San Francisco Giants Nate Schierholtz: Why His Time Is Now

Shaun TobackCorrespondent IMay 12, 2011

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 08:  Nate Schierholtz #12 of the San Francisco Giants during the spring training baseball game against Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium on March 8, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Nate Schierholtz is the best defensive right fielder the Giants have. And I am a sucker for a good defensive right fielder.

One-hop laser-like throws to nail a runner at second base like Schierholtz made in Thursday's win over the Diamondbacks may not happen often, but when they do, I get all weak in the knees and lose the ability to think rationally.

It's like baseball crack to me. It is my favorite play in baseball, a beautiful display of precision and power, and when an outfielder can execute it as perfectly and consistently as Nate Schierholtz can, well, that player has earned a free pass for life in my book.

So it is only fair that I admit that I have had a soft spot for Nate Schierholtz for years now.

But my personal fan-driven biases aren't the only reasons Schierholtz should be starting in right field for the Giants. He should be starting because he is their best option—which isn't saying much. Not much at all, really, but it's enough.

Look, I love Cody Ross. After last year's playoff randomness/heroics, who doesn't love Cody Ross? But this love doesn't erase the fact that he has been disappointing this year. Actually, that's not entirely correct. He has been Cody Ross.

He has hit for a low average with a little bit of power that can elevate itself to a lot of power if you catch him during a hot streak. Maybe it's more accurate to just say that Cody Ross has been mediocre this year. Or even that Cody Ross is mediocre in general.

And beyond Cody Ross, there isn't exactly an ocean of depth amongst Giants outfielders. We all saw early in the season how the Aubrey Huff/Pat Burrell experiment ended. And if you didn't see it, it did not go well. 

The Giants are also a team that, possibly more than any other team in baseball, benefits from a great arm in right. And Schierholtz has a cannon.

Right field at AT&T Park isn't baseball's usual bastion of offensive threats with limited range. It is a series of strange angles and odd, jutting brick walls. Balls don't bounce off the right field wall in San Francisco.

They careen at high speeds away from unsure hands. Nate Schierholtz knows these angles, and more importantly, knows how to get himself into a position where he can handle a weird bounce or two.

The rest of AT&T's outfield is so spacious and hitter-friendly that many runners will hit a line drive to right, see it take a funny hop or a weird bounce off the wall, and turn for second base without thinking twice.

This affords a strong-armed, defensively solid outfielder like Schierholtz opportunities to collect extra outs and assists at second base, stopping momentum and sending a message to visiting players.

I'm not ignoring the fact that Nasty Nate isn't exactly vintage Vlad Guerrero at the plate. But the man has hit under .260 just once in his career, and has performed admirably in his opportunities in 2011. He deserves a shot.

And even though he is always discussed as a player ready to break out, ready to prove he belongs in the big leagues, Schierholtz has not yet been given a full year of trust with the Giants.

He is always the first guy off the bench, not the fixture in right the front office has claimed they are interested in making him. 

It is time for the Giants to start Nate Schierholtz. There have been rumors that he will be traded, but let's be honest; who are the Giants really getting for him?

He is more valuable to this team than some veteran journeyman and a late round prospect. He has proven himself defensively, and shown flashes at the plate.

One of these years he is going to have a full productive season—it might as well be in San Francisco.

Either way, he's still better than Cody Ross.