Xavier Nady looks to provide a big boost for the Giants.
After an uninspiring regular season, Cody Ross was a mesmerizing force for the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 playoffs.
In fact, GM Brian Sabean picked him up late in the season as a preventative measure. He merely wanted to block him from going to another contending team in the National League.
Neither him, nor anyone else in the Giants organization could have envisioned Ross’s subsequent postseason run en route to a World Series title.
The former Marlin hit three home runs, had seven RBI and scored 11 runs with a line score of .288/.354/.820 (AVG/OBP/OPS) in 73 at-bats through 33 regular season games.
In just 51 at-bats through 15 postseason games, Ross belted five big flies with 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. He batted .294 with a .390 OBP and ridiculous 1.076 OPS. He also matched his walk total and eclipsed his amount of doubles by one.
Ross’s incredible production in such a brief period of time was rather astounding. Anyone could discern the impact he had when it mattered most. Major League Baseball sure did by conferring the 2010 NLCS MVP on Mr. Ross.
When the Giants extend their season into October for some 2012 playoff action, who’ll serve as their Cody Ross-like hero?
Let’s take a look at the top three candidates who might provide a mere semblance of a Ross-like impact for the G-Men.
Note: I will include only those players acquired late in the season as Cody Ross had been in 2010. I’ll give a shout-out to the more regular starters at the end of the piece.
Pence (No. 8) needs a few more of these trots to the dugout.
The man with the most accomplished resume is also the most likely to contribute in a Ross-like fashion for the Giants in the 2012 playoffs.
What haven’t been appreciated in San Francisco are his two home runs, .234 batting average, .299 OBP and 36 strikeouts in 128 at-bats. These stats do not align with his career averages.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, the eccentrically swinging Pence is a streaky hitter. He began his career with the Giants with dismal 1-for-12 and 8-for-55 slumps. As of recently, however, Pence has hit .353 with a home run, nine RBI and six runs scored in the past nine contests.
The power numbers are still missing, but he has otherwise established a presence in the No. 5 spot in the lineup. His two assists and .973 fielding percentage in a notoriously difficult right field have been suitable as well.
Pence’s postseason numbers aren’t exemplary, but the experience exists nonetheless. Those at-bats absolutely count for something.
The Giants would have certainly preferred the former Astro to contribute in a way similar to when the Phillies acquired him at the 2011 trade deadline (11 HR, .324 AVG in 54 games). Yet, Pence is on pace to match or exceed all of his career averages (except batting average) if one looks at his entire 2012 campaign.
So, there’s a good chance he resumes much of his early-season pace once the playoffs come around. The Giants’ front office was fully cognizant that his power numbers would drop at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
At the end of the day, streaks occur in the positive direction as frequently as they do in negative. With Pence’s relentless style, unique approach at the plate and career accomplishments, fans will embrace him as a cult hero as they did with Ross two years ago.
One of those streaks just needs to happen come October.
While with the Nationals, Nady batted a disappointing .157 with three home runs in 102 at-bats. He later overcame a wrist injury and put up solid numbers in Fresno. In 89 at-bats, he hit .270 with six home runs, 18 RBI, five doubles, 13 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .343.
Nady is also holding up his end of the bargain thus far in San Francisco with a .400 AVG, three RBI, two doubles and two walks in four games (14 at-bats). He has a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield as well.
The Bay Area product and Cal graduate recently expressed his appreciation for playing for his hometown team (via SFGate’s John Shey).
Obviously, when you have a chance to throw on a big-league uniform, it’s always an opportunity...I grew up a Giants fan, and coming to a team that’s in first place, it’s a wonderful time.
He’ll have that opportunity to claim the starting left field spot from a struggling Gregor Blanco. In a typical Bruce Bochy-like move, playing first base in a platoon role is also an option for him to get at-bats and contribute offensively.
As a well-traveled outfielder with decent pop acquired late for a playoff run, Nady would fit the part of a Ross-like hero for the Giants. As a local boy succeeding on the big stage for the team he rooted for growing up—now that would be an endearing story.
Nady would not have any difficulty cementing his heroic legacy in San Francisco if this pans out.
Can Scutaro attain such a lofty status?
Scutaro has been absolute money since being acquired from Colorado on July 27.
Batting primarily in the No. 2 hole, he’s hit .325 with two home runs, 24 RBI and 10 doubles. The former Rocky sprays hits to all fields and has set the table at an exceptional rate of .346.
He handles the bat proficiently overall in his important position in the lineup.
The primary obstacle to Scutaro becoming the next 2010 Cody Ross is his lack of home-run power. He has six this year and a career high of 12 in 2009.
On the other hand, his consistently high batting average and 24 RBI in 37 games show that Scutaro can provide a spark for the Giants in the 2012 postseason. His .333 AVG and six RBI in an ALDS sweep of the Twins as a member of the A’s bode well for their across-the-bay rivals as well.
He’ll serve as the underrated dark horse moving forward.
The Panda and Pagan being fairly precious together.
The underachieving 24-year-old has picked it up as of late. He batted .349 in August and a remarkable .625 with one big fly and four RBI so far in September. Belt’s inexperience will work against him.
The MLB journeyman has already put up career highs in every category in 2012. Arias recently powered through a 13-for-26 stretch (.500 AVG) with three jacks and 12 RBI. He came out of nowhere in the regular season and would have to so again in the playoffs.
Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval
This really needs no explanation, but I had to include their names anyways. San Francisco’s love for their golden boy and the “Kung Fu Panda” would envelop the city and all surrounding areas if either one went off in the postseason.
This is my personal dark horse. Pagan essentially had a two-month long hitting streak at the beginning of the season. I could foresee a rise into cult status if he puts together another 15 or so long one in October.
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