Bruce Bochy says Hector Sanchez will serve as the designated hitter for Game 3 of the World Series, which makes me feel pretty comfortable predicting who’ll be the DH in Games 4 and 5 (if necessary).
Sanchez is almost certainly in there because he is a switch-hitter, and the Sanchez on the mound who the Giants will face during Game 3 (Anibal) is right-handed — even though as Wendy Thurm pointed out, right-handed hitters have better numbers against Anibal Sanchez than lefties.
Why not Aubrey Huff? Knowing Bochy, Huff probably didn’t get the call because he’s 0-for-12 lifetime against Sanchez. Batter vs. Pitcher splits are VERY important to the Giants’ manager.
This move isn’t my favorite for a couple of reasons.
First, when Sanchez gets playing time, the outrage just isn’t as funny as it is when Aubrey Huff gets pinch-hitting opportunities. With Sanchez all we get are a bunch of “Hacktor” references and complaints about his stats. Those complaints are generally legitimate, as Sanchez barely ever walks (except during Game 4 of the NLDS, strangely enough) and he struggled during the NLCS (0-for-5 with three strikeouts). Keith Law says his upside is “backup.”
With Huff, the reactions are so much more entertaining. Jokes about him running, GIFs of him running, Brandon Belt giving him “turkey taps,” the fun never ends. Then he comes to the plate and hits a grounder and takes 14 seconds to reach first base, and it isn’t as funny anymore. But observing the initial outrage is always an amusing pastime.
A more serious issue comes in the form of bench resources. If Buster Posey gets injured in Game 3 and needs to be replaced by Sanchez (the only backup catcher on the roster, unless Bochy plans on putting Pablo Sandoval back there), the Giants lose their DH position. MLB rules state:
The Designated Hitter may be used defensively, continuing to bat in the same position in the batting order, but the pitcher must then bat in the place of the substituted defensive player, unless more than one substitution is made, and the manager then must designate their spots in the batting order.
So if something happens to Posey, that means the pitcher must hit for the rest of the game. Even though Giants hurlers somehow accumulated RBIs in four straight games before Game 2 of the World Series, this is not an ideal option. Let’s save those Santiago Casilla at-bats for next year, please.
What are the other options?
- Joaquin Arias at 3B, Sandoval as the DH (leaving Ryan Theriot as the only backup infielder)
- Xavier Nady as the DH (not left-handed or very good)
- Huff as the DH (Bochy hates the numbers against Sanchez; he makes Prince Fielder look like Usain Bolt)
- Theriot as the DH (he might be the least powerful DH option ever, for any team at any level of baseball)
I fully expect Huff to DH against Max Scherzer in Game 4, as he’s 1-for-2 lifetime against Scherzer with a double. It may sound ridiculous, but if I was putting money down I wouldn’t go with any other option for that reason alone.
If a Game 5 is necessary, I would expect to see Sanchez as the designated hitter again against Justin Verlander, but don’t sleep on Nady. He’s 1-for-2 against Verlander with a single! Science.
Of course, with the way things have been going lately, I halfway expect whoever Bochy chooses to go 3-for-4.