Selecting a designated hitter normally isn’t a burdensome undertaking for a National League manager. Over the course of the regular season, your preferred DH becomes relatively clear. The blunt gist of a DH is someone who’s slow, can’t play defense, and customarily hits for power. Obviously there isn’t a single perfect description, but something along those lines fits the bill of a DH.
Well, for Bruce Bochy and the Giants, the choice isn’t so clear. Yes, he has a narrowed down list. In no order, Joaquin Arias, Hector Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, Pablo Sandoval and Xavier Nady all round out that somewhat trimmed list. The thing is, it’s more tricky than it seems. Of course you could pin down the best hitter of the bunch and call it a day, but there’s more to it.
To start it off, Arias isn’t a prototypical DH. For one, he’s a gold-glove caliber of a third baseman, and secondly, he lacks power. If you think back to the ideal DH, those two traits don’t fit the description of that image.
The Giants are wasting Arias’s defensive talents by using him as their DH. So, flip-flopping Sandoval and Arias solves that issue, right? Not so fast. While flip-flopping the two seems wise, complications could follow if Sandoval’s mindset is tinkered with, even if it’s the slightest amount.
Ok, we know that Sandoval isn’t merely the defensive asset that Arias is, as his range, leaping ability, and overall awareness can’t match Arias’. With that said, he has made some remarkable plays. For example, during Game 2 of the World Series, he performed a leaping grab to prevent extra bases and a run from scoring off a scorching line drive from Miguel Cabrera. More simply, he’s been nothing short of sure-handed, unlike in the regular season where his weight seemingly crumbled his defensive talents.
The point is, there are few positives that will come out of putting his mind strictly to offense because he’s locked in, hitting north of .700 over two games in this year’s World Series with three home runs. If you prefer a clearer picture, ponder upon this question; would you rather have a very productive bat, or a more defensive oriented corp holding down the hot corner? The first option surely seems like the beneficial road to take, wouldn’t you agree?
And wouldn’t you know, sticking with Sandoval at third base is exactly what Bochy is reportedly going to do. According to CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly on Twitter, Bochy is leaning towards Sanchez as his DH in the American League park.
The Giants are scheduled to face right-handers in Games 3 and 4, so Sanchez, who had an OPS of .661 against righties during the regular season, seems like the most perceptible option for the job. While Huff, the only other left on the narrowed down list, certainly boasts an abounding amount of experience, his recent production falls short of respectable.
Also, consider that Sanchez is a switch-hitter, meaning if the Tigers brought in a left, he wouldn’t be replaced for a pinch-hitter, which is more important than you might think.
Sanchez’s primary position is as a catcher. In other words, he’s Buster Posey’s only alternative should an injury arise seeing that they are the only two catches on San Francisco’s World Series’ roster.
Obviously Bochy is fully aware of this scenario and probably wouldn’t yank Sanchez for a pinch-hitter should the situation present itself, but with Sanchez being a switch-hitter, he’s causing the Giants to avoid a sticky situation. Instead, in the worst case scenario, Sanchez would just slide over to the catcher’s position on a double switch. At this stage, avoiding extra scrambles are delightful for managers.
Yes, Sanchez is not producing at an elite level for someone who will presumably be the Giants’ DH for at least the next two games, if not three. Numbers-wise, the rookie catcher hasn’t recorded a hit since the NLDS, and overall, he has compiled only seven at-bats in the playoffs. He’s not to blame, though. The variable to blame is the lack of consistent playing time that Sanchez is receiving, which, believe it or not, affects a hitter substantially, especially a young hitter such as Sanchez.
With consistency comes confidence which eventually results in the main goal, production. Using Sandoval in the DH role certainly seemed wise at first, but tinkering with the white-hot “Panda” isn’t worth the risk when you’re two games away from winning the World Series.
Instead, let his sidekick handle the duties.