One of the hotter ones since sabermetrics really took hold of the game has featured the No. 3 hitter; some still say you should guarantee your team’s best all-around hitter a first-inning AB. Others suggest that if the guy’s so great, he should be available to hit that first-inning grand slam as the cleanup man.
Obviously, the above is an oversimplification. Not to mention an assumption that such a lineup decision fails to take into account that the other team’s starter rarely sucks that hard that early in the big leagues.
The No. 2 spot is open for juicy give-and-take, too, and with Marco Scutaro now officially Freddy Sanchez, the Giants need to settle on someone there.
Brandon Crawford should be the guy, and he proved it with a single at-bat last week in spring training.
Facing new A’s closer Jim Johnson with a runner on third base and less than two outs, he needed to get the ball in the air, into the outfield, and deep enough for it to at least be a sac fly. Johnson, though, is almost impossible to elevate in that situation. His sinker is an evil gopher, and he doesn’t throw anything but that rodent in such situations.
Crawford got it done, however, illustrating quite clearly that he’s reached the point in his young career where he knows what each at-bat requires, and he knows how to execute the required approach.
That’s all a two-hole hitter really has to be: smart and technically savvy. Crawford’s there.
Whether he opens the season in that spot or not, that’s where he’ll end up if Scutaro really is Sanchez for the year. And yes, once he’s put there he’ll fail at times to execute. It’s a failure-based game. Duh.
And sure, throwing out multiple lefties in a row could be a late-game issue. But this is a no-brainer. Crawford has developed into a very good “bat handler,” and he’s only going to get better.