The Baseball Notebook

May 5, 2010 2:00 PM

San Fran's Offense

Our midweek look at contenders is going west this week, and we start in San Francisco. Last year, the Giants began the post-Barry Bonds era with an emphasis on strong pitching. They stayed in the playoff race to the very end and finished a close third in a strong division. With back-to-back Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum anchoring a strong rotation, pitching isn't going to be a problem in the Bay Area. It's the bats that are the worry in Frisco. Do they have the offense to beyond the regular season this year?

The heart of the lineup is Pablo Sandoval. He emerged last year as the best third baseman in the National League, both with the glove and the bat. He has validated that with a hot start out of the gate. It was the rest of the offense that was the concern. So far, so good. San Fran is getting production from a lot of different people. Aubrey Huff seems to have regained the stroke that made him a top DH with Baltimore two years ago before collapsing in 2009. Edgar Renteria has been getting on base with consistency. Catcher Bengie Molina and rightfielder Nate Schierholtz are off to good starts. Most suprisingly, Juan Uribe has stepped in for the injured Freddy Sanchez at second and shown some pop, posting a .472 slugging percentage to date.

The only two players not doing well are Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa. Howls of protest are surely going up in Frisco at my inclusion of Rowand, since he's hitting .300. But his OBP and slugging numbers are poor. A singles hitter who doesn't draw walks or hit the ball in the gaps is a liability, regardless if he scores well in a traditional category. DeRosa is cold right now regardless of what measurement you use. While he can be expected to pick it up, he is overrated as an offensive player. One of the more bizarre storylines of last summer came when he was picked up by St. Louis and the baseball press was all aglow at the Pujols-Holliday-DeRosa middle of the order. I like DeRosa, and he's a nice versatile player, but bracketing him with those two was incredibly over the top.

Prognosis: While Schierholtz & Molina are likely to come down to earth, there should be a modest pickup by DeRosa and however the playing time gets sorted out between Uribe and Sanchez, the latter's return will give more depth to the attack. San Francisco's bread and butter is still pitching, but they have the offense to legitimately talk playoffs and World Series.

Tomorrow we stay in the West with Colorado and jump back to pitching.

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