EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.


SAN DIEGO Here are the numbers that Buster Posey ownssince the All-Star break:

A .439 average. Fifty hits in 114 at-bats. Ten doubles andnine homers, too. And 35 RBIs in 32 games.

If he were playing his own video game, hed have accumulatedenough sunflower seeds to buy a riding lawnmower. (If that reference sounds bizarre, you haven't downloaded "Buster Bash.")

Posey was 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI doubleSaturday night, continuing to smoke one pitch after another to right field asonly he can.

When he lasered another to right in the ninth inning, hehustled another double out of it. He didnt let up even as the Giants wereleading 7-5, and even though he already had caught five pitchers on a warmnight at Petco Park.

Its a good thing Posey kept playing all out. He was able toscore on Hunter Pences double, and that run proved invaluable when the Giantswere pushed to the limit before escaping with an 8-7 victory.

Lets also recall that Posey threw out Cameron Maybin tryingto steal second base in the second inning an inning in which the Padresloaded the bases with no outs against Barry Zito, yet only squeezed one run outof it. Poseys throw minimized that threat.

It was somewhere between that throw and that hustle doublein the ninth that I realized: Posey truly is, at this moment, the most valuableplayer in the National League. As amazing as Andrew McCutchen has been for thePirates, Posey has transformed himself into a dominant presence in the middleof the Giants lineup while also contributing at the most important defensivespot on the diamond.

You could make up a nice spreadsheet and compare Posey toMcCutchen in every statistical category. Im sure McCutchens WAR is justdandy.

But every MVP candidacy is built on a narrative, too. And what a story would it be if the Giants, led by Posey in the middle of theirlineup, persevered to win the NL West without Melky Cabrera. What would it tell youif the Giants suddenly lost the player who was leading the major leagues inhits and runs scored, then managed to stay in first place over the final 45games?

It would say that Poseys impact is undeniable. And hisvalue is inestimable.

Good lord. Posey has 50 hits since the All-Star break.

And yes, I know I already mentioned that once.

I didnt need to ask Bruce Bochy if Posey would becatching Sunday afternoons series finale in San Diego. If Bochy had planned torest Posey, he wouldve given him his break Saturday night and had Hector Sanchezwork with Barry Zito. When Posey was in the lineup to catch Zito, you knew hewould play the following day, too.

Sure enough, Bochy said Posey would be in there.

The Giants faced a left-hander Saturday and theyll getanother on Sunday. Cabrera, its been noted, had the third highestaverage against lefty pitchers of any major league hitter. He was hitting .395.

Posey ranked second. He entered the game at .423.

So as the Giants look to find a consistent lineup againstlefties, youd better believe Posey will be a part of it.

And, as he said after Saturdays game, Regardless, at thispoint in the year, its time to push it a little more. I want to be out thereas much as possible.

Pablo Sandoval will be back in Sundays lineup as well, eventhough he did more running than a refrigerator with a bad seal.

He tripled, slid with a thud when he scored on a sacrificefly, then had another inelegant slide when he scored from second base on asingle.

His strained hamstring survived intact.

I dont think twice. I just go, Sandoval said of his triple.

But he acknowledged that third base looked off in thedistance as he picked up coach Tim Flannery.

I see the base so far, he said, smiling. Its likeFlannery pulled the base out.

Sandoval said he was still 90 percent.

What about Sunday? Maybe 91

Still 90, he said, smiling and exhaling.

In minor league news, Heath Hembree is moving back to Triple-A Fresno after five hitless innings for Single-A San Jose. The Giants wanted Hembree to start out slow at San Jose after missing more than a month with a strained flexor mass in his forearm.

I don't think Hembree will be a candidate to close for the Giants this season. But if he's healthy and effective, and if the reports are good over the next several weeks, then absolutely the Giants will be open-minded to bringing him up in September.

One other minor league note: For the first time in his pro career, Gary Brown started a game someplace other than center field Saturday night. He started in left field and Juan Perez was in center for Double-A Richmond. I'm not sure what that means, but GM Brian Sabean said just the other day he didn't envision Brown playing in the big leagues this season. Anyway, the situation bears watching.

What has been the key for the Giants offense while scoring18 runs in two games at Petco Park?

They arent striking out. Before Angel Pagan got rung up inthe sixth, the Giants didnt have a strikeout in Saturdays game.

Thats a beautiful thing for Bochy, who was so frustratedearlier in the season when the Giants failed to make contact in RBI situations.They simply arent enough of a power team to justify all those strikeouts, hesaid.

Weve talked about it. Weve discussed it, Bochy said. Theyrefighting up there more. Theyre doing a better job of putting the ball in play,cutting down their swing. We had to cut down in that department. And the guys reallyhave made a concerted effort to do that.

As mentioned elsewhere in our coverage, Bochy had a quickhook with Barry Zito. He said having a 13-man staff allows him to do that.

The next item to note: Will Bochy have a similar hook withTim Lincecum the rest of the way?

Im guessing ... yes.

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."