Squad Profile: J.T. Snow
With Rob Trevelyan
2004 was a watershed in J.T.Snow's Major League career. It was also his career year. Largely expected to make way for rising star Pedro Feliz at first, the 13 year veteran provided both stellar glove and batt to defy an army of critics, as he posted career highs in average (.324) and slugging percentage(.529).
But that's not even the half of it. It might come as a something of a surprise that Snow's .429 on base percentage was bettered by only four players in the National League. His defense, meanwhile, was at its usual, blistering best. Indeed the only thing that has prevented Snow from amassing a museum of gold gloves is Todd Helton, who gets the yearly call because of his bat, not his glove. Go figure. For his part, Snow's fielding percentage of .995 was third among Major League first baseman; in games when he anchored the infield, the Giants went 52-36. Case closed.
Almost. In 2004, Snow eclipsed his career OBP by a full 70 points. He batted 60 and 100 points over his career average and slugging percentage, respectively. His next best year had been in 1995 when he hit .289/.459 with the Angels. In addition, he punished right-handed pitching to the tune of a .338 average.
Remember the other half I mentioned? I meant second half. Snow hit a monstrous .387 after the All-Star break, with eighteen doubles and nine homers in just 181 at bats. His 1.142 OPS in the second half ranked him behind only Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds in the league, while his 44 RBI matched Scott Rolen. During August, when the Giants cut the Dodger's lead in the division from six games to one, Snow batted .452 . To boot, he hit three home runs in a monumental performance on the 13th vs. Philadelphia.
Perhaps the greatest barometer of Snow's success was not his numbers, but the slot that Felipe Alou afforded him in the Giant's lineup. As a result of his selectivity at the plate, he eventually nailed down the hallowed No.5 spot; Moreover, when he wasn't hitting behind Bonds, he hit in front of him instead.
Snow, a fan favorite, will return in 2005 for the bargain price of $2.5m. You can be sure the Giants are glad to have him. For at home he hit a team-leading .355 -- no small part of the reason the team went 49-32 at SBC, and onto the cusp of the post-season.