SAN FRANCISCO – If the Giants are to win Game 5 against Los Angeles in the National League Division Series at Oracle Park, someone will need to seize the moment.
Someone like Will Clark in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs in 1989. Or Pablo Sandoval hitting a pair of home runs against Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. Maybe it’s someone more obscure, like Edgar Renteria (2010) or Marco Scutaro (2012) or Cody Ross (2010).
On the mound, if the Giants are to step up, pitcher Logan Webb and close-knit Camilo Doval are prime candidates to be heroes. Catcher Buster Posey, who has caught 14 postseason shutouts and won three World Series rings, will surprise no one that he should connect on a home run in the same way that propelled the Giants to a 4-0 Game 1 win over the Dodgers.
Here are three other position players to consider:
Might as well take their Most Valuable Player to the Promised Land in 2021 — or at least ride Saturday’s NLDS opener against the Atlanta Braves.
Crawford is a veteran of 10 playoff series and has an overall batting average of .238 with two home runs and 19 RBIs which is not overly impressive. But at 34, Crawford is coming off his best year with 24 home runs, 90 RBIs and a .298 batting average. He served in Game 1 and past postseason heroes include a sacrificial fly in Madison Bumgarner’s Game 7 win against the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 series.
Hitting the Grand Slam in his major league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, the Pleasanton native has always had a flair for theatrics.
And that’s just on offense. Crawford doesn’t need to hit to make a huge impact on the result. His leap of a line drive by Mookie Bates was one of the biggest plays in the Giants’ 1–0 victory at Dodger Stadium in Game 3, and his play at shortstop is unmatched in franchise history.
It would be a logical expectation to see Crawford make big plays on offense, defense or both.
Brandon Crawford Woke Up!! pic.twitter.com/KsZvQDo8uV
— mlb (@MLB) 12 October 2021
Might as well ride a hot hand. Bryant is the Giants’ leading hitter in the NLDS, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with one home run and two RBIs. He will be a left-handed starter to face in Julio Urias, against whom he has a career average of .308 with home runs.
Bryant played with the Chicago Cubs as the 2016 world champions and is a veteran of 11 playoff series, scoring .247 runs with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He won the MVP award that season with a .292 batting average, 39 home runs and 102 RBIs.
Although he can run hot and cold as a hitter—Bryant struggled at the end of the regular season—he appears close and filled in for a major setback in the playoffs.
And though Bryant never really settled on a spot for the Giants, he had a surprising start at first base in Game 3. He has also skillfully played all three outfield positions during the series after a few shaky moments in the regular season. It is unlikely that Bryant will play third base in the lineup with Ivan Longoria.
With Tommy La Stella an Achilles strain and a left-handed pitcher at Ureas as a starter, count on being Solano’s man at second base. And don’t rule out the potential for a game-changing blow or a defensive gem when the Giants need it most.
Back on May 29, the day after Mike Touchman’s game-saving catch against the Dodgers. The Giants gave a tough fight to the Ureas in an 11–6 win, and Solano scored three runs with a 2–4 and a two-run home run to give his team a 5–2 lead in the fifth inning.
Nicknamed “Donnie Barrels” because of his consistency in getting the barrel on the ball, Solano is regarded by manager Gabe Kapler as one of the Giants’ most professional hitters.
Don’t discount Solano making a defensive game that could even change the game. That’s what he did in Game 3 with Tyler Rogers on the mound. Solano went to his left, slammed onto the outfield grass to make a stop on a grounder by AJ Pollock and then made a 360-degree spin to throw him out at first base to lead the seventh inning.
— mlb (@MLB) 12 October 2021