Bruce Bochy

San Francisco Giants: Are Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean Given Too Much Credit?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After winning two World Series titles in the past three years, the San Francisco Giants are having a disappointing 2013 season. The Giants are seeing why it is so difficult for reigning World Series champions to win the World Series again the next year.

In 2011, the Giants had an excuse for why they weren’t able to repeat as champions. Buster Posey suffered a gruesome left ankle injury in May of 2011 and was out for the rest of the season.

This season though, the Giants have an almost identical roster as last season’s championship team. Yes, there have been some injuries to key players such as Angel Pagan and Ryan Vogelsong, but this isn’t the main reason why the Giants are struggling.

Jul 23, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Giants infield players watch as San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo (54) warms up during the eighth inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at AT

The Giants have been inconsistent all season. Right now, they are consistently bad. They are a season-high 12 games below .500 and have a 46-58 record. They also are 10 games out of first place and fifth in the NL West.

So have Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean been given too much credit for constructing and developing this team that’s played so horrible this season?

The simple answer is no. Despite the team’s struggles this season, Bochy and Sabean have found the winning formula. The team just hasn’t displayed it this season.

The Giants have done so well in the past few seasons because they have followed the general formula for success in baseball: pitching wins championships. The Giants have had stellar starting pitching and relief pitching the past few seasons.

With quality pitching, it takes some pressure off the offense, because it allows hitters to play more naturally and not grind too hard to get hits. If the starting pitcher is struggling, players feel more pressure on defense too to limit the damage the starter caused.

The Giants haven’t been known for their high-powered offense in the past couple seasons, so their starting pitching carried them. If the Giants were only able to score a run or two, they knew they could still win the game behind a quality outing from their starter.

This hasn’t been the case for the Giants this season though. Bochy and Sabean brought back the same starting rotation from last season’s World Series run: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Vogelsong.

Cain has struggled with command all season, and he’s supposedly not dealing with any hidden injuries. Bumgarner has been the most consistent starter. Lincecum, despite throwing a no-hitter recently, has also been inconsistent, even though he has been pitching better in the past couple months. Zito has been good at home, but, on the road, he is a completely different pitcher with a sky-high ERA. Vogelsong has been out with a right hand injury since May, but he started to show improvements in his command in the start where he got injured.

There’s no way that Bochy and Sabean could’ve predicted these types of struggles. In fact, no one predicted that Cain would be as inconsistent as he’s been. Lincecum and Zito’s struggles might have been predictable, but Bochy and Sabean weren’t going to trade them or demote them after some incredible pitching performances in last season’s playoffs. Of course, Vogelsong’s injury couldn’t have been predicted either.

Because of the inconsistent starting pitching, the Giants’ offense has felt more pressure to score more runs, especially recently. In the month of July, the Giants are hitting .230, which ranks last in the NL. Posey has had a fantastic season so far, but as of now, he hasn’t gotten a hit in his last 18 at-bats.

Apr 27, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, the Giants are one of the worst teams in the league, which probably can be connected to the team’s poor starting pitching, as mentioned before. The Giants have 76 errors so far this season, which ranks second-to-last in all of MLB.

Given all these problems, some fans have criticized Sabean for not being active enough at the trade deadline. Right now, with the Giants struggling as much as they are, they don’t even really have the option to be buyers. The Giants haven’t been playing well enough to be able to score a deal (other teams could be wary of the Giants’ struggles or raise the price due to their desperation).

Some fans say that the Giants need to be sellers at the trade deadline. This past homestand was a key part of the Giants’ schedule, and they went 3-7. This might be the time that Sabean should concede the season and starting building for next season.

With Lincecum and Zito becoming free agents at the end of this season (Vogelsong has a team option for next season), the Giants need to address their need for a starting pitcher soon. The Giants don’t have many starting pitching prospects in AAA, so perhaps they can start selling some players, such as Hunter Pence or Javier Lopez, in order to start re-building their starting pitching rotation.

Sabean has been questioned for some trades in the past, but in the past few years, he’s made several key trades that have allowed the Giants to be as successful as they have been. In 2010, he brought in players such as Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe, and Lopez. Even though these players were outcasts and misfits, Bochy believed in them and put them in a position to succeed.

