Back to the West Coast go the Red Sox. This time, they have to play by silly National League rules and have the pitchers hit. And the last time they visited AT&T Park in 2010, it didn’t go so well for a certain pitcher and a popular second baseman. Here’s to their health and a victorious road trip!

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS – 55-68, 5th place in the NL West (17 GB)

Yes, they are the defending champions. Yes, that commands respect and maybe even fear, sure. But they have not played like champions at all this year. The pitching has just fallen apart and after a hot start, even the Giants’ hitting has fallen on hard times. The strategy of staying pat and keeping the same team from the year before has backfired, and it’s just about time to pack it up and let the prospects do the work.

Posey striking a...well, a pose, I guess.

Posey striking a…well, a pose, I guess.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

1 – Marco Scutaro – 2B – .303/.358/.375

  • The ever-so-lovable Scutaro is back on TV in New England. He’s a proud owner of a ridiculous 96% contact rate. That’s not a typo.
  • With all that contact, he relies on putting the ball in play, but he does take a lot of pitches. He can wear pitchers down on his own.
  • Not a lot of power left in the 37-year-old. The trademark glovework of his is starting to wear down as well.

2 – Brandon Crawford – SS – .274/.335/.401

  • Crawford’s first month of 2013: 5 HR, 14 RBI. Since the beginning of May: 3 HR, 24 RBI. Quite the fast start and slow finish.
  • His ISO has increased incrementally since his call-up, which may be a sign of more power to come for him.
  • An okay fielder, but nothing too special. Doesn’t steal bases and won’t be much of a threat on the basepaths to begin with.

3 – Brandon Belt – 1B – .274/.351/.479

  • Young first baseman with a talent for getting on base. His minor league stat lines are full of walks and great OBP numbers.
  • Despite being a lefty, Belt has a weird reverse platoon split. He’ll hammer RHP with his power, but he’ll hit for contact against LHP.
  • Solid fielder at the right corner of the infield. Can play some right field, but he only plays there as a last resort.

4 – Buster Posey – C – .303/.376/.484

  • By fWAR, Posey’s the best player on the team. Pretty much everything you could ask for a player at the catcher position.
  • He’s not putting up numbers like he did in his MVP season last year, but they’re more than acceptable from your franchise player.
  • Doesn’t often swing at anything out of the strike zone, and totes an excellent 5.1% swinging strike percentage.

5 – Hunter Pence – RF – .282/.326/.459

  • Comes in just behind Posey’s 41. fWAR mark with 3.9 wins of his own. He’s the best outfielder on the team, if that makes him feel any better…
  • Fast, contact-driven player with moderate power. Pence will be a 20-20 player by the time the season ends.
  • His 8.9 UZR is the best on the team at any position. Plays that odd right field in AT&T very well.

6 – Pablo Sandoval – 3B – .268/.324/.387

  • Yep, it’s the Kung Fu Panda. However, all the martial arts in the world can’t overcome how lackluster his 2013 has been.
  • Every single percentage stat is down. The most alarming are his power numbers, where his ISO dropped nearly 60 points below his career norm.
  • Hasn’t had a season with over 600 PA since 2010, so staying healthy for a full 162 games has been an issue of late.

7 – Roger Kieschnick – LF – .245/.339/.286 (in 56 PA)

  • Ranked 14th on Fangraph’s Top 15 Giants Prospects list, Kieschnick is an intriguing left-handed power bat who could fit well in a platoon.
  • Strikeout-prone. Needs to work on his discipline to become a serviceable corner infielder in the majors.
  • Has good home run power potential. If used correctly, and/or develops well, Kieschnick could hit 22-25 homers in his prime.

8 – Gregor Blanco – CF – .254/.323/.335

  • Blanco is a nimble outfielder with good skills in baserunning and fielding. Very little power to speak of.
  • His total offensive contributions don’t add up to much. With his speed, I kind of expected more infield hits & bunt singles.
  • Since 2008, Blanco has earned 20 Defensive Runs Saved playing the outfield with the Braves, Royals & Giants.

9 – Pitcher’s spot – P - what/why/nope

  • Ugh, this crap again?
  • No.
  • And more no.

Who’s hot? – Last 14 days

  • Brandon Belt: 4 HR, 16 runs scored, .493 wOBA
  • Hunter Pence: 13 RBI, 3 SB, 136 wRC+

Who’s not? – Last 14 days

  • Marco Scutaro: .261 OBP, zero walks, 55 wRC+
  • Buster Posey: .229 AVG, 0 HR, .229 SLG
Photo by Kelly O'Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

Photo by Kelly O’Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

SERIES PROBABLES

Jon Lester vs. Tim Lincecum

Lincecum, after a horrid 2012, is grinding back to the upper echelon of pitchers, and he’s due for a huge FIP rebound. It’ll be interesting seeing his rotation-best strikeout rate go up against a team whose latter half of the lineup is quite whiff-happy. Will David Ortiz send one into McCovey Cove off him again?

Jake Peavy vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Of San Francisco’s starts, Vogelsong has been the worst by FIP. Combine that with a high BABIP, a low LOB% and an average strikeout rate and it doesn’t look good for him. He’ll look to start a rebound against Peavy, who will be a fly-ball pitcher in one of the biggest ballparks in the majors. Now that’ll be something to watch.

Felix Doubront vs. Chad Gaudin

What can I really say about Gaudin (other than the fact that his name is pronounced “go-dan”)? He’s been a solid starter for the Giants this year in a season of instability. His fly ball tendencies are great for AT&T Park. Doubront will attempt to rebound from a very, VERY messy start against the Yankees in his last outing.

INJURY REPORT

  • Boston
    • Mike Napoli: Missed Sunday’s game (August 18th, plantar fasciitis in left foot)
  • San Francisco
    • Angel Pagan: 15-day DL (May 26th, left hamstring surgery)
    • Jeremy Affeldt: 15-day DL (July 21st, strained left groin)
    • Marco Scutaro: Pinch-hit Sunday (August 18th, tightness in lower back)

IN CONCLUSION

Should be an interesting series because XANDER BOGAERTS XANDER BOGAERTS XANDER BOGAERTS XANDER BOGAERTS

Categories: 2013 Boston Red Sox Angel Pagan Brandon Belt Brandon Crawford Buster Posey David Ortiz Felix Doubront Hunter Pence Jake Peavy Jon Lester Marco Scutaro Mike Napoli Pablo Sandoval Ryan Vogelsong San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum

Brett Cowett is a young, die-hard Red Sox fan. An undergrad at Arizona State University, Brett is studying digital journalism with a minor in Dustin Pedroia studies. Apart from laughing at Nick Swisher's escapades in the field, Brett enjoys the occasional sci-fi flick, playing Halo, and being snarky. Follow him at @BACowett for more baseball, random musings, and random baseball musings.

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