I have been easy on Aaron Rowand in his two years in San Francisco. Maybe I was just being sympathetic because he had a decent first half in 2008. Maybe I forever have the image of him crashing into the wall at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia burned in my mind. Maybe I like the fact that he chews Grizzly.
But I can't defend him anymore. Tonight proved, as most Giants fans have already known for a couple of months, that Rowand is the team's Least Valuable Player for the 2009 season. That's how bad Rowand has been this year, and that isn't easy to say when you have Merkin Valdez and Edgar Renteria on this roster.
Yet time and time again, Rowand has simply been unable to come up big on any occasion with the bat. Tonight's at-bat was a golden chance for him to at least somewhat improve upon his declining image, and still...he has a classic, "Your 2009 San Francisco Giants" at-bat. He looks at two very hittable pitches and then whiffs on a crappy low, out of the zone pitch.
I mean...well...I didn't die really on that strikeout. I was more devastated by Fred Lewis' strikeout to be honest, mainly because I want Freddie do well considering all the unmerited grief he has gotten this year (even on this own blog).
However, that is the problem with Rowand. It was almost as if I expected Rowand to get out before he even stepped into the batter's box. I was disappointed Travis Ishikawa walked the at-bat before despite the walk putting runners on first and second because I knew Rowand was going to strikeout, or even worse, ground into a double play. That is how bad it has gotten with him. We can't expect good things from him ever, and even when he does good things, the game is usually in hand.
I know there are the Rowand fanboys out there, and believe me...I was one of them for a long time. I want to have patience for Rowand because he seems to work hard (Kruk and Kuiper harp about how much batting practices he takes before games). However, Rowand was paid handsomely and expected to be a centerpiece for this team and he has been anything but in his two seasons in San Francisco. He has been anti-clutch in every sense of the word. Lewis or Randy Winn in my opinion would be a better option in the outfield next year, and when you say that...well...you're not having a very good tenure with your team to put it nicely.
Here are the two stats that clinch Rowand's putrid, award-winning season in my mind. He leads the team with a 119 strikeouts (the next highest total is Winn with 90) and Lewis has seven more walks than Rowand despite having almost 200 fewer at-bats.
I'm sorry. That's pathetic. Plain and simple.
Aaron Rowand. You're a likable guy. You chew Grizzly dipping tobacco (an underrated brand), you can make a great catch here and there, and you even look like Johnny Drama, my favorite character from "Entourage."
Nonetheless, you take this LVP award easily this year. You lead the team in strikeouts, you have a lower OPS than two backup outfielders, and you grounded into a triple play in Milwaukee. I think those accomplishments speak for themselves.
Congrats Aaron, and good luck on defending your title next season. With Randy and Bengie Molina likely gone next year, you'll certainly be the favorite to repeat (unless Brian Sabean idiotically resigns Rich Aurilia next year somehow).