Dodger / Giant Series Preview – Panik in Detroit
Been a long time since the opening day series preview, and much has changed for both teams. I expected the Giants to be in second place, but I didn’t expect them to be this close. Plenty of time to widen the lead but for now they are legit contenders to take the NL West. Given they lost Matt Cain for the season, Belt for most of the season, this is a bit shocking. How are they able to hang around?
1st Base – Michael Morse started out hot with an OPS of .925 on June 1st, but his bat hit a tailspin as he had a .666 OPS over the next 222 PA. Since that point he’s been around a .800 OPS hitter. However Morse be gone, and in Sept the Giants have turned to Adam Duvall and Travis Ishikawa. Who? Ishikawa has been around forever bouncing from AAA to majors to AAA. He is not now nor ever has been any good at hitting major league pitching. Adam Duvall is a 26-year-old rookie who tore up the PCL. Dodger fans are familiar with older players tearing up the PCL. He’s not very good either. While Morse helped get the Giants back on track in August, the Giants very much need Brandon Belt back and hitting if they are going to get any meaningful production from 1st base. Cause Duvall ain’t going to be that guy.
2nd Base – 2011 round 1st round pick (29th overall) Joe Panik has taken the job the clearly needed taking and has played an all-star caliber 2nd base for over 200 plate appearances. Joe does not have much speed (0 stolen bases), does not have much power (1 home runs), but he does hit singles, and take enough walks to hang a .369 OBP on the wall. For a team with a hole at second as wide as Bochy’s head, he has been the duct tape of relief.
SS – Brandon Crawford – fielding whiz who will take at least one or two hits away this series, his bat hit a funk on June 25th. Since that date Brandon has the dreaded triple stat line below .300 in every category. .204 / .288 / .255. We can clearly rule out Crawford’s bat as a reason for the Giant being in 2nd place.
3rd Base – Pablo Sandoval – he’s doing okay, struggling a bit in Sept, he is what he is.
Catcher – OMG – Can you get any hotter? Buster’s last 86 PA – 37 hits, 15 XBH, 7 home runs, .467 BA, .477 OBP, .838 Slug%. 4 is the number here. Buster has only walked and struck out four times in these 86 PA. He is clearly smacking the crap out of every pitch he sees.
CF – Angel Pagan is back, and to no ones surprise they are winning. Pagan is exactly who is he, a good all around player.
RF – Hunter Pence is Hunter Pence, one of the most unorthodox good players in the game.
LF – It was Gregor Blanco who went crazy filling in for every outfielder that needed a break. The weak hitting Blanco has been crushing it since Aug 16th. In 76 PA, Blanco has 12 XBH, .379 BA, .461 OBP, and a whopping .697 slugging %. Blanco’s career slug % is .344.
This Giant run has been fueled by the extra-ordinary streaks that Posey / Panik / Blanco have been on. You can imagine Posey doing this from time to time, but for Panik, he may never do this run again, and for a long time MLB player like Blanco, this is probably as good as it has ever gotten for him.
The Dodgers are running Ryu / Grienke / Kershaw at this lineup. They have a two game lead. They should have a three game lead by Monday, but when you have two Cinderella’s on your team, don’t count your chickens. Panik and Blanco have to run out of steam sometime, and when they do it should be a deep decline not some steady little drop. Now would be a good time for that pumpkin to show up.