Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NL Positional Hierarchy?

1 – (Pitcher) Their Rotation (Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner) is possibly the best in the NL, top to bottom. The bullpen is pretty quality with one of the best closers (in Wilson) in the NL, and MLB period.

2 – (Catcher) Buster Posey has quickly established himself as probably the first or second best overall catcher in the NL. His stiffest competition is Brian McCann but Posey is a better defender.

3 – (First) Aubrey Huff was considered to be a defensive liability and washed up slugger. He’s responded by, thus far, being the second best first baseman in the NL in 2010 – the position that Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder and Mr. Pujols plays. Votto still has the edge in that illustrious group.

4 – (Second) Freddy Sanchez has really struggled with the bat, especially of late, but he’s played excellent defense and keeps his head down. He’s a streaky hitter that could get hot at any time. Prado, Dan Uggla and the injured Chase Utley are obviously ahead of him on the all-NL depth chart. There are likely others.

5 – (Third) Pablo Sandoval has likely been the most promising, yet disappointing player in 2010. A host of players in the NL are outplaying him including Zimmerman, Wright and Rolen. Pablo’s talent makes him a threat to go off at any time.

6 – (Shortstop) The Giants have not one but two shortstops that a lot of teams might replace their own with. Uribe has fantastic power at the position and plays ok defense. Renteria plays ok defense and despite having a complete inability to pull the ball, has gotten on base quite regularly and provided some of the biggest hits in 2010 (see 2 RBI triple versus Dodgers Sunday and game winning HR off Wagner in April). They aren’t Hanley Ramirez, but who is? Plus, he’s having a down year.

7 – (Left) DeRosa was supposed to patrol the graveyard Bonds left (no pun intended). Sabean learned wrists are tricky and he’s contributed zero in 2010, and I’m not optimistic for ’11. But, Huff has played there at times and not embarrassed himself terribly on defense while hitting. Burrel has been the mainstay since being picked up for peanuts after the Rays released him. It’s necessary to replace him with Schierholtz late, but his power bat and patience has been a nice addition to the formerly free swinging Giants. And the SJ native who grew up a Giants fan tore out the Bums hearts with an 8th inning two run blast Saturday.

8 – (Center) Best…Centerfielder…In…The...NL. That’s right – the 32 year old journeyman is the best centerfielder in the NL, and possibly MLB in 2010. He’s catching everything in sight, getting on base, stealing bases and hitting for pretty solid power with 33 doubles (2nd in NL) and 11 HR. His ability to track down fly balls and make the most difficult plays look simple may cost him a gold glove.

9 – (Right) The Giants were about to pluck DeJesus from the lowly Royals and place him in right before he injured his thumb, season ending style. That would have plugged the Giants’ biggest hole, gave them a solid #2 hitter, added some athleticism and improved their outfield defense. As it is, the Giants decided to roll the dice and keep their prospects. With Schierholtz playing solid defense and Rowand starting to show signs of life, they can mix and match and make it work. And the late inning defensive alignment of Rowand, Torres and Schierholtz isn’t going to let many balls drop.

What’s it all add up to? The best run differential in the NL. That’s right, as of August 4th the Giants have the best run differential in the NL and the second best record. They still trail the Padres by one game – held entirely in the loss column – but they are closing fast. The Giants’ key trade deadline acquisitions came much before the deadline when they moved Molina out and Posey in and Bumgarner cemented himself as the 5th starter. This team has got a chance at the wild card, division, pennant and who knows what else. It feels oh so good following the Barry Bonds hangover years.

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