Marcus Giles

On to second base, where our long regional nightmare is over. Keith Lockhart is a San Diego Padre (or possibly a Portland Beaver — fill in your own joke) and the second base position is theoretically open to someone who (a) can hit a little, and (b) doesn’t remember the Nixon Administration. I don’t really have a good handle on who the Braves want to play there, though. Most outside observers say that Marcus Giles should get the job, but the Braves’ braintrust has never been high on Marcus and might prefer Mark DeRosa. Or Bobby could get a wild hair and bring Mark Lemke out of retirement. You never know with Bobby.

Marcus has undoubtedly been a disappointment since joining the big league club. His career major league numbers are only .247/.327/.416, and he was significantly worse last year than in 2001. To be fair, he was going through a rough stretch personally (one in which he didn’t seem to get a lot of support from his teammates or the team) and had some injuries, but he had lost his starting job when Mark DeRosa got hurt and pushed him back into the lineup. Marcus got hurt about a week later, and when he got healthy again the Braves basically screwed him and demoted him to AAA so the Great Lockhart wouldn’t be threatened.

The Braves are worried about Giles’ defense at second base, but I don’t see it. He makes a few more errors than most second basemen, but so many that it’s a problem, his range is pretty good, and he has a better arm than most. (Lockhart, last year at any rate, was probably a superior defensive player, but not enough to make up for his other shortcomings.) The Braves are considering moving Giles to third or left, but the real key for him will be to find his hitting stroke. He’s capable of being a .900 OPS hitter, which will make even Bobby overlook a few extra errors at second base.

Briefly noted, his most-comparable player through age 24 is Scott Spiezio, who came up a second baseman but is now the World Champions’ first baseman, and a very good one. It’s an interesting comparison, but Marcus is probably too short to play first base.

Marcus Giles Statistics –

10 thoughts on “Marcus Giles”

  1. I like your assessment of Giles. I too believe he has enough offensive talent to outweigh a handful of errors. I liken his potential and overall game to an older player, Bobby Grich. He was not the slickest fielding secondbaseman around, but his power and ability to hit made more than enough difference. Of course, when Grich played, big hitting second sackers stood out like sore thumbs. I believe the kid has the potential to be at least a number 5 or 6 hitter. Of course that may happen, just with another team. I don’t think Cox likes him enough to give him a real shot.(See Ryan Klesko)

  2. but he had lost his starting job when Mark DeRosa got hurt and pushed him back into the lineup

    This needs to be clarified somewhat, at least in tone. Marcus didn’t so much lose his job to Derosa as he had it taken from him by Cox. He was hitting well, then had a pretty darned short slump.

    Marcus started the season extremely hot with the bat, was carrying the offense early in April. He started to cool in late April, and his OPS dropped to 765 after a short slump. But then he rebounded, and as late as May 5 he was hitting 272/367/485.

    Marcus then went 1-8 in his next game, then 0-4 in his next. So Cox benched him for lockhart and his big bad .135 average. Lockhart went 1-4, so he also started the next day, when he hit a home run. So he also started the next day, going 0-2 with a walk.

    Marcus then started the next 2 games, going 2-4 with a walk, and then 1-6. The next day was when DeRosa took over at 2B with Furcal moving to SS.

    So on May 5 Giles was the starting 2B with an 852 OPS. He then went 1-12 in his next two games, did not start the next three games, went 3-10 in two games, and that’s when he lost his job. I’m guessing he lost his starting job in spite of the 3-10 performance, not because of it. So functionally, a 1-12 stretch over two games lost him his job. Yeah, that’s fair.

    What probably led Cox to his decision was that the Braves lost both of the games in which Giles went 1-12, then won all three started by Lockhart, lost both when Marcus went 3-10, then won one of the two started by DeRosa. However, looking at the boxscores, the team wasn’t exactly being killed by Giles. In two of the games Glavine allowed a combined 8 earned runs in 11+ innings, and in another they let Albie pitch in a close game after Millwood allowed 4 runs in 5 innings. Of course, it’s hard to tell what role defense played here, but Marcus made no errors over that stretch.

    So yes, Marcus lost his job to DeRosa. But, it’s not like he had gone deep into the tank by that point – that was still to come, and maybe Cox was benching Marcus because he could see it coming in his swing. But in terms of performance, he had two bad games. That appears to be wwhat really cost him.

