First, the basics: Brock Bond, lord and master of OBP, is a 27-year-old career minor leaguer. He’s a non-roster invitee that’s currently in Giants camp this spring. He plays second base, hits from both sides of the plate and, like all players, has hopes of making this year’s squad, fighting for the last spot on the bench.
In a post earlier this spring about players fighting for the last bench spot, I didn’t list Brock Bond as a candidate. In truth, he’s got numerous roadblocks to making the roster: perceived defensive issues, age, no power to speak of, he’s not on the 40-man roster (meaning the team has to make some roster adjustments to even get him in the majors), and every team in baseball passed him over when he was free for the taking in the Rule 5 Draft. The bit about getting passed over in the Rule 5 is probably the most damning thing about Bond; he was free and every team in baseball took a long, hard look and said, “No thanks.”
So Bond isn’t player that has a few warts, he’s what you’d call ‘warty’ at this point. And yet, despite all of those negatives I listed above, there’s something about him that’s a little intriguing, dagnabbit.
I’m probably high from all that OBP, but Bond has always shown two skills in his minor league career: 1) the ability to walk and post above-average OBPs and 2) the ability to make contact. He’ll never hit for power — he’s only passed the .400 SLG mark twice in his career — and he’s a player without top-shelf tools, but the more I consider him along with the other options, the more I wonder if it’s crazy to think he might have a role on the 2013 Giants?
My thinking (bullet points!)
- The Giants love batters who make contact. Bond owns a career strikeout percentage of 12.4-percent.
- He’s probably got a decent shot at posting a league average OBP and that’s certainly a useful guy to have kicking around on your bench.
- Bond wasn’t included in the 2013 ZiPS projections, but his Steamer projection (of which I admittedly know little about) has his batting slash at .291/.363/.375; I think that’s probably a little optimistic, but if you knock it down to a .270/.340/.360 line I might agree a bit more.
- Theoretically, it’s OK that Bond can only play second base, as he’s mostly assuming the role of Ryan Theriot on the bench and Theriot played every single inning — minus four stray innings in LF — at 2B in 2012. Joaquin Arias should still be the preferred backup at 3B and SS.
- Did I mention that the Giants love guys who make contact? Just making sure.
I’m not sure if the Giants think they’ve got a spot for a player on their bench that’s defensively limited but can take a walk and, hopefully, come to the plate and whack the occasional single. But, Bond’s competition this spring hasn’t been lighting the stage on fire, either. Kensuke Tanaka has drawn the most at-bats (25) of any of our bench hopefuls, but he’s gotten mixed reviews on his defense and like Bond is probably stuck at 2B; Tony Abreu is still dealing with quad issues and he’s taken zero ABs; Nick Noonan hasn’t done much; and Wilson Valdez is still terrible.
Bond has a bunch of obstacles in his way to making the team, but it’s not crazy to think he might have a place on the bench. (Even if it makes the Giants’ bench one of the more punch-less benches in baseball … we’ll worry about that later.) And if you squint at it just the right way, you can see that if he was used properly he might even be, well, useful. And I’ve got this strange part of me that kind of wonders how he’d do in the majors. I know, it’s strange, but it’s March and I’m allowed to wonder about these things.