The San Francisco Giants struggled mightily in clutch two-out situations in 2013, disabling their offense from surmounting a sufficient level of run production. Although the Giants flashed signs of moderate inconsistency at times in their first series of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they were ultimately impressive in clutch situations.
The Giants scored a total of 23 runs against their NL West counterpart in their first four games of the 2014 campaign, averaging a solid 5.75 runs per game. The most impressive aspect of the Giants’ offensive production is the fact that 17 of those runs were scored with two outs in an inning. While the Giants feature a bench seemingly incapable of altering the complexion of a game on paper, the bottom of the roster produced when needed against the D’Backs.
Backup middle infielder Brandon Hicks crushed a solo home run and also walked in two plate appearances off the bench. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez added two doubles in four at-bats, driving in a pair of runs. Although outfielders Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez collectively failed to earn a hit in nine at-bats, they provided much-needed outfield range in late-game situations. As a unit, the Giants don’t flaunt a ton of depth, but each player on the roster holds a distinctive role.
The Giants aren’t going to rake like they did in Arizona for the entirety of the season, but their ability to get hits in the clutch, especially off the bench, is indicative of what they’re capable of. San Francisco was highly inefficient at the plate in 2013. The Giants ranked fourth in the National League in team batting average (.260), but scored just 629 runs, averaging less than 3.9 runs per game. If San Francisco is going to win the NL West in 2014, they need to convert scoring chances into runs. They did that in their first series of the season and need to carry that kind of success into several early season matchups against division opponents.
The Giants aren’t going to score 74 percent of their runs (17-of-23) in two-out situations over the course of the season, but their ability to generate offense in such situations is much different from what their offense failed to accomplish last season. Four games is a small sample size, but the Giants have certainly taken strides toward reasserting themselves as legitimate contenders this season.