San Francisco Giants Position Battles: Veterans vs. Young Guns

Kasey ScottAnalyst IJune 2, 2011

San Francisco Giants Position Battles: Veterans vs. Young Guns

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    Both Tejada and Schierholtz are fighting for playing time.
    Both Tejada and Schierholtz are fighting for playing time.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The San Francisco Giants are now 55 games into the season and boast a 30-25 record. With Buster Posey lost for the season, the Giants may be forced to replace some of their veterans with younger players.

    Sitting only a half game behind the Diamondbacks, the Giants are in a very good position in the NL West. 

    We all know the Giants are a team that will go as far as their pitching will carry them. The offense needs to contribute though, as they are 27th in runs with 194. 

    Without any further delay, we will look at some of the position battles. 

First Base: Aubrey Huff vs. Brandon Belt

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 11:  Aubrey Huff #17 of the San Francisco Giants stands in the dugout before their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on May 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This position battle favors the veteran heavily.

    Aubrey Huff hasn't been on a tear to start the 2011 season off. Huff's average currently sits at .219. He only has five HRs and 24 RBI. Huff is 34, and time isn't on his side.

    Huff has a major leg up on Belt due to the fact that he led the Giants in nearly every offensive category last season. He hit .290 with 26 HRs and 86 RBI. Huff got a two-year, $22 million contract because of this production. 

    Brandon Belt started the season at first base after Cody Ross injured his calf in spring training. Belt accumulated 49 at bats during April, and was only able to post a .184 average. He only hit one bomb and drove in four runs. 

    Belt is 23 years old, and is without a doubt the first baseman of the future for the Giants. Belt spent more than a month in the minors and hit .337 with four HRs and 21 RBI. 

    Verdict: Brandon Belt isn't quite ready to be an everyday starter. The Giants need to get this kid at bats, either at first base or in the outfield. If not, he will have to go back to the minors. 

    Aubrey Huff did so much for the Giants last year. Through May 31st of last year, Huff was hitting .330 with four HRs and 13 RBI. We're not seeing the average, but a better start in terms of driving in runs. The Giants will give Huff plenty of time to get the average up, which it should. 

Shortstop: Miguel Tejada vs. Brandon Crawford

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 11:  Miguel Tejada #10 of the San Francisco Giants in action against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on May 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This battle favors the young gun. 

    Miguel Tejada has benefited the most from the injuries of Pablo Sandoval and Mark DeRosa. Tejada has played a lot of third base this year in their absence. Tejada is 37, and has lost more than a step. 

    Tejada has received 195 at bats this year, and has posted a .210 average with one HR and 16 RBI. His stats have seen a major decline this year, and his OBP doesn't help at .233. Tejada has also made seven errors.

    Pablo Sandoval has begun to swing a bat again, meaning Tejada's days at third are limited. Sandoval hit three HRs the other day during BP, two from the left side and one from the right side. 

    Brandon Crawford was said to not be ready for major league pitching. This may be true, but in 18 ABs Crawford has a .333 average with one HR and 6 RBI. 

    Crawford hit pretty well while in the minors. In 59 ABs in San Jose, Crawford hit .322 with three HRs and 15 RBI.

    Verdict: Once Pablo Sandoval returns, you would have to believe that Tejada will hit the bench. Tejada may get some playing time at short, when Bochy wants to give Crawford a day off.

    Crawford has played extremely well lately. The shortstop position should be his to lose or keep. Tejada has already lost it based on his poor hitting statistics. 

Outfield: Pat Burrell vs. Nate Schierholtz

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 22:  Left fielder Pat Burrell #5 of the San Francisco Giants prepares to run onto the field for an interleague game against the Oakland A's at AT&T Park on May 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won 5-4 in 11 inning
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Another battle that favors the young gun.

    Pat Burrell is currently hitting .229 with five HRs and 13 RBI in 131 ABs. Burrell has struck out 46 times, which is most on the team.

    Burrell hit .266 with the Giants last season in 96 games. He managed to hit 18 HRs and had 51 RBI. The Giants are only paying Burrell $1 million this season.

    Burrell is at a major disadvantage based on his speed and defense. Burrell is 34 and is on the downswing of his career.

    Nate Schierholtz has the best throwing arm out of anyone in the Giants outfield. He also has pretty good speed. 

    Schierholtz plays all-star defense, and his hitting has been quite surprising this year. He has posted a .274 average with four HRs and 15 RBI in only 106 ABs. 

    Verdict: While Burrell does provide a good amount of power, he hasn't really out-produced Schierholtz in most power categories. Burrell does have one more HR, but in 31 more ABs.

    Schierholtz without a doubt is a better option all around. Nate has looked like a major league hitter more this year than ever in his career. He is 27, and his time is now. This would move Cody Ross to left, because Schierholtz is best in right. 

Finished Product

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    SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 03:  (L-R) San Francisco Giants pitchers Brian Wilson, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain speak to fans outside San Francisco city hall during the Giants' victory parade and celebration on November 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Th
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Giants have enough pieces as it is to make the playoffs in the weak NL West. This team goes as far as their pitching takes them, and last year that was all the way to a World Series Championship.

    Huff will have to stay in the lineup based on his power. He will eventually get the bat going, and the Giants will need him to step up in the absence of Buster Posey.

    Brandon Crawford has shown that he deserves a shot to be the starting shortstop. Crawford is 24, and provides a lot more than what Tejada provides. 

    Pat Burrell's career looked like it was at an end midway through the year last season. He then went on a tear after he signed with the Giants.

    The fact is that the Giants can't afford Burrell's poor defense and now poor offense. He may bust out of his slump, but Nate Schierholtz without a doubt is the best option in the outfield. 

    If the Giants make some of these moves, they can have just enough to get into the playoffs and let their pitching do their thing. They of course will need to stay healthy. 

    Buster Posey came up and made a major impact as a rookie, maybe Brandon Crawford can do the same.