Five areas where Giants can improve offense for 2021 season


The 2020 MLB season was an outlier in many ways, and that included the offense the Giants put out on the field.After years of having a lineup that was close to unwatchable at home, the Giants found multiple fixes, and they proved to be one of the more dangerous teams in the league.The lineup ranked eighth in MLB in runs, sixth in slugging and seventh in on-base percentage, but it goes beyond that. Simply put, it was fun once again to watch the Giants at the plate. You expected them to get hits in big spots, or to come back after falling behind early. They were entertaining, with veterans finding fresh life under a new coaching staff and some newcomers putting up All-Star numbers.Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and Gabe Kapler liked what they saw in 2020 and don't believe it was a fluke, and this offseason team officials have talked of adding just complementary pieces to the lineup. They expect it to be pretty good again, although there always are ways to improve.As the Giants look for every edge, here are five spots that stood out as obvious holes for the lineup and some ways they can be fixed for 2021 and beyond:

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The issue: The Giants had a .838 OPS against lefties, which ranked fourth in the big leagues, but it dipped to .764 against righties. That seems odd on the surface, because on most nights, you could expect Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt and Alex Dickerson to be Kapler's three most dangerous hitters. If you dig deeper, it's easy to see where the problem was. 

The Giants' right-handed batters got 51 percent of the plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and they didn't fare well, combining for a .253/.310/.389 slash line. 

Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores did pretty well, but Evan Longoria had a .671 OPS in 153 plate appearances against righties and Mauricio Dubon was at .664 in 127 plate appearances. Catchers Joey Bart and Chadwick Tromp combined for 109 at-bats against righties with just six extra-base hits. 

How to fix it: Zaidi felt the lineup was one bat short from the left side down the stretch, and it remains a clear need. Jason Vosler was signed for the infield, but the Giants also need a platoon partner for Dubon. Steven Duggar is in-house, but he hasn't hit much in the big leagues.

Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the dream fit on the market, but others are out there. In theory, the Giants could move Yastrzemski to center against righties and add another big bat in the corners -- perhaps someone like Joc Pederson. 

There are a lot of options, and Zaidi said last week that adding left-handed production remains high on the wish list. 


The issue: As Zaidi and Harris put together the roster last offseason, there probably wasn't a single moment when they sat down and wondered what they would do if their catchers batted .217 with four homers. But Buster Posey opted out and Bart, Tromp and Tyler Heineman ranked 26th in the majors in OPS. Tromp had all four of the group's homers.

How to fix it: Posey's worst season in the big leagues -- 2019 -- still produced an OPS nearly 100 points higher than the 2020 catchers. The group was worth just .1 WAR in 2020; Posey has been above 1.8 in every season of his career and has seven seasons of at least four Wins Above Replacement. 

Posey has had a full year to rest his body and get further from hip surgery, and he'll get to work with the trio of coaches who worked magic with other veterans in 2020. The Giants could use more from their backups, but Tromp is a better hitter than he showed in 2020 and when Bart gets on track, the Giants should have one of the best catching duos in the big leagues. 


The issue: This one didn't hurt the Giants at all in 2020, but it likely will over a much longer season. This is one of the oldest lineups in the big leagues, and at some point, guys are going to break down. 

The Giants led the majors with 980 plate appearances taken by players who were 31 to 35 years old. If you slide that to 26-30, they were 25th in plate appearances, and in the under-25 category they ranked 24th. Having a bunch of experienced hitters is great, but it makes it a lot more likely that a couple of injuries wreck your season. 

How to fix it: The good news is the Giants already are fixing this. They just need to keep doing what they're doing, and those splits should be completely flipped in a couple of years. Marco Luciano (19) should be in the big leagues before he can legally drink, and in Hunter Bishop (22), Heliot Ramos (21), Patrick Bailey (21), Alexander Canario (20) Luis Matos (18) and others, the Giants have a flood of young talent on the way. 

It would be nice if they could get more production out of that slightly older tier -- the Jaylin Davis types -- but with a little patience, this lineup soon should have a much different vibe.


The issue: The Giants went station to station, and that was fine. With more pop in the lineup, they were much better prepared than in previous seasons to put rallies together without getting creative. They ended up being one of the slower teams in the league, though. 

The Giants finished tied for 24th in the big leagues with 19 stolen bases. They were below league average in terms of success rate and one of just two teams that didn't steal third all season.

They ranked 28th in taking the extra base, per Baseball-Reference. The Giants have their own internal numbers for all of this, but the eye test matched the publicly available ones. 

How to fix it: Short of running it back with Billy Hamilton -- they won't -- there really isn't an easy 2021 fix. The Giants have just four returning players who were above league average in sprint speed. Their leader was Duggar and having him on the bench would help late in games, but they're likely to add a left-handed bat with more power for that spot. It would help if Dubon, their second-fastest player, stopped making mental mistakes on the bases, and that should come with experience. Austin Slater brings speed when healthy and Mike Yastrzemski is a really good baserunner.

The Giants won't wow you with their running in 2021, but it should get better in future years. Bart ranked eighth among MLB catchers in sprint speed and bringing in other prospects in future years -- particularly Bishop -- should add a new dimension.


The issue: This is similar to the first issue we looked at. The Giants need a lefty bat at third but also are searching for a better plan at shortstop. Brandon Crawford had a .642 OPS against lefties, losing early starts to Dubon and September ones to Daniel Robertson, who was non-tendered. 

How to fix it: Per sources, the front office has been active in looking for a shortstop who bats right-handed, even checking in on some of the better-known free agents on the market. The Giants added Vosler at third but would like to make that more of a competition, and they continue to look for a versatile infielder who bats left-handed. Tommy La Stella makes a ton of sense there. 

With rosters going back to 26, it could be difficult to add the left-handed bat and find a real good solution from the right side at shortstop, so Zaidi and Harris will have to get creative. The easiest choice is Dubon, although moving him back into a utility role would leave a hole in center against lefties.

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