San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval's Return Means the End of Brandon Crawford
Bruce Bochy said trainers tell him Pablo Sandoval is a week away from activation. He's eligible Thursday.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) August 5, 2012
Make no mistake, Sandoval will play third base when he returns. Bruce Bochy doesn't want to see a repeat of Sandoval's hamstring pull in a stretch at first base, so the Panda will return to his familiar hot corner. That's certainly good news for the Giants' offense.
But it's probably also bad news for Brandon Crawford because Marco Scutaro, who's been manning third base since he came over from Colorado, can play his position.
Crawford has been one of baseball's worst shortstops this season—literally. Crawford is dead last among starting shortstops in OPS. It's been a disappointing year for Crawford, who the Giants didn't exactly expect to be an all-star. But even with meager expectations, Crawford's useless bat and shakier-than-anticipated defense have been a complete disaster.
To put it kindly, Crawford doesn't deserve to see any more starts at shortstop this year.
Marco Scutaro, however, has played 666 career games at short, and his numbers are a hell of a lot better than Crawford's—although it would be nearly impossible for them to be worse.
In 27 games at short this year, Scutaro has hit .328 with three homers. That's a small sample size from this season, but even if we only took those numbers, Scutaro has outproduced more than a half-season's worth of Crawford starts at the position. Of course, Scutaro's 2012 games at short were played in the thin air of Coors Field. But if we look at his career production at shortstop, Scutaro's OPS of .757 blows away the .613 figure Crawford has put up this year.
But what about defense?
Crawford's UZR of 3.1 ranks him 14th among shortstops. He's committed 13 errors so far this year, which ties him for fifth-most among shortstops. So, whether you prefer new-age or old-school, the numbers don't show Crawford to be all that great in the field, either.
Overall, Scutaro has committed 11 errors this year while playing second base and shortstop. His .978 career fielding percentage is better than Crawford's .970 figure.
Even if Crawford has a slight advantage defensively—although I'm being kind by honoring his statistically unsubstantiated reputation as a good defensive player—Scutaro's enormous advantage at the plate makes him the clear choice to play shortstop for the Giants down the stretch.
The return of Pablo Sandoval means the end of Brandon Crawford this year.
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