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Blanco can make a case for the spot. He has been the Giants’ defensive replacement in years past. During the 2014 title run, Blanco had to move to center field to fill in for the injured Angel Pagan. While his offensive numbers do not scream every day starter, there is something to be said for someone who provides a spark when he is on the field.
The 2014 season got off to a horrendous start for Blanco, but he rebounded to finish with a respectable slash line of .260/.333/.374. The 31-year-old outfielder also provided five home runs and 38 RBI. Blanco’s RBI total was just five behind Aoki despite having 105 less plate appearances. An area of concern offensively for Blanco is his 77 strikeouts in just 393 official at-bats.
Despite excellent speed, which can make him a threat on the base paths, Blanco stole only 16 bases in 21 attempts. He does display a good ability to go from first to third on a single and score from second base, which helped lead to his 51 runs scored on the season.
Where Blanco’s speed really shines is in the outfield, where he uses it to chase down fly balls in the expansive outfields located in the ballparks of the National League West. Remember the diving catch he made to preserve Matt Cain’s perfect game?
While he finished up the season as the Giants’ starting center fielder during the playoffs, Blanco will slide back over to left field with the return of a healthy Pagan. Last season, Blanco played 64 games in left field, making 36 starts. Early on he was primarily used as a defensive replacement for Morse, who is not known for his defensive abilities to say the least.
During Blanco’s 361 innings in left field, he committed one error on 80 chances, which was good for a .981 fielding percentage. Where he shines is his RF/9, which was 1.97 for the year. Blanco’s RF/9 is better than the National League average of 1.82.
He also had a Defensive Runs Above Average per year (Rdrs/yr) rating of 13, which is better than Aoki’s 0. Aoki had an Rdrs/yr rating of -16 during his 76 inning stint in left for the Brewers in 2012. What this boils down to is Blanco was responsible for saving 13 runs from being scored against the Giants, while Aoki was responsible for allowing an additional 16 runs to be scored against his former team.
Blanco’s defensive metrics make him a possibility to start in left field, especially for a manager that values defense and pitching. The concerns are that Blanco’s shortcomings offensively could be exposed over the course of 162 games.
There are other options for the Giants to look at as well.