In late July, Jay Bruce hit four home runs in 13 plate appearances in AT&T Park, helping the Reds take a series from the Giants. They were long, booming home runs that changed weather patterns around the globe, and there was a thought that the Giants would be impressed enough to push for Bruce at the trade deadline.
In late August, Bruce was on the Mets, and he hit a single in 14 plate appearances. He ended up hitting .219 for his new team, with a .294 on-base percentage and a .391 slugging percentage. He started the Wild Card Game against Madison Bumgarner, and he made contact twice, which is much better than the Mets should have expected.
This is because Bruce isn’t very good, see. And I’m terrified the Giants are so power-starved, they’ll try to acquire him. He almost fits the paradigm, the one-year deal to a power hitter that they’ll need.
Bruce does hit for power. That is what he does, alright, and it’s the kind of power that could play in AT&T Park. He’s one of the few lefties about whom that is true, and in isolation, he might fit with the Giants, who haven’t hit 30 home runs as a team since Clams Captivo did it by himself for the New York team in 1893. Bruce has hit for 30 homers or more in four seasons, and he hit 25 last year.
Except that’s all he can do. He’s hit .231 over the last three years, with a .295 on-base percentage and poor defense. Bruce might be as good as Jarrett Parker right now — FanGraphs and Steamer have their 2017 projections as roughly equal, once you adjust for park and playing time — but he’ll cost $13 million next year, which is over $18 million for the Giants when you factor in the luxury tax.
He’s still just 30 somehow, and he really was quite good in his early- and mid-20s. So if you want to be an optimist, note that I had similar concerns about Michael Morse’s secondary skills and defense, and there are nights when I wake up and want to give that guy a big ol’ hug. There are ways Bruce could work out for the right team.
But consider one final point: Bruce is left-handed, and he’s been far worse against left-handed pitchers for most of his career. This would leave the Giants with ...
- Denard Span
- Joe Panik
- Jay Bruce
- Brandon Crawford
- Brandon Belt
... in the same starting lineup. Span is usually okay against lefties, but he was abominable last year. Same with Panik. The Brandons are fine, but the point stands. If the Giants wanted to maintain any sort of platoon advantage against left-handed starters, they would need to mix and match to an unhealthy degree.
I don’t want to keep piling on, but Bruce’s combined 0.2 WAR over the last three seasons would have ranked 12th on the Giants in that span, below Gorkys Hernandez and tied with Gary Brown.
While this would be a good place to be cynical and suggest the Giants are totally going to get him, I’m pretty sure they have scouts.
SCOUT: Wait, hold on, Bobby. This guy’s batting from the other box. The one closest to first base. Totally turned around and facing the wrong way. This is wild.
The scouts would notice that Bruce is left-handed. The team can’t be keen on another left-handed hitter. They don’t seem like the sorts to be excited about a minus defender if he isn’t bringing on-base percentage or average to the table. And they really don’t want to pay $18 million for a player who isn’t worth it.
The thesis from yesterday still stands. J.D. Martinez or bust. Just in case the Giants were thinking about it, though, it doesn’t hurt to make a homemade sign to plant in the yard that reads “NOPE.” It doesn’t make sense in any capacity, other than a naked desire for raw power. Maybe a raw desire for naked power. In either case, it’s not enough.
J.D. Martinez, then. We’re all agreed, right? Let’s just wait by the Twitter machine and wait for the Martinez news. Any day now. Aaaaaaany day.