Fan’s Take: Should San Francisco Giants Give Joaquin Arias More Playing Time?

Yahoo Contributor Network

Who leads the majors with the best batting average in August? Surprisingly it is San Francisco Giants infielder Joaquin Arias.

With a .426 batting average in August, Arias leads all major leaguers in this category. After coming off a July month where he hit only .238 in 17 games and started the month with a .245 batting average, he now has a .283 average. Among his 23 hits are nine that have gone for extra bases.

Despite being one of the hottest hitters in baseball, Arias has only started 13 games this month. With such a hot bat on a team desiring as much production possible from their lineup, should he be starting more games for the Giants? According to manager Bruce Bochy, this playing time probably won't be found in left field.

"We have talked about him going out there a little bit," Bochy said. "I'd say it's more of a long shot…We're not ruling it out."

Since seeing his first action in the majors in 2006, Arias has only played one inning in the outfield with the New York Mets in 2010. While he's certainly an athlete with a good glove in the infield, the Giants already have Ryan Theriot taking fly balls out there to see whether he can play more in left field. When also factoring in a shoulder injury he had back in 2007 with the Texas Rangers organization, he is probably not suited to play more

With appearances in the outfield likely ruled out, that leaves the three infield positions he typically plays. Overtaking Theriot's spot at second base, Marco Scutaro's spot as starter is pretty secure, although he is a versatile infielder like Arias. While Arias is definitely hitting better than regular shortstop Brandon Crawford, the Giants like his defensive excellence there and it's hard to see them bench him more than the usual rest day.

This leaves third base, which could potentially be the spot where he could see most of his playing time. In his last 10 games, Pablo Sandoval has struggled with a .176 batting average and only one extra-base hit in this time span. Akin to what Juan Uribe provided at the position late in the 2010 season, Arias may see more starts there in September.

Ultimately, Arias' value may best be as a utility bench player. While his production in August has been particularly clutch in recent wins, it'll be tough for him to continue being that player for the rest of the season. More proven based on his numbers this month, he is now a reliable bat and glove off the bench, which is more than what could be said of him earlier this season.

Sources:

Giants kick around notion of Arias in outfield, CSN Bay Area

Joaquin Arias 2012 Split Stats, Yahoo! Sports

What should the Giants do with Joaquin Arias?, The Splash, SFGate.com

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Austin Chang is a lifelong San Francisco Bay Area native, baseball fan, and supporter of the San Francisco Giants. Follow this Featured Contributor on Google+ and Twitter @_austinchang.

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