Free-swinging Giants eschew walksOffense last in National League in earning free passes
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
05/20/09 10:28 PM ETSAN DIEGO -- A USA Today story published Wednesday noted that the number of walks being issued has increased significantly this season. Giants hitters have done virtually nothing to contribute to this trend. San Francisco entered Wednesday having drawn 101 walks, by far the National League's lowest total. Houston ranked 15th with 120. This factoid probably doesn't surprise anybody who regularly follows the Giants.
"We have a number of free swingers," hitting coach Carney Lansford said, citing Bengie Molina and Pablo Sandoval as the leading examples.Since Molina and Sandoval happen to be two of the Giants' most proficient hitters, Lansford had no specific complaints about them. Still, Sandoval's hacking tendencies were fully evident Tuesday night, as he twice swung at neck-high pitches from San Diego's Chris Young.
"As much as I try to get him to be disciplined, it's like caging a lion," Lansford said of Sandoval. "He leaves the dugout ready to swing the bat. I literally tell him before every at-bat, 'Swing at a strike.'"The Giants' inability or reluctance to coax free passes denies them a potentially useful source of offense. To score, Lansford said, "we have to string hits together." That also has challenged the Giants, whose .254 team average ranked ninth in the NL entering Wednesday. Lansford noted that an alarming number of Giants lack a sound two-strike approach. This makes hitters reluctant to work deep counts, which in turn prevents them from coming close to ball four.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.