In 2012, Sabean brought in Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro. Bochy again made it possible for his players to succeed by putting them in new roles and constantly encouraging and believing in them. For example, he made Sergio Romo the closer, used Lincecum out of the bullpen, and stuck by his young players, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, despite some struggles at the plate.

Even though the Giants have had a disappointing season, it does not mean that Bochy and Sabean have been given too much credit for this team’s past success. They were the two masterminds behind constructing teams who won two World Series titles. The Giants have won two World Series titles in three years for a reason, and both Bochy and Sabean have played key roles.

San Francisco Giants: The Evolution of Tim Lincecum

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

During his career with the San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum has experienced many highs and lows. Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a four-time All-Star, three-time NL strikeout champion and a two-time World Series champion. He’s certainly accomplished a lot since he made his major-league debut with the Giants in 2007.

(Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle)

However, despite his pure dominance during his first few years in the major leagues, Lincecum has struggled in the past couple years. He showed his first signs of struggling in August 2010 when he had a 7.82 ERA. In 2012, Lincecum struggled all year with his command and finished with a 5.18 ERA. However, in the postseason last year, he reverted back to his dominant ways as a reliever.

He came into this season with a new attitude and wanted a fresh start. He’s seemed more focused and has had to make several adjustments to his pitching, given his recent struggles.

The biggest adjustment Lincecum has had to make is becoming more of a cerebral pitcher, since he’s no longer the same power pitcher he used to be. He’s more of a complete pitcher now who can locate his pitches and pitch according to who he faces. He’s not just an incredible athlete anymore who can solely rely on his freaky delivery and pitches to get hitters out.

Back in his Cy Young Award days, Lincecum dominated using his fastball and his split, or his changeup. His mid-90s MPH fastball, his mid-80s MPH change-up and his freakish delivery were enough to confuse and baffle his opponents.

His fastball is now 89-92 MPH, and his change-up is about the same speed as it was before. Given this smaller speed differential, players are now able to hit his fastball more, which is one of the reasons why he struggled so much in 2012. Players had figured out his funky delivery, and he wasn’t as unpredictable and hard to hit.

Because of the adjustment that hitters have made against him, Lincecum now uses and executes four pitches: fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider. Lincecum has found a way to still dominate without the mid-90’s fastball he used to have, but his high strikeout totals still show signs of the power pitcher he used to be.

“I’m evolving as a pitcher,” Lincecum said. “…I’m not necessarily throwing fastball-split like I used to. I’m learning how to pitch with what I’ve got. That might mean more change-ups or sliders that day or curveballs. I think I’ve got to get back to trusting what I have that day and that’s been kind of a turning point to getting out of these bad innings. That’s the key. It’s a real mental, mental game.”

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum stymied the Texas Rangers offense, giving up only one run over 8 innings to earn the win in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series. © Ron Vesely/MLB Photos

In order to become more of a cerebral pitcher, Lincecum has also learned more about the importance of situational pitching, scouting reports, and finding a rhythm with a catcher. Lincecum used to just throw the pitches that he trusted the most that night, not necessarily what pitch was right for the situation. He’s learned the importance of scouting reports and not just focusing on executing his pitches. He also knows to discuss this scouting report with his catcher so they can be on the same page throughout the game.

“I’ve been studying my hitters a little bit better,” Lincecum said. “That kind of alleviates any pressure to wonder if this is the pitch that they’re looking for. So I go out there with more of a clear mind and when you’re on the same page as your catcher, he kind of knows what you want to go to. So you’re not constantly wondering ‘is this what we want.’ You know that’s what you want and you’re just waiting for him to put it down.”

Lincecum has also struggled with his confidence over the years. In the early years of his career, he was confident with his pitches, his delivery, and his command.

His confidence looked shaken at several points during the 2012 season. Lincecum would start to fall apart in the fifth or sixth inning, partially due to him facing the opposing team’s lineup for the third time around, but also because he had trouble making adjustments to his approach. He hadn’t completed his conversion to more of a cerebral pitcher yet.

In 2013, he came into the season with a new attitude, and he’s looked much more confident in himself and more trusting of his pitches.

