Greek Giant

David Villar: Infielder of the Future?

In the seventh inning with a 3-2 count leading off and the Giants leading 3-1 in Denver David Villar did something I have not seen a player do since Hunter Pence was playing: He choked up on the bat to shorten his swing and protect the plate! What happened on the next pitch was pure beauty: Villar stroked a quick lighting bolt into the left field bleachers making the game 4-1. It was a superb piece of hitting that came with a Big League bat flip no less.

What a breath of fresh air to see fundamentally sound hitting applied in today’s game by a Giant rookie! What a contrast against the preavailing Analytics model that emphasizes swinging for the fences on every pitch, including with two strikes, consequences be damned!

Up yours Analytics!

Watch that plate appearance 1000 times. Put it on repeat for every new Giant: You can still hit with power and protect the plate by shortening your swing. Hell, I used to do it in Little League. I know from experience.

God Bless you, David Villar.

There were other heroes in last night’s 6-2 win over the Rockies.

Joey Bart: A Catcher Who Can Really Run

Joey Bart had one hit in last night’s game but equally importantly he scored three runs. One of those runs came on Austin Slater’s opposite field double down the line in right. It was a routine double and it was played perfectly by the Rockies. What makes it notable? Well, Joey Bart was on first base when it was hit and he circled the bases like he had wings on his heels. This is a catcher running with grace and speed able to score on a double down the right field line. It was beautiful and it was an example of athleticism and youth.

More please.

Do you think Evan Longoria or Wilmer Flores score on that hit? Nor do I.

Austin Slater: Mystery Man

Austin Slater was indisputably one of the stars that shone brightly last night. He hit two doubles and made a beautiful sliding catch to end the game, all in his first game back from the IL. When Slater is on the field and on the bases good things usually happen. In fact Austin Slater was recently given the ultimate compliment: He was called a “winner” by none other than Hunter Pence. When Slater utilizes all his tools he is a force and he should probably play more against righties. In my opinion he is the Giants lone truly versatile player. He is a super utility player when he is right. He can hit for some pop. He can run and he can play a more than adequate left field or right field. He is also a bit of a conundrum.

He has had a strange Giants career trajectory, often being mis-used by both Bochy and Kapler, who keep Slater on super short leashes. The minute we think he is going to be a star he gets injured or commits a gaffe in the outfield, or goes on a prolonged cold streak.  I would like to see this kid play 140 games or so and put up 500 plate appearances in a season. I think he would be just fine, assuming he stays healthy.

Here is Slater’s fabulous catch:

Estrada is En Fuego

Thario Estrada drove in two more runs last night with two hits. He raised his batting average to .268. If Kapler benches him in any of the next five games electronic apparatuses will be destroyed in my house.

Here he is:

The Pitching

This was another bullpen game for the Giants. They pitched a shutout except for CJ Cron, who looks like the white Aaron Judge. He is mean and lean, strong and efficient and last night he drove in all three Colorado runs. Boy that guy can hit and he is having a hell of a season for the Rockies. The Giants pitchers on the night were Brebbia, Rogers, Hjelle, Szapucki, Marte and Garcia. Garcia would get his first save of the season and Rogers would get the win. The pitching by committee was made necessary since the Giants had to skip Rodon’s start as he is still dealing with a serious blister issue on his pitching hand.

The lads did well to keep the Rockies at three runs and in particular, Hjelle had to shoulder the load pitching four innings and allowing two runs.

Athleticism Defined

The Giants won last night’s game because of their team athetlicism. Athelticism is one of those mysterious and often over-used or misunderstood terms in baseball. Here is how I define it: The ability to win a baseball game by different methods. In other words, taking that extra base, scoring from first on that double down the right field line, choking up with two strikes and whacking the ball over the wall anyway, ranging to your left or right to grab a ball that an older or slower player does not get to. For pitchers it could mean being able to cover a bunt well or making the right throw to second to start a double play. Athleticism is a phenomenon, a combination of skills that also include good baseball sense like cutting off a throw or not getting doubled-off on a liner and killing rallies. The Giants have been sorely, woefully lacking in athleticism this year and last. They have tried to compensate for it by mashing homers and out-bludgeoning their opponents. It mostly worked last year but this year the gig is up.

Just watch the Yankees this year in the playoffs. Sure, their regular season homers in their little Bronx model ballpark are flying out like crazy. But let’s see how well they fare when they have to face shutdown pitching from the likes of the Rays or Astros. It’s athleticism that is a difference-maker in baseball because it encompasses so many skills and athleticism never goes into a slump.

Buster Posey: Giants Owner

Buster Posey is buying into the Giants ownership group and will also be on the team’s Board of Directors. Fantastic news. Now maybe we will have a voice to temper the Analytics-based blind spots of this ownership group.

Here is Posey on the move, from the NY Times article linked above:

“I want to be viewed as, like, pro-baseball. ’m not pro-player, I’m not pro-owner, I just love the game of baseball, and this is another opportunity for me to learn more about the game, more about the business and really commit my time to an organization in a city that I’ve grown to love.”

Tonight’s Game

Logan Webb will face German Marquez in game three of the four-game series tonight at 6:40 PM, local time.

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It has come to my attention that many of you have had your comments labeled as spam and then deleted by Disqus. This is an algorithm issue we are looking into. Disqus has had this issue before. I apologize for it since it is a bummer and all your comments are valued. Rest assured, here at TWG central we have people on the case.