Rowand's not a Giant upgrade
December, 12, 2007
The fact that the addition of Aaron Rowand probably makes the Giants a better club in 2008 should not be seen as an endorsement of the signing. We're talking about a lineup where the fourth-best hitter is the "VACANT" sign hanging on third base. Rowand is a dead-fastball hitter with a complicated, high-effort swing that produces a lot of sound and fury, but a lot of swings and misses as well. His power is part real and part the effect of the hitters' parks where he's spent his entire career (56 homers at home versus 37 on the road). He's not enough of a contact hitter to predict high averages, and his batting average has fluctuated accordingly throughout his career. He is not patient, going after the first fastball he sees (or thinks he sees), never drawing more than 44 unintentional walks in a season. He's now moving to a bigger ballpark that's about as unfriendly to home runs as Philadelphia's park is friendly to them, and he's not going to make up for the loss of that power with good OBPs. Jerry Crasnick just named the Giants' lineup (without Rowand) the worst in the majors as currently constructed, and lack of on-base skills is a major reason. The Giants' offense revolved around Barry Bonds, who certainly won't be playing in San Francisco in 2008, leaving the Giants with a sort of baseball anemia. Bonds drew 132 walks in 2007; the rest of the Giants drew 400, with no one over 53. In fact, the Giants put fewer men on base in 2007 than any other NL club but Arizona, and that's including Bonds and his .480 OBP. If you don't put men on base, you don't score. Signing Rowand doesn't help the Giants on this score.