San Francisco Giants: Putting Together Best Defensive Lineup in 2013

Keely Flanagan@keelyflanaganContributor IIIFebruary 4, 2013

Popular opinion contends that the San Francisco Giants' strong suit is pitching.  However, the team has another strength going into 2013:

Defense. 

While the team struggled defensively at the beginning of the 2012 season, the Giants settled in quickly and their gloves delivered in the postseason. 

The outfield has been a point of contention for San Francisco this offseason.  The primary concern centers around the potential lack of offensive production, especially in left field. However, defensively the Giants are in good shape.  

In right field, Hunter Pence's strong arm is a major plus.  The position is notoriously tough to play at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but Pence is up for the task.  While many question the quirky outfielder's defensive prowess, Pence possesses an impressively strong arm, albeit awkward in motion. 

Angel Pagan utilizes his speed in center field.  Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco are poised to platoon the left field position, and both are solid defensively.  Blanco made the play of the year when he saved Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

The Blanco-Pagan-Pence outfield combination committed only one error throughout the 2012 postseason. 

Moving to the infield, the defense only gets stronger for San Francisco. 

Brandon Belt, while steadily improving at the plate, has demonstrated above-average glove-work at first base.  In 2012, he posted a .992 fielding percentage, illustrating that his value as a player extends past his offensive output.  

Brandon Crawford is a future Gold Glove winner at shortstop.  In 2012, Crawford ranked seventh among shortstops in defensive runs saved at plus-12.  Additionally, Crawford committed only 18 errors in 2012 while posting a .970 fielding percentage.  

More impressively, Crawford was able to perform while different players rotated at the second base position for a large chunk of the season. 

Marco Scutaro will be the everyday second baseman going into 2013.  His veteran presence at the position aided in Crawford's development into one of the strongest defensive shortstops in the majors.  

In the 2012 postseason, the San Francisco infield committed just four errors, three of which came from the third base position.  Pablo Sandoval, while solid at the hot corner, is the weakest defensively in the infield.  Manager Bruce Bochy will continue to use utility infielder Joaquin Arias as a defensive replacement for the Kung Fu Panda.  

Behind the plate, the Giants have a defensive weapon in Buster Posey.  His ability at catcher is often overshadowed by his offensive production, but Posey's glove is an asset.  In 2012, Posey ranked sixth in total defense among starting catchers in MLB.  

Posey allowed only two passed balls the entire season, and ended the year with an impressive .991 fielding percentage.  Posey threw out 30.4 percent of base stealers, high enough to place him in the top-10 among all MLB catchers. 

Beyond the tangible defensive statistics, Posey consistently calls a good game for his pitchers.  He caught Matt Cain's perfect game, and is a trusted presence behind the plate. 

A large part of the Giants' success is contingent upon executing fundamental defense.  In order to repeat, San Francisco must continue to build upon the stellar defense the team demonstrated in the 2012 postseason.  

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