It’s no secret that in just two short years, the Giants have managed to reinvent their entire roster of position players. Aside from Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, every position player from the 2010 World Championship team has departed.
Then came the return of Andres Torres.
Torres was one of the first players to be scrutinized by Bay Area sports-talk radio fans when the tides turned in 2011. Some scoffed at Torres for not being a prototypical leadoff hitter as he didn’t draw enough walks. Some decried him as a glorified platoon player who couldn’t handle lefties. Some called his 2010 success a fluke. Others called him a has-been.
But maybe – just maybe – when it’s all said and done, 2011 will stand as the anomaly in Torres’ Giants career.
It’s true, Torres wasn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter. The secret of his success at the top of a World Championship batting order was just that though. He was the antithesis of a prototypical leadoff hitter in a big way.
The guy was a slugger in 2010. Torres had 67 extra-base hits during the regular season. That’s just shy of half his 136 total hits. He totaled 43 doubles, ranking him fourth in the National League. And he supplied another five extra-base hits in the World Series against Texas.
And in Tuesday night’s 9-6 comeback win in which the Giants twice trailed by four runs, Torres regained his 2010 form for one critical pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth. With the game tied 6-6, Torres grinded a hitter’s count out of the always stingy Matt Belisle. Then on a 3-1 challenge fastball, Torres drove a shot over the head of right-fielder Michael Cuddyer to lead off the inning with a signature double. He scored on the next at bat when Angel Pagan – the guy Torres was traded for prior to the 2012 season – shot an RBI single back through the middle. Torres’ run proved to be the game winner.
Granted, many of the aforementioned knocks against Torres ring true. He did see a massive drop-off in production in 2011. And he has always had difficulties against left-handed pitching as a Giant. Even through his breakout season of 2010, he hit just .226 against lefties – nearly 60 points less than he did against right-handers.
Despite the lopsided splits, the Giants seem to be content with throwing Torres into the fire of a platoon with Gregor Blanco, in which Torres is tabbed to receive a majority of playing time against lefties. It has been a scuffle for the switch-hitter thus far, as he is hitting just .188 on the season.
But Torres seized the opportunity in Tuesday’s unlikely comeback to show that when tailored to his strengths, he can still do what he did best in 2010 – turn doubles into wins.