EXTRA BAGGS: Scutaro MLB's best at contact, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Scutaro MLB's best at contact, etc.


SAN FRANCISCO The next time you see Marco Scutaro swingand miss, take stock of the moment. Etch it in your memory. Then understand youarent likely to see it again soon.

Entering Friday nights huge showdown with the Los AngelesDodgers, Scutaro had made contact on 94 percent of strikes thrown to him thisseason. If that sounds exceptionally high, it is.

It leads the major leagues.

Josh Hamilton swings and misses at 31 percent of strikesthrown to him. Even a hitter with such refined skills as Buster Posey swingsand misses at 11 percent of the strikes he sees.

But Scutaro is in another universe. If the ball is anywherebetween the chest and the hollow of the kneecap, and is over any portion of thedish, Scutaro will find a way to put his bat on it.

That is a handy skill for a No. 2 hitter. It gives Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy supreme confidence to put runners in motion. Unless its apitchout, Scutaro will probably advance the runner -- or better yet, move himfrom first to third with one of those flares to right field.

Tim Lincecum might have said it best:

Well, I know I didnt like facing him, he said.

Scutaro smiled when that comment was relayed to him.

I didnt like facing him, either, he said.

When the Giants acquired Scutaro from the Colorado Rockieson July 27, he was a 35-year-old hitting .271 with an unimpressive .684 OPS. Hewas on pace to hit five home runs and drive in fewer than 60. But the Giantskept asking about him; Im told they had asked the Boston Red Sox about tradingfor him over the offseason, too.

Finally, a week ahead of the trade deadline, the Rockiescalled the Giants with a list of names. Scutaro was on it.

The Giants tried not to give away their excitement.

The Rockies only asked for minor leaguer Charlie Culberson,who had long ago lost his shine as a top prospect. Colorado even kicked in500,000 to cover some of the roughly 2 million remaining on Scutaroscontract.

The Giants didnt have to take any high-priced dead weight,as the Dodgers did.

It just goes to show that value doesnt always lie in theritziest players. Not only has Scutaro been a perfect addition for Bochyskeep the line moving offense, but hes come up with some huge hits withrunners on base. You could make the argument that Scutaros approach has rubbedoff on some of his teammates, especially when you think back to the first halfand consider the Giants woeful .225 average with runners in scoring positionprior to the break.

They were 4-for-11 with RISP in a well played, 5-2 victoryover the Dodgers on a rowdy Orange Friday at AT&T Park. And Scutaro, ofcourse, collected the two-out, two-run, tiebreaking single in the seventhinning.

Theyre hitting .311 with RISP since the All-Star break --the best in the majors.

It comes down to making more contact with runners on base,and Scutaro has the stats to prove it: nobody in the major leagues is better atputting the bat on the ball.

Seeing as second base is a wide-open proposition for 2013, it wouldn't be surprising to see Scutaro return on a two-year contract.

There was no crowing in the Giants clubhouse, even thoughtheir 5 12game lead is their largest in the NL West since the final game ofthe 2003 season. (Coincidental note: The pitcher they faced in Game 1 of theNLDS vs. Florida that season, Josh Beckett, was on the mound for the Dodgers Fridaynight.)

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But Scutaro was among several players who noted that theydlove to clinch before setting foot in Dodger Stadium for those final threeregular-season games.

We dont want to go back there those last three games andbe close, Scutaro said.

Added Sergio Romo: Wed like to not necessarily put ourfeet up, because you never can in this game, but wed like to have an idea whatsgoing to happen. It happens so seldom in this game, but thats what we want.

Brandon Crawford had another solid game on both ends, twicegetting on base and scoring runs from second base on singles. But Joaquin Ariaswill be at shortstop against left-hander Chris Capuano on Saturday, Bochy said.

Prior to the game, Bochy said he planned to move bodies inthe late innings and he accomplished it without wasting an extra player. AfterGregor Blanco pinch-ran for Hector Sanchez, Bochy put Blanco in left field,moved Brandon Belt from left to first base and stuck Buster Posey behind theplate.

Blanco stole a base and scored the tiebreaking run, and theGiants improved their defense in at least two spots without going to the bench.All in all, not bad.

Santiago Casilla is recharged and has become a late-inningweapon again. As mentioned in the slideshow I filed earlier today, the Giantsbullpen had struggled against the Dodgers while posting a 5.97 ERA in 12 games.Its on nights like Friday that a closer by committee is really tested. Casillaand Romo made the pitches to nail down a seismic victory.

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."