Marco Scutaro's Role in the Giants Playoff Success
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Marco Scutaro doesn’t have a shoe-polished, Zeus-like beard. Marco Scutaro doesn’t have hoards of fans in the bleachers wearing fuzzy panda caps in his honor. Marco Scutaro doesn’t have a giraffe named after him. Marco Scutaro doesn’t have a special dance for the cameras in the dugout. Marco Scutaro doesn’t have a nickname.
Marco Scutaro just hits.
He has become the crafty veteran that goes deep in the count and is not afraid of the 0-2 count. He has been a silent assassin that finds holes in the defense and exploits them. Before he joined the Giants his average with the Rockies was .271. Unimpressive. What a testament to Brian Sabean’s foresight; this has become the most impressive acquisition this year for San Francisco.
Scutaro’s line since joining the Giants is .362/.385/.473, including 88 hits in 61 games. He has ended the season on a 20 game hit streak, the first player going into the playoffs with a 20 game hit streak since Lonnie Smith in 1981 (Elias Sports Bureau, ESPN). He is also tied for first on the team with 6 sacrifice flies since the All-Star Break (led the NL this year with a total of 9).
These are impressive stats, but what has really improved the Giants has been his experience and patience. As a Giant he has only struck out 14 times, boasting a 5.2% strikeout percentage (Cain has struck out 15 times since the All-Star Break, Posey 46). He’s averaged 3.74 pitches per plate appearance. When the pitchers are ahead in the count he’s batted .368 and hit 3 of the 6 previously mentioned sacrifice flies.
This patience is a perfect contrast to younger players like Pablo Sandoval, who will have the occasional golfed-off-the-top-of-cleats home run but more often will swing and miss at the first pitch. There has been a noticeable change in Pablo’s mentality since his fellow countryman has joined the team, however. In the last month of the season, Sandoval has recorded 11 of his 38 walks.
Entering the playoffs, Scutaro will need to continue the production he’s showed the Giants he’s capable of, but more importantly he’ll need to continue to be clutch. Scutaro was the important bat in the Giants NL West clinching September 22nd game, going 3-5 with 3 RBI and 1 run .
Since moving to San Francisco he's batted .400 with runners in scoring position and .414 with men on. This is a category that has historically plagued the Giants (think TORTURE 2010), so this is a welcomed addition to the team’s offense. Playoff baseball is upon the Giants and Scutaro will continue to be the backbone of their team.
There’s one more thing the 36 year-old Marco Scutaro doesn’t have: a World Series ring. Let’s hope that changes in 2012.
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