, I think he could be the ideal two hitter for the Giants. Whilst his bat hasn’t been overly impressive thus far, he does give me several reasons to put him there. First, his mentality. Unlike most rookies, Panik has an unrivaled ability to battle and stay alive. He works pitchers hard, and rarely chases bad pitches. Secondly, hitting a weaker batter in the middle of the lineup should give him plenty to hit, as pitchers will be keen to retire Panik to face the likes of Posey and Pence.
Metrically, I like Panik in the two hole, too. He has a solid first strike percentage of 57%, which, in theory, should make it much easier for Pagan and Blanco – who hit in front of him – to run. Furthermore, his BABIP is .301, which granted isn’t amazing, but it is, however, higher than Posey – Posey being my second choice for the two spot. BABIP is rather important when hitting after a key player like Pagan, as having a low BABIP could potenially result in a lot of double plays.
3. Buster Posey
Posey is Posey. Enough said.
4. Hunter Pence
This season Pence has seen a lot of time in the number one and two spots in the lineup, but, I think he is too good a run producer to be hit in those spots. Pence has collated a wRC+ of 133 and a WAR of 4.2, and these should only increase if Pence hits in the teeth of the order. Pence has a 1.53 clutch rating, and launched 27 home runs last season, so, undeniable has the tools to thrive hitting fourth. Also – while Pence has been a run scoring machine, crossing the plate 80 times so far this season, he still has Sandoval and Morse behind him, so continuing his brilliant run scoring ways shouldn’t be a problem.
5. Pablo Sandoval
No explanation required, I hope.
6. Mike Morse
No explanation required again, I hope.
7. Brandon Crawford
Crawford hitting ninth against a left handed pitcher two days ago, was bad. Very bad. Hitting him seventh, isn’t too bad. Crawford is in a rather large slump, and is currently one of the worst hitters on the team, so hitting in front of the pitcher shouldn’t matter too much. When in form, which he will be soon, hopefully, Crawford is a solid run producer.
Giants pitchers can handle the bat very well, hitting up in the lineup should be no issue for them. Random side note: Bumgarner has more home runs and runs batted in than Joaquin Arias in under half the number of plate appearances. Just saying.
9. Gregor Blanco
I may have slated Bochy for batting Blanco leading leadoff, but, he does possess the tools of a leadoff hitter. He doesn’t have any power, rather hits singles, takes walks and steals bases. The problem is: Blanco doesn’t get on base any where near enough. If batted ninth he can be utilised as a hypothetical leadoff man, without having the pressure of actually leading off. Win, win.