The San Francisco Giants have a reputation for winning with pitching and defense. They've had four straight winning seasons and won two out of the last three World Series by allowing the fewest runs in baseball since 2009.
However, thus far in 2013, the Giants are leading the National League West with a great offense. Giants position players currently lead all of baseball in wins above replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs.
Marco Scutaro (6.5 percent strikeout rate), Pablo Sandoval (9.8 percent), Angel Pagan (12 percent) and Buster Posey (13.5 percent) are the best hitters on the squad at putting the ball in play.
That consistent ability to get the bat on the ball is why the Giants lead the National League with a .269 team batting average. The Giants are also the best team in the National League at hitting with runners in scoring position, according to ESPN. They're hitting .298/.379/.474 in those clutch situations.
The club's clutch hitting has made up for its lack of home run power. The Giants are near the bottom of the National League in home runs. However, they are fifth in slugging percentage, third in doubles and fourth in triples.
The middle of the Giants' lineup is extremely difficult to get through. Sandoval, Posey and Pence—the three-through-five hitters—have combined for 19 home runs and 77 RBI. They are the top three qualified hitters on the team in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
Brandon Crawford has provided tremendous production from the bottom of the order. He's put up an .819 OPS with 16 extra-base hits thus far in 2013. He entered the season with a reputation as a defense-only player, but he's quickly shattering that notion.
Crawford's double-play partner Marco Scutaro got off to a slow start to the season due to a back injury. He's gotten healthier, and he now leads the team with a .318 batting average. He's currently in the midst of a 15-game hitting streak.
Andrew Baggarly @extrabaggs
Scutaro's hitting streak is safely extended to 15 games.2013-5-17 01:42:07
Even light-hitting left fielder Gregor Blanco has gotten in on the offensive action. He doesn't hit for the type of power normally associated with the left field position. However, he's hitting .280 with a robust .351 on-base percentage to more than make up for his lack of home run pop.
First baseman Brandon Belt is tied for third on the team in home runs and is fourth in RBI. He's hitting only .248 due to a slow start in April. However, he's picked it up by hitting .275/.383/.575 thus far in May.
General manager Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area that Belt is the key to the success of the lineup. Sabean told Baggarly:
And it [the platoon in left field] wouldn’t be that much of an eyesore statistically from a run production standpoint if we had a bona fide six hitter, which should be Belt...The more quality at-bats he [Belt] can create, the better he’ll be equipped to be what we need him to do, and that’s be a run producer as a six hitter.
Those pitching-and-defense-oriented Giants from yesteryear no longer exist. The new version of the two-time champion Giants is getting it done with one of the game's best lineups.
Given that six of the team's starting eight position players are 30 years old or younger, expect this offensive trend to continue.
The only question facing the Giants this year is whether or not the starting rotation will round back into shape. If it does, the Giants will run away with the National League West once again.
All statistics in this article are courtesy of ESPN.