The Giants and offensive futility have been quite the topic of recent debate on this site, and many other blogs. Thus far in the season, Pablo Sandoval is hitting .313/.374/.530, that’s an wRC+ of 142 (meaning he’s hitting 42% better than your league average batter) and now he’s out for 4-6 weeks after suffering a broken hamate bone in his right hand, an injury that often saps a player’s ability to hit for power. I’m not a doctor, but Wikipedia is telling me that this is where your hamate bone is located:
And we all know that Wikipedia is always accurate.
Anyways, watching the Giants play this weekend in the District really drove home the point: jeez, these guys really can’t hit right now. And, this lineup really looks bad without Sandoval in it. If you’re looking for refuge from this awful offense, you need not look in Aubrey Huff’s direction. It’s unfortunate that 2011 Aubrey Huff (55 wRC+) is actually hitting worse than 2009 Aubrey Huff (77 wRC+). That’s the same 2009 Aubrey Huff that couldn’t find a job until the Giants came calling in a last ditch effort to fill first base. ZiPS has Huff projected to hit a .343 wOBA over the remainder of the season and while that’s above-average, it’s really not the kind of production you would like from first base. Huff’s walk-rate of 8.5% this season is right in line with his career average (8.3%) but his power, going by ISO, has plummeted to .106 (career .191). He’s striking out more than usual (19.1% to a career of 14.7%) and his BABIP is grossly below his career averages (.221 to a career of .292).
ZiPS takes all that stuff into account and tells us that Huff isn’t ‘.257 wOBA bad’ going forward and that we should see some bounce-back over the remainder of the season. Huff’s career has had an up-and-down vibe to it at times, and you’ve got to wonder if he’s in a down phase right now. I think it’s still too early (way too early most likely) to write him off, but the Giants really, really need him to start swinging the bat. The drop-off from Posey and Huff (and maybe Burrell) to other hitting options in the roster is the size of a massive canyon. Mike Fontenot probably took the best swings of anyone not named ‘Posey’ this weekend and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, then I don’t know what does.
The less we say about Miguel Tejada, the better.
Anyways, back to back to Sandoval; it’s possible when Sandoval returns he might have trouble hitting for power. On his blog, Extra Baggs, Andrew Baggarly surmised that it could affect Pablo more from the left side when hitting:
Whenever Sandoval returns, the injury figures to bother him more when he hits from the left side. That’s because the right hand will be his bottom hand, and you rest the knob of the bat in the area where the hamate was taken out.
Over his career, Sandoval has been a much stronger hitter from the left side (.367 wOBA) than from the right (.341 wOBA). If you look at his performance from the right side in 2009 (.441 wOBA) with a bit of skepticism (as you might want to do, considering his minor league career) it’s very possible that when Sandoval returns, he might be hitting in a lesser capacity, which for the Giants and their early season sputtering offense, is a thing of concern.
Get well soon, Panda.