Just by taking a quick look at the San Francisco Giants‘ season stats, you might be fooled into thinking that Marco Scutaro was the team’s MVP. Really, though, 2013 was a disappointment for the second baseman who provided such a powerful spark to the Giants down the stretch in 2012.
Scutaro began the season in an awful slump, going two for his first 23 (.087). He picked things up as the month moved along, though, and finished with six multi-hit games over the month’s final 18 contests.
Things really got going for the 37-year-old during May, when he hit .420 with seven doubles, two triples and a home run. He became one of the key parts of the Giants’ offense, and it seemed as if they would be able to count on him to consistently load the bases for Buster Posey.
Unfortunately, things started to go downward for Scutaro in June. On June 11 in Pittsburgh, Scutaro was hit by a pitch which bent his finger. He suffered a “mallet finger” injury, which can be corrected through surgery, but is permanent if not operated on immediately.
With the Giants’ offense in a bind following an injury to Pablo Sandoval, Scutaro chose to be fit with a splint and play through the injury. Based on how he seemed to be affected, this may end up being a decision that Scutaro seriously regrets.
It didn’t seem to have that much of an impact on him initially as he hit .250 over the remainder of June and .303 in July. But over the season’s final two months, Scutaro seemed to have much more difficulty. He went 34 for his last 136 (.250), and more significantly, he seemed to lose all the power in his swing.
After the All-Star break, he had just six doubles and one triple. It’s worth noting also that Scutaro was struggling with a bad back and an additional finger injury, so those ailments may have contributed to his slump as well.
Perhaps the area where Scutaro regressed the most in 2013 was in the field. He had 13 errors while playing second base, which was by far the most miscues he’d ever had at the position. Overall, he seemed to lose a lot of his range, especially when he was trying to get to balls hit past the infield.
It was also disturbing to see how Scutaro’s fixation with playing every day hurt the team. The Giants’ beat reporters would continually report that Scutaro was going to get an off day to rest his back and recover, only for him to talk himself back into the lineup. In addition to this overexposure hurting Scutaro, it also had secondary consequences.
After getting off to a torrid start, backup second baseman Nick Noonan lost his rhythm because he wasn’t getting any starts, and he ended up having to be demoted to Triple-A because he wasn’t getting any playing time.
Though he had an amazing first half and made his first All-Star team, Scutaro deserves a B- for his 2013 efforts. He had some good moments, but his slumps at the plate, defensive struggles and insistence on playing through injuries ultimately did the team a lot of harm.
It would be wise for the Giants to find a complement to Scutaro at second next year, but first and foremost he needs to focus on getting healthy and trying to return at full strength next year.