“I think you have to go back to trusting that those pitches are going to get outs, whether it’s your best pitch or not,” Lincecum said. “It’s just having that conviction in them alone helps turns a bad pitch into a better one. You finish it in your mind and not worry about the result.”

Through all of his struggles with his command and with his confidence, Lincecum has always maintained a good attitude. He’s never blamed his manager or teammates, and he’s always been grateful to the fans for believing in him.

“With the ups and downs, he’s had a good attitude,” Buster Posey said after Linecum’s no-hitter. “He’s continued to work hard. And this, I think, is a reward for it.”

This season, Lincecum had a horrendous May with a 6.37 ERA. However, he looked better in June, and, in the month of July, Lincecum has an impressive 2.53 ERA. Of course, he also threw a no-hitter on Saturday night against the Padres. Lincecum recorded 13 strikeouts, which is proof that he can still be a power pitcher at times.

(Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports)

He also threw 148 pitches in the no-hitter. Many MLB fans and analysts were baffled by how many pitches Lincecum had to throw, but if anyone could throw 148 pitches, it’s Lincecum. His athleticism allows him to throw high pitch counts. He’s called “The Freak” for a reason.

Bruce Bochy and Posey both said that Lincecum was so dominant in the no-hitter because he got stronger as the game went on, his delivery was getting better and he wasn’t trying to force his pitches to land in a certain spot. Instead, he let his pitches do the work. He also mixed his pitches well, and he had command of all of his pitches at different heights and on the corners.

After Lincecum pitched two times through the Padres lineup, every hitter except Carlos Quentin had struck out. He struck out six consecutive batters from the second to the fourth inning, which matched the longest streak of his career.

Lincecum induced 29 swings and misses, which tied Randy Johnson for the most in a no-hitter since 2000. He was able to keep hitters off balance, and he got batters to swing and miss on all of his pitches. This no-hitter was a special performance, given everything Lincecum has been through.

Lincecum is one of the greatest pitchers in Giants’ franchise history, and he’s certainly one of the most unique. He can still be unhittable at times, but not just because of his freaky delivery. Lincecum now has a different approach, and he’s truly evolved into a completely different type of dominant pitcher.

San Francisco Giants: Should They Be Sellers at the Trade Deadline?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Jun 17, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) hands the ball to manager Bruce Bochy (15) after being taken against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning at AT

The San Francisco Giants are in a dangerous slump.

In the month of June, they had a 10-16 record. Since June 15th, the Giants have a 5-18 record. As of today, they are a season-high nine games below .500 with a record of 40-49.

They have been plagued by injuries, inconsistent pitching and poor situational hitting. All of these issues have caused fans to question if the Giants need to be active at the trade deadline.

If the Giants want to be buyers at the trade deadline, they could look to acquire a starting pitcher, a relief pitcher, and a veteran outfielder. However, the Giants haven’t been playing well enough to be able to score a deal (other teams could be wary of the Giants’ struggles or raise the price due to San Francisco’s desperation). In addition to that, the Giants are wary about giving up top prospects and getting just a rental player or a player who won’t make much impact on the team in return.

“We have to ride it out. The team has to play better for us to move forward,” Brian Sabean said. “If we don’t start playing better — the team at hand, especially the lineup itself — there’s not enough help in the world that’s going to turn us around from this.

The Giants also have a lot of areas to be addressed, and they can’t all be fixed via trade.

“You get a little leaky, and you can fill one hole, but if it gets to be too many, you’re asking too much there,” Bruce Bochy said. “It’s gonna come back to these guys getting back to the players they are and executing.”

Hank Schulman, the Giants beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, suggests that if the Giants have a bad homestand, they should concede the season now and be sellers, in order to at least acquire prospects for the future. If the Giants do well on this homestand, then he believes that the Giants should become buyers and make a serious run to win the NL West.

He also suggests that if the Giants decide to be sellers, they should try to trade Javier Lopez, Hunter Pence or Tim Lincecum, because they will all be free agents after this season. Also, the Giants could possibly get some quality prospects in return, especially from Lopez and Pence.

So, should the Giants be sellers at the trade deadline? Should they essentially try to acquire talent for the future?

