Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Giants defense may be clankerific but I am not worried


Here is a news flash; the Giants have some players that are not great defensively in the field.

Yeah, I know. It's shocking news that you have probably not heard before. Let me give you a second while you pick your jaw up off the floor. Oh wait, this isn't breaking news? It was written here by Kevin the other day. Anyway, I'm not particularly worried about this, so let me tell you why.

First and foremost, the Giants pitching staff allows among the fewest balls to be put in play in all of Major League Baseball. The pitching staff, from the rotation to the bullpen, is full of guys that will strike out the opposing team. With the high strikeouts, it matters a lot less who is behind the pitcher. After all, a strikeout is the closest thing there is in baseball to a sure out.

Secondly, the Giants have some guys that are not bad defensively at all, most notably Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Belt. I would also say that Buster Posey is solid (however, measuring catcher defense is tricky) and the same could be said for Freddy Sanchez and Cody Ross. In addition, I think Pablo Sandoval will be much improved this year, at least enough to be considered league average.

When you take that as a whole, the Giants have an elite defender in center field, a great defensive replacement in Schierholtz, a good defender at 1st and catcher, and solid defenders at 2nd and 3rd. The only real liabilities are the water buffaloes at the corner outfield spots (which should only be one once Cody Ross returns from injury) and father time at shortstop.

In my book, that isn't too bad. The elite Torres can cover some of the downfalls of Huff and Burrell. This makes both of them better because the amount of area that they are responsible for is much smaller. Plus, in the late innings, Schierholtz comes in anyway. In the infield, the only liability is Tejada, but the Giants pitchers are primarily fly ball guys, so one guy who is below average isn't a killer.

Lastly, there is some voodoo magic going on that gives the Giants a magical boost in their defensive stats. I can't quite figure it out, but the Giants the last three years are the second best defensive team in the majors according to UZR behind the Rays. All the while, the Giants haven't exactly trotted out guys that would be thought of as great defensively at every position.

Maybe the Giants coaches have some magic wisdom that they share with players once they put on a Giants jersey (unlikely) or maybe the pitchers are so good that they make the batted balls easier to field, thus the boost in defensive measurement. Whatever it is, I'm going to go on believing that it will continue.

The Giants defense may not be pleasing to the eye, but I am willing to bet that it gets the job done and lands in the top half of defenses again this season.

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