The Giants and the Rockies are battling it out for the National League wild card, but both teams are refusing to put their best lineup on the field.
Seth Smith is the second best hitter on the Colorado Rockies. In 251 at-bats, he has compiled a .909 OPS, and his .394 wOBA is second on the team only to Todd Helton’s .397. And yet on most nights Smith rides the pine behind obviously inferior hitters like Ryan Spilborghs and Eric Young Jr.
Fred Lewis is the second best hitter on the San Francisco Giants. In 273 AB, he has compiled a .360 OBP, and his .339 wOBA is second on the team only to Pablo Sandoval’s .395. And yet on most nights Fred Lewis rides the pine behind obviously inferior hitters like Nate Schierholtz and Eugenio Velez.
Both of these players are clearly superior to the other options at hand, at this point in the season, and both are the second best hitters on their team, and it’s not particularly close. Plus both players have the pedigree and the at-bats this season to suggest that their numbers are not just a sample size issue. Lewis’s numbers in particular are almost dead on his career marks across the board.
It’s pure foolishness for these two teams which each harbor playoff hopes to both make their second-best hitters sit in crucial stretch-run games. I can’t remember the last time I saw even one contending team do this kind of thing, let alone two.