The simple answer is no. First of all, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. The Giants have 73 games left, and a lot of things can change in 73 games. The All-Star break is in a week, and it might be just the physical and mental break the Giants need.

Second, the Giants have shown that they like being underestimated and and are able to come back from adversity. In 2010, the Giants were trailing the San Diego Padres in the NL West for much of the season, and they didn’t clinch the NL West title until the very last day of the season. In 2012, the Giants were on the brink of elimination in two straight series, and they ultimately won the World Series.

The Giants have been in tough situations before, and they’ve shown time and time again that they can always come back. The Giants have won two World Series titles in three years for a reason.

“This is a club that’s always been resilient,” Bochy said. “They’ve had the ability to bounce back from tough losses, streaks. They’ve been down before. They find a way to get it done. I don’t think that they’re doubting themselves that it will happen.”

Oct 28, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Members of the San Francisco Giants celebrate on the field after game four of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The Giants won 4-3 to sweep the series. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Third, the Giants are a loyal organization. They’re going to stick by their players, win or lose. This is essentially, minus a few injured players, the same team that won the World Series last season. The Giants organization believes in this group of guys.

“These are our guys, though,” Bochy said. “These guys have done a lot of good things here. You know [the slump] feels like it’s been forever, but it’s been maybe three weeks. It’s getting long, but still, they are our guys and we’re going to stay behind them.”

Lastly, the team still believes in each other, it’s still as confident as ever, and it’s still working hard. The players believe as much today as they did at the beginning of the season that they can win another World Series this year. That seems like a tough task now, but it can still be done.

“They’re fighting. I know when you go through something like this and you don’t score a lot of runs, you look flat,” Bochy said. “But they’re doing the work, they’re doing all we’re asking. It’s all we can do, just keep coming out here every day and keep believing that you’re going to come out of this thing.”

If the right deal presents itself, Sabean has said that he’s not afraid to make a deal. He’s not going to make a trade just to make a trade, though. He has had success in the past bringing in players at the trade deadline that make a difference in the second half of the season.

In 2010, Sabean signed Pat Burrell to a minor league deal, acquired Cody Ross off of waivers and traded for Lopez and Ramon Ramirez. In 2012, Sabean traded for Pence and Marco Scutaro.

Will he decide to sell instead of buy this season, though?

“You know, who knows,” Sabean said about the Giants possibly selling at the trade deadline. “I think you’re going to have an open mind going forward to whatever’s in best interests of the organization, the present and future.”

The Giants should not be sellers at the trade deadline. Even though they’re in a potentially disastrous downward spiral right now, they shouldn’t sell some of their most valuable assets, in order to acquire talent for the future.

The season is far from over. A comeback at this point might be tough, but the Giants are reigning World Champions for a reason.

San Francisco Giants: 3 Players They Should Pursue at the Trade Deadline

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

June 2, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Nick Noonan (left) catcher Buster Posey (center) and relief pitcher Sergio Romo (right) celebrate with teammates after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Out of 15 National League teams, the San Francisco Giants currently rank 13th with a 4.47 ERA for their starters. This is hard to believe given the fact that the Giants have won two World Series titles in the past three seasons behind dominant starting pitching.

Matt Cain struggled in the beginning of the season, Tim Lincecum has been inconsistent, and Barry Zito has a 10.41 ERA on the road. Because of their struggles, many analysts and fans have suggested that the Giants acquire a starting pitcher.

By adding another starting pitcher, the Giants could move Chad Gaudin back into his role as a reliever, which would strengthen the struggling bullpen. In addition, when Ryan Vogelsong comes back from injury, the Giants could also consider moving Lincecum to the bullpen. According to a club source, the Giants would convert Lincecum into a late-inning reliever “in a heartbeat,” and Lincecum said he is open to that change as well.

On the other hand, Bruce Bochy has said the Giants need the most help in the bullpen. If the Giants acquire a relief pitcher, they could continue to use Gaudin as a starter until Vogelsong comes back, and then when Vogelsong is healthy again, the Giants could move Gaudin back into his long reliever role.

