The San Francisco Giants have been getting good production from the bench. Their bench has filled in nicely in the starting lineup when needed. Under normal circumstances, the Giants bench consists of Pablo Sandoval, Nick Hundley, Alen Hanson, and Hunter Pence.
A good bench is important for depth. And, good teams typically have a good bench. It gives teas options and versatility. Additionally, it gives a team coverage when a starter sustains an injury.
The Giants have been bitten by the injury bug this season. As a result, the Giants bench and depth has been tested. So far, the results have been encouraging. Hundley, Sandoval, and Hanson have been key contributors off of the bench.
These contributions have been great. In addition to this, the current bench complements each other well. It consists of a blend between versatility, power, and clutch hits.
Sandoval is a switch-hitter. Well, he’s a switch-hitter who bats left-handed. The right-handed swing resembles what you would see from a pitcher rather than a position player.
Sandoval has been surprisingly versatile as well. He has filled in at third base, first base, and second base. Last week, he took ground balls at shortstop in case of an emergency. He even filled in as a relief pitcher. Though, I do not think we had this last example of versatility on our bucket list when the season began.
Nick Hundley has given the Giants a boost with his bat. He hits with a lot of power, and he had a big walk-off win against the Padres earlier in the season. Hundley is fun to watch at the plate. His approach is simple: swing as hard as you can, and hope to make contact.
When Hundley does make contact, it goes a long way. He has more extra-base hits than singles this season. He is a nice bench player because he hits well and drives the ball far.
Hundley’s defense is not great. However, this can be overlooked due to his clubhouse leadership. Additionally, he is a good, veteran voice to mentor the Giants young pitchers. His value extends beyond his stats.
Lastly, Alen Hanson is a spark plug. We did not know he was a spark plug when the season began. Just like we did not know Sandoval was a relief pitcher — but, we like it!
Hanson hits for power, and has good speed. His speed has been a factor in certain plays this season. Similar to Sandoval, Hanson is a switch-hitter. What is there not to like about this guy? Well, maybe his baserunning instincts at times. Regardless, He has been a pleasant surprise.
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In addition to this, Hanson can play all around the infield. The defense has been shaky at times. He has only played second base and left field this season, but he has experience at several more positions.
Unlike Sandoval, Hanson probably is not a relief pitcher. Ultimately, Hanson’s production is earning him some more playing time. An opportunity for that will open up at some point.
Despite the contributions from these key players, the reserved outfielders have not produced enough. It seems that Bruce Bochy is struggling to figure out a role for Austin Jackson. Jackson’s play, with the exception of a few key hits, has been frustrating all season.
Hunter Pence is coming off the bench for the first time in his career. Since returning from the disabled list, Pence has shown a better eye and better bat-to-ball skills. The negative is that his defense is limited to the corner outfield positions. He is not the player he once was. However, there could still be a role for him off the bench.
So, the Giants have a solid bench. As they head into trade season, adding another outfielder may be part of their strategy. Or, they could call-up Steven Duggar if his numbers continue to trend in the right direction.
The benefit of having a good bench is depth. The Giants depth has been tested all season. However, as the Giants get their key players back from injuries, the bench players will return to their respective reserve roles. Ultimately, a solid bench will continue to benefit the Giants as the season progresses. This has been a nice and unexpected surprise in the first part of the season.