The San Francisco Giants come into Tuesday’s game 51-50, 5.5 games back in the National League West, but one key element continues to dog this team, preventing them from going on a major run.
Yes, it is that old important stat in baseball — coming through with two outs and runners in scoring position. The San Francisco Giants have been terrible at this year.
The Giants have been among the worst in baseball driving in those key, two-out runs. San Francisco is hitting .202 in those clutch at-bats, 28th in baseball ahead of two terrible teams — the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.
And since they don’t hit home runs, the Giants are 25th in baseball with 95 — they are not scoring enough runs to offset missing in those key at-bats.
The Giants are gradually falling behind the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers in the standings. San Francisco is 17-18 in one-run games, including two gut-wrenching losses against the Oakland A’s at the Coliseum over the weekend.
Imagine if the Giants would have gotten that one big hit with two outs and runners in scoring position in just half of those games — they’d be at a much better place in the standings. The hope the Giants are clinging on, however, is their offense will improve when Evan Longoria and Joe Panik come back from injuries.
But will it help?
Longoria was hitting .211 with runners in scoring position this season. But with two outs in those clutch at-bats, he was hitting .256, well above the Giants’ team average.
Panik was hitting just .056 in those clutch, two-out at-bats. This has definitely been an anomaly as Panik has been a reliable, clutch hitter for the Giants over the years.
And through all the struggles of Buster Posey this season, he’s still among their best clutch hitters, hitting .323 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Austin Slater, the young outfielder vying for an everyday spot is 2-for-4 in those key at-bats.
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Some of the Giants veterans need to step it up if they’re going to succeed in the second half. Andrew McCutchen was acquired to drive in key runs, but he’s only hitting .129 in those clutch two-out at-bats. The Brandons too have to get it going. Brandon Crawford is only hitting .237, while Brandon Belt is hitting just .243.
The Giants have an offense that is good enough to win baseball games. They are eighth in baseball in hits and 12th in batting average.
What the Giants need to do is make those hits count, get them at the right time. Nothing breaks the spirit of an opposing pitcher more than giving up a two-out single to tie the game, go ahead, or tack on another run in a close game.
Look at the team that’s the best in those clutch two-out hits — the Boston Red Sox. They do other things well too, but their success in key at-bats has fueled them to becoming the best team in baseball at 71-31.
The Giants’ success in 2010, 2012, and 2014 depended on them hitting in the clutch.
And with the Giants now one week away from the trade deadline, if they don’t get those big hits to win games, they could be staring down their second lost season in a row.