Who should Start at Shortstop for the Giants?
By Neil Povio
Brandon Crawford has struggled all season at shortstop for the Giants. There is no hiding it. He has struggled with his bat all season, especially during the second half of the season, and his struggles defensively are highlighted by his league-leading errors at the shortstop position as well.
Bruce Bochy is giving Crawford a chance to prove that he deserves that starting position by giving him most of the starts as he’s continued to slump. Bochy has given Matt Duffy a few spot starts here and there, but nothing to really take a huge note of since the majority of Duffy’s starts have not been back-to-back.
This will need to change next season though, as the Giants must have more of an offensive presence from their starting shortstop in 2015, along with a guy who won’t lead the league in errors, like Crawford (20 errors) is doing this season.
During Spring Training next season, there will be a bit of competition for the starting shortstop position. The Giants have a few players that rightfully deserve a shot at winning that starting bid. Those players include: Brandon Crawford (of course), Matt Duffy, Ehire Adrianza, and Chris Dominguez.
Brandon Crawford has pretty much forced this competition upon himself. He’s only batting .226 on the season (.186 since the All-Star break) and has committed 20 errors already this season. Crawford was once believed to be an easy choice as a Gold Glove winner when he came up his rookie season. But Crawford has been in the top three in errors committed for the last three seasons as well, this being his league-leading error season.
Crawford has also never batted better than .248 in a season (he did it twice in 2012 and 2013). He owns just a .235 career batting average.
Matt Duffy has the best chance at winning the starting shortstop role, although honestly Duffy would have to have a fantastic Fall League and Spring Training for Bochy to consider demoting Crawford as a starter in 2015, but it could happen. In three seasons in the minors, Duffy owns an impressive .304 batting average, this season with Double-A Richmond he was hitting an amazing .332 in a very pitcher’s friendly and dominating league, so the potential for Duffy to develop into a player that hits for average at the Major League level is there. We have also seen how well Duffy can field and adapt to different positions. His defense right now is clearly well ahead of his offense, but if his offense can get close to his amazing defensive abilities,Duffy can win that starting nod at shortstop in 2015
Report from Baseball-Reference.com.
Ehire Adrianza and Chris Dominguez are more of long shots, but will still be given a chance to compete for shortstop with the Giants in the spring. Adrianza is another guy with great leather and a bat a bit behind his defensive skills still, but given more playing time against Major League style pitchers, he can become a solid hitter as well.
Dominguez, who has split the year in Fresno in the outfield and infield as a starter, is batting .274 with 21 home runs, 83 RBI, and 21 stolen bases this season. Dominguez has opened the Giants eyes a bit with his numbers in Fresno this season, and Dominguez will likely, and rightfully so, be given a chance to win a spot on the Giants 25-man roster come Spring Training in 2015.
For the remainder of the 2014 season, we will likely see Crawford get the majority of the starts at shortstop, with a start here and there from Duffy, unless Crawford takes an even more downward spiral with his bat and glove.
I truly hope Duffy does get a chance this season to show Bochy, Brian Sabean, and the Giants what he’s got. I believe that if Duffy if given the chance to play every day, will begin to hit more. Look at Joe Panik. He wasn’t hitting very well when he was only given one start a week, but after the Giants released Dan Uggla and Panik was given the starting role at second base, he shortly after found his comfort in the big leagues and began hitting.
The offseason and 2015 Spring Training season is going to be a busy, important time for the Giants. They have many roles to fill and questions to answer, and the starting shortstop position is one of the biggest.