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The Giants’ bench has been abysmal

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This is not a surprise to you, but the actual numbers are still surprising. It feels like I keep using different variations of that sentence, too.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I, for one, will never look the gift of Conor Gillaspie in the mouth. Dude showed up out of nowhere and gave the 2016 Giants far more postseason excitement than they deserved. Years from now, when you bring up the name “Conor Gillaspie,” I will smile and buy you a drink.

There’s a chance that he might not be very good at hitting baseballs off the bench, though. We’re still in the clutches of small sample size, but before Gillaspie went on the DL, he was hitting .133/.216/.156. While his defense at third has improved tremendously since his first turn with the Giants, he’s still a one-tool player. And when that one tool is in the shop, it becomes painful to watch. I’m not sure if he fits on this roster, as currently constructed.

The thing about this, though, is that it isn’t just Gillaspie. It’s every single player on the Giants’ bench. The reserve players they started the season with. The ones they have now. All of them, without exception. I don’t remember seeing anything like it.

The Giants’ bench as of 5/19

Player PA R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Player PA R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Justin Ruggiano 32 1 7 1 2 1 8 .241 .281 .345 .626 67
Nick Hundley 75 7 16 0 4 3 17 .229 .257 .357 .614 62
Mike Morse 29 1 5 1 3 1 11 .185 .207 .333 .540 41
Kelby Tomlinson 27 1 6 0 1 1 6 .240 .269 .240 .509 39
Aaron Hill 29 2 3 1 2 4 8 .120 .241 .240 .481 30
Gorkys Hernandez 98 5 15 0 7 8 23 .169 .245 .225 .470 28
Chris Marrero 41 2 5 1 5 2 9 .132 .171 .211 .381 2
Conor Gillaspie 51 3 6 0 4 4 6 .133 .216 .156 .371 2
Tim Federowicz 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333 2
Drew Stubbs 24 0 2 0 0 2 9 .091 .167 .091 .258 -28
Total 409 22 65 4 28 27 98 .159 .234 .304 .538 I don't know, but not good

Positives:

  • Nick Hundley is tied for the team lead in doubles, with 9
  • Wait
  • Oh, no, is that true?
  • Man
  • The bench players have stolen five bases without being caught
  • Only one of them has a negative adjusted OPS

Collectively, though, this has not been a good bunch of bench players. And while the effects are most noticeable when these guys are asked to start in the stead of an injured or resting regular, it might surprise you to know that things haven’t been exciting when they’re asked to pinch-hit, either:

Giants as pinch-hitter in 2017
PA: 67
H: 8
HR: 1
AVG: .133
OBP: .197
SLG: .183

For perspective, the Giants have a .318 OPS after reaching an 0-2 count. Which means that Giants pinch-hitters have been roughly equivalent to a pile of hitters starting in a two-strike hole.

The good news? The good news is that I haven’t brought up the 2000 bench yet, what with Armando Rios, Bobby Estalella, Felipe Crespo, Calvin Murray, and Ramon Martinez, a dashing mix of alternating strengths and complementary skills, and you know that I can’t go one through an entire post about a bench without mentioning the ‘00 Giants once.

The bad news? It doesn’t have to get better. The odds suggest that there will be some regression in the right direction. Gillaspie isn’t really a .371-OPS hitter. That’s not his true talent. Still, it would be gambler’s fallacy to anticipate everything swinging back in the other direction.

The proper bench going forward should probably look something like this:

OF - Mac Williamson
OF - Justin Ruggiano
INF - Kelby Tomlinson
INF - Jae-gyun Hwang
C - Nick Hundley

Williamson because he can be a de facto starter in left field when Hunter Pence come back and Eduardo Nuñez is playing somewhere else. Ruggiano because he can play center and hit lefties better than Gorkys Hernandez. Tomlinson because he at least has speed to go along with his contact, and I’m still convinced he’s solid. Hwang because he’s hitting .300/.320/.443 in Triple-A and because I’m bored with everyone else on the roster.

And Hundley because he’s still the solid backup catcher the Giants thought they were getting.

At this point, though, we’re all just picking names out of a hat and hoping someone will do something that resembles anything. Did you see that Terrell Lowery was 15 for 34 for the ‘00 Giants? Now that was a bench. Let me tell you about that. I remember the first time I saw Felipe Crespo. It was a cold day, and I was walking down ...

Sorry. Can’t stop reminiscing. Probably because this is currently a very unfortunate collection of reserve players the Giants have accumulated. You knew that, but it felt like I needed to point it out, too.