The Giants also need a veteran outfielder, with Angel Pagan expected to be out until September, at the earliest. Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres, and Juan Perez are currently filling the void at center field and left field, but they’re collectively not providing enough offense to make up for Pagan’s energy and production in the leadoff spot.

Here are three players that the Giants could acquire at the trade deadline that would fill these needs:

San Francisco Giants: Why Fatigue Has Led to Their Recent Struggles

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants are tired. They aren’t just physically tired; they’re also mentally tired. After playing a total of 178 games last season, the Giants had a shortened offseason and less time to recover, both mentally and physically, before this season. The Giants currently have a 38-40 record, third in the NL West, and they have lost four games in a row.

May 16, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain (18) reacts after giving up a home run during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In their last two games, the Giants have been outscored 7-0 in the 6th inning. Is this onslaught just bad luck? A coincidence? Actually, this stat explains a lot about the Giants’ recent struggles.

The sixth inning, in particular, has brought trouble to the Giants recently for several reasons. First of all, their pitching has taken a downturn starting around the sixth inning. The Giants’ pitching, in general, has been up and down all season.

At the beginning of the season, the starting pitching was horrendous. Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, usually steady forces in the rotation, were horrible and didn’t show consistent command of their pitches. Because of this, the bullpen had to step up and pitch more than usual.

Recently, the starting pitching has picked up. In the month of June, Tim Lincecum has looked better and has posted a 3.60 ERA. Cain has improved steadily since his horrendous month of April when he had a 6.49 ERA. In the month of May, Cain had a 3.48 ERA and in June, Cain has a 3.58 ERA. Even though the starting pitching has picked up, the Giants have not yet thrown a complete game, which explains why the bullpen has looked tired.

The bullpen’s effectiveness has started to decline because of overuse in the beginning of the season. Several pitchers, such as George Kontos, have struggled with command, perhaps because of exhaustion.

The second reason why the sixth inning has been problematic is that the starting pitchers aren’t consistently making the right adjustments. As the sixth inning approaches, pitchers are generally set to face the opposing lineup the third time around. Often, it seems like the Giants’ starting pitcher will either pitch to the opposing batter the same way they have been all game, which ends up backfiring, or, if adjustments are made, the opposing batter anticipates it and knows how to beat that move.

By this time, the opposing batters have made their own adjustments as to how to approach their next at-bat, given what the pitcher has done in their previous at-bats. Therefore, the batter knows exactly how the pitcher is going to pitch to him, which can lead to base hits and runs.

The third reason these runs in the sixth inning could be occurring is simple exhaustion from high pitch counts. The Giants’ starters rank first in the NL for most pitches per plate appearance with 3.9 pitches. Many Giants’ starters drive the pitch count up high in each at-bat, which forces them to become more tired, earlier in the game. When pitchers become tired over the course of a game, they start to lose command of their pitches, and this has started happening to the Giants starters around the dreadful sixth inning.

Jun 17, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) hands the ball to manager Bruce Bochy (15) after being taken against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning at AT

Because of these reasons, Bruce Bochy has two options when managing a tough situation like this. He can leave the starter in the game longer, but that can backfire because it’s hard for a pitcher to re-gain command once he’s already lost it. It does seem like Bochy trusts his starters too much sometimes. He can get into the habit of leaving a pitcher in one batter too many, and it can end up costing the Giants a run or two.

The other option Bochy has is to pull the starter at the first sign of exhaustion and go to the bullpen. However, since the bullpen has been used so much this season, he has been hesitant to do that, which forces him to leave his starter in longer. This whole process becomes a vicious cycle, and the Giants are stuck in one right now.

In addition to the struggles the Giants have had with their pitching, they have also seemed lost at the plate recently. The Giants have several players on their roster who are known as “free swingers.” These players don’t generally take too many pitches, and, they have been swinging at pitches early in the pitch count. In addition, many of these pitches are out of the strike zone or just generally unhittable.

The Giants aren’t showing enough patience at the plate, so they miss the opportunity of being rewarded with mistake pitches or pitches that are more hittable. It just seems as if the long 2012 season is starting to catch up with them in terms of mental mistakes, fatigue, and injuries.

The Giants are in quite a difficult situation. They’re stuck in a vicious cycle where Bochy can’t trust his relief pitchers, and the starters are slowly falling apart. The mental and physical exhaustion has started to spread into the offense as well.

