There’s no doubt that even at the age of 37, Marco Scutaro is still an important player for the San Francisco Giants.
As for just how productive he is in a tangible sense, though … well, that’s another story.
Much like the veteran second baseman’s impact in the fantasy game, it turns out that what he brings in numbers affecting everyday results for the Giants are rather underwhelming as well.
Though he has been a solid 2.1 fWAR player to this point of the 2013 season thus far, Scutaro is far from a defensive wiz (1.3 fielding runs below average), and the majority of his value stem from his remarkable ability to put the ball into play (95.7 percent contact rate) and his penchant to not make outs (.300/.355/.372 triple-slash).
The thing is, though, a .727 OPS hitter is still exactly that, and when the rest of the team’s offense has been inconsistent as the Giants’ had been, it’s just not enough.
In short, the guy who put together a 1.9 fWAR half-season and who single-handedly sparked San Francisco’s lineup en route to their World Series victory is long gone. In place is just Marco Scutaro, a guy who is at the tail end of his career and still good enough to contribute, but not the table-setter that the team has been using him as.
That’s perhaps never been more apparent this season than in August, where the 37-year-old may be literally feeling the weight of the team’s unfulfilled expectations.
Currently dealing with a back issue, Scutaro has hit in just eight of the 16 games he’s appeared in entering play on Tuesday, with his batting average threatening to fall below .300 for the first time since May 10 thanks to a .215/.239/.246 line on the month.
Though his contact rate has remained steady, the further drop in power may have afflicted his BABIP (.241 in August); to make matters worse, his walk rate has totally collapsed to 1.5 percent for the month, with his strikeout rate topping double digits (month-to-month) for the first time this season at 10.4 percent.
At -0.3 fWAR, Scutaro is having a hard time getting out from the role as the least valuable player on the team or the month, let alone help lead it.
In short, the Giants are seeing who everyone else in the league was seeing prior to his magical run last season: a serviceable veteran infielder in the twilight of his career whose physical abilities may be in decline.
And with two more years at $6.67 million each in his deal, the Giants can only hope that this isn’t the Aubrey Huff situation all over again by the time 2014 rolls around.