Before the beginning of the 2013 season, Bruce Bochy stated that he would employ a left field platoon. After re-signing Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt in the offseason, the San Francisco Giants really only had to address one position in the offseason: left field.
Gregor Blanco became the everyday left fielder after Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games last season. Blanco plays some of the best defense on the Giants, as fans witnessed when Blanco made an incredible, diving catch in Matt Cain’s perfect game. Although Blanco’s defense is near perfect, his hitting was inconsistent last season. Blanco hit .244 with five home runs and 34 RBI’s. Blanco was usually hitting in the seventh spot in the lineup, so he wasn’t expected to be a big RBI producer, but Blanco did have some key hits for the Giants in the 2012 postseason.
In the offseason, the Giants brought Andres Torres back after sending him to the New York Mets in 2011 as part of the Angel Pagan trade. Torres was a fan favorite, a key contributor to the Giants’ World Series run in 2010, and an inspirational story. Torres wanted to come back to the Giants because he experienced a breakout year in 2010 after being a longtime minor leaguer. The Giants’ interest in bringing back Torres was mutual, so they signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract.
The Giants wanted to utilize both Blanco’s and Torres’ strengths, so Bruce Bochy decided that a left field platoon was the best option for the Giants. Blanco, a left-handed hitter, would mostly face right-handed pitchers, and Torres, a switch hitter, would mostly hit right-handed and would face left-handed pitchers. Blanco and Torres are both versatile outfielders who can play all three outfield positions, so in addition to their time in left field, they could provide backup innings for Angel Pagan or Hunter Pence.
So far this season, Blanco has had 71 at-bats compared to Torres’ 51 at-bats. This is mostly due to the fact that the Giants have faced more right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. However, Blanco has taken advantage of his at-bats more than Torres has. Blanco is hitting .282 so far with 5 RBI’s and a .363 OBP (as of May 3rd). Torres, on the other hand, has struggled offensively so far, and he’s hitting .235, with 2 RBI’s and a .250 OBP (as of May 3rd). Also, they each have two stolen bases.
Defensively, Blanco is the slightly better option once again. He hasn’t committed any errors so far this season, he has a 1.00 fielding percentage, and he has had 29 putouts in 30 chances. The Giants are only a month into their season, but, regardless, these are still very impressive numbers. Torres has committed two errors so far this season. One of those errors came on a routine play off of a hit from Carlos Quentin of the Padres. The Giants had a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Quentin hit the ball right to Torres, and, for some inexplicable reason, Torres over-ran the ball and let it get past him. This play ended up costing Barry Zito, and it led to five runs scored by the Padres. Torres also has a .895 fielding percentage and 17 putouts out of 19 chances.
Statistically, it seems as if Blanco should continue to get more starts than Torres should, but it is still early in the season, and Bochy is going to continue to use the left field platoon. However, the Giants are bringing another player into the mix. The Giants made a few roster moves today, and one move included optioning Hector Sanchez to Fresno and calling up Francisco Peguero.
Peguero is an outfielder for the Fresno Grizzlies who is hitting .415 with two home runs, five doubles, and 27 total hits in 15 games. Peguero had a fantastic spring with the Giants and almost made the final 25-man roster, but the Giants decided to carry three catchers (Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, Guillermo Quiroz) instead of a fifth outfielder. Peguero, like Torres and Blanco, can play all three outfield positions, has speed, and provides another right-handed batter off the bench for the Giants. He could also be used simply for pinch-running situations if Bochy doesn’t start him in left field. He was called up last September from Fresno and went 3 for 3 in his stolen base attempts.
The Giants face the Dodgers this weekend in San Francisco, and they face lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday. There’s a possibility that Peguero could start that game, depending on how Torres does today against Clayton Kershaw. Torres is slumping, but that doesn’t mean that Bochy will immediately give Peguero the “right-handed role” in the left field platoon. However, Bochy might want to give Peguero a start or two soon just to see how well he hits big-league pitching. Blanco has played well enough that he has solidified his role in the left field platoon. Now it’s time to see Peguero compete with Torres for the other spot in the left field platoon.