The San Francisco Giants don’t seem to have much to worry about as they sit atop the NL West standings approximately six weeks into the 2014 MLB season. While the Giants have been one of the best teams in baseball in early action, they are far from perfect. The most glaring deficiency on their current 25-man roster is a severe lack of capable talent off the bench.
San Francisco’s bench features five players, four of whom have posted batting averages of .200 or worse. Although none of the Giants’ five bench-warmers see significant action, they each hold distinctive roles on the team. The primary purpose in employing guys like Ehire Adrianza and Juan Perez is simple: for the team to have clutch late-inning defense and the ability to pinch run.
Adrianza was impressive in Spring Training, earning a roster bid mostly because of Marco Scutaro‘s nagging back problem which ultimately landed him on the DL. Perez has already bounced in between triple-A Fresno and the big league club due to an injury to left-handed reliever David Huff, who remains on the DL with a left quadriceps strain. Both players have combined for seven hits in 47 official at-bats, good enough for a collective .149 batting average.
After a relatively productive 2013 campaign, fourth outfielder Gregor Blanco had seemingly solidified himself as a reliable bench option. Blanco hasn’t performed anywhere close to marginal expectations in 2014, though. The 30-year-old defensive replacement owns a dismal .121 batting average with four hits and two RBIs in 33 at-bats. His .182 slugging percentage ranks below those of pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
Utility-man Joaquin Arias has been equally as disappointing as Blanco in 2014 after signing a two-year deal over the offseason. Arias had been a factor for the Giants in two previous seasons, but has struggled to register seven hits in 46 at-bats this season. Arias has failed to record an extra-base hit in 2014, contributing to a poor .356 OPS.
The most viable bench option for the Giants is also their highest-valued trade chip. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez is good enough to start on some big league clubs. At 24 years old, Sanchez has yet to reach his full potential. He owns a .673 OPS with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 46 at-bats. Although his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, he’s a valuable commodity. Sanchez crushed a game-winning grand slam in extra innings in a game against the second place-Colorado Rockies in April, fueling the Giants’ recent hot streak.
GM Brian Sabean must prioritize bolstering the Giants’ bench this summer if they’re going to remain ahead of the pack during the dog days of summer. The Giants’ glaring lack of depth is going to become a problem over the course of 162 games. They need to add at least one player capable of sustaining success in a pinch hit role. At the moment, they possess four defensive replacements and one viable hitter off the pine.