Both San Francisco Giants corner outfielders made one thing clear, though with a smile, before granting interviews
"No numbers," left fielder Michael Morse said.
"No numbers," right fielder Hunter Pence echoed.
The message is clear: The Giants aren't worrying about individual statistics and are again taking an all-for-one approach to offense, something that worked so well for them while complementing a strong pitching staff during the World Series-winning seasons of 2010 and 2012.
"We don't have that one guy who is going to carry a team or put up huge numbers," catcher Buster Posey said. "The way our offense works best is when everyone is working together up and down the order."
Which is why it is odd that the Giants are 21-13 and percentage points ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the lead in the National League West in large part because of their ability to hit the ball out of their park.
Despite playing their home games at the pitcher's paradise of AT&T Park, the Giants rank third in the major leagues with 42 home runs, third in the major leagues behind the Rockies (49) and Toronto Blue Jays (44). First baseman Brandon Belt leads the team with nine and Morse has eight after signing a one-year, $6-million contract as a free agent in the offseason.
The Giants homered just 107 times last season, which ranked 29th among the 30 major-league teams ahead of only the Miami Marlins (95).
"I thought we would hit for power this year, maybe more doubles than home runs, though, because it's hard to hit the ball out of our park," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been a pleasant surprise but I don't want to see us be so one-dimensional offensively.
"I'd like to see us more consistent up and down the lineup and keep that line moving. That's when we're at our best."
AROUND THE BASES
Mariano Rivera created a stir in his recently released autobiography when baseball's all-time saves leader wrote that he felt the Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia is a better all-around second baseman than the Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano.
Rivera and Cano were Yankees' teammates for nine years until Rivera retired at the end of last season. Cano also signed the third-longest contract in baseball history over the winter, a 10-year, $240 million deal in free agency.
Cano rates a slight edge from a statistical standpoint as he has compiled a WAR of 41.7 -- according to baseball-reference.com's version of the stat that measures how much better a player is above a replacement-level player -- since the start of 2007 --- Pedroia's first full year in the major leagues. Pedroia's mark is 40.4 in that span.
Surprisingly, though, three of five talent evaluators from major league organizations polled earlier this week said they would take Pedroia over Cano.
"I see where Mo is coming from," said an executive from an American League team. "Cano will put up glitzier numbers but Pedroia is a helluva player and the type of guy you go to war with. Let's put it this way: Who would you rather have up to bat or a ball hit to with the game on the line? I think just about everybody would say Pedroia."
--One of the best things about baseball's expanded replay system is that is has brought more drama to games. For example, the ending of Tuesday night's game with the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates made for great theater.
Umpire Quinn Wolcott called Pirates left fielder Starling Marte out at home plate as he tried to score the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 1-1 game. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle challenged the call and it was overturned after a review of 1:44, giving his team the victory.
Everyone at PNC Park could feel the tension while the umpires waited to get word from New York on whether the call would stand or be reversed. Having been there, I thought it was really cool.
--While the AL East has long had the reputation of being the major leagues' powerhouse division, it is not living up to it this season.
All five teams are within 3.5 games of each other but none have played well. At 17-14, the Baltimore Orioles have the worst record of any of the six division leaders.
The New York Yankees are the only other AL East team with a winning record at 18-15. The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are at breakeven with 17-17 records and the Tampa Bay Rays are a disappointing 15-19 after entering the season with legitimate World Series hopes.
--The upside from the team perspective in the continuing trend of signing young players to long-term contracts is that it gets cost certainly by buying out the years in which the player would be eligible for salary arbitration.
The downside is there is no guarantee that those players will get better.
A case in point is San Diego Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who was signed to a five-year, $35-million contract last month. The 25-year-old is hitting .153 in 33 games with a .209 on-base percentage and a .254 slugging percentage.