There’s something so gosh darn likable about young Casey Schmitt, I feel the need to Jock Blog in his defense.
It breaks one’s Giants heart to see fans grumble about the happy Labrador retriever puppy that is Casey Schmitt. But when you hit .325 in May and .140 in June, the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately crowd begins to swell outside the gates of discontent.
(An 0-for-13 July doesn’t make it any better, so let’s scurry along. Nothing to see here.)
The advanced metrics are no better. While the Schmitt Army — count me as a solider — appreciates his decent numbers in hard-hit rate and barrels per plate appearance, the chase rate is ugly. There are times he appears overmatched at the plate, which is so at odds with his flamboyant and joyous burst on the scene back in May, when we were all younger.
So why dig into the Casey Schmitt foxhole, to take on all facts to the contrary?
One, we can all agree on the glove, right? I mean, it’s darn near elite. The arm speaks for itself. Nolan Ryan called, and wants his arm back from Casey Schmitt. You can even drop the kid at second base, foreign land for him, and he’s out here saving runs on Wednesday night in a win over the Mariners. There’s obvious value there, and even the “He had a .499 OPS in June!” crowd can’t deny it.
Two, they need him right now. Thairo Estrada’s broken hand is a big blow. Brett Wisely is a nice little speedster, but Schmitt is the bigger dog this club needs. He should play a lot in the coming weeks. It’s his chance to work on plate discipline, do the work, get better in making decisions right before our eyes. He has to be the guy. When it comes to trading for a Tim Anderson-type to fill the void, let’s be honest — the Giants need starting pitching more desperately.
Three, he’s been the symbol of the season’s rebirth. Well, him and Patty Bailey. Well, him and Patty Bailey and Luis Matos. But when Schmitt was called up on May 9, the Giants were 15-19. Correction: they were 15-19 and boring. Schmitt instantly juiced up the joint. The hair. The mug. The swing. The glove. The arm. The bandana!
Since then, with a HUGE assist from his pal Patty Bailey, the team is 32-21. And the fan base woke up from its comatose state. Because, you gotta like these kids, right?
I’m a romantic about what Casey Schmitt has symbolized, but I am also a realist. If it continues to trend in the wrong direction offensively, he could return to Triple-A Sacramento to work on the chase rate. Those of us who remember Matt Williams, one of the great Giants of the last 50 years, remember a very similar arc: homegrown third baseman with power, soft hands and a great arm, and a crushing weakness for waving at off-speed pitches in the dirt. Matty W had to go back and forth on the Triple-A express from 1987-89 before arriving in full. It’s one way to go.
But in the meantime, Casey Schmitt has a weekend of ball in front of him. We get to watch.