Wait, a designated hitter? What in the hell …
Sure, you have designated hitter now, but what of the slippery slope? Maybe the American League will allow track stars to designated-run when a plodding slugger hits a ball into the game. In another 40 years, maybe there will be nine people in the field, and nine different hitters in the lineup. And maybe after that, we'll all be buggering turtles because that's what happens with a slippery slope, my friends. It'll get you.
It's absurd for a National League team to plan their roster around the idea of a future World Series, so you can't blame the Giants for being wholly unprepared for this situation. But I'd like to point something out: The Giants are wholly unprepared for this situation. They don't have a one-tool slugger who fields like Russ Davis with tentacles. They don't have Russ Davis. They don't have anything especially close to the platonic ideal of a DH. Here are the bench players on the World Series roster:
Let's get a couple things out of the way. First, Bruce Bochy has already said that Huff is probably going to be the guy. So this is all Saturday-morning quarterbacking instead of complaining with the benefit of hindsight.
Second, if Ryan Theriot is ever a DH, the baseball gods will unleash of plague of locusts on us all, and they'll destroy the crop of cork bushes that we need to keep making baseballs. He's probably out of the discussion.
That leaves four potential candidates. If the Tigers had one lousy left-handed starting pitcher -- one! -- this wouldn't be so complicated. The Giants could plonk Xavier Nady in the DH spot and look smart. "See! This is why we have a clomper on the roster after all!" But it's all righties. A look at the candidates:
Hello, old friend. We're all pulling for Ryan Vogelsong to cap off his amazing return with a World Series return, and we're agog with the Barry Zito redemption story, but it's not a bad idea to hope for a big Aubrey Huff hit at some point in this World Series. Just one moment, that's all we're asking. Everyone remembers the home run off Tommy Hunter, but don't forget that Huff roped a single to tie the Brooks Conrad game before it was the Brooks Conrad game. He's already a part of postseason lore. And there was that whole part where he hit like Eddie Murray in the regular season to get the Giants to the playoffs in the first place.
Huff is a Giant, even when he looks like the worst player in the world.
The problem is that even if you believe he can still hit -- a debatable point -- he can't run. At all. And there isn't a Francisco Peguero to caddy for him this month. If Huff ekes out a walk, as he's wont to do, he will be a obelisk that will be permanently attached to first base, and it will fill future generations with awe, fear, and wonder.
See, Sanchez can't really hit. Not yet, at least. I'm not too worried about him being the second catcher because if Posey were hurt (or, say, needed to stop catching in the middle of an 18-inning game), Sanchez could move out of the DH slot, and the only penalty would be the loss of the DH. That would get us one step closer to a Santiago Casilla at-bat in the World Series, people.
But Sanchez just isn't that good. He actually picked it up against left-handers in the second half, hitting .304/.296/.430 for the year. That's not relevant to this discussion, but I wanted to post that line because it's hilarious. Against righties, he hit .266/.295/.367. Small samples all around, but I feel comfortable suggesting that Sanchez isn't going to be much help as a DH.
Technically, it wouldn't be Arias as the DH. He'd play third, and Pablo Sandoval would DH, so this is the rare choice that could improve the defense, too. I was pushing for Pablo to win the Gold Glove last year. I have no idea what the difference is between then and now, but Sandoval doesn't have the same range. Arias isn't Brooks Robinson, but he's a clear upgrade. Your mileage may vary.
Counterpoint: Arias against Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Justin Verlander. Arias struggles with breaking balls against righties, and let's just check to see if those guys throw … yep, yep, looks like they all have breaking balls of note. Huh.
He's tempting, in that he just seems like a DH type. Ol' Xavier Nady, a mashin' and a whompin' And while he's hit lefties a little better than righties for his career, it's not like he's some extreme lefty-masher who should never face a right-hander.
It's been four years since his last good season, though, so those career splits probably aren't telling us a whole lot about the current player. The guy on the Giants' roster looks like a hitter who will chase breaking balls, and he'll also have trouble catching up with the best fastballs, which Verlander and Scherzer have.
It turns out that -- and I hate to be the one to point this out -- none of these options are especially palatable. If I had to choose ... guh, I don't know. But considering that the three starters the Tigers are throwing out there aren't likely to walk a lot of hitters, I'll plug my nose and go with Sanchez and his aggressiveness. Huff's wheels scare me that much.
I'll change my mind by tomorrow. For now, though, give me Hector, even if he's going to swing at the period at the end of this sentence. It will be Huff, most likely, so this is just a thought exercise, but the important thing is that I didn't bring up Shawon Dunston hitting a home run in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.