We learned after yesterday’s series finale against the Marlins that Evan Longoria’s hand had been broken by Dan Straily’s wild fastball in the 4th inning. Unfortunately, we won’t have a better sense of his recovery time table until after he sees a surgical specialist this weekend. In the meantime, the Giants have placed him on the 10-day disabled list.
Pierce Johnson was called up from Triple-A before the game to take Longoria’s place. You might remember him from the two scoreless innings you saw him pitch tonight. It’s possible he gets sent right back down tomorrow ahead of Brandon Belt’s reactivation. That’s right. Belt had an appendectomy not even two weeks ago, but he’s champing at the bit. Doesn’t even want to do any rehab starts, just jump right back into the fray.
So long as a doctor gives him medical clearance, I have no problem with an early return from surgery ... although ... now that I see the word italicized it does give me pause... a player’s health is more important than a team’s performance, and one player doesn’t usually tip the scales... but the Giants are desperate for Brandon Belt’s skill set, especially after losing Longoria for who knows how long.
Belt probably won’t have his swing back for 2-3 weeks, maybe, which is perhaps too conservative and punitive an estimate, but not dire if Pablo Sandoval and Alen Hanson can maintain their strong performances as fill-ins. How great has Pablo Sandoval been? He’s been worth 0.4 fWAR and in half the number of plate appearances as Evan Longoria, who’s sporting a 0.5 fWAR. His 112 wRC+ means that he’s created 12% more runs in his 135 plate appearances than a league average hitter (100 wRC+) would have. His home run tonight was reminiscent of the Pablo of yore... specifically the 2nd of his 3 World Series home runs:
And Bruce Bochy has fallen back in love with the team’s de facto mascot:
Look at him. That’s a man who’s glad to have a Pablo Sandoval on his team. He’s got the manager’s trust, so he’ll definitely get first crack as Longoria’s replacement. At least versus right-handed pitchers.
Alen Hanson has had some memorable moments at the plate since his return from the disabled list at the start of June, too, so expect a platoon situation at third base with these two, as Hanson has managed to be serviceable switch hitting against left-handed pitchers.
It won’t be pretty in the field, though, as Pablo’s range has diminished over time and Hanson has demonstrated ... inconsistency ... on defense, but if they can sustain their modest to above average offensive output until Belt gets it going, and if McCutchen can sustain this noticeable power bump he’s been on, and if Buster Posey can build on his Miami series — he and Crawford, who has 3 hits in his last 24 plate appearances, seem to be swapping places in terms of hot streaks — then the Giants might be able to maintain the “length” of their lineup, which has been a crucial part of their meager success this season.
Evan Longoria averages 3.8 pitches per plate appearance, which is more than Buster Posey at the moment (3.68). He’s striking out way more and walking way less than ever before, but he’s also second on the team in home runs with 10, in part because he can hang in an at bat long enough to get a better pitch to hit. And, as mentioned, he’s the best defender at the hot corner on the roster.
So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page here: we’re 100% for the Pablossaince and we’re gonna ride it and the Alen Hanson Project until Longoria returns. There are no alternatives.