x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Big problem for San Francisco Giants

The offence has not clicked in the past seven weeks for the World Series champions.

It would be a shame if the San Francisco Giants did not get a chance to defend their World Series title.

The Giants feature a dynamic starting rotation, an entertaining closer and a passionate fan base, but unless they work out a way to improve their offence in the final seven weeks of the season, they may be home when the post-season begins.

Heading into the weekend, the Giants were only a game behind Arizona in the National League West. But since the All-Star break, the Giants were just 12-14, opening the door for the plucky Diamondbacks to pass them in the standings.

In all of baseball, only the Seattle Mariners had scored fewer runs this season.

The Giants were ranked 27th of 30 teams in batting average, 28th in slugging percentage and 29th in on-base percentage.

Only two Giants had double-figures in homers: Pablo Sandoval (14) and Aubrey Huff (11) and just two regulars - Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz - were hitting above .250.

In 48 of their first 118 games, they managed to score two runs or less. And not even their top-flight starting rotation can overcome that every night. Approximately one in every 10 losses this season have been by shutouts.

The Giants thought they had addressed their biggest need when they obtained Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets in late July.

Beltran, a switch-hitter with power, was the best available hitter on the trade market and the Giants moved aggressively to land him.

Brian Sabean, the general manager, said he thought the team's ardent fan base - every game this season has been a sell-out at the magnificent AT&T Park - deserved the team's best effort to try to repeat as champions.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But Beltran has been a disappointment, knocking in just two runs in his first 11 games with the Giants.

The idea that he would provide some protection in the middle of the line-up and benefit some of the other hitters has not panned out.

Beltran seems to be pressing at the plate and it has not helped that he suffered a wrist injury and has missed time.

The real problem, of course, has been the absence of Buster Posey, who was lost for the season back in May when he broke a leg in an ugly collision at home plate.

Although he was only a rookie last season, Posey quickly established himself as a true middle-of-the-order presence, with the ability to hit quality pitching. There is still time for the Giants to generate some offence and hold off Arizona.

Once in the post-season, their superb pitching may give them a chance to return to the World Series. But getting there may be the hard part.