How will Marco Scutaro do in 2013? As long as he doesn't travel back in time and kill his own grandpa, he'll probably get a lot of leeway.
If I wrote the Marco Scutaro projection that you wanted to read, this would be it. Wait, don't click that! It will melt your computer into a puddle of goo. But if you're feeling bold, take a gander, and know that's what my heart is doing as I type every word of this projection.
With that disclaimer out of the way, it's time to note that there is almost no way that Marco Scutaro is a starting second baseman in 2015. Once again, a list of second basemen who qualified for the batting title at 39:
Since 1916, there have been 1,730 different qualifying seasons for second basemen. Twelve of them have come from players 39 or older, all of them Hall of Famers (now or in the future) with the exception of Kid Gleason. And of those 12 seasons, seven of them were kind of stinky. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Scutaro turning into an Aubrey Huff-like shell of a player over the next three years, with Joe Panik possibly playing the part of Brandon Belt. Once again, you'll quickly shift into what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mode. I can see it in your eyes. You make me sick.
But in 2015, the Giants might have Jason Marquis in the rotation. Like, the actual Jason Marquis. How will that happen? Hell if I know. But every year, there's a team that wakes up and wonders how Jason Marquis is in their rotation. And they may ask themselves, well, how did they get there? Letting the days go by, for one. Trying to do something as idiotic as build a baseball team, for another. The changes come quickly. The 2003 Giants won 100 games; the 2005 Giants won 75. The 2008 Giants made me throw bricks through storefront windows; the 2010 Giants won the World Series.
This year, though, the Giants should be okay, at least. I don't buy into the idea that because they won the World Series, they're the best team in baseball. Neither do you. But they should compete. They don't have Jason Marquis in the rotation yet. Yet. And these are precious times. Marco Scutaro in 2013 should be a player valuable enough to make you accept Marco Scutaro in 2015. They need him now. The other options were Kelly Johnson (projected to have about the same value as Scutaro according to both PECOTA and ZiPS) and Maicer Izturis (just a tick less valuable). There wasn't a Chase-Utley-in-his-prime option for the Giants to drop nine figures on. There wasn't a Ray Durham, either.
So I don't begrudge the Giants the extra, necessarily unnecessary third year for Scutaro. This is a one-year, $21 million contract with a couple of team options at the major-league minimum because there weren't any better alternatives.
And that list up there? Maybe it's using the wrong categories. Maybe age and position aren't the best way to evaluate Scutaro. Here's another category of note:
At-bats per strikeout
2012: 12.7 (led the majors)
Over the last four years, Scutaro has gotten better at making contact. A lot better. And while it's not automatically a great sign when a player doesn't strike out, Sctuaro's line-drive percentage has stayed relatively static. So while there's a huge population of second basemen to sample over the last century, there isn't a huge population of second basemen who were so adept at making contact at a similarly advanced age..
Forget the position, then. When you search for 35-or-older hitters with a similar contact rate, you get all sorts of familiar names -- players who were productive well into their late 30s. Carl Yastrzemski. Pete Rose. Wade Boggs. Tony Gwynn. Hitters who were so good, they defied the standard aging curve. They were so talented when it came to putting balls in play, the decline didn't happen until much closer to 40.
It's really an impressive list of players. Why, the last player over 35 to go more than 12 at-bats for every strikeout was ...
... oh no ...
... oh no no no ...
Miguel Tejada in 2009.
Well, dang it. There goes my look-at-those-contact-rates philosophy. And the odds are good -- great, even -- that Scutaro gets sucked into the same Tejada wormhole that devoured us all in 2011.
Just not yet. Gimme one more year.