Saturday, May 25, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 25, 2024 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

 This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

Giants 8, Mets 7

E: Luciano 2 (4, fielding, throw)

I am pretty sure I have never cited fielding percentage in the Newsletter, which should give you an idea of how notable Marco Luciano’s .886 mark is. Luciano booted a tailor-made double-play ball Tuesday that should have ended the game and instead set up a Pirates comeback win. Last night, he did the same thing on what should have been a game-ending double play ball by Pete Alonso, setting up first and third with just one out and the Giants clinging to an 8-7 lead. It’s the Mets, though, so the Giants still won.

Luciano is off to a miserable defensive start, highlighting the question of whether he’s going to stick at shortstop. Keith Law, over at The Athletic, has had his doubts about Luciano’s defense for years. Again, we don’t talk about errors much, but Luciano’s error rates have been notable at each stop along the way, and even this year he made seven in 103 chances at Triple-A before his call-up. Range matters, arm matters, but if you’re booting a ball twice a week, you can’t keep the job. That’s who Luciano is right now.

The challenge for the Giants is that Luciano is also off to a .409/.480/.591 start at the plate, with just five strikeouts against three walks. He has almost no experience anywhere else on the diamond -- 46 innings at second base in the minors last year is all of it -- and the Giants have him blocked at second, third, and DH anyway. They even have young outfielders now, in Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos, earning looks. It would be hard to bump one of them to stick a completely untrained Luciano out there.

Luciano has to play shortstop to contribute to the 2024 Giants, and it’s very possible that his defense makes him unplayable there. It’s just odd to point that out with the oldest number in the book.