Marco Scutaro: San Francisco Giants Second Baseman Should Be a Keeper for 2013

Mark Reynolds@@markreynolds33Correspondent IISeptember 4, 2012

Buster Posey knows a hero when he sees one.
Buster Posey knows a hero when he sees one.Tony Medina/Getty Images

Marco Scutaro delivered a clutch walk-off hit for the San Francisco Giants on Monday, and such heroics are nothing new for the second baseman.

There were a number of reasons why I was a huge fan of the Giants' midseason acquisition of Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies.

While Rome was burning in Boston last September, Scutaro did his best to hold the team together by hitting .387/.438/.581 down the stretch.

Besides his clutch performance during the Red Sox's historic collapse, Scutaro has always been an extreme contact hitter—striking out in only 11 percent of his career plate appearances while walking nearly nine percent of the time. He's a patient hitter who rarely swings at the first pitch, works the count well and doesn't expand the strike zone too often. 

Though Scutaro doesn't have much power, he's hit line drives over 20 percent of the time that he's made contact during his career, and that number is up to 25 percent this season—eighth best in the game, right behind the great Robinson Cano.

In 36 games since being acquired by the Giants, he's hit .322/.344/.425, including a .333 batting average with runners in scoring position. The Giants have gone 22-14 since acquiring Scutaro, despite losing Melky Cabrera due to a failed drug test and not getting the production they expected from their other midseason acquisition, Hunter Pence (.234/.295/.371 with the Giants).

Angel Pagan, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt have also been hot for the Giants, but replacing Ryan Theriot with Scutaro has given the Giants a huge boost at the keystone. In 60 fewer games than Theriot, Scutaro has already provided the Giants with more total value this season.

Led by the acquisition of Scutaro and the scorching hot Pagan, Belt and MVP front-runner Posey, the Giants have led the National League in scoring in August and September.

Scutaro will turn 37 before the end of the calendar year, so he's closer to the end of his career than his prime. However, with the Giants' best middle infield prospect, Joe Panik, at least two years away from the show, re-signing Scutaro for one more year would be the best bet for production at second base in 2013.

Scutaro is getting older, he isn't going to hit for much power and he isn't going to remind anyone of Roberto Alomar in the field. However, for a team that struggled to hit with men in scoring position for the better of the last two seasons and had to endure the punch-less, range-less combination of Manny Burriss and Theriot at second base for most of 2012, Scutaro has been a godsend.

As players get closer to 40 years old, a precipitous collapse starts to become a more likely possibility. However, with no readily available alternatives in the farm system and a weak crop of middle infield free agents hitting the market, one more bet on the gritty Scutaro is a gamble worth making.