EXTRA BAGGS: Deciphering the Giants' sign language, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Deciphering the Giants' sign language, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford made astrong relay throw to the plate, catcher Buster Posey picked the short hop clean anddeftly applied a tag to the Padres Chase Headley.

It was a pretty, perfectly executed play from start tofinish as the Giants kept rolling along, this time to a 5-1 victory over theSan Diego Padres on Friday.

And Crawford knew what he had to do next.

I went through em all, Crawford said. I tried to kind of combine them all into one. Youve gotta go through four orfive hand signals. Its getting complicated.

Yes, it is. The Giants have the hunter. They have thesalute. They have the horns. Theres some kind of weird, two-handed gesture,too.

You'll have to ask (Ryan) Theriot, Crawford said. He made that one up. I dontknow what it means.

This is what happens when you combine youthful energy, acommanding lead in the NL West and a team that has all the talent andconfidence to make a sustained run through the playoffs.

I love it. I love it, said Angel Pagan, who started the officer-on-deck salute and flashes it whenever he reaches base. The hunt, the salute -- wevegot our own thing. Its to keep a positive environment and you keep it funwhile respecting others and respecting the game. I think its great.

If there is a keeper among the bunch, its the hunt. Backupcatcher Hector Sanchez cant remember the first time he pantomimed reachingbehind his back for an imaginary arrow, pulling back the bow string and lettingit fly. Sometime in August, as he recalls. But it caught on.

Hunt a base hit. Hunt a double, Sanchez said. Its justsomething funny I did, something I made up. If you get a hit, youve got tokeep doing it, right?

Sometimes I forget. Not Pablo. He remembers and does itevery time.

Oh yes. Pablo Sandoval has embraced the art of the hunt. Hespulling back the bow strings more often these days, especially after hitting four homeruns in a three-game span.

When we get RBIs, we do that. We HUNT, Sandoval said. Adouble, a base hit, when we get on base anything. Its good for the team. Goand play the game and have fun. Respect the game but have fun.

Sandoval is having plenty of fun with it now.

Yeah, because for a long time I didnt do nothing, hesaid, with a laugh.

BAGGARLY: Clinch looking like a cinch as Giants roll over Padres

Sandoval just developed his own special home run cheer with injuredcloser Brian Wilson, too. Once the Panda returns to the dugout, he and Wilson stand nose tobeard and jump around in close proximity like theyre at a Megadeth concert.

The hunt is a little less in your face. And it's good for any occasion, as it turns out.

Oh, you can reach on an error, hit a double play to score arun, thatll do it, Pagan said, smiling. Just do something to beat the otherteam. Thats how you hunt. Im the captain, theyre the hunters.

Joaquin Arias has his own signal, too. His teammates tapboth fists on the sides of their heads when he makes a great play, signalinghis deer-like swiftness in the field. The Arias horns and the Spanish shoutof venado -- have become part of the team-wide rotation now.

Finally, Theriot, not one to be left out of the action,began holding out his thumb, index and pinky fingers he may or may not realize that it translates to I love you in American Sign Language -- and waving them around like jazz hands.

Its a lot to remember. But there are some situations thatcall for the full medley and Poseys tag qualified, in Crawfords mind.

Yeah, I tried to do all the stuff, said Crawford, with asly smile, because I know Buster hates it.

The Giants relay in the sixth prevented the tying run from scoringand ensured that Ryan Vogelsong would stay in line for a victory. Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy called it the turning point in the game.

It began with left fielder Gregor Blanco, who went after thedouble in the corner aggressively.

When I was with the Braves, they told me when a guys at firstbase, never let him score, Blanco said. Always go hard to the ball. Thatswhat I did right there. The ball bounced to me and I made a good throw and Crawforddid the rest.

Your batting title update: Andrew McCutchen ended the day at.338. Posey ended it at .335.

One clarification from todays breaking news story on Melky Cabrera:

It isntaccurate to say that he removed his name from consideration for the battingtitle. A player can no more do that than he can change the box scores to add orsubtract hits. Cabrera will end the year with the stats he accumulated. That isthe simple fact.

What happened is that Cabrera requested that the league and unionamend the rule that would automatically give him an extra at-bat to have the 502plate appearances necessary to qualify for the batting title. Players who don't have enough plate appearances to qualify are not recognized in the official league leaders. Cabrera, with an extra at-bat, would still lead the NL with a .346 average, so an exception would be made in his case. There was precedent with Tony Gwynn when he won the batting title in 1996.

RELATED: Bochy commends Melky Cabrera

Here's the wrinkle: The actual qualification threshold is not 502 plate appearances. Rather, a player is qualified if he averages atleast 3.1 plate appearances per games that his team played. For a 162-game season, that's 502 plate appearances. But in the unlikelyevent the Giants were to rain out or have some other instance that would causea game to be cancelled down the stretch, the number of plate appearances wouldchange. For a 161-game season, the threshold to qualify would be 499 plateappearances and Cabrera, with his 501 plate appearances, would win the batting crown no matter what anyonesays or does.

Its an odd, unique and complicated situation. But then, italways is when youre talking about baseball statistics andperformance-enhancing drug use.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."