The Giants have had their share of issues, but none of those problems are quite like shortstop. Joaquin Arias had provided the thump lately, while Brandon Crawford has flashes the leather.
However, Arias deserves the starting job.
Here are three reasons why:
Platooning Isn’t Effective
In the Giants’ situation, platooning seems like the only plausible solution to having two average utility infielders. Not so fast. While Arias hits southpaws far better than right-handers, Crawford doesn’t hit righties much better than he does, which is the pretty much the point of using a platoon.
Granted, playing time is inconsistent for both of them and the numbers ultimately boil down to whose on a hot streak. The difference is small, however. Arias owns a .263 WOBA against right-handers while Crawford’s WOBA checks in at .273. So a ten point separation exists between the two. Is that small difference actually enough to use a platoon rather than just having Crawford give Arias a breather every few days? Not really.
Name some playoff bound teams that employ the platoon tactic. It’s tricky seeing that there are none. The Dodgers have Hanley Ramirez, the Nationals have Ian Desmond, the Reds have Zack Cozart, and the Cardinals have the veteran Rafael Furcal. The difference is immense, obviously, and platooning isn’t an easy approach to juggle, specifically in the postseason where riding the hot bat ultimately overshadows any alternative approach.
Arias is a Tad Better With RISP
Clutch might not be a big piece of the pie in terms of importance, but Arias’s late game heroics have paid dividends of late. In respect, Crawford has come up with some crucial hits in his own right, it’s just not represented by his .348 OPS with RISP and two outs. Arias’s OPS in the same situation checks in at .529. However, his .200 batting average doesn’t paint the picture of much of a clutch hitter, neither does Crawford’s .105 average. If you want to go by the stats, Arias has a slight edge. If you want to go by a general standpoint, Arias still has the advantage, although Crawford’s few clutch hits should be taken into account as well.
Big hits come from the unexpected in big situations. Arias has fit that bill of late. The Giants, who struggled to scratch out the big hits, have been craving his knack of coming with the big knock of late.
Will it continue? Time will only tell.
Defensive Would Remain Neutral
Crawford has been exceptional with the glove. There’s no denying that. However, Arias hasn’t been too shabby with the leather, either.
Before drawing any comparisons, you must take into consideration that the majority of Arias’s action has come at the hot corner while all of Crawford’s action has come at shortstop. So it’s tough to determine whose better given the minimal sample sizes.
But it’s worth a shot
Crawford’s range is off the charts illustrated by his plus five UZR. Additionally, his RngR stands at 4.1 compared to Arias’s -1.8 RngR at shortstop. Crawford has the edge, but Arias’s quick throwing release and steadiness to make the routine plays makes up for his average range.
So I’m throwing a bunch of stats at you. Exactly what do they mean, though?
Defensive is key to the success of the Giant’s pitchers. The entire pitching staff boasts 45.6 ground ball percentage which is about average, so nifty infield defense is a necessity. In retrospect, nifty wasn’t quite what you would call the Giants’ defense a few months ago when they led the N.L in errors. And a lot of those errors were just routine plays. However it isn’t such of a weak spot these days.
In short, defense is a big piece of the puzzle for the Giants. When the hitting isn’t effective, pitching and defense have to be effective. While Crawford might have a better overall defensive portfolio, the Giants wouldn’t lose much by