Jim Thome isn't the only old first baseman/DH type contributing to a pennant winner. Thome, of course, hit a game winning homer to center to further cement his Hall of Fame credentials and won a thirteen inning game for the Twins the other night. Sunday was Jason Giambi, now 39 and just short of Hall of Fame credentials (not to mention his PED problems). He too hit a bomb to center to seal a walk off win for the Rockies over the Diamondbacks. The homer gave the Rockies their tenth win in a row and moved them to 2.5 games of the division lead.
It seemed rather odd when the Rockies continued their relationship with Jason Giambi when this season started. He was a late addition for them last year during another playoff push. Perhaps they remembered and appreciated the 19 games he played for them down the stretch and contributed with a whopping 1.062 OPS in 31 at bats. But still, when the season started, him making their roster was a head-scratcher. He can only play first base and it's been years since he had any kind of agility there and the NL doesn't have the DH. So what were the Rockies thinking? They were thinking that, again, a lot like Jim Thome, Jason Giambi will give you a professional at bat whenever a game is on the line and it means something.
Then add to the head scratching that after the way Giambi started the season, the Rockies kept him throughout the season. After six games, Giambi had one of the strangest slash lines in history: .000/.400/.000.
After 14 games, his slash line improved to: .091/.364/.136. And still the Rockies kept him. As late as July 3, Giambi's slash line read: .214/.369/.381. And still the Rockies kept him. The Fan noted it during the course of the season, but didn't pay much attention, especially since the Rockies were treading water and didn't appear to have the kick in them that they had last year.
Then Todd Helton got hurt and Giambi got more playing time. And he started hitting. Now, after September 12, Giambi's slash line is a very healthy: .259/.395/.426. He has driven in 32 runs in 158 at bats. Prorate that over the course of a normal full-time season and he would be on a 112 RBI pace. His On Base Percentage is no surprise. Giambi could always get on base. his career OBP is .405. In his salad days with the Athletics, he had two years where his OBP was .476 and .475, easily the tops in the league those years. You can't PED a walk, can you?
Perhaps the Rockies were a lot smarter than the Fan. Yeah, that would be an easy call to make. They probably figured that in high leverage situations, Giambi would have a .941 OPS. That's a pretty good guy to have around when you're in a pennant race.