San Francisco Giants Role Players Getting The Job Done


Everyone around baseball knows how valuable guys like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence are to the San Francisco Giants. But those who follow the Giants closely know how valuable the role players have been during the crucial months of August and September. With the injury bug biting the club hard, the replacements have all stepped up to keep the orange and black in the pennant chase.

Early in the year, the bench was a real liability for the Giants. When players needed a day off to rest and heal up a minor injury, there was an immediate and steep downgrade in their replacement. Things got so bad for the offense that Dan Uggla was brought in to start at second. That should be enough of an indicator right there.

Luckily for the Giants, things have turned around for their role players. Instead of a liability, the Giants’ bench has become a strength due to their strong play. Even as injuries continue to hit the Giants locker room, the confidence stays high, as everyone has worked together to pick up the slack.

When Hector Sanchez went down with a serious concussion, Posey’s backup seemed like a huge question mark. But with the emergence of rookie signal caller Andrew Susac, the Giants again have a solid catcher who can give Posey a day away from the squat. Susac has done admirably in his first big league audition, both with the glove and the bat.

Sep 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (34) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Susac made his big league debut on July 26th (technically, May 22nd counting the weird time-travelling rain delay game with the Colorado Rockies) and has handled the bat very well. In his first 28 games, he has hit .269 with three home runs, six doubles and a very respectable .329 OBP. His eighteen RBI’s leads all National League rookies since his callup. In a position normally known for its defense, the Giants have two offensive standouts that can don the gear.

Susac is also getting very valuable learning experience at the Major League level. He’s getting the opportunity to learn the pitching staff, which will come in handy in the future. Susac’s great play has given Manager Bruce Bochy the confidence to play Posey at first base, giving the superstar a chance to rest his legs every now and again.

Joaquin Arias is a hugely valuable player to San Francisco also. His defense, which allows him to play every infield position in a pinch, makes him a great asset. But his bat was a huge problem early in the year.

Arias’ average sat under .200 as late as August 17th, and there was absolutely no pop in his bat. Through his first 84 games, Arias hit .196 with only four extra-base hits. He has gotten hot and is hitting .444 with four extra-base hits over his last eighteen games. Not only has he provided solid defense at all four infield spots, but also his bat now provides a spark to the bottom of the lineup.

Center field and left field have been like revolving doors for the Giants this year. Angel Pagan has missed a lot of time on the disabled list this year with a bad back and still occasionally misses games due to stiffness. With the injury to Brandon Belt at first base, Michael Morse moved from left field to first, leaving left field wide open.

That’s where Gregor Blanco comes in. Normally the fourth outfielder, Blanco has started in both center and left, and his bat has been phenomenal. Over his last 59 games, the veteran has hit .307 with 29 runs scored, 18 RBI’s and an OBP just under .400. After a rough start, his hot hitting has given the Giants some depth in the outfield and allowed Bochy to give Pagan his rest days when necessary.

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Travis Ishikawa is a familiar face to Giants fans. He played a huge part in San Francisco’s run to the 2010 World Series, including drawing probably the most famous walk in Giants’ history. He returned to the team that he earned a World Series ring with at the end of July and has been very good in his time in the Bay.

With Belt dealing with concussion symptoms and Morse nursing an oblique injury, Ishikawa has gotten a lot of playing time and has played an excellent first base, as he always has. Now his bat has come around too.

Ishikawa began the year in Pittsburgh, and hit .206 in fifteen games. In his 40 games since rejoining his first club, his average is .316 with two home runs and fifteen RBI’s. His overall season average has climbed from .206 to .275 in his short time with San Francisco.

Rookie Matt Duffy has also been a key component to the Giants. Despite coming to San Francisco directly from the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, the young second basemen has held his own against big league pitching. His overall average sits at .235, but that doesn’t tell the whole story regarding Duffy.

Duffy has been most valuable to the Giants as a pinch-hitter. In this role, the twenty-three year old is hitting .400 (4/10), and he proved his worth on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the bases loaded in a tie game in the ninth inning, the pinch-hitting Duffy lined a two-run single straight up the middle, scoring the two runs that would give the Giants the win.

In order for a team to make long postseason runs, a lot of things need to go right. Players have to step up and play their best baseball during critical points. As the Giants continue to chase the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, the unexpected players are making their biggest contributions.