  3. Giles had several factors play into his performance last season, and quite a bit of it was beyond his control. Before injuries and the loss of his child, Giles had done pretty well. He did mash the ball early on, hitting mostly in the eighth spot in the lineup. The number two slot wasn’t performing, so Cox shoved Giles into the two slot and that’s when his slide began. I personally believe Giles will develop offensively into a player capable of hitting most anywhere when needed, but I still like him hitting eighth. He offers enough punch, selectivity and ability to drive the ball that can really pick up the bottom of the order. He can also flat-out hit which can really stretch out an inning. If he hits like I believe he can, it may not be long before the Braves, or another team envisions him in a more crucial RBI slot. I still question Bobby Cox’s unwillingness to utilize young guys he doesn’t know or want to trust. It is almost impossible to improve your stock mashing ass on the bench. I think it cost us Klesko, for one, and I’d hate to see him piss away Giles potential like that.
    I’m less convinced that DeRosa is an everyday player, but I’m more than willing to let him change my mind. He has earned the chance to play everyday, and I don’t mean for 3 or 4 days then get benched. To develop, a guy has to play, and play regularly. If given the shot, at least the team will be able to forge honest evaluations on Giles and DeRosa. I like Giles offense, and can even imagine him as a left fielder. I like DeRosa’s ability to play a lot of positions, so at the least he should be set as a utility guy. Both have the fire and desire, the hunger to fight their way into the everyday lineup and help this team. I hope they get that deserved opportunity.

  4. I read somewhere (the “official” website or the AJC probably) that the Braves are giving the 2B job to Marcus for the spring and will have DeRosa compete with Castilla for the 3B job. While I wish they’d give Giles the 3B job, DeRosa the SS spot and move Furcal to 2B to take a little heat off his shoulder, it’s not an awful plan. Vinny should just be cut, sunk cost, “good glove” and all. A reason cited for just giving Giles the job was letting him relax so that he would hopefully get into a good groove at the plate and make fewer errors at 2B.

    It may just be a rumour, but it has me hopeful. Happily, with games starting in 12 day, we’ll know soon.

  5. I liken his potential and overall game to an older player, Bobby Grich. He was not the slickest fielding secondbaseman around …

    That must have been news to the Gold Glove voters who gave Grich the award four times beginning with his very first season as a full time 2B.

  6. Winning the Gold Glove isn’t always the best indicator of defensive prowess. It often is given to an offensive standout at a position. Just a couple of years back or so, in 1999 I believe, Rafael Palmeiro was awarded the Gold Glove at firstbase and he only played around 28 or 30 games in the field. The rest of the season he was DH. I was a big fan of Grich’s and I know he was a good fielder. Even so,he had a few seasons wherein his error totals went over 20! He also won the Gold Glove with 20 or 21 errors. It’s funny because the position in Grich’s day was still known as one that most teams willingly sacrificed offense for better defense. I bet a quick glance would show several of those “defensive” guys had high error totals. Grich was known in his day as a hitting secondbaseman, rather than a defensive specialist. He was a pretty good all around player, much as I see Giles becoming.

  7. Worth noting also – Marcus started off last season blazing hot, when the rest of the team was freezing cold. His first multi-game slump to taper that off came directly after Tom Glavine yelled at him on the field following an error in a game April 16.

  8. Fred,

    I’ll agree that occassionally a player wins or looses a gold glove with his bat – witness Mike Cameron this last year. But that wasn’t the case with Grich. Bobby Grich won a GG in his first full season as a 2B when he batted .251 with a dozen homers. Granted he walked a ton, but his offensive prowess wasn’t even close to enough to garner him the defensive recognition.

    The Bobby Grich I remember had *excellent* range and was very good at turning a double play. The statistics bear out that two decade old memory. Baseball Prospectus has him listed at 95 defensive runs above average in the four seasons he won the GG. His range factors listed at Baseball-Reference were very high. And his Defensive Win Shares, as listed by Bill James also were very, very good.

    Bobby Grich is one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, doing everything well except the one thing that fans and commentators most key (keyed?) on — batting average. I like Marcus Giles and think he could be a very good player. But I’d be thrilled if he turned out to be 75% of the player Grich was.

  9. The Grich-Giles comp sounds OK on the surface, but I don’t buy it. Grich is probably one of the most underrated players in major league history. He was every bit as good as Ryne Sandberg as a hitter, although not quite the fielder (but he was very good with the glove; he wouldn’t have started for Weaver’s Orioles if he wasn’t).

    As with most everyone who frequents this site, I really want to like Giles. But he hasn’t hit enough in his major league trials to just be handed the job. He’ll probably wind up having a better career than DeRosa, but the two splitting time is not exactly an insane Grace-Durazo arrangement.

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