Jason Giambi: A Force for the New York Yankees

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IApril 25, 2008

Jason Giambi:  Carrying the Hot Stick


Washington DC – Jason Giambi is on fire as he hit two home runs, consecutively, against the Cleveland Indians Friday night, April 25th.  See the home runs here.  Yet he gets no respect at all.  If he doesn’t hit .275 then it is reported that he stinks (regardless of injury), and isn’t worth the money.  If he does hit, then he should, because of the money. Why are so many obsessed with the Steinbrenner’s money anyhow?  Don’t they get their subsidy checks?  Regardless, what does Giambi bring to the plate?

 Runs, RBI and Home Runs is what he brings to the Yankee offense. This year, 24 games into the season, Giambi leads the Yankees in Home Runs, with two against the Red Sox, and two against the Indians in as many plate appearances.  Both teams were in the post season last year, and the Yankees lost to Cleveland. The offense was to blame, but Giambi, the most dangerous bat on the team, only got up 4 times in the whole series, and got 2 hits. 

The year before I watched as Giambi sat out against Detroit in a must win game 3.  He had received a cortisone shot the night prior, but told Torre he was ready to go.  After 6 innings of being shut out, there Giambi sat, as Sheffield played first.   Sportscasters, and some fans point to his average.   He didn't have a high average two years ago when he hit 253, yet he still finished 14th in MVP votes because of Run Production.  He is 11 for 59 right now, with 5 Home Runs (most on the team), scored 10 runs, and has 12 RBI. 

In comparison, Abreu has 2 less home runs, 9 more RBI, and has scored one more time than Giambi, but has also had 31 more plate appearances.  Everyone lushes over Abreu, and how good he is at the plate.  Maybe they mean that Bobby is good for the money he is paid.  Because his defense, accuracy and speed in the outfield is sorely lacking. 

Giambi is off to a slow start again this year, hitting 186, but leading the Yankees in Home Runs, amongst the top in runs scored and RBI.  Giambi, though, was moved from the 5 spot to hit 7th.  A-Rod certainly is not having the same April he had last year without a constant Giambi behind him in the line up.      

Giambi was batting fifth last year during A-Rod's record breaking April.  Rodriguez was able to accomplish this feat because pitchers weren’t going to throw to the threat behind him.  And you can’t walk two in a row.  It is because Giambi is a threat, every time he steps up to the plate.  Pitchers are very careful with him, so careful that he has led the league in walks.  

Last year (Giambi’s stats) , while missing half the season with injuries, he still had 40 walks, 14 Home Runs, and 60 hits in only 83 games. A mere half of a season.  In 2006 he finished 14th in MVP votes, had 110 walks in 139 games, and only hit 253, but had 37 Home Runs with 113 RBI.  In 2005 he finished 18th in MVP votes in only 139 games had 32 home runs, and was walked 110 times.  He was also named Comeback Player of the Year, and missed more than 20 games.  In 2004 he was diagnosed with a benign tumor.  In 80 games he had 12 home runs, 33 runs, and 40 RBI, with a tumor.  He was named as an All Star.  He only played half of the season, imagine what he would have done if healthy.

 The threat:  walks, hit by pitch, home runs, runs scored, RBI, and "Forced Pitches for A-Rod"

This year he has 14 walks already, but you won’t hear that on ESPN. You’ll just hear he is 11 for 59, hitting 186.  Other teams play that funny looking defense against him, leaving third base wide open.  Is it because Giambi can’t hit, or is it because Giambi is a feared hitter?  If he continues to be pitched around, then the batter ahead of him (A-Rod) will get forced pitches to hit.  Going on his stats and his good eye, if he is pitched to then he will  hit the ball (out), score and get RBIs, or get walked.  Look out because he is healthy this year, and touting “I have been running a lot, and lost weight.  I feel great, and am like a cat out there.”

Was David Ortiz moved from batting third after a slow start? No he wasn’t, and he is now en-route to becoming the Papi of old.  With what has been the root of the Yankees 2 consecutive post seasons woes (the offense) Jason Giambi should remain playing, and should be in the same spot as last year. Fifth, or maybe even third.  It’s all about Giambi.  His HR’s, RBIs and runs scored tell the tale of a power offense. 

Unless the Yankees want the pitcher to be able to walk A-Rod, and pitch to whoever is in the 5 spot, Giambi can be used to "force strikes."  As it were, Giambi is a threat every time he is at the plate as made evident by that funny defense, and the number of walks he gets.  Jason can turn the game around with one swing.  Judging by the Cleveland game, April 25th, he can do it consecutively.  When Giambi is at the plate, one swing is all he needs.  That is a threat.