Repoz over at Baseball Think Factory links USA Today’s Organizational Report on the San Francisco Giants today. The report was written a couple of weeks ago, actually, as is evidenced by both the url and the references to the team maybe picking up Rod Barajas or someone to help Buster Posey out behind the plate. But the age of the report only helps to highlight the best part: Brian Sabean explaining the Giants’ new organizational philosophy of getting on base and working counts:
. . .the Giants want to change their hitters’ mind-set, a process that
began when they replaced hitting coach Carney Lansford with Hensley
Meulens after the season, and Molina’s .285 on-base percentage did not
fit with the philosophy. Plus, when you register the lowest OBP in baseball (.309), relying purely on instinct might not be such a good idea.
“Last year we were challenged because we had a bunch of free
swingers, and some of our better hitters were free swingers,” general
manager Brian Sabean said, naming Molina and Pablo Sandoval among them.
“It is a shift. The first thing we’ll do once we have the players at
hand on the roster is figure out how we can have a better attack. It’s
not necessarily hitting home runs as much as taking care of your
opportunities. We are going to work counts more if possible.”
I’m trying to figure out what my favorite part of this story is. The choices:
- The fact that Hensley Meulens, the man tasked with implementing this alleged new philosophy, had a lifetime .288 OBP;
- The fact that Sabean seems to think that you should teach the players you have how to get on base as opposed to actually going out and signing players who have demonstrated that they know how to get on base;
- The fact that eight days after this story was first published, the Giants re-signed Bengie Molina, who is repeatedly cited in the article as a counter-example to the team’s alleged philosophy and is probably the least patient hitter in baseball; or
Other than that, great philosophy fellas. Whether it’s any better than the last two Giants philosophies (i.e. “Do whatever Barry wants” and “sign old dudes and talk about how great it was when Barry was here”) is an open question.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.