SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 03: Cody Ross #13 of the San Francisco Giants hits a double to score two runs in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park on June 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cody Ross benefits from the Reverse Marvin Benard Theorem. The Marvin Benard Theorem posits:
The worst hitter in a good lineup will get far more criticism than he deserves.
Marvin Benard had a .342 on-base percentage in 2000 with a little bit of power. He was the villain. Part of it was that he had an easily identifiable flaw -- high fastballs! -- but a bigger part was that he was surrounded by real hitters. The 3-4-5 hitters each had an OPS over 1.000. That seems like a fable now, but it happened. Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, and Ellis Burks were monsters. Anything held up in contrast would look pretty shabby. Benard looked pretty shabby.
Ross is in a different place. All year, it's been Tejada this, Tejada that. Huff grumblings, and is that Rowand? Grrrr. Meanwhile, Ross has been puttering along, not being very good. He could still field, and he wasn't as wretched as the other guys, so he was mostly left alone.
But Ross is the streakiest player I've watched since Randy Winn. Maybe hot and cold streaks don't exist; or, more accurately, maybe they do exist, but it's impossible for anyone to really figure out what's a streak and what's a random sample . But danged if Ross isn't an exception to that idea, and right now, he's streakin' like Jimmy Montello in "Bare Ambition". Everything written about Huff's goodwill currency applies doubly to Cody Ross -- all he had to do to be loved is not be Jose Guillen, and he was a playoff legend instead -- so maybe that's why there wasn't a Ross panic.
Glad there wasn't. Ross isn't a great hitter. He might even be an especially good hitter. But he's a worthwhile hitter when you take the hot with the cold, and combined with his fielding and base running, he's a good player. Also:
Yeah. That guy could be the running mate on a Tommy Lasorda presidential ticket, and I'd still love him. It's good to see him hitting well.
Matt Cain was more than solid, deftly pitching in and out of trouble. Javier Lopez had a ridiculously efficient eighth inning, Brandon Crawford roped a key double, and Brian Wilson did the palpitation thing in the ninth, but tonight's game was about Ross for me. If he's on a hot streak -- and if Huff is somewhat back, which he sure looks like he is -- maybe this can be the special lineup we were hoping for in March. And by "special," I mean "not completely wretched." The standards are a little lower than in 2000, but as long as the wins keep coming, I'm not especially interested in style points.
Also: sorry, Marvin. I was kind of a jerk back then.