Okay, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on. Let’s jump right into it…
— The Giants are 82-62, seven and a half games up in the NL West. They still have 18 games left to play (the Dodgers have 17), and the magic number is all the way down to 11. Let’s say the Giants go 8-7 before that final series in Los Angeles. That means, as long as the Dodgers lose at least three games (11-3 or worse over that span), the Giants will have clinched the NL West before that final set. At the rate they’re going, though, they might even clinch in that antepenultimate series — the three-game set at home against Arizona. Anyway, the playoff odds are promising to say the least, ranging from 99.6% (Baseball Prospectus) to 99.9% (Clay Davenport).
— Marco Scutaro wants to return to the Giants. I was in love with the Scutaro acquisition at the time, and he’s hit .342/.362/.446 (118 wRC+) in 45 games since joining the Giants. There was a point when the 2013 second base free agent market had some pretty interesting options, but with Brandon Phillips and Howie Kendrick signing extensions a while back, it’s been reduced to slim pickings.
So I’m obviously in favor of the Giants re-signing Scutaro. But I’m not thrilled about the idea. Scutaro is just about guaranteed to get a two-year deal, and he’s only a month away from turning 37. It’s quite rare for non-elite second basemen to put up decent numbers at that age: for reference, here’s a list of every second baseman since 1961 that has amassed 1.5+ WAR in a single season. My concern is that if the Giants opt to bring back Scutaro, they’ll a) pay a pretty penny in order to do so, and b) end up getting the Scutaro that hit .271/.324/.361 (77 wRC+) in 95 games with the Rockies.
It’s a little early for this, but I’d have to say Kelly Johnson is at the top of my wishlist. He’ll only be 31 years old next season, and he’s hit .245/.331/.427 (104 wRC+) over the last three years. It’s admittedly been a down year for Johnson, who has an 85 wRC+ across 544 plate appearances. But consider this: the average AL second baseman also has an 85 wRC+.
— Moving onward, one of the bigger concerns of late has been Pablo Sandoval‘s lack of productivity. Before yesterday, Sandoval had hit .222/.281/.263 in 27 games since returning from his hamstring injury. A dropoff in power numbers was to be expected, given the fractured hamate bone he sustained earlier this season — the effects of which tend to linger for months on end. But his struggles seemed to extend far beyond this. One of the luxuries of having a big lead in their division is that the Giants can afford to rest some of their important contributors. Bruce Bochy gave Sandoval a mental break for the final game of the Rockies series, which amounted to two days of rest for Pablo, since the Giants had a scheduled day off on Thursday. Yesterday, Sandoval went three for four with a double, probably the best performance he’s had at the plate in a month. Needless to say, it’s nice to see him potentially heating up; oddly enough, I’m feeling a whole lot more confident about Sandoval than I was just a few days ago.