One of the only bright spots of this year’s offense was Nate Schierholtz, who had somewhat of a breakout. It wasn’t a spectacular season, but he managed to post a pretty respectable .278/.326/.430 before his season was cut short due to injuries. Around late June, Schierholtz altered his batting stance, and shortly thereafter, he got red-hot: from June 25 to July 10, he hit .421/.469/.667, bringing his season line to .293/.343/.464. In fact, from June 25 through the rest of the season, he hit pretty well — albeit in a small sample (.306/.353/.465 in 184 PAs).
More than anything, it was probably a short-lived hot streak. He’s a career .273/.318/.409 hitter, and he’ll probably (more or less) hit like that in 2012. There’s also, however, the chance that — given his age (27) — he’s entering the beginning of his peak. It’s conceivable that Nate could be a league-average hitter again next season, which, combined with his above-average defense and baserunning, would make him a pretty useful player. Schierholtz enters next season as the starting right fielder, and if all goes well, he’ll be good for solid-average production.
Schierholtz is under team control through 2014 (his three arbitration-eligible years), so 2012 could be an important season for him. If he does happen to thrive in a starting role, perhaps he’ll solidify a place as the Giants’ starting right-fielder for the next few years. I’ll be particularly interested to see what ZiPS projects for Nate, as it’s always been sort of high on him.