So anyway, I'm in Denver to see a couple of also-rans playing a three-game series -- the Marlins showed up in town, right around the same time I did -- and was reminded (yes, again) why we shouldn't ignore also-rans.
Monday night, the Rockies improbably tied the game in the ninth inning, which brought Jason Giambi to the plate with a couple of runners on base. He drove a 2-and-1 pitch over the scoreboard in right field for a three-run walkoff job.
Tuesday night, the Rockies didn't quite tie the game in the ninth, but they came close on Giambi's pinch-hit two-run homer, again lined over the barrier in right field.
Giambi's now got a dozen homers this season, which might not seem all that impressive until you notice that he's done that in only 118 plate appearances. See, Giambi's not much of a defensive player these days, plus the Rockies are paying Todd Helton a great deal of money to play first base. So Giambi's started only 21 games all season: 15 at first base (when Helton was on the Disabled List) and six as DH (in American League ballparks).
How impressive has Giambi's performance been. Among players with between 100 and 150 plate appearances in a season since 1969, here are the top five slugging percentages:
Mark McGwire 1997 .726
Mike Jacobs 2005 .710
Jason Giambi 2011 .676
T. Hollandsworth 2001 .667
Des. Jennings 2011 .640
It's an odd group, to be sure. That's what happens when you base your analysis on small sample sizes. Mike Jacobs? And hey, there's Tampa Bay rookie Desmond Jennings, who's never been this powerful in the minors.
Also, Giambi's not the only Rocky on this list; Hollandsworth played for the Rockies in 2001. And while Coors Field isn't quite as hitter-friendly today as it was in '01, it's still the hitter-friendliest yard in the major leagues. Giambi's actually hit only five of his 12 homers at home this season, but he's seen significantly more action on the road this season, so his home percentages are significantly better than his road percentages.
Anyway, I'm wondering why some contender hasn't yet picked him up to serve as a pinch-hitter or DH down the stretch. Because it's apparent that Giambi, even at 40, can still hit.