The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Monday, August 13, 2001


Jason Giambi, Wrecking Machine

Yesterday's game-winning home run by Jason Giambi felt like the most foregone conclusion I've seen all season. As Giambi strode to the plate, I sat there solemnly, rooting for the Yankees, yet knowing that it wasn't going to make a damn bit of difference. Not because the fix was in, not because the A's were stealing signs, but because Giambi is that hot and that good.

For those of you who didn't see the game: two outs, bottom of the ninth, tie ballgame, Johnny Damon on first, Mike Stanton pitching. Stanton starts off pitching Giambi high and tight, getting a strike on the first pitch, followed by three balls in a similar location. Giambi fouls off the next pitch to run the count full. To this point, Stanton has thrown nothing but fastballs, and nothing Giambi can extend his arms to hit. But Stanton decides to throw him a curve ball, Giambi guesses correctly, and for all we know that ball may still be rolling.

Friends, Jason Giambi can HIT. He leads the American League in On Base Percentage (.462), is second in Slugging Percentage (.647), fourth in Batting Average (.330), and sixth in Home Runs (29) and RBI (91). All of this while playing in a pitchers' park. By sabermetric measures he's even better. He's tied for first in the A.L. in OPS (1109), he ranks first via Baseball Prospectus's Equivalent Average and Equivalent Runs measures by a solid margin, and he's first in Offensive Winning Percentage as well.

Check out his splits--the man simply doesn't have a weakness when it comes to hitting. He's left-handed, but he's tattooing lefty pitching (.329, 1043 OPS, address all further questions regarding this matter to Mike Stanton). He plays in a pitchers' park (Oakland's team OPS is 47 points lower at home, while their team ERA is 0.58 runs lower there), but his home OPS is actually 14 points higher and he has almost twice as many HRs there. With runners on base? .392, 1243 OPS. Close and late? .338, 1051 OPS. Bases loaded? 6 for 9, with 17 RBI. He hasn't had an off month all season--his worst month would still be good enough for the top 10 in OPS. As they say on SportsCenter, you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

Giambi was the hottest commodity at the trading deadline because he's a free agent at the end of this season. Oakland's decision to keep him and play for the Wild Card was a bold move that had a ripple effect throughout both leagues with regards. But Oakland's gamble looks to be paying off in the short-term, as the A's have been tearing it up--winners of 11 straight and 33 of their last 43 ballgames.

The question is whether that short-term success will translate into an ability to sign Giambi to a long-term contract at the end of the year. Giambi turned down a six-year, $91 million deal when the A's refused to include a no-trade clause, and another MVP on the mantelpiece isn't going to lower that cost.

Which, inevitably, brings George Steinbrenner into the equation. The footsie has already begun; Giambi sang Steinbrenner's praises this weekend. "The man wants to win. When he thinks highly of you, you take it as a compliment," he told reporters.

While it is tempting [drool] to imagine Giambi taking over first base [slobber] for the subpar Tino Martinez and teeing off [slurp] on that short left-field porch [belch], I find myself hoping Giambi stays put. Not because I wouldn't want him in pinstripes, but because I have too much respect for the way Oakland has built itself into a contender, especially given their small-market constraints. The A's are a fun team to watch, with a potent offense and a trio of young pitchers who are already among the game's best. Their run for the AL West title last year was impressive, and they almost knocked off the Yankees in the Division Series. They figure to do some damage this season and for the forseeable future if they can hold onto Giambi. He's 30 years old, extremely durable, immensely popular, and he can hit the ball a long, long way. I have a hard time believing Oakland GM Billy Beane will let the man walk just because of a no-trade clause.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


June 2001   July 2001   August 2001   September 2001   October 2001   November 2001   December 2001   January 2002   February 2002   March 2002   April 2002   May 2002   June 2002   July 2002   August 2002   September 2002   October 2002   November 2002   December 2002   January 2003   February 2003   March 2003   April 2003   May 2003   June 2003   July 2003   August 2003   September 2003   October 2003   November 2003   December 2003   January 2004   February 2004   March 2004   April 2004   May 2004   June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]