Jason Giambi, at the ripe ol’ age of 42, greeted the abnormally cool July evening with a moon-kissed solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Indians their fifth straight win. It’s almost fitting isn’t it? Maybe even typical. A former superstar well beyond his prime finds his way to Cleveland yearning for that last shot of regular baseball action. And he found it on Monday night.
Giambi, who came via Colorado, spent parts of the early offseason interviewing for the Rockies manager position. After deciding to go with former big league shortstop Walt Weiss as skipper, Colorado offered Giambi a place on the bench – as a hitting coach. He politely declined.
And here he is, in a Tribe uniform, with his hair grayer than the ballclub’s road uniforms.
Admittedly, it’s easy to overlook Giambi’s production this year; hitting .194/.301/.411 will do that to a player. But it’s actually quite misleading, especially considering the depths that offensive production has sunk to around the major leagues this season.
Despite the sub-.200 batting average, Giambi has actually been a pleasant surprise for the team. According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, his production has been a smidgeon – 1%, actually – over the league average. His walk rate, 11.6%, ranks among the top forty hitters with 140+ plate appearances. He still hits for above-average power (six doubles, seven homeruns and an Isolated Power of .218). And his overall production against righties is slightly better too.
He’s been a lot of fun to watch as well.
There was that belly-flop-turned-headfirst-slide to first base on April 30 – with the team up by 12 runs. Or the time he decided that a stolen base attempt to third would be a wise idea, despite stealing just 20 bags in his now 19-year career. And then there was last night, a thing of beauty.
Jason Giambi, for all that’s plagued him over the past decade, is still a valuable big league player. Regardless of what his batting average may be.
For additional analysis check out Joe’s site: ProspectDigest.com