The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Giants. They could use a break from the long road trips and the mental grind of the game. The Giants will recover though; it’s just a matter of time.

San Francisco Giants: Why Buster Posey is Thriving as the No. 3 Hitter

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Buster Posey is an incredibly skilled hitter. No matter what spot he is in the lineup, he’s going to find a way to produce. After hitting in the cleanup spot for the majority of his career, Posey was moved into the third spot in the batting order. Bruce Bochy said this is a permanent change, because he wanted to tweak the traditional order to see if it would spark the offense. Because of this move, Posey has thrived.

Jun. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey bats in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Posey hits third in the lineup this season, he has hit .435 with one home run, eight doubles, 15 RBI’s, a .478 OBP, and a .645 slugging percentage in 62 at-bats. In the cleanup spot, Posey has hit .267 with seven home runs, 12 doubles, 26 RBI’s, a .359 OBP, and a .455 slugging percentage in 176 at-bats this season.

The number three hitter is traditionally the best all-around hitter on the team. They’re not generally that fast, but they hit for a high batting average and find ways to get on base. They usually have high on-base percentages and slugging percentages, which is exactly what Posey has exhibited recently.

Some other number three hitters around the league are Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, and Miguel Cabrera. All of these players have power, but they are selective with their power. They don’t necessarily try to hit a home run every time, in order to maintain a high batting average. They all have great OPS percentages, on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.

The cleanup hitter, or the fourth hitter, is also one of the best hitters on the team, but this player generally hits for more power than the third hitter does. This hitter also generally takes a lot of walks.

Some examples of cleanup hitters around the league are Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Phillips, and Evan Longoria. These players all have a lot of power and high slugging percentages. Posey definitely has some power, but it’s a little hard to judge how much power he could really have due to the difficulty of hitting home runs at AT&T Park.

The third and fourth hitter have very similar roles, but Posey has always seemed to be more of a number three hitter. Posey won the batting title last season after hitting .336, so he clearly can hit for average, and he finished with an admirable .905 OPS.

Posey is a versatile hitter who can hit to either side of the field, has power, can draw a walk, and doesn’t chase outside the strike zone much. He also knows how to work pitch counts, hit with two strikes, and adjust his swing in order to get a hit. Posey is the best all-around hitter on the Giants, so it gives the Giants an early advantage when he’s hitting third and comes up to hit in the first inning no matter what. Given his immense amount of skills on offense, Posey naturally fits into the third spot in the batting order.

June 18, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, right) hits a RBI-single to score left fielder Gregor Blanco (7, not pictured) in front of San Diego Padres catcher Nick Hundley (4, left) during the first inning at AT

Another reason why he thrives in the number three spot is because the hitters around him have skillsets that are more suited to the cleanup spot or the fifth spot.

“He’s so good at getting on base, and we’ve been in a little rut,” Bochy said about Buster Posey. “We’ll hope something like this will spark them… Really, you could take those three and pull them out of a hat and be comfortable.”

Hunter Pence has tremendous power, which would make him the perfect cleanup hitter, but he also has a knack for driving in runs, whether that means getting a clean single, a home run, or just a groundout that scores a run. Pence could easily fit into the fourth or fifth spot in the lineup, given these characteristics.

Pablo Sandoval also has incredible power and has proven that he can hit for a high batting average too, when he’s healthy. This is why Bochy has normally put Sandoval in the third spot, but he could arguably hit in the third, fourth, or fifth spot.

Sandoval is currently out with a foot injury, so, in his absence, Bochy has been hitting Posey third and Pence fourth. When Sandoval comes back, it’s not clear how Bochy will order those three players in the lineup, but with Pence and Sandoval hitting behind him, Posey will for sure keep thriving in the third spot.

With two other stellar hitters around him that have power and can hit for average, it gives Bochy more flexibility in putting Posey in the third spot, his most natural spot in the lineup. It doesn’t really matter which spot Sandoval and Pence hit in, because Posey will most likely find a way to get on base for them. Posey is such a valuable hitter for the Giants, and he will continue to thrive in the number three spot in the lineup.