NL West lead: 5.5
Magic number: 19
How many times have we talked about this: The Giants’ struggles with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Last year, it was a bigger issue when the Giants had one of the most anemic offensive seasons in history. How many times last year did we see a Giant strikeout when the situation calls for contact, contact of any kind.
This year, it’s been a different story. The Giants are hitting .375 with a runner on third and less than two outs. That number not only represents the number of clutch hits the Giants have delivered this season, but it’s also impacted by the Giants’ league-high 53 sacrifice flies. If you added those 53 outs to the Giants’ 267 at-bats with a runner on third with less than two outs (sacrifice flies are not counted as at-bats), their average drops to .313.
But there is an oddity in the numbers. The Giants have hit .287 with runners on second and third (regardless of outs). But that number drops to .210 with the bases loaded.
So when the Giants put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh on Friday, it was an easy decision to walk Angel Pagan to load the bases, setting up a force at every base.
But it also brought up Marco Scutaro. Scutaro may be the one Giant that fans loved to see up in that situation.
To put it simply, Scutaro has been clutch. Scutaro has hit .273 with runners in scoring position. But if you put a runner on third, his numbers take off.
He’s hit .357 with the bases loaded, and he’s hit a whopping .444 with a runner on third with less than two outs.
And here’s another stat: In 37 plate appearances with a runner on third and less than two outs this season, Scutaro has struck out ZERO TIMES.
That’s because Scutaro makes contact on 94 percent of strikes thrown to him.
The Dodgers can hoot and holler about all the bats they’ve added this season — Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez — but no midseason acquisition has been bigger than the Giants’ addition of Scutaro.
Get this: In 95 games with the Colorado Rockies — playing the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — Scutaro hit 4 HRs, 30 RBI and batted .271. In 39 games with the Giants — playing the least hitter-friendly park in baseball — Scutaro has 2 HRs, 26 RBI and a .331 average.
So then it was no surprise when Scutaro smacked a tiebreaking two-run single to right with the bases loaded in the seventh, sending the Giants to a 5-2 win over the Dodgers.
CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly suggested, given that the Giants will have a vacancy at second base in 2013, that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Scutaro sign a two-year deal with the Giants in the offseason.
Even if he will by 37 in 2013, that doesn’t sound too bad to us.